A Wrinkle in Time, adaptation of the Madeleine L’engle kids fantasy novel and Ava DuVernay’s sojourn into $100 million filmmaking, isn’t getting the best reviews. As the score settles in the lower-40s, Wrinkle would place somewhere in the middle of this week’s gallery: the 24 worst children’s book adaptations, each rated PG and ranked by Tomatometer.
If you loved Will Smith’s I Am Legend up until its final chapters, you’re in luck; a decidedly different denouement can be found on the special edition DVD, our top pick for you home video enthusiasts. For more subdued thrills, the Oscar-nominated romance Atonement is also new to shelves; Disney’s delightful princess pic Enchanted offers even lighter fare. More adventurous moviegoers have magnificent critical bungles to dissect in Richard Kelly’s science fiction Southland Tales, Guy Ritchie’s crime pic Revolver, also new this week.
While Will Smith‘s last-man-on-Earth pic broke box office records last December and proved yet again that the erstwhile Fresh Prince is worth his salt as an action hero, the final scenes of Francis Lawrence‘s adaptation (from the Richard Matheson novel) left many viewers cold. But Warner Bros. has the ultimate treat for those of you who left the theater shaking your heads: a wildly different alternate ending on the Two-Disc Special Edition of I Am Legend that might just redeem the theatrical cut’s last-act inanity. The muscled Smith acquits himself well as the last remaining survivor of a global outbreak, tromping the empty streets of Manhattan by day and battling the vampiric infected by night while slowly going crazy from loneliness. Catch the usual special features on an accompanying DVD-ROM, but again, the real reason to pick up this release is the film itself — and its bonus alternate ending.
Keira Knightley and James McAvoy star as young lovers torn apart by a single, devastating lie in director Joe Wright‘s stunning epic romance. When rich and beautiful Cecilia Tallis (Knightley) gets caught in a clinch with her childhood friend, Robbie Turner (McAvoy), their love must withstand a false accusation by Cecilia’s young sister, Briony (Saiorse Ronan) then prison, war, and separation. Wright’s critically acclaimed period pic — the epitome of the prestige piece, and movingly executed — is at once romance, mystery, war film and character drama, all set to Dario Marinelli‘s Oscar-winning syncopated, symphonic score. Deleted scenes, featurettes on adapting the Ian McEwan novel and making the film, and a commentary track by director Wright complement the release.
The limitation of classic Disney films like Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty has been that, while perfectly…enchanting within the confines of their animated worlds, such stories couldn’t possibly translate with real actors. (Besides, where would you find real mice and birds that could sew Cinderella’s dress together without making a mess?) Enter Enchanted, Disney’s stab at a live-action princess movie complete with animal friends and impromptu singing; with the lovable Amy Adams as a cartoon heroine come to life in dirty, real-life New York City, the Mouse House gamble proved lucky. Critics liked the film’s relentlessly cheery sensibility and self-aware Disneyfications; we like a good blooper reel on any DVD release. Extras include Carrie Underwood’s music video for “Ever Ever After” and behind-the-scenes featurettes for two of the film’s Oscar-nominated songs.
Not a single American film in the past few years has piqued as much curiosity, or as much critical debate, as Richard Kelly‘s Southland Tales. A huge-scaled futuristic-philosophical romp about fate in post-nuclear Los Angeles starring the likes of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seann William Scott, Justin Timberlake, and half the cast of Saturday Night Live, Kelly’s sci-fi opus was either an artsy, ambitious endeavor or simply the sophomore slump inevitably following Kelly’s similarly divisive Donnie Darko. Yours truly was in the infamous Cannes audience when Kelly unleashed his behemoth upon the world and will be among the obsessed watching the DVD over and over for any clue as to what he was thinking; alas, no explanation by way of director commentary appears on this initial disc.
Fans of author Susan Cooper’s children’s fantasy series The Dark Is Rising will likely be disappointed, if not downright outraged, by this big-screen adaptation of her second book. Why? Try skipping the first novel entirely and making a number of story alterations, the most obvious of which is Americanizing the 14-year-old protagonist. But critics say that even the uninitiated viewer should be wary, lest subpar computer graphics, a boring script, and a fantasy yarn that is decidedly un-fantastic — about a teen plopped into an ancient battle between good and evil — is your idea of a good time.
In his latest film, Guy Ritchie tackles gangsters and criminals — shocker, right? But Revolver, his last film since the disaster that was Swept Away, is more than just an uber-Brit shoot-em-up starring Jason Statham…ok, so it also stars Statham (who made his name in early Ritchie films Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch). And it was a critical and commercial disappointment (just like Swept Away). That’s partially because Revolver, like Ritchie compatriot Matthew Vaughn‘s Layer Cake, is an existential kind of gangster thriller — perhaps over-indulgently so, say scribes. Con man Jake Green (Statham) leaves a long prison stint to seek revenge on the man who put him there (Ray Liotta). Throw in gambling, hitmen, Andre “3000” Benjamin, a blood disease, supposed Kabbalah references, and philosophical musings galore, and you’ve got one heck of a mess — just the latest in Ritchie’s filmography before his next crime pic.
Thus concludes our latest round-up of new releases. Remember your Latin: “Nam et ipsa scientia potestas es.”
Not satisfied with being your one-stop shop for nearly everything under the sun, Amazon.com is moving into the movie business.
Variety reports that the online retailer has joined forces with 20th Century Fox to bring Keith Donohue’s novel The Stolen Child to theaters. Amazon optioned the book in 2006, but Ron Nyswaner‘s script wasn’t finished before the writers’ strike hit, so the project went on hold; now that Nyswaner (Philadelphia, The Painted Veil) is free to finish his adaptation, the wheels are again in motion. From the article:
Donohue’s debut novel revolves around a man who was kidnapped by hobgoblins as a boy and replaced by a look-alike imposter. Book follows both versions of the character as they struggle through their new lives and environments.
According to Variety, Amazon won’t actually be financing Child — that responsibility will be shouldered by Fox — but has instead agreed to “heavily push the pic across its stable of websites,” including the IMDb. The article notes that Amazon’s sites accrued 59 million visitors in January.
Interestingly, Amazon doesn’t even have a head of film development; instead, an array of “executives across multiple divisions” will be responsible for shepherding The Stolen Child, in conjunction with Fox’s Marc Platt, who produced The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising last year.
For the first time in three weeks, studios will pack a Friday with plenty of new releases as four films open or expand nationwide giving the box office chart a major shakeup. Leading in the polls and getting the widest release is The Bucket List starring Oscar winners Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Challenging Hollywood’s old guard are three younger agents of change. Ice Cube campaigns for a spot in the top five with the comedy First Sunday, Jason Statham heads up the adventure tale In the Name of the King, and some cartoon vegetables headline the kidpic The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything. Hoping to play the spoiler is the indie smash Juno which once again expands into wider release. The films should each play to different audiences which will help the overall marketplace expand.
After spending the last decade directing flops, Rob Reiner hopes to score his first number one hit in over fifteen years with The Bucket List which features the Academy Award-winning actors Nicholson and Freeman on screen together for the first time. The PG-13 pic tells the story of two dying old men who set out to fulfill their last wishes before taking the big trip upstairs. Financing a major film anchored by two men who celebrated their 70th birthdays last year is not something Hollywood studios typically do. It’s usually seen as a risky endeavor. But Warner Bros. is counting on mature adults, men and women alike, to take interest and come out to see two legends on the big screen together.
Hurting Bucket‘s chances are the mixed reviews it’s been getting from critics. The target audience for this particular movie will definitely be affected by what reviewers have to say. Also, the picture has come up almost empty-handed during awards seasons so it has less marketing tools in its arsenal than the handful of acclaimed adult dramas touting their awards and nominations. In limited release, Bucket scored muscular per-theater numbers over the last two frames averaging $20,989 and $20,424 from only 16 locations. Co-star drawing power will not shoot this film up to the opening weekend levels of recent Jack flicks like The Departed or Anger Management. But even his less flashy films generate solid debut numbers due to his loyal fan following. Kicking its way into 2,911 theaters, The Bucket List could debut with about $15M.
First Sunday comes a week before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday frame which historically has been a good time for films led by black casts. Cube’s pictures usually are dependable when it comes to drawing a crowd. However his last two releases, the Sony sequels Are We Done Yet? and XXX: State of the Union, were not exactly major hits. Plus the story of stealing from church may not go down well with some folks. Breaking into roughly 2,000 theaters, First Sunday might open with around $12M.
After enjoying the second three-week box office reign of his career (the first being his other turn as Ben Gates), Nicolas Cage will see National Treasure: Book of Secrets drop down a couple of spots in the standings. The Buena Vista smash could fall by 40% to about $12M boosting the overall total to $187M which would make it one of the top ten blockbusters of 2007. Also hopping into that list will be fellow PG-rated holiday hit Alvin and the Chipmunks. Fox’s family comedy looks to slide by 35% this weekend to roughly $10M giving the singing chipmunks a robust $189M to date.
Scary movies from last weekend’s top five should witness larger declines. Will Smith‘s I Am Legend which is the highest grossing zombie movie of all-time may fall by 45% to about $8.5M for a $240M cume. The supernatural thriller One Missed Call should depreciate faster and fall 50% to around $6M giving Warner Bros. a respectable $21M after ten days.
LAST YEAR: The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend was ruled by the urban dance drama Stomp the Yard which generated a powerful $25.9M debut over the four-day extended frame. The Sony hit went on to finish with a solid $61.4M. Holdovers filled up the rest of the top five led by three-time champ Night at the Museum with $21.8M over the long weekend. Will Smith’s The Pursuit of Happyness followed with $10.7M with Dreamgirls in fourth with $10.3M and Hilary Swank‘s Freedom Writers ranking fifth with $8.8M over four days. Three new releases opened lower on the charts. Universal’s action drama Alpha Dog bowed to $7.4M on its way to $15.2M. Debuting in more theaters but with smaller grosses were Buena Vista’s horror pic Primeval with $6M and MGM’s kidpic Arthur and the Invisibles with $5.7M. Final grosses reached $10.6M and $15.1M, respectively.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
This week at the movies, we’ve got honeymooners (The
Heartbreak Kid, starring
Michelle Monaghan), teenage heroes (The
Alexander Ludwig), bookworms in love (The
Jane Austen Book Club, starring
Blunt), and fledgling rappers (Feel
the Noise, starring
Zulay Henao). What do the critics have to say?
For Rhode Islanders, the work of
Peter Farrelly has long been a source
of regional pride; their best work (There’s Something About Mary,
and Dumber) deftly combined taboo-busting, gross-out yucks with an
undeniable sweetness. So it breaks the heart of this Ocean State native to
report that their latest,
The Heartbreak Kid, isn’t generating all that
much warmth with the critics. Based upon
Elaine May‘s 1972 semi-classic, Kid
stars Ben Stiller as a recently-married guy who quickly learns his new bride has
much more baggage than he bargained for; on his honeymoon, he meets Miranda
(Michelle Monhagan), who just might be the right gal for him. The pundits say
that while the film does contain a smattering of raunchy laughs, they seemed
shoehorned into the film, undercutting character development and any kind of
message. At 48 percent on the Tomatometer, this Kid isn’t alright. It’s
certainly a cut below the original (at 89 percent).
Also opening this week in limited release:
Lake of Fire,
expressionist, evenhanded documentary about the abortion debate, is at 100
percent; Desert Bayou, a doc about the plight of African-American
Hurricane Katrina refugees in Utah, is at 100 percent;
My Kid Could Paint
That, a portrait of an artist who’s a very young girl (and may not be solely
responsible for her highly-valued canvases), is at 100 percent;
For the Bible
Tells Me So, a doc that explores the Good Book’s teachings on homosexuality,
is at 89 percent;
Kurt Cobain: About a Son, an impressionistic look at
the life of the Nirvana frontman, is at 82 percent;
starring George Clooney as a corporate whistleblower, is at 81 percent (check
out our review from the Toronto Film Fest
Finishing the Game, a
mockumentary about an attempt to complete
Game of Death after
his untimely demise, is at 50 percent; and
The Good Night, starring
Gwyneth Paltrow in the tale of a romance that takes place in a man’s dreams, is
at 46 percent.
Recent Ben Stiller Movies:
44% — Night at the Museum (2006)
Tenacious D In: The Pick of Destiny (2006)
25% — School for Scoundrels (2006)
55% — Madagascar (2005)
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
Following a six-week streak of R-rated films topping the charts, The Rock‘s family comedy The Game Plan led the box office last weekend. Now, adult fare comes back to claim the crown with the new Ben Stiller comedy The Heartbreak Kid which is aiming for an easy number one debut. Also opening nationally are the fantasy adventure The Seeker: The Dark is Rising and the music-filled drama Feel the Noise. With the Columbus Day holiday falling on Monday, some students will have extra time off making for a solid start for the month of October.
Almost a decade after There’s Something About Mary became a sleeper smash, directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly reunite with Stiller for another raunchy relationship comedy with The Heartbreak Kid. A remake of the 1972 film written by Neil Simon, the Paramount release stands as another number one hit inherited from the DreamWorks factory. The pic tells the story of a man who marries too early and then falls for another woman during his honeymoon. In the past year, the R-rated envelope-pushing comedies Borat, Knocked Up, and Superbad grossed nearly $400M in combined domestic box office proving that there is gold to be mined in this genre when films are made well and deliver the laughs that audiences want.
Plus star-driven comedies with major Hollywood faces routinely lure moviegoers away from the home and into the multiplexes. Heartbreak will probably not reach the $30.7M opening weekend figure of Knocked Up which had more buzz plus opened in June when most college students were out of school. But reviews so far have been quite good for this type of film so adults will certainly give it a try. And with so many dark and serious films about outlaws, vigilantes, and terrorists out there, audiences definitely want something light and funny right now. Opening in over 3,000 theaters, The Heartbreak Kid may debut with about $27M this weekend.
The Middle East drama The Kingdom has been ranking number one during the week since kids are busy with school and less able to see Game Plan. Universal should see a 45% drop to about $9.5M which would put the Jamie Foxx actioner at $32M after ten days. Look for Resident Evil: Extinction to slide 50% to roughly $4M leaving Sony with $43M to date.
LAST YEAR: October kicked off with a bang with the top spot debut of Martin Scorsese‘s The Departed with $26.9M. Warner Bros. went on to gross $132.4M domestically and $288M worldwide plus scored four Oscars including the coveted Best Picture statue. Opening in second place with $18.5M was Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning which was the first of three horror sequels that month. New Line found its way to $39.5M. Sony’s toon hit Open Season dropped to third with $15.6M in its sophomore frame. The Lionsgate comedy Employee of the Month bowed in fourth with $11.4M on its way to $28.4M. The Guardian rounded out the top five with $9.6M in its second weekend.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Magic-loving moviegoers who have thrilled to the twists and turns of such tween-friendly literary adaptations as The Chronicles of Narnia and the Harry Potter series will have their pick of sorcerous films this fall, including The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising and The Golden Compass. Plenty of controversy, too, if the past is any indication — and oh look, here’s some already!
The Golden Compass, opening December 7, was adapted from the His Dark Materials series of books, a bestselling trilogy by author Philip Pullman that incorporates every ingredient necessary for a shot at box-office fantasy gold, including magic, monsters, and a battle between the forces of good and evil. Unfortunately for the filmmakers, Pullman’s books also include a fair amount of what has been perceived to be anti-Catholic rhetoric; in the first book, for instance, the church is in the business of kidnapping children and conducting some rather unpleasant experiments on them.
Naturally, when compiling their Fall Movie Preview (which is nice and all, but really doesn’t hold a candle to our own), those muckrakers over at Entertainment Weekly asked Compass star Nicole Kidman how much Vatican-bashing we can expect to see on the big screen. The actress responded:
“It has been watered down a little…I was raised Catholic, the Catholic Church is part of my essence,” Kidman said.
“I wouldn’t be able to do this film if I thought it were at all anti-Catholic.”
Of course, you just know comments like these aren’t going to stop a tidal wave of outrage from conservative magpies, and the Sydney Morning Herald quotes what’s sure to be an early harbinger of the response from some quarters:
“Clergymen who kidnap children. Witches who aren’t wicked. Even a pair of sexually ambiguous angels. If you thought Harry Potter was blasphemous, wait till you get a look at [this] trilogy,” wrote one film critic last week.
The Catholic League’s William A. Donohue is usually good for a laugh. Can’t wait to hear what he thinks of all this.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald
With only a week to go before the annual geek-fest known as San Diego Comic Con, one of the major studios has bailed on the event: Fox!
The original plan was to share some promotional materials from upcoming Fox projects like Doug Liman’s Jumper, Vin Diesel’s Babylon A.D., Timothy Olyphant in Hitman, the highly-anticipated The Dark Is Rising, and (of course) this winter’s Alien vs. Predator 2.
While all the other studios will be neck-deep in marketing tricks and enthusiastic nerds, Fox will be hard at work getting their packages ready. From the L.A. Times: “The material wasn’t ready and we only want to go out when we can put our best foot forward,” Sean Dudas, the studio’s vice president of national publicity, said on Wednesday.”
Fox’s “Atomic” division will still be on hand to hype the Kevin Bacon revenge flick Death Sentence and the Rainn Wilson comedy The Rocker. Comic con attendees should take note, though: Word is that Fox still has a few ‘surprises’ in store for the event. So keep your eyes peeled for aliens, predators, and Vin Diesel.
UPDATE: According to CHUD.com, there might be another reason for Fox’s last-minute plan-change. Apparently the “con” does not approve of R-rated materials, and since most of the studio’s fare will be leaning in that direction, they figured it wasn’t necessarily worth all the expense. Interesting theory.