It’s the time of year to leave out milk and cookies and upgrade that home security system, because Krampus is coming to town on Friday. The Adam Scott horror/comedy brings season’s beatings to a family who unwittingly unleash a yuletide demon upon their suburban household, and inspires this week’s 24 Frames: a picture collection of December-set movie thrills. We’re also presenting choices across all genres in this gallery, because everybody gets what they want on Christmas…EVEN SATAN.

Thanks to Charles Dickens and A Christmas Carol, the Yuletide season has long been associated with ghost stories — often with hard-won uplift at the end, like Scrooge being reformed by pestering spectres or Jimmy Stewart terrified into affirming that It’s a Wonderful Life after all. In the 1970s, the BBC threw a chill into Morecambe and Wise-dominated holiday schedules with their annual Ghost Story for Christmas series, mostly adapted from stories M.R. James had originally written to be read aloud as a seasonal treat. Somehow, the combination of the long nights, the cold weather and forced proximity to your family is as conducive to bone-freezing horror as joy to the world and all-round merriment.

So, for those who still think Christmas fans should be buried at the crossroads with a sprig of holly through their hearts, here are my recommendations for a full holiday of horrors…


On the first day of Christmas, my true love watched with me…
Tales From the Crypt (1972)

Joan Collins bludgeons her husband to death under the Christmas tree and tries to get rid of the body, all the while besieged in her hideous suburban home by an escaped homicidal maniac dressed as Santa Claus. In the end, her innocent little daughter lets Santa in and he throttles Joanie. Heh heh heh. The classic first episode of Freddie Francis’s adaptation of stories from the gleefully nasty 1950s horror comic.


On the second day of Christmas, my true love watched with me…
Hansel and Gretel (2006)

Three Korean psychic kids establish an eternal Christmas with sweets and cake for every meal in a house in the middle of magic woods. Only loosely connected to the fairytale, it features a Korean Santa who can actually grant little kids’ wishes and a miserable orphanage flashback which makes Oliver Twist seem cheery.


Santa's Slay

On the third day of Christmas, my true love watched with me…
Santa’s Slay (2005)

A maniacally evil Santa (wrestler Bill Goldberg) turns out to be the Devil’s son, and has only been nice to children for the last thousand years because he lost a bet with an angel. Now the term of the promise is up, and he can revert to his favoured mode of celebrating the ‘slaying’ time of year. Ho ho horror!


On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love watched with me…
Black Christmas (1972)

Even before Halloween, there were holiday slashers, and Bob Clark’s sorority-set horror film is among the best of ’em, with Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder and Andrea Martin as sorority girls persecuted by a prank caller (yes, they trace the calls and… they’re coming from the attic!) at Christmas. The remake has murder by sharpened candy cane, but isn’t as good.

Black Christmas


On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love watched with me…
36:15 – Code Pere Noel (1989)

It’s almost impossible to see this Christmas horror film — which I voted to win several awards at a film festival in 1989 when I was on a jury — because it’s never been distributed outside France. At the time, director Rene Manzor said that Hollywood wanted to remake his story about a shut-in, ingenious kid (Alain Musy) who improvises booby-traps to defend himself from a killer Santa Claus (Patrick Florsheim) over the holidays – but drop the Santa angle. Funnily enough, Home Alone came out a year later and doesn’t credit this as a source. The French film is darker, funnier and has more guts than John Hughes’ version — but good luck trying to find it.


On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love watched with me…
You Better Watch Out (1980), aka Christmas Evil

My personal favourite psycho-Santa movie, this is about an embittered, holiday-loving employee (Brandon Maggart) of a nasty toy company who spends the holidays murdering folks who abuse the spirit of Christmas and giving away toys for orphans. John Waters said of this film, “I wish I had kids. I’d make them watch it every year, and if they didn’t like it, they’d be punished.” For a real holiday horror, double bill it with New Year’s Evil.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love watched with me….
Don’t Open til Christmas (1984)

If you ever get fed up with Christmas horror films with psychopathic Santas — the worst I’ve ever seen is To All a Goodnight — then check out this dreadful British picture, in which a psychopath (Alan Lake) murders old gits in Santa Claus outfits.


On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love watched with me…
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Though there were enough homicidal maniac Santas in movies before 1984 to form a football team — with reserves — this was the picture that excited pro-Christmas protesters to picket at the sacrilege of depicting old Kris Kringle as a murdering lunatic. Maybe it was the scene where Linnea Quigley gets impaled topless on some reindeer antlers. All the fuss didn’t stop Silent Night, Deadly Night from having four sequels. For true perversity, I recommend the immediate follow-up Silent Night, Deadly Night Part II (1987), which cheekily recycles about an hour of footage from the original to pad out the minimal new story, but does run to a wonderful sequence — blatantly ripped off in Scary Movie — as the vigilante killer is taken to see a film about a murdering Santa (“that’s the worst idea for a film I’ve ever heard”) and gleefully takes a knife to some clown who talks throughout the picture.


Gremlins

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love watched with me…
Gremlins (1984)

A classic — for Phoebe Cates’ “and that’s why I hate Christmas” speech alone. The studio wanted it cut, but Joe Dante insisted it stay in.


On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love watched with me…
The Addams Family (1991)

The opening of the film brings to life Charles Addams’ wonderful Christmas spirit cartoon, in which his gruesome family celebrate their own variety of togetherness by pouring boiling oil onto the heads of a parcel of merry carol-singers.

Gremlins


On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love watched with me…
P2 (2007)

Rachel Nicholls is trapped in a parking structure on Christmas Eve by a lunatic stalker (Wes Bentley) who wants to have take-out turkey with her and is going to torture her nasty boss to death as a present. There has to be a Christmas-themed torture porn/abduction movie, and this is it.


On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love watched with me…
The Devil Doll (1936)

This is the one about Lionel Barrymore escaping from Devil’s Island and teaming up with mad scientists to wreak vengeance on his tormentors — he drags up as a little old lady and opens a toyshop, selling shrunken, hypnotised human beings as dolls who also work as assassins. The best scene has a miniature killer smuggled into a victim’s home as a Christmas present for a little girl, then coming to life while tied to the tree and scurrying through the wrapped gifts to leave a nasty surprise come Christmas morning.

Alexandre Aja - Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage.com

Alexandre Aja is the French horror prodigy, inducted into Alan Jones’ splat pack, whose first film High Tension (Switchblade Romance in the UK) led to the high profile Hollywood remake of The Hills Have Eyes and now to Mirrors, a new take on a Korean original.

Kiefer Sutherland stars as a beleaguered ex-Cop who takes a nightwatchman job in an abandoned department store with a murky past. The silver-backed glass of the title is concealing a dark secret.

We caught up with Aja for his only UK interview to learn more about the movie as well as his latest project, a 3D remake of Joe Dante‘s classic Piranha.

I saw the movie recently at Frightfest.

Which cut of the movie did you see? Did you know there’s a cut for the UK which is different from the cut that’s being used in the rest of the world. The movie was rated 18 and they butchered the movie to get it rated under 15. They might have shown you the good one because they only did the cuts very recently. The first cut has been released in the States and the rest of the world. Fox decided to cut it here. I really don’t know why they took that decision.

It’s strange because usually in the UK it’s good. High Tension was released uncut, and The Hills Have Eyes was as well.

Mirrors

This has been around for a while.

Yeah, it was right after The Hills Have Eyes that I received the script from Fox not knowing it was based on the Korean movie. I didn’t really connect with the story or the characters. But in the movie itself something really strong stuck with me after reading the script and that was the idea of using the mirrors not only as an object but as a killing device. I thought it was something that hadn’t been done before but it tapped into this universal fear we all have inside of us. It had been waiting to be tapped.

The idea of an alternate reality behind the mirrors is something we all thought about as kids.

Of course, there is something about looking on this side of the mirror to see if we can look through to the other side.

Did you see the Korean film in the end?

Of course, after we read the script I went to see the movie and the movie itself confirmed everything I thought about the script and the idea that you could control the reflection and to make you do stuff you’re not supposed to do.

Who wrote that English script then?

I don’t remember, but it was basically word-for-word the Korean movie. Scene by scene. We completely rewrote it, and that was the deal with Fox. Let us, Greg Levasseur and I, take the script and write a completely new one with it. I wanted to keep the idea that we have mirrors everywhere around us and I wanted to not only have them in the department store but to have them all around. I wanted to find a way to get out of the department store and bring the threat into the world. And, of course, I realised I could take it beyond just the mirrors and into every reflecting surface like the water.

Mirrors

What was it about Keifer that made him the right choice?

When I was writing the script I realised the fact that making this movie would be more expensive than The Hills Have Eyes and I knew I would need a strong leading actor – a big star. I started thinking about all the classic movie-star men and Keifer was one of the first men that came to my mind because I was thinking about who could play that ex-cop character who’d lost everything, turned to alcohol and was really trying to put his life back together by taking a job as a night watchman. I was thinking of Keifer in Flatliners. I was twelve or fourteen when I saw Flatliners and it was such an amzing movie. It was really scary and his character was so cool and romantic, and dark at the same time. It was exactly the character we were thinking so for me Keifer was an obvious choice. People know him as Jack Bauer, who’s quite a different character.

Yeah, my goal was to bring the other Keifer back. To bring the Keifer we used to see in The Vanishing, Flatliners, The Lost Boys. Not the Keifer who became Jack Bauer. But at the same time it was interesting because Keifer is not an actor who makes it a composition. He’s an actor with a personality of his own and every character he plays is a side of himself. When you spend time with him, as I did, you realise that he is the guy from Flatliners, he is Jack Bauer, he’s all of them.

Were you surprised by what he brought to the material?

We met and felt a connection immediately and we made a deal almost on the spot which was that he was in charge of making that character believable and deep and making something scary and suspenseful. Together we’d make the best movie we possibly could.

You spoke about not wanting to get pigeonholed as a horror director, but you’ve stayed in the genre ever since High Tension. Why?

I love the genre. As an audience member I love to be scared. The only thing as a filmmaker I don’t want to do is to repeat myself and so far I have the feeling that High Tension and The Hills Have Eyes and P2 are all completely different movies. Maybe I will reach a point where I’ve felt that I’ve explored all the subgenres within horror and from that point I will maybe look for something else, or some other kind of movie.

Mirrors

Right now I’m really attracted by stories and a lot of the stories that I’m interested in right now are dealing with a genre element.

Does it ever affect you, surrounding yourself with horrific images all the time?

For the first time on this film I started to scare myself with what I was writing. I’m not superstitious and I don’t believe in the supernatural, really, in movies. While writing we did so much research in the history and legends and it started to make an affect.

What’s the status on Piranha 3D?

We’re preparing to shoot in Spring. The thing is it’s such a difficult movie, not only because of the technicality of it and the CGI fish, but also because it all happens in a lake. We were supposed to start shooting now, but the longer to leave it the colder the water gets. The movie takes place during Spring Break and, of course, the studio wanted it ready for the summer, but if you’ve got 1000 people who need to get murdered in the water, you have to wait for the right temperature for the water, for the weather, for everything.

Mirrors

Most of the film takes place outside on location in the lake. It’s all there, it’s so simple. An earthquake releases prehistoric piranhas during Spring Break. All these drunk American kids being torn to shreds by crazy fish. You can’t make something more different than Mirrors than this movie and I’m really excited about it because it’s such a thrill ride. It’s super-gore, super-action, it’s going to be really amazing. I’m so excited about that project.

Do you embrace these challenges? Desert, then mirrors, now underwater with CGI fish in 3D…

I have a feeling that may be true because when I did High Tension we had only $2m, shot everything by night and it was a nightmare. I had a feeling it would be the most difficult movie I ever made. And then we made The Hills Have Eyes in the middle of the summer in the desert and after that I thought no-one could do anything more difficult. Then we spent 6 weeks in an underground parking garage for P2 and Mirrors was just something no-one can imagine because of all the technicalities. This is way more difficult and way more challenging than all the other movies put together. Maybe I’m looking forward to that – at the very least it’ll keep me from falling asleep!

P. T. Anderson’s Oscar-winning oil opus There Will Be Blood hits shelves this week, so if you missed Daniel Day-Lewis’ astounding turn as the prospector with a heart as black as crude in theaters, now’s the time to play catch up. Also new to DVD are the musical spoof Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Leonardo di Caprio’s environmental doc The 11th Hour, the parking lot thriller P2, and more.


There Will Be Blood


Tomatometer:
92%

Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the most consistent young auteurs around (his films in order: Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love) so it was no surprise when his latest, There Will Be Blood, proved predictably exceptional. The epic character study of oilman Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis in an Oscar-winning role) striking it rich in turn-of-the-century California captivated the hearts of critics with Robert Elswit’s handsome Oscar-winning photography; Plainview’s greed-fueled descent into bitter loneliness — and his rivalry with evangelist Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) — mesmerized their minds. All of which makes There Will Be Blood, released this week in both single- and double-disc versions, a must-own for any true cinephile. We recommend the 2-disc release, of course, which includes deleted scenes and a government-produced vintage silent film about the oil industry scored anew by Radiohead guitarist (and TWBB composer) Jonny Greenwood.


Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story


Tomatometer: 74%

While Walk Hard suffered the ignominious label of “box office bomb” following a dismal and surprising theatrical run last December, the Judd Apatow-produced musical comedy deserved a better fate, according to critics. Perhaps the time for glory is now. Co-writer and director Jake Kasdan, whose sharp industry satire The TV Set also opened quietly earlier in 2007, skewers the musical biopic genre (Walk the Line, Ray) with the rollercoaster rock ‘n roll life of Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly, who does his own rocking and rolling), a doughy musical prodigy with a tragic past who goes from rockabilly to psychedelia to Dylanism and everything in between as fame, fortune, groupies, and drugs facilitate his rise and fall. The best part of this DVD release — besides the inclusion of American Cox: The Unbearably Long, Self-Indulgent Director’s Cut — is the better-than-average bonus menu stuffed full of backstage and specially-produced extras.




Lions for Lambs


Tomatometer: 27%

Hollywood’s attempts to address the Iraq war have thus far fallen flat with ticket buyers, a trend that Lions for Lambs didn’t help reverse. Robert Redford directs and co-stars in this talky anti-war drama, penned by Matthew Michael Carnahan (brother to Joe and writer of The Kingdom) and also starring Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise. In three intertwined stories, a professor, his student, two soldiers, a journalist, and a politician hash out ideas about war, democracy, the media, and terrorism; the question is, do you care? While it’s a noble attempt at provoking discourse, critics say Lambs is not the stuff of great cinema. A director commentary on the DVD might be the film’s most useful feature.


P2



Tomatometer: 35%

Unless cleavage and gore rank higher than plot and realism on your movie checklist, P2 is likely to disappoint. In any case, it can’t be a good thing to be unfavorably compared to Saw and Hostel (“[P2] at least does its predecessors the service of making them look masterful by comparison,” wrote the Toronto Star‘s Geoff Pevere). The yuletide tale of a career woman (Alias‘ Rachel Nichols, whose eleventh hour addition to that cast couldn’t save the series) trapped by an obsessive parking garage attendant (Wes Bentley, who really deserves better roles than this) on Christmas Eve garnered the scorn of most critics, though powerhouses like Roger Ebert gave it their thumbs up. Watch P2 to scope out first time director Franck Khalfoun, who appeared in producers Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur’s High Tension, and will next co-script a remake of the 1984 slasher Silent Night, Deadly Night.


Reservation Road



Tomatometer: 36%

Two families are ripped asunder when one fatal hit-and-run drives two fathers toward a final conflict in Terry George’s adaptation of the novel of the same name. George (In the Name of the Father) previously directed the South African drama Hotel Rwanda to multiple Academy Awards nominations; his follow-up here, starring Rwanda actor Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Ruffalo (and Jennifer Connelly and Mira Sorvino as their respective wives) might have been going for awards season gold but fell far short of the mark. Critics called this dramatic thriller insufferably dark and dull, and worse — predictable.


The 11th Hour



Tomatometer: 66%

Leonardo di Caprio hosts a gaggle of experts in this alarming documentary about the Earth’s depleting resources. Unfortunately for producer di Caprio, who doubtless took on the project to lend his celebrity power to the cause, the film is a bit of a bore. That said, wearied scribes appreciated the thought behind the effort, if not so much the final product; for actionable reasons to go green, you might be better off watching a PowerPoint presentation by Al Gore. Over an hour of additional featurettes on how to do your part to help Mother Earth accompany the disc.


Manda Bala (Send a Bullet)



Tomatometer: 80%

New York filmmaker Jason Kohn crafts a lurid, sobering peek into wealth and corruption in Brazil in this festival favorite, which nabbed the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance last year. Stylized camera work exposes the country’s surreal reality by focusing on, among other subjects, a politician-owned frog farm that serves as a money-laundering front; a plastic surgeon who specializes in reconstructing the cut-off ears of kidnap victims; and a businessman who opts to bullet-proof his car. A filmmaker commentary accompanies the release; find out why Kohn calls Brazil’s cycle of street violence and political corruption akin to “a non-fiction RoboCop.”

‘Til next week, Qvod cibvs est aliis, aliis est wenenum.

We already know Ray Park and Sienna Miller are part of Stephen SommersG.I. Joe cast. How about a little old-fashioned rumormongering about a pair of potential additions?

Latino Review claims that “proven sources” have fed them the inside scoop on two of the faces we can expect to see alongside Miller and Park when Joe hits the screen — and who they’ll be playing.

According to the report, Storm Shadow — the Cobra equivalent of Joe’s resident ninja, Snake Eyes — will be played by Korean film sensation Byung-Hun Lee, star of Winter Sonata and Capcom’s Lost Planet game. Storm Shadow’s bio, courtesy of Latino Review:

Storm Shadow’s real name is Thomas S. Arashikage. Best known as the Cobra Commander’s ninja bodyguard and assassin at times, he is the only member of the team to change sides several times, conflicted in loyalties between Cobra, G.I. Joe and his long relationship with his swordbrother Snake Eyes.

He usually wears a white uniform and mask. When out of his uniform, he is shown to be Japanese, with black hair and dark eyes. In 2007, the character’s creator Larry Hama revealed an alternate name for the character, Tomisaburo Arashikage, in the solo series Storm Shadow. Although Tomisaburo is a single Japanese name, it may stand in for his middle initial in: Tommy/Thomas S Arashikage.

Latino Review‘s sources also say that Rachel Nichols, the Alias and P2 star recently rumored to be joining the cast of Star Trek XI, has also signed up for Joe duty — and that she’ll be playing Shana “Scarlett” O’Hara, the Joe crew’s red-haired Master Sergeant.


Nothing wrong with running this picture one more time.

More on the character:

She was the first female action figure in the G.I. Joe toy line and is also the only member of the original team to see much action in both cartoon and comic incarnations. The official line on Scarlett is that her full name is Shana M. O’Hara. She was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Although she is as adept with standard weapons as any of her comrades, her weapon of choice is the crossbow, which fires various bolts with specialized functions. Her rank is Master Sergeant, and she serves from time to time as team leader. Her primary specialty for the team is counter intelligence and is additionally skilled in martial arts and acrobatics.

So there you have it, Joe fans. If you still have your old action figures, you can remove them from their protective casings, hold them up against pictures of Lee and Nichols, and decide how you feel about all this. We’re still waiting for Mike Myers or Billy Connolly to get the call for Destro. (Just kidding! We think.)

Source: Latino Review

Three new releases failed to steal attention away from last weekend’s top two
films which continued to rule the North American box office swapping chart
positions in the process. Jerry Seinfeld’s animated hit
Bee
Movie
enjoyed the better hold and jumped into first place while the
Denzel
Washington
Russell
Crowe
crime drama
American Gangster

suffered a moderate decline and claimed the runnerup position. Ticket buyers
have spent nearly $153M on the duo over the past ten days. Among newcomers, the
Christmas comedy
Fred Claus

starring Vince
Vaughn
generated respectable results while
Tom Cruise
suffered his worst opening in twenty-one years with the political drama
Lions for Lambs

which finshed a weak fourth for the frame. The overall marketplace struggled
once again as for the first time in five years, a November top ten failed to
break the $100M mark.

Paramount and DreamWorks missed out on a top spot debut last weekend with their
new toon Bee
Movie
,
but this time they managed to grab the number one slot. The
PG-rated film slipped 32% and collected an estimated $26M boosting the ten-day
tally to a robust $72.2M. Though a good hold, especially with the opening of
rival family flick Fred Claus, the decline was somewhat larger than the
drops of other recent animated kidpics that bowed on the first weekend of
November. Last year,
Flushed Away
dipped by only 12%, 2005’s
Chicken Little

slid just 21%, and 2004’s
The Incredibles

dropped 29%. The Veterans Day holiday was observed on a Friday last year giving
a large number of school children a day off which helped deliver the sensational
hold of Flushed. This year, the holiday will be observed on Monday when
Bee is still expected to score solid results. Look for the insect pic to reach
the neighborhood of $120M domestically with international prospects also looking
rosy.


Dropping an understandable 44% to second place was former champ
American Gangster

with an estimated $24.3M in its sophomore frame. After only ten days, Universal
has shot up a remarkable $80.7M and has already surpassed the total grosses of
most of Washington’s previous films. Gangster currently ranks as the
fifth biggest
Denzel
pic ever behind
Remember the
Titans
($115.6M),
The Pelican Brief

($100.8M), Crimson
Tide
($91.4M), and
Inside Man

($88.5M). The
Ridley Scott-directed
drama also stands as the fourth highest grossing film in Russell
Crowe
‘s career after
Gladiator

($187.7M), A
Beautiful Mind
($170.7M), and

Master and Commander
($93.9M). At its current pace, American Gangster
should find its way to $130-140M from North America making it the studio’s third
biggest hit of 2007 after
The Bourne Ultimatum

and Knocked Up.
End-of-year awards attention could send it higher though.


Opening in third place was the Christmas comedy
Fred Claus

which took in an estimated $19.2M from an ultrawide release in 3,603 locations.
Averaging a mediocre $5,336 per site, the PG-rated flick about Santa’s older
brother stars
Vince Vaughn
and
Paul Giamatti
and played to a family audience. The Warner Bros. release is one of only two
films this year to launch in more than 3,500 theaters and fail to gross at least
$30M on opening weekend. The other was the animated penguin pic
Surf’s Up
which
debuted to $17.6M in June. Instead, Fred performed in line with last
November’s yuletide laugher The
Santa Clause 3

which bowed to $19.5M on its way to a $84.5M final.



Tom Cruise
suffered one of the worst opening weekends of his career with the poor turnout
for his political drama
Lions for Lambs

which stumbled into fourth place with an estimated $6.7M. The R-rated pic
also stars
Robert Redford
and
Meryl Streep.
Lions averaged a feeble $3,029 from 2,215 theaters and was panned by most
critics. Despite the starpower, bad reviews and the subject matter which dealt
with war in the Middle East helped to repel paying customers.


Excluding 1999’s
Magnolia
in which Cruise had a supporting role, Lions attracted
the smallest debut for the actor since Ridley Scott’s
Legend
which
opened with just $4.3M in 1986. It also ended the star’s streak of thirteen consecutive number one openings over fifteen years and is guaranteed to stop his industry-leading streak of seven straight years of having $100M+ grossers. The Redford project marked the first film for United Artists which is now run by Cruise and producing partner Paula Wagner. Parent company MGM took distribution duties in North America with Fox handling the release in the rest of the world where the film also launched this weekend to mixed results.


In its third weekend, the Steve Carell dramedy
Dan in Real Life

dipped only 25% to an estimated $5.9M and lifted its total to a respectable
$30.7M for Buena Vista. The horror sequel
Saw IV
tumbled 52%
to an estimated $5M putting its sum at $58.1M for Lionsgate. Family hit
The Game Plan

took in an estimated $2.4M, off 39%, and reached $85.4M making it the
top-grossing film since the summer movie season ended.


The woman-in-peril thriller
P2
debuted poorly in
eighth with an estimated $2.2M from 2,131 locations for a pitiful $1,032
average. The R-rated film about a workaholic stalked by a killer in a parking
garage on Christmas Eve is the first release from Summit Entertainment which was
testing its distribution operation ahead of its real slate of films which will
hit theaters in 2008.


Vampires and martians rounded out the top ten. The horror flick

30 Days of Night

grossed an estimated $2.1M, down 44%, and placed ninth. Cume is $37.4M for Sony.
New Line’s
John Cusack
drama Martian
Child
fell a troubling 48% in its second weekend to an estimated
$1.8M. The New Line release has collected only $6M in ten days and should end up
with a weak $9-10M.


Three modestly-budgeted films were bumped out of the top ten this weekend.
George Clooney‘s
legal thriller
Michael Clayton
dipped 40% to an estimated $1.7M bringing its cume
to a decent $35.6M. The $22M film should find its way to about $40M for Warner
Bros., but has the chance to go higher if it scores some major award
nominations.


Miramax generated a sizzling debut for
No Country for
Old Men
, the newest film from the Coen Brothers. The R-rated entry
grossed an estimated $1.2M while playing in only 28 theaters for a sensational
average of $42,929 per site. Co-produced by Paramount Vantage, it will expand to
more markets on Friday.



Tyler Perry’s latest hit
Why
Did I Get Married?
grossed an estimated $1.6M, off 38%, and boosted
its total to an impressive $53.3M. The profitable $15M Lionsgate title looks to
end with roughly $57M. It’s been a tougher road for Miramax’s crime drama Gone
Baby Gone
which took in an estimated $1.5M, down 33%, giving
Ben Affleck‘s
directorial debut only $17.1M to date. Produced for $19M, the
Casey AffleckMorgan
Freeman
drama should end its run with about $22M.


The top ten films grossed an estimated $95.6M which was down 10% from last
year when Borat
remained in first place with $28.3M; and down 11% from 2005 when Chicken
Little
stayed in the top spot with $31.7M.

Author: Gitesh Pandaya,
www.boxofficeguru.com

All the major roles might be nailed down, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop having fun with Star Trek XI casting news ‘n’ rumors, right? Of course it doesn’t!

First, let’s talk about last week’s rumor that Rachel Nichols (of P2, not ESPN) was being considered for a part in the franchise reboot, reuniting her with her Alias boss, Trek director J.J. Abrams. Turns out that the rumormongers were on the money — as Nichols tells the Toronto Sun:

“I’m very restricted on what I’m allowed to say,” she says. “But yes, there’s a good chance you’ll see my shining face in the new Star Trek … My mom even e-mailed me about it because she saw it (online) and I hadn’t told her yet. There’s a lot of buzz about it, but honestly, I don’t even know the name of my character.”

“J.J.’s one of the most generous people I’ve ever met … He’s very, very loyal.”

While the details of Nichols’ involvement in the new Trek are still fuzzy, Variety reports that another actress has joined the cast, and her role is 100% confirmed. Read on:

Paramount Pictures and director JJ Abrams have set Winona Ryder to play the Vulcan mother of a young Spock (Zachary Quinto).

Christmas 2008 suddenly seems so very far away.

Source: Variety
Source: The Toronto Sun

This week at the movies, we’ve got Santa’s not-so-little helper (Fred
Claus
, starring
Vince Vaughn and
Paul Giamatti), geopolitics (Lions for
Lambs
, starring
Robert Redford,
Tom Cruise, and
Meryl Streep), and one scary
parking garage (P2, starring
Rachel Nichols
and Wes Bentley). What do the critics have to
say?

Fred
Claus
hit theaters two weeks before Thanksgiving, hoping to spread
some early Yuletide cheer. Unfortunately, the critics have made a list, checked
it twice, and determined this one’s a lump of coal.
Vince Vaughn stars as
Santa’s no-good brother, a repo man who’s lived in the shadow of St. Nick (Paul Giamatti); after a run-in with the law, Santa agrees to help his bro on the
condition that he do some hard labor at the North Pole to help with the
seasonal demand for toys. It’s a pretty funny premise, and the cast includes
such able thespians as
Miranda Richardson,
Kevin Spacey,
Chris "Ludacris"
Bridges
, and Rachel Weisz. But the pundits say Fred never settles on a
workable tone, awkwardly vacillating between wacky slapstick and sappy
sentiment. At 32 percent on the Tomatometer, ’tis not the season for Fred
Claus
.
 



Vaughn trains for the upcoming Breaking Away prequel.
 

Lions for
Lambs
is an ambitious attempt to look at the complexities of
our current political landscape from a number of different angles. It stars
Robert Redford (who also directed),
Tom Cruise, and
Meryl Streep. But despite
such impressive pedigree, pundits say the film falls flat. Lions looks at
the war on terror from the perspectives of two young enlistees, a college
professor, a senator and TV reporter. Critics say Redford’s heart is in the
right place in wanting greater engagement in politics from the general public;
it’s just that Lions is weighted down with too much talk, and ends up
coming across as a civics lesson rather than a compelling drama. At 30 percent,
on the Tomatometer, Lions for Lambs is the worst-reviewed film of
Redford’s directorial career. (Check out our interview with Lambs
screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan
here.)



"You’re a jerk!"

Fred Claus isn’t the only Christmas-themed movie in theaters this week.
P2
is the story of a woman who’s late to Christmas Eve dinner because she’s tied up
— literally. In order to see what Santa has delivered for her this year, she
must escape the clutches of an evil security guard. Some critics say P2 is
much better than it sounds, a game of cinematic cat and mouse with a dark sense
of humor. However, others say it’s still essentially a genre exercise, and pretty gory to
boot. P2 currently stands at 46 percent on the Tomatometer.



The latest Olympic event: Formal Wear Garage Relay.

Also opening this week in limited release: the documentary
Steal a Pencil for
Me
, about a strange love affair during the Holocaust, is at 100 percent on
the Tomatometer;
No Country for
Old Men
, a dark, tense crime film from
the Coen Brothers, is at 89 percent (check out our review from Cannes
here, and
our feature on the Coens’ filmography
here);
Holly,
a drama about child
prostitution in Vietnam, is at 86 percent;
Note By Note
, a documentary
detailing the manufacture of a Steinway piano, is at 80 percent;
War/Dance
,
a doc about a music festival in the midst of war-torn Uganda, is at 67 percent;
and Nightmare Man, a horror flick about a woman being attacked by an evil
spirit, is at 50 percent.



I say, war can dance, war can dance.

Recent Vince Vaughn Movies:
————————————
82% — Into the Wild (2007)
33% — The Break-Up (2006)
69% — Thumbsucker (2005)
74% — Wedding Crashers (2005)
29% — Be Cool (2005)

Robert Redford-Directed Movies:
—————————————–
41% — The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000)
71% — The Horse Whisperer (1998)
96% — Quiz Show (1994)
78% — A River Runs Through It (1992)
58% — The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)
89% — Ordinary People (1980)

Most of its major roles have been filled, but that doesn’t mean we’re done having fun with Star Trek XI casting stories — and here, for proof, is a Rachel Nichols Trek rumor.

IGN Movies reports that Nichols — who will be seen running around a parking garage and screaming a lot in P2 this Friday — might be “up for an unspecified role” in Trek. The rumor makes sense, given that Trek director J.J. Abrams worked with Nichols on Alias. From the article:

The Nichols rumor was first reported by FreezeDriedMovies.com. TrekMovie.com speculates that Nichols could be up for characters such as “Number One” (Captain Pike’s first officer), Nurse Chapel or perhaps Carol Marcus, the mother of Captain Kirk’s future son David. CHUD.com suspects that Nichols might play Yeoman Janice Rand.

Kirk’s baby mama? Yeah, we can see that:

Source: IGN Movies

RT’s got the first trailer for November’s horror-thriller P2, from the people who brought you High Tension!

In P2, a young, corporate workaholic named Angela (Alias star Rachel Nichols) finds herself trapped on the second floor of a parking lot late Christmas Eve, with no cell phone reception and a dead car battery. What’s worse: she’s not alone. Held captive by the building’s creepy security guard (Wes Bentley), Angela breaks free but must fight for her life to escape.

Written and produced by French horror filmmakers Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur (the team behind High Tension and the Hills Have Eyes remake), P2 is helmed by first-time director Franck Khalfoun, who also helped script the film. If you loved High Tension, expect more survivalist suspense (with a touch of gory violence) from the French-born threesome.

The trailer also features the scariest renditions of some of your favorite holiday tunes ever (think “Carol of the Bells” meets John Carpenter) — setting a nicely ominous atmosphere. The film’s score comes courtesy of electronic composer tomandandy.

Click here to watch the exclusive trailer!

P2 will hit theaters November 9.

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