(Photo by Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection)

49 Video Game Movies Ranked by Tomatometer

It was in 1993 that Hollywood realized the dream of putting a video game movie up on the big screen with Super Mario Bros., and setting the stage for a long legacy of questionable choices, troubled productions, and gamers’ pixel tears left in their wake. But like the kid who just has to pump in one more quarter to reach for that high score, the studios keep on trying (while the fans just keep on hoping), and we’re celebrating that sort of sheer tenacity with this guide to the best video game movies (and plenty of the worst) ranked by Tomatometer!

Here, you will find the near-decent (Rampage, Resident Evil), the should’ve-been-goods (Assassin’s Creed, Warcraft), the ridiculous-but-we-love-thems (Mortal Kombat, Silent Hill), and the ones made by Uwe Boll, who deserves his own category (Alone in the Dark, House of the Dead). We’re using a 20-review minimum cutoff for inclusion from theatrical releases only, because it’s not just enough to make a questionable movie, critics need to witness the aftermath, too.

And in May 2019, Detective Pikachu officially broke the video game curse! Fitting that Nintendo, whose Super Mario Bros. movie started all this trouble, would be the one to end it. And in another surprise 2019 development, the second Angry Birds movie has slingshot the naysayers by racking up plenty of critical praise, toppling Pikachu mere months after its release.

Then in 2020, when it didn’t seem it had a chili dog’s chance in hell, Sonic the Hedgehog to general critics enthusiasm, marking three Fresh video game movies in two years. And then, in 2021, Werewolves Within went Certified Fresh, establishing it as by-far the best-reviewed video game movie! The latest, Uncharted, dives back to familiar territory for this genre. See all the high scores (and lots and lots of the lows) with our guide to 48 video game movies, ranked worst to best! Alex Vo

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 93282%
Critics Consensus: Werewolves Within is the rare horror comedy that offers equal helpings of either genre -- and adds up to a whole lot of fun in the bargain.
Synopsis: After a proposed pipeline creates divisions within the small town of Beaverfield, and a snowstorm traps its residents together inside... [More]
Directed By: Josh Ruben

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 78281%
Critics Consensus: Like its non-aerodynamic title characters, The Angry Birds Movie 2 takes improbable yet delightfully entertaining flight, landing humorous hits along the way.
Synopsis: Red, Chuck, Bomb and the rest of their feathered friends are surprised when a green pig suggests that they put... [More]
Directed By: Thurop Van Orman

#3
Adjusted Score: 86850%
Critics Consensus: Pokémon Detective Pikachu may not take its wonderfully bizarre premise as far as it could have, but this offbeat adaptation should catch most -- if not all -- of the franchise's fans.
Synopsis: Ace detective Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son, Tim, to find out what happened. Aiding in the... [More]
Directed By: Rob Letterman

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 76836%
Critics Consensus: It isn't as much fun as the little blue guy's greatest games, but if you enjoyed the first film, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 serves as a generally acceptable sequel.
Synopsis: The world's favorite blue hedgehog is back for a next-level adventure in SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2. After settling in Green... [More]
Directed By: Jeff Fowler

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 81051%
Critics Consensus: Fittingly fleet and frequently fun, Sonic the Hedgehog is a video game-inspired adventure the whole family can enjoy -- and a fine excuse for Jim Carrey to tap into the manic energy that launched his career.
Synopsis: The world needed a hero -- it got a hedgehog. Powered with incredible speed, Sonic embraces his new home on... [More]
Directed By: Jeff Fowler

#6

Mortal Kombat (2021)
54%

#6
Adjusted Score: 69893%
Critics Consensus: Largely for fans of the source material but far from fatal(ity) flawed, Mortal Kombat revives the franchise in appropriately violent fashion.
Synopsis: In "Mortal Kombat," MMA fighter Cole Young, accustomed to taking a beating for money, is unaware of his heritage--or why... [More]
Directed By: Simon McQuoid

#7

Tomb Raider (2018)
53%

#7
Adjusted Score: 72135%
Critics Consensus: Tomb Raider reboots the franchise with a more grounded approach and a star who's clearly more than up to the task -- neither of which are well served by an uninspired origin story.
Synopsis: Lara Croft is the fiercely independent daughter of an eccentric adventurer who vanished years earlier. Hoping to solve the mystery... [More]
Directed By: Roar Uthaug

#8

Rampage (2018)
51%

#8
Adjusted Score: 68471%
Critics Consensus: Rampage isn't as fun as its source material, but the movie's sheer button-mashing abandon might satisfy audiences in the mood for a brainless blockbuster.
Synopsis: Primatologist Davis Okoye shares an unshakable bond with George, an extraordinarily intelligent, silverback gorilla that's been in his care since... [More]
Directed By: Brad Peyton

#9

Monster Hunter (2020)
44%

#9
Adjusted Score: 50210%
Critics Consensus: Monster Hunter is mostly a mindless blur of action, held together by the slenderest threads of dialogue and plot -- and exactly what many viewers will be looking for.
Synopsis: Behind our world, there is another -- a world of dangerous and powerful monsters that rule their domain with deadly... [More]
Directed By: Paul W.S. Anderson

#10

Mortal Kombat (1995)
45%

#10
Adjusted Score: 46189%
Critics Consensus: Despite an effective otherwordly atmosphere and appropriately cheesy visuals, Mortal Kombat suffers from its poorly constructed plot, laughable dialogue, and subpar acting.
Synopsis: Lord Rayden (Christopher Lambert) handpicks three martial artists -- federal agent Sonya Blade (Bridgette Wilson), Shaolin monk Lui Kang (Robin... [More]
Directed By: Paul Anderson

#11
Adjusted Score: 48613%
Critics Consensus: The movie raises the bar for computer animated movies, but the story is dull and emotionally removed.
Synopsis: Blurring the lines between reality and computer animation, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is the first feature-length motion picture that... [More]
Directed By: Hironobu Sakaguchi

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 52993%
Critics Consensus: The Angry Birds Movie is substantially more entertaining than any film adapted from an app has any right to be -- which may or may not be much of an endorsement.
Synopsis: Flightless birds lead a mostly happy existence, except for Red (Jason Sudeikis), who just can't get past the daily annoyances... [More]
Directed By: Clay Kaytis, Fergal Reilly

#13

Uncharted (2022)
41%

#13
Adjusted Score: 54526%
Critics Consensus: Promisingly cast but misleadingly titled, Uncharted mines its bestselling source material to produce a disappointing echo of superior adventure films.
Synopsis: Street-smart thief Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) is recruited by seasoned treasure hunter Victor "Sully" Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) to recover a... [More]
Directed By: Ruben Fleischer

#14
Adjusted Score: 45286%
Critics Consensus: It doesn't offer much in the way of substance, but Prince of Persia is a suitably entertaining swashbuckler -- and a substantial improvement over most video game adaptations.
Synopsis: In the holy city of Alamut resides the Sands of Time, which gives mortals the power to turn back time.... [More]
Directed By: Mike Newell

#15
Adjusted Score: 43280%
Critics Consensus: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter may prove mind-numbingly chaotic for the unconverted, but for fans of the venerable franchise, it offers a fittingly kinetic conclusion to its violent post-apocalyptic saga.
Synopsis: The T-virus unleashed by the evil Umbrella Corp. has spread to every corner of the globe, infesting the planet with... [More]
Directed By: Paul W.S. Anderson

#16

Resident Evil (2002)
35%

#16
Adjusted Score: 39191%
Critics Consensus: Like other video game adapations, Resident Evil is loud, violent, formulaic, and cheesy.
Synopsis: Based on the popular video game, Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez star as the leaders of a commando team who... [More]
Directed By: Paul W.S. Anderson

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: 33288%
Critics Consensus: With a ridiculous plot and comical acting, checking one's brain at the door is required before watching DOA: Dead or Alive.
Synopsis: Four beautiful rivals at an invitation-only martial-arts tournament join forces against a sinister threat. Princess Kasumi (Devon Aoki) is an... [More]
Directed By: Corey Yuen

#18

Silent Hill (2006)
32%

#18
Adjusted Score: 35067%
Critics Consensus: Silent Hill is visually impressive, but as with many video game adaptations, it's plagued by inane dialogue, a muddled plot, and an overlong runtime.
Synopsis: Unable to accept the fact that her daughter is dying, Rose (Radha Mitchell) decides to take the girl to a... [More]
Directed By: Christophe Gans

#19
Adjusted Score: 33008%
Critics Consensus: Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is an affectionately faithful adaptation that further proves its source material is ill-suited to the big screen.
Synopsis: Returning to the origins of the massively popular RESIDENT EVIL franchise, fan and filmmaker Johannes Roberts brings the games to... [More]
Directed By: Johannes Roberts

#20

Warcraft (2016)
29%

#20
Adjusted Score: 42976%
Critics Consensus: Warcraft has visual thrills to spare, but they -- and director Duncan Jones' distinctive gifts -- are wasted on a sluggish and derivative adaptation of a bestselling game with little evident cinematic value.
Synopsis: Looking to escape from his dying world, the orc shaman Gul'dan utilizes dark magic to open a portal to the... [More]
Directed By: Duncan Jones

#21
Adjusted Score: 30614%
Critics Consensus: Resident Evil: Retribution offers everything one might reasonably expect from the fifth installment in a heavily action-dependent franchise -- which means very little beyond stylishly hollow CGI-enhanced set pieces.
Synopsis: As Umbrella Corp.'s deadly T-virus continues to turn the world's population into legions of flesh-eating zombies, Alice (Milla Jovovich), the... [More]
Directed By: Paul W.S. Anderson

#22
#22
Adjusted Score: 27805%
Critics Consensus: Despite flashy sets and special effects, Super Mario Bros. is too light on story and substance to be anything more than a novelty.
Synopsis: Brooklyn plumbers Mario (Bob Hoskins) and Luigi (John Alberto Leguizamo) rescue Princess Daisy from King Koopa (Dennis Hopper) and the... [More]
Directed By: Rocky Morton

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 27974%
Critics Consensus: Resident Evil: Extinction is more of the same; its few impressive action sequences unable to compensate for the pedestrian plot.
Synopsis: Captured by the Umbrella Corp., Alice (Milla Jovovich) receives genetic alterations that leave her with superhuman abilities. Hiding out in... [More]
Directed By: Russell Mulcahy

#24
Adjusted Score: 30354%
Critics Consensus: Though the sequel is an improvement over the first movie, it's still lacking in thrills.
Synopsis: Fearless explorer Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) tries to locate Pandora's box before criminals Jonathan Reiss (Ciarán Hinds) and Chen Lo... [More]
Directed By: Jan de Bont

#25

Need for Speed (2014)
22%

#25
Adjusted Score: 29979%
Critics Consensus: With stock characters and a preposterous plot, this noisily diverting video game adaptation fulfills a Need for Speed and little else.
Synopsis: Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul), a mechanic, races muscle cars in an underground circuit. Struggling to keep his business afloat, he... [More]
Directed By: Scott Waugh

#26
#26
Adjusted Score: 24788%
Critics Consensus: As dim-witted and lifeless as its undead antagonists, Resident Evil: Afterlife is a wholly unnecessary addition to the franchise.
Synopsis: In a world overrun with the walking dead, Alice (Milla Jovovich) continues her battle against Umbrella Corp., rounding up survivors... [More]
Directed By: Paul W.S. Anderson

#27

Ratchet & Clank (2016)
21%

#27
Adjusted Score: 24529%
Critics Consensus: Ratchet & Clank may satisfy very young viewers, but compared to the many superior options available to families and animation enthusiasts, it offers little to truly recommend.
Synopsis: Ratchet is the last of his kind, a foolhardy lombax who grew up without a family. Clank is a pint-sized... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Munroe

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 22618%
Critics Consensus: Critics say that the third Pokemon movie has a better plot than its two predecessors. This is not enough, however, to recommend it to those not already fans of the franchise.
Synopsis: Young Pokémon trainer Ash Ketchum and his loyal friends journey to the beautiful mountain town of Greenfield, where they will... [More]
Directed By: Kunihiko Yuyama

#29
#29
Adjusted Score: 26439%
Critics Consensus: Angelina Jolie is perfect for the role of Lara Croft, but even she can't save the movie from a senseless plot and action sequences with no emotional impact.
Synopsis: This live action feature is inspired by the most successful interactive video-game character in history -- Lara Croft. Beautiful and... [More]
Directed By: Simon West

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 23050%
Critics Consensus: Resident Evil: Apocalypse has lots of action, but not much in terms of plot or creativity.
Synopsis: A deadly virus from a secret Umbrella Corporation laboratory underneath Raccoon City is exposed to the world. Umbrella seals off... [More]
Directed By: Alexander B. Witt

#31
Adjusted Score: 20459%
Critics Consensus: Despite being somewhat more exciting than the previous film, this kiddy flick still lacks any real adventure or excitement. What is does contain is choppy animation and poor voice acting. Doesn't match up to virtually anything out there.
Synopsis: Ash's adventure begins when a powerful storm beaches him and his friends on Shamouti Island just as the islanders are... [More]
Directed By: Michael Haigney

#32

Assassin's Creed (2016)
19%

#32
Adjusted Score: 32487%
Critics Consensus: Assassin's Creed is arguably better made (and certainly better cast) than most video game adaptations; unfortunately, the CGI-fueled end result still is still a joylessly overplotted slog.
Synopsis: Cal Lynch travels back in time to 15th-century Spain through a revolutionary technology that unlocks the genetic memories contained in... [More]
Directed By: Justin Kurzel

#33

Doom (2005)
18%

#33
Adjusted Score: 22627%
Critics Consensus: The FPS sections are sure to please fans of the video game, but lacking in plot and originality to please other moviegoers.
Synopsis: A team of space marines known as the Rapid Response Tactical Squad, led by Sarge (The Rock), is sent to... [More]
Directed By: Andrzej Bartkowiak

#34

Pokémon Heroes (2003)
17%

#34
Adjusted Score: 17723%
Critics Consensus: This series isn't getting any better.
Synopsis: Two thieves go to an island city to steal a giant jewel that was once used to defend the canal... [More]
Directed By: Larry Juris

#35

Hitman (2007)
16%

#35
Adjusted Score: 20272%
Critics Consensus: Hitman features the unfortunate combination of excessive violence, incoherent plot, and inane dialogue.
Synopsis: A professional assassin known only as Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant) gets caught up in a dangerous political takeover. He flees... [More]
Directed By: Xavier Gens

#36
#36
Adjusted Score: 19561%
Critics Consensus: Audiences other than children will find very little to entertain them.
Synopsis: Ash, Misty, Brock and Pikachu face Mewtwo, a bioengineered Pokémon, and the super-Pokémon it has created. With short "Pikachu's Vacation."... [More]

#37

Pokémon 4Ever (2002)
16%

#37
Adjusted Score: 15504%
Critics Consensus: Only for diehard Pokemon fans.
Synopsis: Ash and his friends travel to an island to search for a rare species of Pokemon that has the power... [More]

#38

Max Payne (2008)
15%

#38
Adjusted Score: 20401%
Critics Consensus: While it boasts some stylish action, Max Payne suffers severely from an illogical plot and overdirection.
Synopsis: After the murders of his family and his partner, maverick cop Max (Mark Wahlberg) becomes hell-bent on revenge. Teamed with... [More]
Directed By: John Moore

#39

Street Fighter (1994)
11%

#39
Adjusted Score: 12021%
Critics Consensus: Though it offers mild entertainment through campy one-liners and the overacting of the late Raul Julia, Street Fighter's nonstop action sequences are not enough to make up for a predictable, uneven storyline.
Synopsis: Gen. Bison (Raul Julia), the evil dictator of Shadaloo, captures a busload of relief workers and holds them for ransom.... [More]
Directed By: Steven E. de Souza

#40
#40
Adjusted Score: 9880%
Critics Consensus: Mediocre effort even by the standards of video game adaptations, Silent Hill: Revelation 3D features weak characters and an incomprehensible plot with a shortage of scares.
Synopsis: For many years, Heather Mason (Adelaide Clemens) and her father, Harry (Sean Bean), have been on the run from dangerous... [More]
Directed By: Michael J. Bassett

#41

Wing Commander (1999)
10%

#41
Adjusted Score: 10556%
Critics Consensus: The low budget may explain Wing Commander's cheesy special effects, but can't excuse the lame dialogue or the movie's obsessive reliance on sci-fi cliches.
Synopsis: A space pilot (Freddie Prinze Jr.) with an encoded message, his sidekick (Matthew Lillard) and their superior (Saffron Burrows) fight... [More]
Directed By: Chris Roberts

#42

Postal (2007)
9%

#42
Adjusted Score: 9161%
Critics Consensus: An attempt at political satire that lacks any wit or relevance, Postal is nonetheless one of Uwe Boll's more successful films -- for what it's worth.
Synopsis: A phony cult leader (Dave Foley) hires a jobless trailer-park denizen (Zack Ward) to help him carry out his plot... [More]
Directed By: Uwe Boll

#43
#43
Adjusted Score: 12942%
Critics Consensus: Hitman: Agent 47 fails to clear the low bar set by its predecessor, forsaking thrilling action in favor of a sleekly hollow mélange of dull violence and product placement.
Synopsis: Genetically engineered from conception to be the perfect killing machine, he's the culmination of decades of research, endowed with unprecedented... [More]
Directed By: Aleksander Bach

#44

BloodRayne (2005)
4%

#44
Adjusted Score: 4564%
Critics Consensus: BloodRayne is an absurd sword-and-sorcery vid-game adaptation from schlock-maestro Uwe Boll, featuring a distinguished (and slumming) cast.
Synopsis: In 18th-century Romania, after spending much of her life in a traveling circus, human-vampire hybrid Rayne (Kristanna Loken) escapes and... [More]
Directed By: Uwe Boll

#45
Adjusted Score: 5736%
Critics Consensus: With its shallow characters, low budget special effects, and mindless fight scenes, Mortal Kombat - Annihilation offers minimal plot development and manages to underachieve the low bar set by its predecessor.
Synopsis: Every generation, a portal opens up between the Outerworld and Earth. Emperor Shao-Kahn (Brian Thompson), ruler of the mythical Outerworld,... [More]
Directed By: John R. Leonetti

#46
Adjusted Score: 4399%
Critics Consensus: Featuring mostly wooden performances, laughable dialogue, and shoddy production values, In the Name of the King fulfills all expectations of an Uwe Boll film.
Synopsis: As war looms in an idyllic kingdom, a man named Farmer (Jason Statham) begins a heroic quest to find his... [More]
Directed By: Uwe Boll

#47
#47
Adjusted Score: 4564%
Critics Consensus: A grungy, disjointed, mostly brainless mess of a film, House of the Dead is nonetheless loaded with unintentional laughs.
Synopsis: Simon (Tyron Leitso) and Greg (Will Sanderson) meet a group of friends and set out to attend a rave on... [More]
Directed By: Uwe Boll

#48
Adjusted Score: 4869%
Critics Consensus: The combination of a shallow plot and miscast performers renders Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li a perfectly forgettable video game adaptation.
Synopsis: In Bangkok, Bison (Neal McDonough), a crime boss, and his henchmen (Michael Clarke Duncan, Josie Ho, Taboo) begin a bid... [More]
Directed By: Andrzej Bartkowiak

#49
#49
Adjusted Score: 5946%
Critics Consensus: Inept on almost every level, Alone in the Dark may not work as a thriller, but it's good for some head-slapping, incredulous laughter.
Synopsis: When the investigations of supernatural detective Edward Carnby (Christian Slater) lead him to uncover a long-lost tribe called the Abskani,... [More]
Directed By: Uwe Boll

Ratchet & Clank: Recently re-imagined for your PlayStation 4, now appearing on the big screen for the first time. The movie invites viewers back to see the origin team-up of the duo (one a robot, the other a bobcat-ish thing, probably a descendant of prolific serial killer Bubsy), which inspires this week’s 24 Frames gallery: a history of video games-based movies by Tomatometer!

As film fans know, video games have been used to inflict pain and senseless brutality at the cineplex for years now. In honor of that miserable tradition, we elected to devote this feature to a look back at some of the least entertaining game-to-film adaptations Hollywood’s ever produced, and while there was definitely no shortage of contenders, we narrowed it down to a particularly pungent few while making room for plenty of variety (in other words, only one Uwe Boll film made the list). Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start: It’s time for Total Recall!


Alone in the Dark (2005) 1%

AloneDark2

(Photo by Lionsgate/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Here’s where we admit what many of you have known all along: If we’d done things a little differently, this list could have been largely comprised of Uwe Boll movies. For whatever reason, Mr. Boll has displayed a deep affinity for video game adaptations over the course of his remarkable career, and the “bad game movie” subgenre’s byways are clogged with the effluvia of his cinematic efforts. In the interest of variety, however, we decided to limit his appearances here, leaving us with one obvious choice: 2005’s Alone in the Dark, an alleged sci-fi thriller starring Christian Slater as a paranormal detective and Tara Reid as a scientist — both of whom are investigating the disappearance of an ancient civilization that prayed to space demons. Extremely loosely based on the Alone in the Dark game series — which was itself loosely based on H.P. Lovecraft’s writings — the movie found itself alone in the dark with scores of sparsely populated theaters playing host to scornful critics like the San Francisco Examiner’s Rossiter Drake, who guffawed, “The late Gene Siskel once devised a simple method of measuring a film’s worth: ‘Is this film more interesting than a documentary of the same actors having lunch?’ Alone in the Dark doesn’t come close to matching that standard.”

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Doom (2005) 18%

Doom

(Photo by Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection)

He has since ascended to “franchise Viagra” status, but Dwayne Johnson’s early years as a Hollywood action hero were a little bumpy. After his breakout appearance in The Mummy Returns, he struggled to find a solid fit for his beefy build and natural screen charisma, occasionally turning in critically lauded performances in box-office misses (The Rundown) or working overtime to prop up misguided action flicks (Walking Tall). 2005’s Doom falls into the latter category, repurposing the hugely popular first-person shooter as a sci-fi thriller about a crew of soldiers sent to rescue a colony on Mars after residents accidentally open a portal to Hell and unleash a horde of murderous creatures. While the film included plenty of the tunnel-bound warfare that fans of the game had come to expect, the end result was — as critics would repeatedly point out regarding plenty of like-minded pictures over the years — more fun to play than to watch. “Doom,” pointed out Roger Ebert, “is like some kid came over and is using your computer and won’t let you play.”

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Double Dragon (1994) 12%

(Photo by GramercyPictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)

 

How do you make a movie out of a game based on nothing more than a pair of brothers pummeling the bejeesus out of bad guys? If you’re Double Dragon screenwriters Michael Davis and Peter Gould, the unfortunate answer is “come up with a convoluted story involving halves of a mystical amulet” — and things only went downhill from there, after director James Yukich built a cast that included future Party of Five veteran Scott Wolf and former Who’s the Boss? star Alyssa Milano. The result was a deeply hokey 90 minutes of low-budget chop-socky action that provoked near-universal guffaws from critics like Luke Y. Thompson of the New Times, who wondered, “How hard would it be to come up with a story at least as good as that of the original Nintendo game? Impossible, apparently.”

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Hitman (2007) 16%

Hitman

(Photo by 20th Century Fox/Courtesy Everett Collection)

There have been so many lame game-to-film adaptations that it can be tempting to believe there’s simply no point in trying to bridge the two mediums, but there really are video games that look like they might make good movies; unfortunately, as 2007’s Hitman proved, even the most cinematic backstory doesn’t necessarily mean a polished final product. Starring Timothy Olyphant as Agent 47, a member of an army of bald and bar-coded assassins who finds himself double-crossed by the shadowy organization that trained him from birth to kill, it looked on paper like just the sort of globe-trotting action thriller that might keep 007 fans satisfied between Bond sequels — yet the end result was a picture every bit as smoothly anonymous as its protagonist. A planned sequel was scrapped, and although Hitman’s $99 million box office tally ensured an eventual reboot (due in August) that might do a better job of distilling the game’s appeal, the original is still a case of sadly wasted potential. “47 doesn’t even want the girl,” pointed out a frustrated Tricia Olszewski for the Washington City Paper. “What kind of action movie is this? A skippable one, ultimately.”

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Max Payne (2008) 15%

MaxPayne

(Photo by 20th Century Fox/Courtesy Everett Collection)

For a certain breed of filmgoer, all you really need to make an entertaining movie is hand Mark Wahlberg a gun. Max Payne, director John Moore’s adaptation of the hit video game series about a vigilante cop gunning for justice after the murders of his wife, child, and partner, was made exactly for those people and pretty much no one else — with the possible exception of Sin City fans who want to watch a movie that wishes it could be Sin City, or maybe noir enthusiasts who feel the genre needs more murderous winged man-creatures. For just about everyone else, Max Payne is a painfully misguided hash of “gritty” action and digital effects, all directed within an inch of its life; as Michael Phillips wrote for the Chicago Tribune, “You find yourself rooting against Payne’s survival, even with a good actor in the hollow role. There’s nothing inside the film’s sour, slovenly spirit of vengeance.”

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Mortal Kombat Annihilation (1997) 4%

(Photo by New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection)

 

The first Mortal Kombat may not have been a major work of cinematic art, but it had its moments, and overall made for a pleasantly undemanding afternoon of chop-socky entertainment with mystical mumbo-jumbo overtones — and it was rewarded for achieving those limited goals with a surprising run of box office domination and a gross approaching $125 million. Sadly, little of that fun — or the original cast — remained by the time Mortal Kombat: Annihilation arrived in theaters, and the result was a box office bomb that put the nascent Kombat franchise into a development deep freeze from which, at the time of this writing, it’s still struggling to escape. “Never — at least not since the first Mortal Kombat,” sighed the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Steven Rea, “has tedium been so loud, so full of backward flips and flying fists to the kissers of centaurs from another realm.”

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Silent Hill: Revelation (2012) 8%

(Photo by Kerry Hayes/Open Road Films/Courtesy Everett Collection)

 

Critics pooped all over the first Silent Hill movie, but it made nearly $100 million anyway, so six years later we were treated to Silent Hill: Revelation, which picked up after the events of the first film (but followed the plot of the Silent Hill 3 video game) by following the harrowing new exploits suffered by Christopher Da Silva (a returning Sean Bean) and his adopted daughter Sharon (Adelaide Clemens) after her mother (Radha Mitchell) is trapped in a sinister ghost dimension. It’s a premise with a certain spine-tingling promise; alas, very little of it translated to the screen, and Silent Hill: Revelation ended up grossing roughly half of what the original made. “It’s never a good sign,” groaned Mark Olsen of the Los Angeles Times, “when the trailers playing before a film have richer, more complete narratives than the feature you’ve paid to see.”

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Street Fighter (1994) 11%

(Photo by MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection)

 

Given Street Fighter’s lowly reputation, one would hardly guess it made nearly $100 million during its box office run, but that’s the risk a filmmaker runs when he puts a beanie on Jean-Claude Van Damme and casts Raul Julia as a bizarre military dictator — and that’s exactly the sort of infamy that awaited this misbegotten attempt to turn mountains of arcade quarters into box office glory. As with Double Dragon, one of the chief problems was that of plot — specifically, how to spin one out of a game that revolved more or less solely around people beating each other up — and writer-director Steven de Souza compensated by imagining a surreal standoff between the megalomaniacal M. Bison (Julia) and a Megaforce-style military force dubbed the Allied Nations. We could delve into the narrative further, but the end result would be the same: Plenty of silly fight scenes and a heaping helping of horrible reviews from critics like Stephen Holden of the New York Times, who dismissed Street Fighter as “A dreary, overstuffed hodgepodge of poorly edited martial arts sequences and often unintelligible dialogue.”

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Super Mario Bros. (1993) 28%

(Photo by Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)

 

We all knew this was going to make the list, right? The grandaddy of all game-to-film box office bombs, 1990’s Super Mario Bros. was supposed to be gaming’s Hollywood coming-out party — proof that not only had video games truly arrived as entertainment with real staying power, but that gamers were an audience just waiting to be tapped by film studios who could make millions bringing pre-existing franchises to the big screen. All of which sounds great, but fails to take into account the fact that directors Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel were trying to make a movie out of a game about sibling plumbers who run through a series of bizarre worlds in pursuit of a princess who’s been captured by a giant turtle, and who have to battle an insane menagerie of villains (including sentient mushrooms) along the way. After an extensive casting search that included attempts to lure in Danny DeVito, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Tom Hanks, the filmmakers eventually hired Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo to play brothers Mario and Luigi, while Dennis Hopper agreed to portray the villainous humanoid reptile-thing King Koopa, but all the acting talent in the world couldn’t have made a dent in the cacophonous mess that is Super Mario Bros., which turned out to be such a critical and commercial dud that the game’s developer, Nintendo, swore off film adaptations for decades. “Kids might get a charge out of the mayhem,” groaned the Charlotte Observer’s Lawrence Toppman. “I got the vapors.”

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Wing Commander (1999) 10%

(Photo by 20th Century Fox/Courtesy Everett Collection)

 

By the late ‘90s, Matthew Lillard and Freddie Prinze, Jr. were ready to graduate from teen romcoms… which they signaled, unfortunately, by signing up for the disastrous big-screen adaptation of Wing Commander, which found them trying in vain to wring big-screen thrills out of a hokey story involving a future interstellar war between humans and an alien race of catlike bipeds. It’s a premise that sounds thoroughly silly to Commander novices, and director Chris Roberts compounded the problem by making several key changes to the game’s characters and mythology that alienated core gamers who might have otherwise turned out for the film. Observed Anita Gates for the New York Times, “Wing Commander is based on a video game and has roughly the same degree of character development. That is all most moviegoers will need to know.”

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This Week’s Ketchup actually covers three full weeks since the weekend before Christmas (two editions of the Yearly Ketchup were published during that time — the Freshest stories of 2013 and the most Rotten). Most of Hollywood took (at least) those three weeks off, but there was still a fair amount of movie development news, although some of it was in the “rumor” or “ambiguous tweet” category. The ten stories we’re going with include a few true stories (Richard Pryor, Montezuma, and the Boston Strangler) and a few sequels (including Ice Age 5, Night at the Museum 3, and Paul Blart 2).


This Week’s Top Story

THE CONTINUING AFTERMATH OF THE DEATH OF PAUL WALKER

The automobile crash that killed Paul Walker happened on November 30, and it was such a shock that people in Hollywood understandably didn’t know right away how they were going to move on in their respective businesses afterwards. The most obvious enterprise that had to “deal” with it, somehow, was the production of Fast & Furious 7, which still had filming to do with Walker. Universal Pictures, the producers, the director, and the screenwriters all needed to take time to figure it all out. One result is that the release of the film has been moved from July 11, 2014 to April 10, 2015, with filming expected to continue again later this month. We also learned recently that the plan is not to “kill off” Walker’s character of Brian O’Conner, but rather, that the character will “retire” in Fast & Furious 7. Presumably, we might reasonably imagine a scene in which Walker discusses whether to continue a life of crime will be used to lead to another character acknowledging Brian’s retirement. Universal isn’t the only studio that needs to move on in 2014 without the help of Paul Walker, though. Over at 20th Century Fox, they have Agent 47, which was to have starred Paul Walker a reboot of their Hitman video game adaptation franchise. Now, the studio is in talks with Homeland star Rupert Friend to replace Walker in Agent 47, which is expected to start filming as scheduled sometime in 2014. Finally, there is the Nicholas Sparks adaptation The Best of Me at Relativity Media, which would have starred Walker as one of a pair of high school sweethearts who reunite 20 years later for the funeral of a friend. James Marsden, who played Cyclops in the first three X-Men movies, is now in talks to replace Walker in that romantic drama.

Fresh Developments This Week

#1 JAVIER BARDEM MIGHT STAR AS CORTEZ IN STEVEN SPIELBERG’S AZTEC EPIC MONTEZUMA

The phrase “development hell” is used to describe the years (and sometimes, decades) that movie projects can spend in a state of limbo, always just one meeting away from being greenlit, without it ever actually happening. This story, however, takes the phrase to an all different level. Steven Spielberg, who directed his friend Stanley Kubrick’s long-in-development project A.I. – Artificial Intelligence for release in 2001, is now considering doing the same for an even older project. Spielberg is considering making his first post-Lincoln film an adaptation of the script called Montezuma, about the invasion of the Aztec Empire by the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes in the 16th century. The “development hell” part comes from the fact that the original script was written by Dalton Trumbo (Spartacus, Exodus, Papillon) over 50 years ago. The script is now being rewritten by screenwriter Steven Zaillian, who won an Academy Award for Schindler’s List, and was also nominated for Awakenings, Gangs of New York, and Moneyball. Javier Bardem is also considering signing on to play Cortes, and the film’s title might be changed to Cortes, as that’s who Zaillian’s draft focuses on most. If Steven Spielberg does make this Aztec epic his next film, it will end a process that has previously included periods in which he was considering next directing the sci-fi movies Interstellar and Robopocalypse, and the true story American Sniper.

 

#2 ARE YOU READY FOR LEE DANIELS’ RICHARD PRYOR?

Last year, around the time that Lee Daniels’ The Butler was released, the director was saying that he was next expecting to direct the long-in-development Janis Joplin biopic. This week, we heard about Lee Daniels being in discussions to direct a celebrity biopic, but it’s not Janis Joplin; it’s comedian-actor Richard Pryor. That project has been bubbling up for a few years now, with the Weinstein Company producing. It was with the Weinsteins that Lee Daniels finally got The Butler produced after a similiar extended development period. The actors who are in the running to star as Richard Pryor include Eddie Murphy, Michael B. Jordan, and Marlon Wayans, who is possibly the most likely to land the role, partly because at 41, he is closest in age to the period of Richard Pryor’s life that the film will most focus on. The Weinsteins are also, however, very eager to work again with 26 year old Michael B. Jordan, who starred this year in their film Fruitvale Station.

 

#3 CASEY AFFLECK TO INVESTIGATE THE BOSTON STRANGLER

Director Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo, Never Let Me Go) is now in talks with Warner Bros to direct their drama about the infamous 1960s serial killer known as the Boston Strangler. Casey Affleck will also be executive producing and starring as one of the detectives investigating the killings. The project is being compared in tone to both the ficitonal Seven and the true story film Zodiac, both directed by David Fincher.

 

#4 RICHARD GERE AMONG THE AMERICANS CHECKING INTO THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL 2

This week, we learned the names of the new actors joining the cast for the sequel The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2, and their identities basically clue us into how the sequel will separate itself from the first film. American actors Richard Gere and David Strathairn will be joining such returning cast members as Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, and Dev Patel. The suggestion basically is that in the sequel the marketing of the Indian resort will be appealing more to American retirees than just Brits like in the first movie. And they probably fall in love.

 

#5 JOHN GOODMAN AND JESSICA LANGE JOIN MARK WAHLBERG IN THE GAMBLER

After the success of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, there was a lot of high profile speculation about what director Rupert Wyatt would do next. The answer turned out to be its own surprise, because the project at Paramount Pictures is a remake of the 1974 James Caan drama The Gambler, with Mark Wahlberg in the lead instead. We recently learned that the supporting cast will include Jessica Lange as Wahlberg’s mother, and John Goodman as a Jewish loan shark.

 

Rotten Ideas of the Week

#4 WACKY AUSSIE REBEL WILSON TO PLAY WACKY BRITISH GUARD IN WACKY SEQUEL NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM 3

There are definitely some very talented people involved with the Night at the Museum kids movie franchise, but that doesn’t stop the movies from thus far being “Rotten” over on the RT Tomatometer. And so, regardless of what you might think of them in other stuff, when you hear about someone like Rebel Wilson joining the cast of Night at the Museum 3, it’s news that you have to take as something of a bitter pill. Australian Wilson, who plays an American on ABC’s Super Fun Night, but has played British in the past, will play a British guard in Night at the Museum 3, which gives us a hint about the setting of this third movie, after the second film moved the action to the Smithsonian.

#3 THE ICE AGE FRANCHISE WILL CONTINUE IN 2016 WITH ICE AGE 5

The development process for animated movies is much longer than for live action films, so sometimes, it can seem like news stories involving them is talking about the far flung future. For example, this story includes a release date in March of 2018. Let’s start with the lead, however, which is that Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios are now at work on the fifth Ice Age movie, which has been scheduled for a release date of July 15, 2016. This, however, moves the previously announced animated adventure Anubis, about the Egyptian underworld, to a release date of March 23, 2018. Presuming, of course, that people go to “the movies” in 2018 when they’re not driving around in flying cars and falling in love with their operating systems.

#2 GERARD BUTLER TO REBOOT PATRICK SWAYZE’S POINT BREAK ROLE

The biggest question surrounding the Point Break remake ever since the concept was first broached online was who exactly could the producers recruit to play the role first created by the late Patrick Swayze. That answer came yesterday with the news that it will be Gerard Butler who will play “Bodhi,” the leader of a group of criminals and extreme sports enthusiasts who are infiltrated by a young FBI agent who may (or may not) resemble a young Keanu Reeves. This will be Gerard Butler’s second film to heavily feature surfing, after the 2012 film Chasing Mavericks.

 

#1 WHEN THERE IS NO MORE ROOM IN HELL… PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2

Admittedly, this story might actually be a “Fresh Development” if it did indeed involve a zombie apocalypse, but it will probably just be more of the same. “The same” being whatever it was that attracted the hordes of moviegoers that invaded cineplexes in 2009 to see the Kevin James comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop. James and Adam Sandler (via Happy Madison) are once again teaming up to produce the sequel to Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which Kevin James will also cowrite, as well as star in. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 will be directed by Andy Fickman, whose streak of green splotches on RT has included She’s the Man, Game Plan, Race to Witch Mountain, You Again, and Parental Guidance. And it’s a streak that’s unlikely to be changed by Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. Hence… it’s the Most Rotten Idea of the Week.

For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.

Who’s ready for more Rambo?

You can pretend like you don’t want a fifth Rambo, America, but we know better — the surprisingly strong attendance and lukewarm reviews that greeted this year’s fourth installment offered nothing but encouragement to Sylvester Stallone. And though he’s offered decidedly mixed signals to the press regarding the franchise’s future, recent developments would seem to indicate that Stallone is ready to strap on the bandana again — and sooner rather than later.

Last week, Slashfilm picked up on a Screen Daily report saying that Rambo 5 was ready to roll — and that producers had tabbed Sofia, Bulgaria for the shoot. This sparked a wave of discussion about potential storylines for the sequel, and confusion regarding what many perceived as a setup for Rambo’s return to America at the end of the fourth film.

Over the weekend, Moviehole‘s Clint Morris rode to the rescue, offering word from “a reliable contact” that Rambo will, in fact, be coming home to the U.S. of A….or a reasonable facsimile thereof, anyway. Per Moviehole‘s scooper, “The street sets of Bulgaria that are getting the makeover, the same ones that were rented out and used in Van Damme’s The Shepherd, will be doubling for Rambo’s hometown, which is supposed to be somewhere in Arizona.”

In a word: Awesome.

As Morris points out, Bulgaria has actually served as a stand-in for locations both American (Lake Placid 2) and otherwise (Hitman, The Grey Zone). Going to Bulgaria is typically a sign of less-than-plentiful budget dollars, but hey, who needs money? Just hand Stallone a big ol’ knife and a tank top. He’ll do the rest.

This is all just conjecture, of course, but if it turns out to be true, it would seem to put a crimp in those rumors of Stallone starring in a Death Wish remake or Cliffhanger 2, which just goes to show you that there really is a silver lining in every cloud.

Source: Slashfilm
Source: Screen Daily
Source: Moviehole

The critically-acclaimed, Oscar-winning No Country For Old Men comes to DVD this week, accompanied by a litany of fellow Fresh films (Lake of Fire, Summer Palace, Dan in Real Life) as well as a gaggle of critical duds (Hitman, Bee Movie, August Rush, and more).


No Country For Old Men

Tomatometer: 94%

Joel and Ethan Coen add another celebrated film to their resume with this four-category Oscar-winning thriller about a bag of stolen cash, a man on the run, the killer on his tail, and the old lawman desperately trying to make sense of it all. While we’ll get no commentary track on this initial DVD release (just wait for the inevitable super-sized special editions), three features comprise the bonus menu, but the film itself is its own reward — just ask those Academy voters.

Bee Movie

Tomatometer: 54%

Jerry Seinfeld‘s bid for post-Seinfeld success came last year in the form of a honeybee: a neurotic, rather Jerry-esque bee named Barry Bee Benson, to be exact, who leaves corporatized hive life for the great big world of humans in New York City’s Central Park. When Barry discovers that humans have been stealing the hard-earned honey of his buzzing brethren, he takes the most American action there is — he sues the human race. With a supporting voice cast that includes Chris Rock, Renee Zellweger, Patrick Warburton, and Matthew Broderick — and cameos by Sting, Ray Liotta, and Oprah WinfreyBee Movie is full of that familiar Seinfeld sardonic humor, although, as the critics say, it’s fairly forgettable.
Dan in Real Life


Tomatometer: 66%

Steve Carell‘s trademark hangdog deadpan finds appropriate anchor in this romantic comedy from Peter Hedges (Pieces of April). Carell stars as Dan, the widowed father of three girls who writes an advice column for a living; when Dan meets his dream girl (Juliette Binoche) during a family get-together, he’s elated — until he learns she’s his brother’s new girlfriend. A soundtrack by Swedish singer-songwriter Sondre Lerch underscores Dan’s comic heartache, though some critics found the script to be occasionally too flat and contrived. A decently packed bonus menu with director commentary, deleted scenes, and outtakes round out the disc.

August Rush


Tomatometer: 38%

Freddie Highmore, Britain’s omnipresent kid actor, stars as a musically-gifted orphan on a quest to find his birth parents — and exposure any and every person he meets along the way to the magic of music. Sound schmaltzy enough for you? Well, throw in Robin Williams (channeling his doppelganger, U2 front man Bono) as a musical street pimp named Wizard, salvation in the form of a choir, and lines like “The music is all around us. All you have to do is listen,” and you’ve got one heckuva a saccharine smorgasbord.

Nancy Drew


Tomatometer: 48%

If, like some of us, you were an avid fan of the Nancy Drew mystery books — over 170 stories published under the pseudonym “Carolyn Keene” since 1930 — then you might have felt some apprehension when a feature-length film about the classic sleuthing teen was announced. Unfortunately for us purists, the reviews confirm those fears. Emma Roberts stars as the titular teen, whose prudish, Type-A manner clashes with the spoiled kids she encounters when she and her dad (Tate Donovan) move to Tinseltown. A Hollywood mystery surfaces, of course, but grown audiences will remain unspooked. I say, bring on the Choose Your Own Adventure movie instead!

Sleuth


Tomatometer: 36%

The gimmick of casting this cat-and-mouse thriller is intriguing on its own; having starred as a young adulterer opposite Laurence Olivier in 1972’s Sleuth, Michael Caine now plays the older role opposite Jude Law in Kenneth Branagh‘s remake. Unfortunately, the script by Harold Pinter, adapting Anthony Shaffer’s play, fails to serve the two leads well, making for a tedious time — unless you enjoy watching two distinguished British actors out-act one another. Law, Caine, and Branagh make recompense in a jointly recorded commentary track in the special features.

 

Hitman


Tomatometer: 15%

With a title like Hitman, you know what you’re getting into with this video game adaptation from French director Xavier Gens (Frontier(es)). Timothy Olyphant stars as a bar coded professional killer named Number 47 dealing with his sinister bosses, a Russian politico, and a hot prostitute (Olga Kurylenko) on the run. Overwhelmingly derided by the critical set, who might alternately recommend the film to a PS2-obsessed pre-teen boy, Hitman at least serves one purpose: bringing you a closer look at future Bond girl Kurylenko half a year before Quantum of Solace hits theaters.

Lake of Fire


Tomatometer: 94%

When Nirvana covered the Meat Puppets’ “Lake of Fire” in their Unplugged album session, they sang that the Biblical body of water was “where bad folks go when they die.” In his sprawling documentary on abortion, director Tony Kaye brings us a comprehensive look at the often violent, always vehement hot button debate that has raged for 25 years since Roe vs. Wade. Kaye, who filmed the doc over a period of 17 years, is the same director who earned Hollywood’s praise for directing the 1998 skinhead drama American History X (then disappeared from view following his bitter falling out with New Line and star Edward Norton). Be warned that Lake of Fire contains graphic images; a commentary with Kaye accompanies the DVD.

Summer Palace


Tomatometer: 70%

A young rural woman gets accepted to Peking University and encounters sexual awakening, politics, and discontent against the backdrop of the Tiananmen Square protests in controversial director Lou Ye‘s epic drama. Actress Hao Lei gives a brazen performance as the film’s restless protagonist, who spends over two decades (the late 1980s to the 2000s) struggling to get over the lost love of her life. At over two and a half hours, Ye’s film could be split into two stories — one of the young woman and another of her adult years) — but his film captures the zeitgeist of an entire generation forever marked by Tiananmen-era experiences, at times recalling the verve of Godard and the French New Wave. Shown in competition at the Cannes Film Festival without government approval, the sexually-explicit film was subsequently banned in China, its filmmakers censured from further filmmaking for a five year span.

 

So there you have your new releases for this week. In the words of the ancient Romans, “Amicule, deliciae, num is sum qui mentiar tibi?

Bond 22 has found its girl. No, seriously — we mean it this time. No takebacks.

Just days after the announcement of Gemma Arterton‘s casting stirred rumors that she was the new “Bond girl,” Columbia Pictures has issued a statement introducing the world to Daniel Craig‘s leading lady for Bond 22: Ukrainian actress Olga Kurylenko, most recently seen in Hitman.

What’s that, you say? You haven’t seen Hitman? Well, we suppose we could be persuaded to post some pictures. If you really need us to.

Arterton’s character, as it turns out, is a co-worker of Bond’s, MI6 Agent Fields. The duo joins a cast that includes Craig, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, and Mathieu Amalric. Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli were quoted in Columbia’s press release as saying:

“We are fortunate to continue in the Bond tradition of attracting the finest international actors for our starring roles. Mathieu, in the role of Dominic Greene, a leading member of the villainous organization introduced in ‘Casino Royale,’ will be a powerful counterpart to Daniel’s portrayal of Bond. Olga Kurylenko will play the dangerously alluring Camille, who challenges Bond and helps him come to terms with the emotional consequences of Vesper’s betrayal.”

“Helps him,” indeed.

The still-technically-untitled Bond 22 is targeted for a November 7, 2008 release.

New Line hopes to breathe some life into the North American box office with the launch of its pricey adventure film The Golden Compass which stands as the frame’s only new wide release. Directed by Chris Weitz (About a Boy), the PG-13 film aims to capture a large crowd including the family audience and fans of sci-fi and fantasy. Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, who proved in the summer flop The Invasion that their names only carry so much commercial weight, reunite to star in the effects-heavy film.

Working in its favor is the fact that all other studios have avoided programming their major offerings onto this weekend’s schedule. In fact it is quite rare to see two consecutive frames with only one national opener each. Media attention is concentrated on it this week and with multiplexes dumping their aging November flops, Compass will secure extra screens. The studio’s marketing push has been powerful and awareness is high which makes sense as New Line is hoping for a new fantasy franchise that can keep the cash rolling in for years to come. Teens and young adults who frequent the multiplexes the most should come out in solid numbers since they’ve seen every other worthy film already. Older adults will be a little harder to reach since holiday shopping is a major distraction on weekends right now plus reviews for Compass have not exactly been stellar.

Although the property will target many of the same folks who have dropped billions on fantasy smashes like The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and The Chronicles of Narnia, the source material is not as popular plus there is already backlash from some in the religious community for the anti-Christian material in the Philip Pullman books. Reaching the $65.6M opening of Narnia from this very weekend two years ago will be impossible. Instead, a debut closer to the $27.5M of Beowulf last month could be in order since there may be much overlap. Compass has more appeal for younger kids and females so a bigger bow should result. Opening in over 3,000 theaters, The Golden Compass might premiere to the tune of $33M this weekend.


Nicole Kidman in The Golden Compass

With most of the big boys taking the weekend off from releasing films wide, indie distribs will once again seize the opportunity to platform their end-of-year pics and begin limited runs for possible kudos contenders. By law, you can’t have an awards season without at least one costume drama so Focus Features joins forces with Keira Knightley with Atonement which bows on Friday in 26 sites. The R-rated period piece also stars James McAvoy and Vanessa Redgrave and has already grossed $31M overseas with over two-thirds of that total coming from the U.K. since its launch there in early September.


James McAvoy and Keira Knightley in Atonement

Fox Searchlight counters in seven theaters with its teen pregnancy comedy Juno starring Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, and Ellen Page in the title role. The PG-13 coming-of-age pic opened on Wednesday in New York and Los Angeles and is director Jason Reitman‘s follow-up to Thank You For Smoking which grossed $24.8M for Fox Searchlight in the spring of 2006. Reviews have been strong across the board for both Juno and Atonement.


Ellen Page and Olivia Thirlby in Juno

After back to back stints of wearing the box office crown, the princess comedy Enchanted is now preparing to take a step back this weekend thanks to the arrival of Queen Kidman. The Disney hit will see some formidable competition for kids, but the overall drop should not be too large. A 35% slide to around $10.5M could result. That would give Enchanted a charming $83M after 19 days of play.

With girls lining up for Giselle and company, their brothers have been taking a historical adventure with the computer-animated action pic Beowulf which has been holding its own since its debut. Golden Compass will also be a threat since there is much audience overlap. But Beowulf‘s good legs suggest that a drop of 35% could be in order here as well. That would leave the Paramount project with about $5M pushing the cume up to $76M.

Sony’s holiday reunion film This Christmas and Fox’s assassin thriller Hitman both witnessed larger sophomore declines so a fall of 40% each should occur this weekend. Christmas would take in just under $5M for a $42M total while Hitman should bank $3.5M for a $36M sum.

LAST YEAR: Mel Gibson scored his second straight number one opening for a historical foreign language film he directed with Apocalypto which debuted on top with $15M. The Buena Vista release went on to capture a solid $50.9M. Three-time champ Happy Feet was bumped down to second with $12.9M in its fourth frame. Sony’s romantic comedy The Holiday bowed in third with $12.8M for Sony. The Cameron DiazKate Winslet pic went on to gross $63.2M domestically and a stunning $200M worldwide. Studio stablemate Casino Royale slipped to fourth with $8.9M. Warner Bros. launched its action thriller Blood Diamond in fifth with a mediocre $8.6M on its way to $57.4M from North America and $171M globally. Opening in seventh was the studio’s other new wide release of the frame, the family comedy Unaccompanied Minors, with only $5.8M leading to a weak $16.6M final.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Only one new film ventures into wide release. Studios typically avoid opening worthwhile pics during the weekend after the Thanksgiving frame since moviegoing subsides and holiday shopping becomes a bigger national priority. Overall ticket sales tumble by 40-50% from the previous frame and holdovers usually lead the way. That means Disney’s princess tale Enchanted should continue to reign supreme at the North American box office, but those looking for a scare will have the new thriller Awake to see. After a robust turkey frame, look for the marketplace to settle down as movie fans nibble on leftovers.

What happens when Darth Vader marries the Invisible Woman? You get a horror film set in a hospital, of course. Awake stars Hayden Christensen as a man who undergoes surgery while remaining conscious and Jessica Alba plays the troubled wife. The R-rated psychological thriller from MGM and The Weinstein Co. will target young adults with a semi-intriguing premise and a dash of starpower.

Outside of the Star Wars prequels, young Anakin has no pull with ticket buyers but Alba has shown box office strength over the years and can often be a draw even when not suited up in Fantastic Four gear. As with so many of her previous films, trailers feature quick shots of her semi-nude body which should titillate male moviegoers. But overall excitement is not too high and the audience could be limited here with the eventual DVD release reaching the bulk of the film’s fans. Opening in about 2,000 theaters, Awake may gross around $6M this weekend.


Hayden Christensen, Terence Howard and Jessica Alba in Awake

A pair of film festival favorites with Oscar hopes will open in platform release this weekend. Fox Searchlight offers the estranged sibling comedy The Savages starring Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The R-rated film played earlier this year at Sundance, Telluride, and Toronto. Debuting in the same two Manhattan theaters is Miramax’s French drama The Diving Bell and the Butterfly about a magazine editor who after suffering a stroke, can only communicate with one eyelid. The PG-13 film scored the Best Director trophy at Cannes.


Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney in The Savages

With only one new offering in wide play, look for the box office chart to look awfully familiar. Nine of the top ten titles will probably be the same as last week’s. Disney’s family hit Enchanted is set to retain its crown and stay the leader. A 50% drop could result, especially since Friday is not a day off this time around. That would give the fairy tale flick about $17M for the weekend and a solid 12-day cume of $70M.

Following its surprisingly strong premiere, the family reunion film This Christmas should fall sharply on the sophomore session. A 55% decline would leave Sony with $8M and an impressive total of $36M after a dozen days.

Young males targeted by Beowulf and Hitman will be distracted somewhat by another one-word-titled film making its debut. With Alba in that cast, it could lead to steep drops of 55% each. That would put Paramount’s 3D adventure toon at around $7.5M for the weekend for a sum of $68M. Hitman would slide down to $6M for Fox and a total of $30M.

LAST YEAR: For the third straight weekend, the penguin-Bond connection ruled the box office with ease. The animated blockbuster Happy Feet remained the number one film once again with $17.5M for Warner Bros. while Sony’s 007 pic Casino Royale took the silver with $15.1M. In the first 17 days of play, moviegoers spent an astounding $237M on the dynamic duo. Denzel Washington‘s action thriller Deja Vu stayed put in third place with $10.9M in its sophomore frame. Debuting in fourth was the religious drama The Nativity Story with $7.8M on its way to a $37.6M final for New Line. Rounding out the top five was Fox’s Christmas comedy Deck the Halls with $6.7M. Also debuting but to modest numbers were Fox’s horror pic Turistas with $3.6M and MGM’s Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj with $2.3M. Final grosses reached $7M and $4.3M, respectively.