(Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
He’s traveled through time in search of knowledge, saved Sandra Bullock from getting blown up on a bus, freed humanity from being enslaved by computer overlords, and delivered some of the most righteous vengeance ever exacted on behalf of a murdered puppy — and all that really only scratches the surface of all the stuff Keanu Reeves has been up to on the big screen. Since making his mark as a quirky young lead in the ’80s, Reeves has followed his cinematic muse all over the genre map, from hit comedies like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure to blockbuster action thrillers like Speed, John Wick, and Point Break, as well as dramatic showcases like Dangerous Liaisons and My Own Private Idaho. Also, he knows kung fu. Whoa.
On the horizon, we got The Matrix Resurrections and another John Wick. Now, we’re ranking all Keanu Reeves movies by Tomatometer.
Fearing extinction, humans across North America lined up to see the new
The Day the
Earth Stood Still which debuted at number one more than doubling the
gross of its nearest competitor. With only one new wide release making any
impact, most holdovers remained sturdy with relatively low declines. Meanwhile
with awards season getting more active, an assortment of acclaimed films debuted
in limited release with all showing muscular numbers. But overall, the
marketplace fell sharply from year-ago levels and given the upcoming slate of
releases, there may be nothing but down weekends for the remainder of the year.
scored the best non-Matrix opening of his career with Earth which bowed
to an estimated $31M from 3,560 theaters for a solid $8,708 average. The remake
of the classic 1951 film of the same name finds the actor playing Klaatu, an
alien sent to this planet to drop the bad news to mankind that they’ll soon be
given the boot. The PG-13 film is an effects-driven disaster movie and delivered
a well-needed hit to Fox which has been struggling at the box office since last
spring. Earth marks only the second number one opening for the studio over the
last six months and is the company’s second best bow of the year after the $45M
for March’s Horton Hears a Who.
The $80M-budgeted alien film skewed male but played to a broad age range.
According to studio research, 55% of the audience was male while 51% was over
the age of 25. Friday got off to a solid start with $11.6M in ticket sales,
Saturday inched up 2% to $11.8M, and the studio is estimating a 36% Sunday drop
to $7.6M. The grosses include the 120 Imax locations that are also playing Earth
with higher-priced tickets. Reviews were mostly negative and early audience
feedback is not looking good either so the long-term outlook is iffy.
Compared to other non-sequel non-summer action films from this year, Earth’s
debut came in below the $40.1M of Cloverfield and the $35.9M of 10,000
B.C. Neither of those had any stars either. The performance was on par with
the debut of the 2005 Reeves vehicle Constantine which grossed $29.8M
over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of its holiday opening, or $33M at today’s
ticket prices. That R-rated sci-fi thriller went on to finish with $75.5M, or
$84M at 2008 prices. The former Neo has been absent from the number one spot for
five long years. His last top slot debut came thanks to a supporting role in
Jack Nicholson’s Something’s Gotta Give which opened this very weekend in 2003.
Fox unleashed The Day the Earth Stood Still in 90 international markets
this weekend and grossed a solid but not astounding $39M putting the global
opening at $70M.
Following its two-week stint at number one, the holiday comedy
slipped to second place but posted the smallest decline of any film in the top
ten. The Vince
Witherspoon hit slipped a remarkably low 21% to an estimated $13.3M as
moviegoers continue to ignore what critics have said and instead have been
responding to the humor, concept, and starpower. The Warner Bros. release has
now tallied $88M in 19 days and with Christmas Day next week, the film now looks
to reach $140M or more domestically. Four has also grossed $15.7M from 18
territories overseas early in its run with the United Kingdom accounting for
two-thirds of that take.
Summit’s vampire smash
Twilight witnessed another good hold dropping only 39% in its fourth
weekend to an estimated $8M allowing the cume to rise to $150.1M. Add in
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and Quantum of Solace and this November
saw three different releases go on to top $150M in domestic sales for only the
second time in box office history. The only other time this happened was in 2004
when the November titles The Incredibles, The Polar Express, and National
Treasure all soared above that mark.
Disney tacked a new 3D Pixar short onto its animated feature
Bolt and used the gimmick to generate a strong hold. The canine comedy
grossed an estimated $7.5M in its fourth frame for a slender 23% decline. With
$88.9M to date, the 3D toon should have no problem busting through the $100M
mark by Christmas weekend.
Fox’s big-budget epic Australia, which was shut out of any Golden Globe
nominations, followed with an estimated $4.3M, down 39%, for a disappointing
$37.9M cume. The James Bond actioner
Quantum of Solace
dropped 44% to an estimated $3.8M pushing the domestic total up to $157.7M.
Daniel Craig’s second turn as Agent 007 is the third biggest grosser in the
series (when not accounting for ticket price increases over the decades) behind
his franchise debut Casino Royale ($167M) and Pierce Brosnan’s final
flick Die Another Day ($160.9M).
The family reunion saga
Like the Holidays saw little cheer from ticket buyers debuting poorly to
an estimated $3.5M. The PG-13 film features a mostly Latino cast and averaged a
weak $2,095 from 1,671 locations. Despite a marketplace lacking any films
specifically targeting Spanish-speaking audiences, a release date during the
holiday season, and decent reviews, Nothing failed to spark interest with
moviegoers for its distributor Overture.
The animated sequel
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa remains the top-grossing film in the post-Dark
Knight era. Paramount and DreamWorks took in an estimated $3.3M, off 36%,
and upped the North American cume to $170M. Overseas, the zoo animals were in
second place after Keanu grossing an estimated $33.6M this weekend from 46
territories upping the robust tally to $172.7M. The worldwide haul now stands at
$343M with global school holidays still to come.
Focus more than tripled the run of its Sean Penn starrer
Milk from 99 to
328 locations and collected an estimated $2.6M boosting the total to $7.6M. The
per-theater average was a commendable $8,037. Rounding out the top ten was the
Jason Statham action sequel
with an estimated $2.2M, down 52%, for a cume of $29.3M for Lionsgate.
A handful of awards contenders debuted impressively in limited release this
weekend. Miramax went into 15 theaters with its Meryl Streep drama
Doubt and made
off with an estimated $525,000 for a stellar $35,000 average. Clint Eastwood’s
acting and directing duties were at the heart of
Gran Torino which
averaged a sensational $47,333 for Warner Bros. thanks to its estimated $284,000
gross from just six sites. Kate Winslet’s Nazi war trial pic
opened to an estimated $170,000 from eight playdates for a strong $21,250
average for The Weinstein Co. All three films earned generally good reviews and
will add more runs in additional cities over the coming weeks.
IFC Films platformed Steven Soderbergh’s biopic
starring Benicio del Toro in solo houses in New York and Los Angeles and took in
an estimated $60,100 for a superb $30,050 average. The performance was
especially potent since the film clocks in at over four hours leaving the
theaters to offer just two showings per day. The distributor is only running
Che for one week so it can qualify for Oscar consideration. In January it
will return to theaters for its official release in numerous markets.
Among holdovers in limited release, Fox Searchlight’s awards contender
Millionaire expanded from 78 to 169 theaters and grossed an estimated
$2.2M for a $8.1M sum. Averaging a sturdy $13,018, the Danny Boyle-directed pic
widens to about 500 runs on Friday. The political drama
went from three to 39 sites this weekend and collected an estimated $630,000 for
Universal for a solid $16,154 average. The Ron Howard-directed film has grossed
$877,000 to date and expands into 350 locations on Christmas Day before going
fully wide in January.
The top ten films over this Will Smith-less weekend grossed an estimated $79.5M
which was down 47% from last year when I Am Legend opened in the top spot
with $77.2M; and down 22% from 2006 when The Pursuit of Happyness debuted at
number one with $26.5M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya,
Could Scott Derrickson‘s upcoming adaptation of Milton’s Paradise Lost be shot in 3D? Perhaps so, the director told Rotten Tomatoes recently. “I’m already a believer in the 3D technology after seeing U2-3D; I was blown away by it,” Derrickson told us. “I was really struck by the cinematic possibilities of it for storytelling. It’s a change of the basic nature of the experience of cinema because the best way to see it is to view it large screen, IMAX, where there is no frame. It’s not something you watch, it’s something you’re in, and that fundamental difference, and the impact it can have on storytelling, it’s unfathomable. The story of Paradise Lost really lends itself to that experience.”
The epic poem, published in 1667, describes the temptation of Adam and Eve by Lucifer and their expulsion from Eden. Its imagery has inspired artists like Dali and writers like William Blake, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Mary Shelley. Quotations have been featured in movies like Se7en and The Crow and the character of Satan in the poem has been said to have influenced the character of Darth Vader in Star Wars.
“Milton’s great literary legacy was that he created the first antihero in Lucifer and he’s not the villain in Paradise Lost,” he explained. “He’s really the one that you’re tracking the story with and his initial discontent is very understandable and sympathetic. He makes choices and continues to make choices and I’m really interested in a movie that’s a real Litmus test as far as at what point you jump off supporting him. I think everyone will be on his side at the beginning, because he was an absolutely devoted servant of God to begin with, but at one point you stop being on his side is fascinating to me.”
The film is being produced in association with Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures who recently brought to screen 300, The Dark Knight and Superman Returns, and so know all about projects of epic visual scope.
But, Derrickson says, he’ll be starting from scratch when it comes to the film’s visual style, preferring to craft his own vision of the poem’s settings and characters and not rely on generations of art that’s been inspired by the poem. “I think it’s a story that needs an originality of vision to work as a modern movie,” he said, “and there are just so many interesting ideas and it’s so visual; fighting and fallen angels.”
Derrickson said that his interest in 3D for the film had been stoked recently by his time on the set of Avatar with James Cameron. “I went to the set and visited Cameron there and he was really generous with his time with me. It’s James Cameron and he’s making Avatar, I was just privileged to walk through the door, but he really took time to talk to me about The Day the Earth Stood Still and took time to walk me through the technology and I really saw how it works in production.
“Now that I’m doing Paradise Lost I emailed his producer, Jon Landau, and asked if I could see a few minutes, so I’m going to see a few minutes of finished film. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it turns out.”
For Derrickson, it was Cameron’s reasons for using the technology that convinced him about Avatar’s ambition. “When I met Cameron on set I asked, ‘Why have you spent so much time creating and perfecting the technology?’ He pointed to a script and he said, ‘The story.’ It was the perfect answer, and it was clearly what he believed. He had a story he didn’t think could be told any other way.”
Paradise Lost is in pre-production now and should be on screens in a couple of years. We’ll bring you more news as and when we get it. Derrickson’s latest film, The Day the Earth Stood Still, is out today — check out his visual companion to the movie here.
With Christmas looming large, and no Potter on the schedule, we have two fantasy flicks in the UK cinemas jostling for your hard-earned galleons. We have sci-fi remake The Day The Earth Stood Still starring Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly, and fantasy literary adaptation Inkheart, starring Paul Bettany and Brendan Fraser. But are either worth parting with your Christmas cash to see? This is what the British critics had to say…
The original Day The Earth Stood Still from 1951 is a bona-fide sci-fi classic, and tells the story of extra-terrestrial visitor Klaatu, who comes to Earth with a message of goodwill, accompanied by Gort, a large laser-sporting robot. When a film of this stature gets lined up for a remake, you have to ask yourself…why? Why don’t studios remake films that weren’t very good the first time round, instead of trying to repackage a film, so of its time, that will only be compared unfavourably to the original?
With the UK critics largely dismissing the film, for its lazy CGI, uninspiring performances and shoe-horned eco-warning message, they are all also asking… Why bother? Tim Robey of the Independent summed up the general consensus by saying “the cinematography is dismal, and the cocktail of lazy CGI and po-faced, sub-Al-Gore environment lecture leaves you light-headed with tedium.” The Day The Earth Stood Still is currently languishing at 24% on the Tomatometer. Klaatu Barada Rotten.
Inkheart is closer in tone to the Potter-esque fantasy that is missing from our winter schedule this year. Based on a hugely popular German childrens’ novel by Cornelia Funke, Inkheart stars Brendan Fraser as Mo, a man who discovers he has the power to bring literary characters to life by reading books aloud, whose daughter Meggie, knows nothing of her father’s bizarre and powerful talent.
Ably supported by some of the UK’s finest acting talents including Paul Bettany, Jim Broadbent, Andy Serkis and Helen Mirren, the critics gave Inkheart their blessing for its cheerful nature, praising the actors for their dependable turns with Daniel Etherington of Channel 4 films calling it “Solid fantasy fare, nicely performed and handsomely made.” With the US critics response not yet counted, the film stands at a healthy 73% on the Tomatometer. Check back on the 23rd of January in the new year to see what the US critics thought of Inkheart.
Quote Of The Week
“Not only is it 20th Century Fox’s first ‘carbon neutral’ production but its Earth-destroying special effects have less impact than a fart in a thunderstorm.”
The Day The Earth Stood Still. Larushka Ivan-Zadeh.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Day the Earth Stood Still director, Scott Derrickson, had been annouced as the director of Devil’s Knot, an adaptation of a book based on the West Memphis Three case, but circumstances have forced him to leave the project, RT has learned. Derrickson told RT that despite spending a large amount of time preparing the movie it looked like the project wouldn’t be happening with him at the helm.
The West Memphis Three are Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin who, in the early nineties, were convicted of the murders of three 8 year-old boys in the Robin Hood Hills area of West Memphis, Arkansas. Many believe that the convictions were a miscarriage of justice and that their trial was based on questionable evidence. Two feature-length documentaries, called Paradise Lost, have been released about the case with a third in production.
“I really care about that story – I think it’s an important story – and I’m sad I’m not going to get to tell it,” Derrickson told us. “I went to West Memphis, I’ve communicated with most of the surviving parents of the victims and I’ve seen the entire crime scene file. I’ve read all the court transcripts of both trials and really did my research. Looking at the actual crime scene photos is one of the most depressing experiences I’ve had. It was really, really awful.
“I absolutely believe that the West Memphis Three are innocent. I know everything about that crime and I think the fact that they’re in prison is ridiculous.”
For Derrickson, the story was an interesting counterpoint to his work on Emily Rose. “I really thought it was an extraordinary story about America, and a really interesting, microcosmic view of America,” he said. “The role that religion came to play in the judicial system and the impropriety of that – in some ways it was the flipside to Emily Rose to me. Emily Rose was asking the audience to really consider and take seriously the possibility of the demonic existing. This story was going to be, in some ways, the incredible danger of taking that stuff too seriously; if you take that stuff too seriously people get hurt.”
Another director may be chosen for the project, but Derrickson has moved on. His fascination with the darker side of religion continues, though, as — coincidentally — his next project is an adaptation of Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, about Satan and the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden. Find out more about that project here.
UPDATE: In response to an earlier version of this story, Derrickson wishes to point out that there are no rights issues preventing the project from moving ahead. The article has been corrected above.
This week at the movies, we’ve got an alien invasion (The Day the Earth Stood Still, starring Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly), forbidden CG love (Delgo, with voice work by Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Jennifer Love Hewitt), and seasonal dysfunction (Nothing Like the Holidays, starring John Leguizamo and Debra Messing). What do the critics have to say?
Robert Wise‘s 1951 classic The Day the Earth Stood Still was a tense, intelligent Cold War allegory. The remake of the same name has subbed in the issue of global warming, but otherwise, critics say this update brings little freshness — or excitement — to the table. Keanu Reeves stars as Klaatu, an emissary from an advanced alien race that is sent to earth to determine if the human race can stop the environmental damage it has inflicted on the planet, since Klaatu’s kind are considering a hostile takeover. It’s up to an astrobiologist (Jennifer Connelly) and her stepson (Jaden Smith) to convince Klaatu not to wipe out all of humanity. The pundits say The Day the Earth Stood Still lacks the original’s political smarts and air of menace; instead, it’s more of a finger-wagging message flick with mediocre special effects. At 21 percent on the Tomatometer, this is not a very good Day.
Jennifer Connelly, Jaden Smith, and Keanu Reeves are involved in a different kind of auto bailout.
The sheer visual spectacle — and intelligent plotting — of such recent animated fare as WALL-E, Bolt, and Kung Fu Panda has raised the bar for the medium to such a level that some films that might have looked visionary a few years ago now look chintzy by comparison. Critics say Delgo is an example. In this CG fantasy tale, the title character (voiced by Freddie Prinze, Jr.) is a rebellious teenager who falls in love with Kyla (Jennifer Love Hewitt); trouble is, they’re from two different peoples, and the romance is the catalyst for war. Will love triumph over all? The pundits say Delgo isn’t terrible, just thoroughly mediocre, with videogame-quality visuals, slow-moving action, and an overplotted, undercooked story. At nine percent on the Tomatometer, Delgo is a no-go.
At least someone gave thumbs up to Delgo.
Another year, another comedy about a dysfunctional family coming together for the holidays. The critics say Nothing Like the Holidays is better than most, thanks to a strong cast, but it’s still a pretty familiar affair. Holidays focuses on the Rodriguez clan, coming together for another yuletide celebration. However, things go south when matriarch Anna (Elizabeth Pena) announces she’s splitting from her husband (Alfred Molina); meanwhile, some of the clan takes exception to the fact that eldest brother Mauricio’s (John Leguizamo) wife (Debra Messing) doesn’t seem all that interested in giving Anna grandchildren. The pundits say Nothing Like the Holidays features winning performances and a good deal of warmth, but the characters are thinly sketched and the material is pretty weather-beaten. It’s currently at 56 percent on the Tomatometer.
I tell ya… working at Fisher & Sons would drive any man to drink!”
Also opening this week in limited release:
In the City of Sylvia, a nearly dialogue-free tale of a man searching for the title character in Strasboug, is at 88 percent.
The Spanish thriller Timecrimes, about a man who finds himself transported a few hours in the past and tries to make sense of a crime, is at 82 percent.
Dark Streets, a neo-noir about a nightclub owner threatened by electrical blackouts and underworld figures, is at 10 percent.
Recent Keanu Reeves Movies:
Keanu Reeves invades multiplexes across North America with his new sci-fi actioner The Day the Earth Stood Still which opens five years to the day after the actor’s last stint in the number one spot. Also debuting are the family drama Nothing Like the Holidays and the animated adventure Delgo.
Gunning for an easy victory at the box office this weekend, The Day the Earth Stood Still sees Fox targeting the same audience that Warner Bros. went after with I Am Legend a year ago this very weekend with its own star-driven end-of-the-world thriller. The PG-13 film co-stars Jennifer Connelly, Jaden Smith, and Kathy Bates. To add to the grossing potential, Day will also open on higher-priced Imax screens plus the film will have attached to it the trailer for the studio’s summer franchise flick X-Men Origins: Wolverine. These tactics will ensure that a large crowd will show up.
Earth has many factors working in its favor this weekend which will join forces to deliver a strong number one debut. Effects-driven disaster films almost always score big numbers and Keanu is a bankable lead in the sci-fi and action genres so his salary will end up being a worthwhile investment. Older sci-fi fans may also be curious to see how a classic tale got updated so the film could play to a broad age range. Plus the current marketplace is weak and ticket buyers are hungry for that next big event film and Earth is the only one that really fits the bill right now. No effects-driven action film has opened north of $20M in four months so Gort and company will capitalize on pent up demand.
Earth should connect with many of the same moviegoers that came out earlier this year for the non-sequel actioners Cloverfield and 10,000 B.C. Those pics bowed on top with $40.1M and $35.9M, respectively, but Keanu should fly higher. TV spots for Day even take a page from the successful campaign Fox put together for its weather disaster smash The Day After Tomorrow more than four years ago. Landing in 3,559 sites, The Day the Earth Stood Still may open to about $48M.
The always dependable family reunion is used to set up the story in Nothing Like the Holidays, the tale of a Chicago set that gets back together for Christmas to face challenges that can only be solved by…coming together as a family. The mostly Latino cast includes John Leguizamo, Freddy Rodriguez, Jay Hernandez, Alfred Molina, and Debra Messing. Overture is looking for a hit and hoping that the picture can play to a broader audience than just the Spanish-speaking population. But that crowd alone can be a driving force at the box office and should respond to Nothing thanks to its starpower, family bonding plot, plus the fact that a wide release with a mostly Latino cast is a rare event not to be missed.
Reviews have been mixed and business from outside the community will not be easy to generate. African Americans have already proven themselves to be a viable demographic at the box office, but Latinos have had only a fraction of the opportunities even though they make up a larger portion of the country’s population. This film will be looked at as a test. Coming home to 1,671 theaters, Nothing Like the Holidays could collect roughly $7M this weekend.
Freestyle releases the animated adventure Delgo featuring the voices of Freddie Prinze Jr., Jennifer Love Hewitt, Kelly Ripa, and Val Kilmer into about 1,800 theaters. That’s curiously wide for a film with almost no buzz. The PG-rated toon will play mostly to kids and might scrape together around $2M.
The usual end-of-year rush with limited release titles continues this weekend with a handful of new films opening in selected cities. Among the more high-caliber dramas are Clint Eastwood‘s second directorial effort of the year, and first that stars him, with Gran Torino which Warner Bros. platforms in New York and Los Angeles. Meryl Streep makes a bid for her record fifteenth Oscar nomination with Miramax’s Doubt co-starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. Following his Best Actor win at Cannes earlier this year, Benicio del Toro hits the commercial market in the U.S. with Steven Soderbergh‘s Che in its full two-part four-and-a-half-hour length for a one-week Academy run at the Ziegfeld in New York and The Landmark in Los Angeles playing only two shows per day.
After two weeks at number one, the holiday comedy Four Christmases will drop a notch or two, but expect some decent legs. The Warner Bros. release is going over well with audiences so a 40% decline could result giving the film about $10M for the weekend and $84M in 19 days. Summit’s Twilight has also been staying relatively strong so a 45% drop to $7M may occur. That would give the vampire saga $149M to date.
Disney’s Bolt suffered a big fall coming off of the Thanksgiving holiday, but this weekend look for it to stabilize as it’s still the only major option for younger kids. Delgo will not be much of a threat. Look for a 40% fall to around $5.5M which would push the cume to $87M. A similar decline should result for Fox’s Australia which could round up another $4M lifting its modest domestic tally to $37M. The total snub by the Golden Globes won’t help.
LAST YEAR: Two smash openings led the overall box office to its biggest non-holiday December weekend ever. Will Smith led the way with his apocalyptic actioner I Am Legend which broke the December opening weekend record with a towering $77.2M. Warner Bros. would go on to capture $256.4M domestically and $584M worldwide. Fox also had reason to celebrate as its family comedy Alvin and the Chipmunks bowed in second place with a terrific $44.3M on its way to $217.3M from North America and $358M globally. Clobbered in its second weekend was the fantasy epic The Golden Compass which tumbled 66% falling two spots to third with $8.8M. The princess comedy Enchanted landed in fourth with $5.5M while eventual Oscar champ No Country For Old Men rounded out the top five with $2.8M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeguru.com
I first became involved when Tom Rothman, the chairman of 20th Century Fox, sent me a copy of the script they had. I think they’d worked on the script for a few years and struggled with what to do with it. I’m a huge fan of the original film so when I got the script I was a bit sceptical. I wasn’t sure it was a good idea to remake The Day the Earth Stood Still. When I read it, I knew it needed some work but I appreciated the writer’s general approach to doing it and I certainly saw the value in doing it pretty quickly. It really updated the social issues that the original was dealing with. I also came to realise that it’s not a film that the modern movie-going public is used to. Telling that story for the general public now seemed like a really good idea.
This is a matter of opinion, but I differ from a lot of film fans in that I don’t think that a remake changes the original at all. I don’t think a good remake or a bad remake makes any difference to the original. I think Philip Kaufman’s remake of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers is better than Don Siegel’s, but I don’t think that makes Don Seigel’s any worse. There have been four versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and I think that’s a real tribute to Don Seigel and the movie he made. If anything I think it shows a great respect. I have to act on those creative beliefs, so I don’t feel worried about doing any damage to the original but I do have respect for the original and for the fans of that original.
Keanu is a very particular actor with a particular, and peculiar, set of gifts which I don’t think people give him enough credit for. I think that there are some critics that have been hard on him because they don’t understand his appeal and I think it’s because they don’t pay attention. There are very few actors who could make The Matrix films and not look ridiculous. What he does extraordinarily well is that he has an understanding of his own physicality and of his own countenance, and how it can draw an audience in without becoming too big or silly. In movies in which it would be very easy to become silly in. There’s a mystery to him, and not just him the actor. I’ve spent a lot of time with him over the last couple of year and he’s a fascinating guy. There’s something about him that keeps you constantly wondering about what’s going on beneath the surface because he’s an interesting fellow.
I knew that the movie had no chance of succeeding if the audience didn’t buy that he was an alien and I needed an actor who could communicate that to the audience without overdoing it and without it becoming something the audience would be conscious of. I believed that Keanu had the ability to do that. He’s extraordinarily alien in the first scene in which you meet him, to the point that he even freaked out Kathy Bates! She wasn’t making too much of it, but she just came to me at one point and said, “You know, he’s really freaking me out!” What’s particularly interesting for me to watch is that he takes on this human body but becomes accustomed to it and sort-of becomes human by the end of the film. You shoot movies out of order and he’d really worked out where he was going to be with that throughout the film.
I love Jennifer and I’ve spent so much time with her and her family over the last year. She is so bright and smart and funny and she made shooting a pleasure. She’s an extraordinary actress. When you’re cutting a film you’re constantly stopping and starting the movie and landing on random still frames. You hit the space bar on the Avid, the footage pauses and you usually end up with some bizarre facial expression on your actors’ faces. One of the things that became almost a running joke between me and my editor was that we’d pause on a shot of her literally thousands of times and every time you stop there’d just be this frozen image of her looking perfect and beautiful. The camera loves her so much. She was always my first choice for Helen, the person I’d brought up in my first meeting with Tom Rothman, and the reason I wanted her was that I knew we’d need a real actress to ground this film with aliens and robots throughout it. And genre fans love her. We had the star of Labyrinth and the star of The Matrix on set with us and there were definitely some pinch-myself moments having a chance to work with those two!
I couldn’t have had a more collaborative experience working with a studio than I had working with Fox on this movie. Tom’s been vilified by film fans and demonised in such a severe way. I don’t know what the past is with filmmakers working at the studio, so I’m not challenging what anyone else has said, but in my experience they were very respectful of me creatively. I was very direct when we started to make sure we all knew what kind of movie we’d be making so there wasn’t any basic push or pull of them seeing dailies and saying, “This wasn’t what we were thinking.” I think a part of the responsibility lies with the filmmaker to actually do that. Every single time they would look at stuff they would write down all of their creative notes, they would give them all to me, and then the last thing they would say would be, “Take those. If they work, use them, if they don’t, don’t.” That’s the way it worked until the end.
For as long as I’m privileged to make movies I’m going to try and make movies I’d want to see. Those are the kinds of movies Kurosawa made, and if I make one movie that’s as good as his mediocre films I’ll be satisfied as a director! The reason he’s the beacon for me is that he seems to the only filmmaker in cinema history who I feel, through his entire body of work, was always pursuing the highest level of art and entertainment at the same time. He made movies that were a 10 on the Entertainment scale and a 10 on the Art of Cinema scale all the time. He took the best of Hollywood cinema and the best of European cinema and put them together in his own unique way. I’ll always try to do things that are entertaining that audiences will want to see because I like those sorts of movies, but I always want them to have some sort of artistic appeal or cinematic craftsmanship, and certainly some kind of thematic value.
The summer may be the biggest time of the year for movies, but winter is arguably the best. With a full slate of Oscar hopefuls, holiday films, and star vehicles, the holidays are a perfect time to head to the multiplex for some cinematic food for thought. With that in mind, we at RT have compiled a Holiday Movie Guide that will help you sift through the season’s best movie offerings!
This winter sees new films from such big stars as Will Smith, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, and Samuel L. Jackson. In addition, such top-notch directors as David Fincher, Bryan Singer, and Baz Luhrmann are out in force. The winter is sure to be a moviegoer’s delight — click on the links below to find out more!