(Photo by Columbia Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)
For most actors, a movie like Leon: The Professional would be the peak. For Natalie Portman, it was just the beginning.
She followed up her breakthrough debut as the lil’ assassin with three more Certified Fresh films: Heat, Beautiful Girls, and Everyone Says I Love You. Science-fiction projects gave her first brushes with Rotten ratings (Mars Attacks!) but also global stardom (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace), giving her the clout to work with the biggest name directors; people like Wes Anderson (The Darjeeling Limited), Milos Forman (Goya’s Ghosts), Wong Kar-Wai (My Blueberry Nights), and Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), the last of which nabbed her the Best Actress Oscar.
Portman has also increasingly worked directly behind the camera in recent years, first with her own directed segment in New York, I Love You, and then the feature-length A Tale of Love and Darkness. That came after Portman was absent from the screen a few years following mildly compelling if safe turns in two Thor movies. But she’ll be back in a revamped starring role with Thor: Love and Thunder, directed by Taika Waititi and set for 2022. Before then, we’re celebrating her birthday by looking at all of Natalie Portman’s movies with Tomatometers, ranked!
As the latest wave of Obamamania sweeps the country, look forward to HBO’s Recount…or peek into the past with HBO’s John Adams. Also clear your calendar for high-def Top Gun action and get over that crippling shyness with an innovative new DVD from Japan. Whatever you do, make sure you check out this week’s new releases!
What went wrong in the 2000 Presidential election? Perhaps everything — or perhaps nothing, depending on your politics. Either way, HBO’s gripping fictional retelling of the Gore vs. Bush vote counting fiasco is coming to DVD August 19, which gives all of you non-subscribers the chance to see Kevin Spacey, Laura Dern, and Tom Wilkinson portray some of the most notorious political movers and shakers in recent history.
Blu-Ray Top Gun to finally satisfy HD fans
If you were disappointed by the extras-free HD-DVD version of Top Gun, we’ve got great news for you. The Blu-Ray release of Tom Cruise‘s career-defining flick is not only headed your way, it’s also loaded with bonus materials — feature and storyboard commentaries by Tony Scott and more, a six-part making-of documentary, and a “Vintage Gallery” of ’80s TV spots, featurettes, Cruise interviews, and, yes, music videos by the likes of Kenny Loggins, Berlin, and Loverboy. Which means you should grab your wingman, Maverick, and take the highway to the danger zone. Because you have the need. The need for speed.
Beware the Ninja Cheerleaders!
Breaking acquisition news! DMX and Kris Kristofferson. George Takei and The Real World‘s Trishelle. Willie Nelson and a young, beautiful assassin. You couldn’t make up better movie concepts than these. Peace Arch Entertainment thought so, too — they’ll be bringing Lord of the Street, Ninja Cheerleaders, and Fighting With Anger, respectively, to your Netflix account soon. Just remember: the more you rent movies like this, the more they will make. Act accordingly.
Pour one out for Manny the labrador…
In sadder news, one of two pirate-sniffing dogs donated to the Malaysian government was found dead last week. Manny, a one-year-old golden Labrador, passed away mysteriously; despite recorded doggie bounties put out on previous Malaysian pirate smashers Lucky and Flo, officials do not suspect foul play. Manny and his doggie partner, Paddy, had been donated by the MPAA to form the world’s first-ever DVD-sniffing canine unit.
Get out there and meet new people…kinda
And finally in this week’s worth of DVD news, those crafty Japanese have created a solution for you bashful home theater owners. Cure your shyness with the interactive “Miterudake” disc, in which 50 different women stare directly at you — in the hopes of helping the socially anxious become more comfortable around the opposite sex. Get it for $25 here. Have a sample staring contest below.
Click for this week’s new releases!
Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) takes one of the year’s most interesting science fiction concepts — space-jumping teenagers hopping all over the world — and turned an incoherent mess into theaters last February. Now you can see that mess for yourself on DVD!
Considerable behind-the-scenes features and a commentary track with Liman, producer Lucas Foster, and co-writer Simon Kinsberg (X-Men: The Last Stand) might make up for the movie itself. A sequel was planned — that is, until Jumper failed to make back its own budget — so if you’d like to see Hayden Christensen frolic across the space continuum again, help Liman out and buy the DVD.
Two Oscar-winning septuagenarians hit the road for one last comic hurrah before they retire in Rob Reiner’s sentimental schmaltzfest. Before you skip to the next release, consider the fact that The Bucket List made more money in theaters than any other title this week. “Life is short — live a little!” Morgan and Jack seem to tell us. But what does the bonus menu have in store…?
A music video for John Mayer’s “Say,” and precious little else? How did they know that was the one thing we had left to do on our bucket list??
Some people like their world history with a healthy dose of soap. (We also like good movies, but that’s just us.) As Anne and Mary Boleyn, Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson give a valiant heave of the bosom, but this version of King Henry VIII’s love triangle with two sisters is bloodless melodrama.
As with Phillippa Gregory’s source novel, The Other Boleyn Girl is more intriguing for the real-life history of Tudor England than for its fictionalized drama. History buffs will get a kick out of features about the real life royals and Gregory’s wildly popular book, but everyone else…is probably already falling asleep.
The first time Michael Haneke made Funny Games in Austria, critics were terrified and impressed. This time around, his tale of home invasion — shot nearly scene-by-scene in English and starring Naomi Watts and Tim Roth — proved too sadistic for the uninitiated. Is America ready for cerebral horror?
Perhaps Haneke wants the film to speak for itself. You’ll have to work through the exercise in complicit viewer sadism yourself, since there are zero features to accompany this disc.
Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney stand out in this handsome HBO miniseries about U.S. President and founding father John Adams in the early days of American independence.
The celebrated series comes in a three-disc release, just in time for Father’s Day. An hour of extras includes documentaries and pop-up trivia that deliver even more history. Shop at HBO.com and pick up nifty “Join or Die” swag.
No. Just — no.
Zero percent, folks. Go back and get John Adams, for goodness sake.
Cult DVD Pick of the Week – Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan
Indulge in the recent wave of Shaw Brothers re-releases and give this lush, action-packed female revenge pic a go. The story of a courtesan who takes her vengeance with a heart-ripping technique known as “ghost hands” (long before the “Kali Ma” cult in Temple of Doom) combines the best elements of 1970s Shaw Bros.: dazzling sets, wuxia, kung fu, lady fighters, eroticism and a touch of the perverse.
‘Til next week, happy viewing!
Say what you like about blockbuster supremo Roland Emmerich, he sure knows how to pack ’em in the aisles. The director of Independence Dayand The Day After Tomorrow‘s new “historical” epic 10,000 B.C.. has – almost inevitably – come straight in at number one in the UK charts.
This is despite the film’s dreadful reviews, dearth of recognisable stars and a daft concept that liberally shifts around thousands of years of history. The movie is currently at a meagre 10% on the Tomatometer, and the plot’s reliance on large, woolly elephantine creatures has given grizzled hacks carte blanche to dub the film a ‘mammoth disappointment/turkey/flop’ etc.
Nonetheless, gullible punters flocked to see the film, and consequently the money men at Warner Bros. sat on over £2m worth of box office receipts in the first 4 days. This is on top of the pic’s $61 million take in the US. It all just goes to show that Emmerich is once again bulletproof at the box office and, along with maybe Michael Bay, the premier popcorn hitmaker of our age.
Elsewhere indie British comedy The Cottage made a so-so showing, coming in at 6th place. Directed by Paul Andrew Williams, who made a remarkable debut with critical darling London to Brighton last year, this new effort was also well received, though not to the same extent. 75% on the Tomatometer was a good return for a film described by Elliot Noble from Sky Movies as, “solid Brit-horror nourishment,” though the filmmakers might have expected better than the £350,000 the film has pulled in so far, especially considering the film’s heavy promotion.
Most interesting however is the cross-Atlantic success of the stupidly-monikered Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert. The titular 15 year-old is the latest in a long line of manufactured Disney popstrels with her own records, TV shows and movies to make the mouse big bucks. Complete with creepy footage of screaming preteen white-teethed fans, this concert movie has already proved a cash-cow for the corporation in the States and is now making serious money here too. The film came in at nine in the charts, a scarily impressive showing considering it was only playing on 65 screens.
North American film fans heard the call of the elephant and stampeded to the box office to see the animated Dr. Seuss pic Horton Hears a Who, which enjoyed the largest opening weekend of the year so far. The testosterone flick Never Back Down launched to decent numbers; however, the virus thriller Doomsday was dead on arrival in its debut. But ‘toon power was able to revitalize the marketplace, sending the top 10 above the $100M mark and ahead of year-ago levels for the first time in a month.
Jim Carrey and Steve Carell lent their voices to Horton and ticket buyers responded, spending an estimated $45.1M on the Fox hit for a strong number one premiere. The G-rated tale bowed ultrawide in 3,954 locations and averaged a sturdy $11,406 per theater. The Whoville story generated the fourth best March opening ever, behind 300 ($70.9M), Ice Age: The Meltdown ($68M), and the original Ice Age ($46.3M) and also landed the fifth largest opening in history for a G-rated film.
Horton took advantage of star power, the popularity of the Seuss brand, and an open marketplace with few options for families to help it post the year’s best debut. But the film went beyond just parents and kids — the studio reports that 47 percent of the audience was non-family, with teens kicking in a significant contribution. Budgeted at $85M, the animated feature also garnered glowing reviews from most critics. Horton also bowed in 29 international markets this weekend, and captured an estimated $14.2M tally.
Animated films opening in March usually enjoy strong legs thanks to the Easter holiday and school vacations. Ice Age‘s opening weekend represented only 26 percent of its eventual $176.4M domestic final. Fox’s 2005 film Robots witnessed a 28 percent share, Meltdown played like a sequel and saw 35 percent, and last year’s Disney offering Meet the Robinsons grabbed 26 percent. Horton should follow in the same footsteps, as direct competition in the coing weeks is not too fierce, leading to possibly $150-175M from North America alone.
Trailing the animated elephant were the woolly mammoths of 10,000 BC. The not-so-accurate account of prehistoric times fell 54 percent in its second outing to an estimated $16.4M and pushed the total to $61.2M after 10 days. Given the bad reviews, negative word-of-mouth and the genre, the sharp decline was expected. The Warner Bros. title is playing almost exactly like another spring historical actioner, 2002’s The Scorpion King. The Rock starrer generated similar numbers with a $36.1M debut and $61.3M 10-day take before concluding with $90.5M. 10,000 BC should find its way to the same vicinity domestically. Overseas, the prehistoric pic collected a mighty $38M this weekend as it saw top spot debuts in the United Kingdom, Korea, and Russia and second place launches in France and Italy. The international cume has risen to $73M putting the global gross at an impressive $134M.
So far this year, moviegoers have been showing up in the same numbers, but have spread their dollars across a wider selection of movies than in 2007. Overall domestic box office is up 4 percent compared to the same period last year, and when factoring in the annual increase in ticket prices, total admissions are up only a slight amount. But at this point in 2007, six films had crossed the $50M mark, including three that broke the $100M barrier; this year, none have reached nine digits yet, but a whopping 10 have vaulted ahead of $50M (not including Horton, which is just days away from surpassing that mark).
The Mixed Martial Arts drama Never Back Down debuted to mediocre results and landed in third place with an estimated $8.6M from a wide 2,729 theaters. Averaging a mild $3,155, the PG-13 high school tale is the first in-house production from new distributor Summit and played to an audience of young males. Research showed that 59 percent of the audience was male and 60 percent were under 21. Never was budgeted at $20M.
Martin Lawrence’s second comedy of the year, College Road Trip, dropped a moderate 42 percent in its second weekend,, grossing an estimated $7.9M. With $24.3M collected in 10 days, the G-rated family flick should end up in the neighborhood of $45M.
Sony’s action thriller Vantage Point has been enjoying surprisingly strong legs, and slipped only 27 percent this week, to an estimated $5.4M for a solid cume of $59.2M. Rival actioner The Bank Job posted an even greater hold, sliding only 17 percent in its sophomore frame to an estimated $4.9M, giving Lionsgate $13.1M in 10 days. The high-octane pics should reach about $75M and $27M, respectively.
Universal suffered a dismal opening for its futuristic virus thriller Doomsday, which bowed to just $4.7M, according to estimates, from 1,936 theaters. The R-rated pic averaged a miserable $2,450 and should find its real audience on DVD this summer.
Will Ferrell‘s basketball comedy Semi-Pro fell 49 percent to eighth with an estimated $3M, pushing the total for New Line to $29.8M. Look for a final of roughly $35M, making it the comedian’s lowest-grossing lead performance in a wide release since 1998’s Night at the Roxbury.
Sony’s The Other Boleyn Girl dipped only 28 percent to an estimated $2.9M for a cume of $19.2M. The kidpic The Spiderwick Chronicles rounded out the top 10 with an estimated $2.4M, off 49 percent, for a $65.4M sum. Final grosses should reach $26M and $70M, respectively.
Warner Independent had a mixed weekend with its pair of limited release titles. The Naomi Watts thriller Funny Games opened in 289 theaters and grossed an estimated $520,000 for a dull $1,800 average. But its promising platform release Snow Angels added one Los Angeles site and took in an estimated $26,000 from three sites for a potent $8,667 average. The Kate Beckinsale starrer expands to the top 10 on Friday during its third session.
Three solid box office performers fell from the top 10 this weekend. Fox’s sci-fi flick Jumper dropped 42 percent to an estimated $2.1M, lifting the total to $75.8M. The $85M Hayden Christensen–Samuel L. Jackson actioner should conclude with about $80M. It’s already banked $100M overseas and counting.
The $70M adventure comedy Fool’s Gold collected an estimated $1.7M, off 38 percent, for a $65.4M sum. Warner Bros. looks to end with just under $70M. Step Up 2 the Streets, the latest teen dance drama to score with audiences, took in an estimated $1.5M, down 51 percent. With $55.4M taken in thus far, the Buena Vista release will reach close to $60M, putting it within striking distance of the $65.3M gross of 2006’s surprise smash Step Up.
The top 10 films grossed an estimated $101.3M, which was up less than 1 percent from last year — when 300 remained at number one in its second weekend with $32.9M — and up 13 percent from 2006, when V for Vendetta debuted in the top spot with $25.6M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Will Ferrell storms the box office this weekend with his latest sports comedy, Semi-Pro. This time the funnyman takes on the world of professional basketball, following in the footsteps of 2007’s figure skating pic Blades of Glory and 2006’s racing flick Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. There is no question this kind of film is directly in Ferrell’s wheelhouse so he should slam another one out of the park – sorry, let me try that again… so this weekend should be a slam dunk for him.
Almost exactly a year ago, Blades of Glory opened with $33M on its way to a $118.5M final gross. In August of 2006, Talladega Nights opened with $47M on its way to $148M. The major differences between those two films and Semi-Pro is that the previous two were rated PG-13 while Semi-Pro has landed an R rating, and that people may be tiring of seeing Ferrell doing the same shtick over and over again. The rating will keep some of the young folks who dig Ferrell’s irreverent comedy, away from theaters. The shtick may keep some viewers away, but the fans will come out in droves and it shouldn’t hurt the overall grosses too much, as the film is the only major player in town. Opening on over 3,000 screens, Semi-Pro could gross $35M this weekend.
The Other Boleyn Girl will likely cater to an audience of older women, although the joint star power of Johansson and Portman could bring in a somewhat younger crowd, as will Eric Bana who plays the aforementioned King. However the film opens on only about 1,000 screens and will likely get lost in the shuffle. While the film isn’t a romantic comedy and in fact has a twisted and scandalous storyline, there are no less than three romantic comedies still in the marketplace all of which cater to the same demographic. Look for The Other Boleyn Girl to open with around $5M.
LAST YEAR: Disney jumped all over the box office with the smash Wild Hogs, which grossed $39.7M making it the largest opening in March history for a live-action film (until the following weekend when 300 shattered the mark). The critically acclaimed Zodiac debuted in second place with $13.4M. Two-time champ Ghost Rider grossed $11.6M, while a second Disney film, Bridge to Terabithia made $8.9M. Jim Carrey‘s crossover into horror, The Number 23, crashed 56% and collected $6.5M in its second weekend.
at the movies, we’ve got hapless hoopsters (Semi-Pro, starring
Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, and
Andre Benjamin), snouted socialites (Penelope,
starring Christina Ricci
and James McAvoy), and scandalous siblings (The Other Boleyn Girl,
starring Natalie Portman,
Scarlett Johansson, and
Eric Bana). What do the
critics have to say?
Ferrell has made a mini-career for himself yuking it up in wacky sports
comedies. Some, like
Talladega Nights and
of Glory, were
winners with the critics, while others (Kicking and Screaming, anyone?)
have fallen below the Mendoza Line. It appears the pundits are putting his
latest, Semi-Pro, in the latter category. Ferrell stars as Jackie Moon,
the owner of a struggling American Basketball Association (yep, the league with
the red, white, and blue ball) squad that’s on the verge of folding; worse, the
NBA may soon buy the only solvent ABA squads, so the team has to start winning
in a hurry. The pundits say that while Semi-Pro offers occasional laughs,
its shooting percentage isn’t all that high; it’s never as deliriously funny as
it should be, and sags under the weight of too much sentiment. At 23 percent
on the Tomatometer, Semi-Pro is looking as pretty as a Ben Wallace free
lass with a swine’s schnoz, Penelope (Christina Ricci) isn’t your average girl.
And the scribes say Penelope isn’t your average movie
— and despite
moments of enchantment, this modern-day fairy tale is something of a mixed bag.
Penelope is a poor little rich girl who suffers from a strange curse: she’s got
a pig snout, and can only be saved by the proper suitor. The critics say Penelope
is never short on whimsy and charm, but it’s uneven and a little short on magic.
It’s currently at 55 percent on the Tomatometer. (Check out our inventory of
fairy tales for grownups here.)
The Other Boleyn Girl has all the makings of a juicy tale of period intrigue: a
love triangle, political machinations, and a stellar cast. Unfortunately,
critics say the film can’t quite put all the pieces together. Based upon the
bestseller by Philippa Gregory, Boleyn is the story of two sisters
(Natalie Portman and
vying for the ardor of the King of England (Eric Bana) — and finding themselves in a romantic tug-of-war that
threatens to destabilize the nation. The pundits say the movie looks terrific,
and the plot has intrinsic interest, but Boleyn ends up devolving into
over-plotted, melodramatic territory while leaving certain elements of its plot
underdeveloped. At 45 percent on the Tomatometer, the critics aren’t quite in
love with this Girl.
opening this week in limited release:
finally, props to
man in the water,
I am evil homer,
Pilgermann, who all, ahem, got ‘er done by
successfully guessing that
Witless Protection would earn a big zero
percent Tomatometer. Good to see some folks around these parts aren’t totally
lacking in wit.
Will Ferrell Movies:
Wendell Baker Story (2007)
of Glory (2007)
than Fiction (2006)
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)