(Photo by Diyah Pera/©Universal Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)
Zac Efron was the prince of the late-2000s musical with the Certified Fresh Hairspray and, of course, the High School Musical franchise, which by its third and final entry had graduated from the TV space and into a full-fledged theatrical experience. Senior Year and Hairspray were big money makers, and so was Efron’s first post-High School movie, 17 Again. Critics were just on the edge of giving it a Fresh rating, but the transformation comedy certainly appealed to his fan base, and set Efron up for a future as lead man in films.
After getting the requisite Nicholas Sparks adaptation out of the way (The Lucky One), Efron spent several years building up a dramatic resume, though only Richard Linklater’s Me and Orson Welles connected with critics. After the surprise box office success of the Certified Fresh Neighbors, Efron found a new career tack in raunch comedies, letting loose in the likes of Dirty Grandpa, Baywatch, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, and The Beach Bum.
Efron starred in 2019’s Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, a Ted Bundy biopic that coincided with the 30th anniversary of his execution. And Efron returned in 2020 on a much lighter note, voicing the ascot-less Fred in Scoob!, the latest in the venerable Scooby-Doo franchise. Jinkies! Now it’s time to look back on all Zac Efron movies, ranked by Tomatometer!
It’s a good week for mediocre films (Body of Lies, Changeling, Quarantine and Flash of Genius, all walking a fine line between Fresh and Rotten) and an even better one if you’re a Wildcat fan (High School Musical 3: Senior Year)! Horror fans have an enticing two-fer to consider (Quarantine and the better-reviewed Midnight Meat Train), while left-wingers get the political Borat (Bill Maher’s Religulous). See what else is new this week on DVD.
If there’s a tween or teen girl in your family, chances are they’ll be on their best behavior this week in hopes of snagging the third and final chapter of Disney’s High School Musical franchise, which comes to home video in three different piggy bank-draining versions. Should the kids spring for a single-disc’s worth of Troy Bolton, a double-disc DVD, or go all the way to Blu?
We recommend picking up the 2-disc DVD over the single-disc because, let’s face it, if you’re going to buy High School Musical 3, you might as well get more bang for your buck. Where only a single bonus feature appears on the single-disc DVD, more featurettes, bloopers, deleted scenes, and a sing along bolster the 2-disc and enrich the musical tale of PG-rated teen angst (Play basketball or be in the school play? Start college early or go to prom?). It also includes a digital copy of the extended cut of the film. EXTENDED CUT — that means even more Wildcat singing and dancing!!!
Blu-ray buyers get all of the above, plus a few additional featurettes and the wonderment of seeing Vanessa Hudgens’ Neutrogena-sponsored pores in high definition.
Below, check out two exclusive behind-the-scenes clips in which the HSM3 cast learns to waltz and Zac Efron learns the ropes behind the camera. Is a career change in order?
Next: Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies falls short of Fresh
Despite boasting the combined powers of Leonardo di Caprio, Russell Crowe, Departed screenwriter William Monahan and celebrated director Ridley Scott, Body of Lies was brimming with more promise than it ultimately delivered. Critics were split neatly down the middle on this politically-charged thriller about a CIA agent (Di Caprio) enmeshed in a Jordanian anti-terror plot; even with its solid cast (including scene-stealer Mark Strong as the head of Jordanian intel), Body of Lies couldn’t truly deliver. While the Blu-ray release comes packed with an enviable amount of bonus material (some of which must be played as interruptions to the film, instead of Picture-in-Picture), a commentary track by Scott, Monahan, and original author David Ignatius will do just fine, and appears along with a few featurettes on the standard disc release.
Next: Clint Eastwood’s Changeling
3. Changeling — 61%
One of the lowest-rated films to be nominated for an Academy Award this year (thanks to Angelina Jolie’s Best Actress nomination, plus nods for Cinematography and Art Direction), Changeling should be an intriguing pick up for Oscar prognosticators this week. Directed by Clint Eastwood, Changeling tells the story of a working class mother who loses her child in 1928, only to be told months later by insistent cops that another boy is her son. Conventionally-told but compelling nonetheless, this should be an interesting rental for anyone who missed the film in theaters; in addition to two making-of featurettes on the standard release, the Blu-ray disc contains archival materials of the real-life story upon which Changeling is based, plus a feature that compares the Los Angeles-area period settings to their modern day locations.
Next: Flash of Genius not so genius
Period biographical pictures about men struggling on the brink of greatness sometimes do well (A Beautiful Mind, Tucker: The Man and His Dream) and sometimes fall short of the mark. Unfortunately, Marc Abraham’s Flash of Genius — the true story of Robert Kearns (Greg Kinnear), who invented the intermittent windshield wiper in 1967 — is of the latter category, earning middling marks from critics on its way to DVD shelves. If windshield wipers (or Kinnear’s co-star, the awesome Lauren Graham) intrigue you, we recommend a rental, though beware that only a director commentary and deleted scenes accompany the film. Universal is also releasing Flash of Genius day-and-date On Demand.
Next: Dakota Fanning in Hounddog
Even I’m getting tired of referring to Hounddog as “The Dakota Fanning Rape Movie,” so let’s accept the fact of its early and lasting reputation and move on, shall we? Hounddog stars the then- 12-year-old Fanning as a Southern tomboy in the 1950s with a fondness for Elvis; when the controversial event occurs, she finds comfort and redemption in the blues. Deborah Kampmeier’s drama made waves at Sundance, though most reviews were overwhelmingly negative; try and let that stop you from indulging your morbid curiosity.
Next: Simon Pegg loses friends and alienates people
As in The Devil Wears Prada, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People aims to satirize an insider industry with a lead character begrudgingly working their way up the corporate ladder — only this time it’s not Anne Hathaway, it’s British comic actor Simon Pegg, and his work is in entertainment journalism, not fashion. Critics were mostly un-amused by this slap-sticky adaptation of former Vanity Fair contributor Toby Young’s memoirs, citing an irregular tone, too much crudeness, and a mediocre script. However, a feature-length commentary with director Robert D. Weide and star Pegg accompanies the disc, which might be worth a gander thanks to the always-amusing (in real life, anyway) Pegg.
Next: I Served the King of England
Czech New Wave director Jiri Menzel (Closely Watched Trains) returns to form with this World War II-set dramedy about an ambitious waiter whose personal fortunes rise and fall as the country succumbs to the Nazis, then the Communist party, in the mid-20th century. This multiple festival award-winner, based on the novel by Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal, is the week’s standout Certified Fresh release.
Next: Clive Barker’s Midnight Meat Train
When Lionsgate unceremoniously dumped Midnight Meat Train into a very limited theatrical run last summer, horror fans were outraged, and rightly so; the adaptation of a Clive Barker short story was actually Fresh — so why hide it from the movie-going public? This month, Midnight Meat Train finally makes it to DVD, and those eagerly anticipating the Ryuhei Kitamura-directed slasher can take solace in the fact that they can finally see the tale in a DVD-only unrated cut. Bradley Cooper (He’s Just Not That Into You, Wedding Crashers) stars as a shutterbug on the trail of a subway killer (Vinnie Jones); three featurettes accompany the film.
Next: Hollywood remakes Spanish horror with Quarantine
A television reporter (Jennifer Carpenter) and her cameraman (Steve Harris) are the only people able to document the mysterious happenings inside a Los Angeles apartment building in this remake of the Spanish horror film, REC (94%). Atmospheric scares enhance this Blair Witch-styled tale, although critics agreed it fell short of the mark of the original. Director John Erick Dowdle and producer Drew Dowdle, who co-wrote the screenplay, contribute a commentary track, while additional features flesh out the bonus menu.
Next: Bill Maher meets Borat in Religulous
When director Larry Charles teamed up with Sacha Baron Cohen, the result was Borat. When he joined forces with Bill Maher, the result was Religulous, a comedy-documentary whose main focus is to satirize organized religion, and satirize it hard. A commentary track in which Charles and Maher explain their filmmaking methods and experiences highlights the extras.
Until next week, happy renting!
This weekend Sony and MGM shattered the record for the biggest James Bond opening in franchise history with their latest installment Quantum of Solace which audiences powered to a massive top spot debut. Fellow franchise flick Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa dropped to the runnerup spot in its second weekend and joined forces with the super spy to generate over $100M in ticket sales continuing a boom in business at North American multiplexes that Hollywood hopes will last throughout the rest of the holiday season.
Aiming to become the biggest Bond ever in every way, Quantum of Solace attacked theaters and hauled in an estimated $70.4M this weekend exceeding industry expectations. Averaging a scorching $20,400 from 3,451 venues, the PG-13 film flew past the old record for the largest debut in the four-decade-old franchise which was held by 2002’s Die Another Day with $47.1M. Quantum‘s debut was a whopping 50% bigger and even adjusting for ticket price increases it was still a healthy 23% stronger. The new globe-trotting saga also bested the last film Casino Royale‘s opening by an amazing 72% (60% adjusted).
Solace marked Daniel Craig‘s second turn as the British secret agent and featured a continuation of the direction away from the glossy clean-cut James of old who had a cheesy one-liner for every situation, and towards a vengeful younger man with no need for fancy gadgets. Much has changed since the Brosnan administration. Reviews for Quantum were mixed and were certainly not as glowing as those for Royale. Nevertheless, Craig proved himself two years ago as moviegoers spent $167.007M domestically and over $595M worldwide on the spy flick making it the top-grossing Bond ever, without adjusting for ticket price increases. That good will transferred over to Quantum as fans all showed up right away without having to wait to see if this new blond Bond was any good. Having no new wide releases to compete against also helped.
If estimates hold, Quantum of Solace will also set a new opening weekend record for a spy actioner edging out the $69.3M of last year’s The Bourne Ultimatum. Word-of-mouth will need to be stellar if Quantum wants any shot at beating Ultimatum‘s $227.5M domestic total. This weekend, the new 007 banked $27M on Friday, dipped 4% to $26M on Saturday, and is estimated by Sony to drop 33% to $17.4M on Sunday. With a production budget estimated to be $200M or more, Solace also ranks as the fourth biggest opener of 2008 and the fifth best November bow ever. Studio research showed that 54% of the audience was male while 58% was over 25.
Overseas, Craig and company raked in another $56.1M on 10,460 screens in the third weekend of international play to boost that tally to $252M putting the worldwide cume at an eye-popping $322M. Look for the $400M barrier to crumble as soon as next weekend as Quantum eventually makes its way past Casino Royale to set a new high for the lucrative franchise, especially with major markets like Japan and Australia still to open.
Last weekend’s top film Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa held up well for a sequel in its second frame falling 43% to an estimated $36.1M. Still averaging a stellar $8,888 from 4,065 theaters, the PG-rated comedy upped its ten-day total to $118M and became the first film since August’s Tropic Thunder to join the century club. Both were distributed by Paramount. Escape 2 Africa has a reasonable shot at matching the $193.2M of the first Madagascar flick from 2005 and will be tested next weekend when Disney unleashes its digital 3D toon Bolt which will target the same audience.
The R-rated buddy comedy Role Models followed its potent debut with a solid hold in its second weekend dropping 39% to an estimated $11.7M. With $38.1M in ten days, the Universal release could find its way to $65-70M. Off 36% in its fourth term was High School Musical 3 with an estimated $5.9M boosting the cume to a robust $84.4M for Disney.
With Bond stealing away older adults, Clint Eastwood’s Changeling dropped harder than it did in past weeks falling 41% to an estimated $4.2M. Universal’s Angelina Jolie starrer has collected $27.6M to date and is running somewhat behind the pace of the director’s 2003 pic Mystic River which had grossed $33.5M at the same point in its run. Sliding 49% to an estimated $3.2M was the comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno which has taken in $26.5M to date for The Weinstein Co.
A pair of films led by African American stars followed. MGM’s Soul Men starring Samuel L. Jackson and the late Bernie Mac tumbled 55% in its second weekend to an estimated $2.4M. With $9.4M in ten days, look for a disappointing $15M finish. The Secret Life of Bees continued to enjoy some of the best legs of any fall film slipping only 22% to an estimated $2.4M boosting the cume for Fox Searchlight to $33.7M.
Rounding out the top ten were two fright flicks with similar weekend grosses, but vastly different overall totals. Lionsgate’s Saw V took in an estimated $1.8M, down 56%, for a $55.4M sum. After 24 days, the latest torture flick is running 31% behind the pace of Saw II, 26% behind Saw III, and 10% behind Saw IV. The Haunting of Molly Hartley scared up an estimated $1.7M, off 50%, for a $12.7M sum for Freestyle Releasing.
Opening to sizzling results in limited release was Danny Boyle’s critically acclaimed Slumdog Millionaire which debuted in only ten theaters in six cities but grossed an estimated $350,000 for a muscular $35,000 average – tops among all films in the marketplace. Since its Wednesday bow, the Fox Searchlight release about an uneducated orphan from Mumbai who gets to within one question of winning the top prize on India’s version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire has collected $418,000 over five days. Slumdog has earned some of the best reviews of any film in 2008 and expands to ten more major markets this Friday.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $139.8M which was up a stunning 55% from last year when Beowulf opened in the top spot with $27.5M; and up 8% from 2006 when Happy Feet and Casino Royale debuted with $41.5M and $40.8M, respectively.
Despite being clobbered by Halloween on Friday, Disney’s smash hit kidpic High School Musical 3 once again led the North American box office in its second weekend winning the frame by a comfortable margin. The squeaky clean teens were followed by a trio of R-rated films that fought fiercely over the runnerup spot. Final grosses to be reported on Monday could lead to a change in the standings, but based on official studio estimates Kevin Smith’s raunchy new comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno debuted in second, the horror sequel Saw V slipped a notch to third, and Clint Eastwood’s missing child drama Changeling starring Angelina Jolie expanded nationally and placed fourth with the best average in the top ten. With the Pumpkin holiday keeping folks away from multiplexes on Friday and the lack of any breakout new releases, overall ticket sales took a nosedive with the top ten pulling in just over $70M falling 39% from last weekend and dropping 41% from a year ago.
Moviegoers couldn’t stay away from the singing and dancing students of High School Musical 3 making the franchise flick the top movie in the land with an estimated $15M over the weekend. Down a steep 64%, the Zac Efron pic pushed its stellar ten-day total to $61.8M. Disney has now ruled the box office over four of the last five weekends thanks to its one-two punch of G-rated family films HSM3 and Beverly Hills Chihuahua which still remained in the top ten this weekend.
Theatrical business was on a rollercoaster ride this weekend thanks to Halloween falling on a Friday this year. Since Musical‘s audience of young children and parents are the ones most affected by trick-or-treating, the film got hammered on Friday tumbling an eye-popping 90% from its opening day to just $1.7M. With those holiday activities out of the way, sales surged over 380% on Saturday to $8.2M and the studio is projecting Sunday to fall by 37% to an estimated $5.1M. Compared to last weekend, the Saturday and Sunday takes depreciated by roughly 46% each, a reasonably good performance for a frontloaded sequel in its sophomore session.
With Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa launching on Friday, competition for kids will get tough. Still, HSM3 may find its way to $90-100M domestically. Overseas, the Wildcats pulled in another $25.9M boosting the international tally to $85M and the worldwide cume to a stunning $146.8M. With a production budget of just $13M, it’s only a matter of time before the Mouse House puts a fourth installment into production, regardless of cast or story.
Three distributors battled over second place this weekend and the final results may come down to how accurate their projected Saturday-to-Sunday declines end up being. Based on official estimates released by the companies, those drops for the moment stand at 25% for Zack and Miri Make a Porno from The Weinstein Co., 34% for Lionsgate’s Saw V, and a more understandable 40% for Universal’s Changeling.
Kevin Smith’s Zack opened with an estimated $10.7M from 2,735 theaters for a decent $3,906 average. The Seth Rogen-Elizabeth Banks comedy about best friends that make a dirty movie together to earn some quick cash ended up performing much like Smith’s other R-rated comedies released wide. Clerks II bowed to $10.1M and a $4,680 average in 2006 while 2001’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back debuted to $11M and a $3,985 average. The casting of Rogen failed to pump the numbers up to those seen by the actor’s many films for Judd Apatow which often flirt with the $30M mark. Reviews for Zack were generally positive.
The torture extravaganza Saw V got hacked by 66% in its second weekend and grossed an estimated $10.1M. The Lionsgate release has now banked a solid $45.8M in ten days. The weekend drop was skewed by the Halloween effect on Friday as Saturday declined by 58% from the previous weekend while Sunday is estimated to fall by 54%. The aging franchise is still showing signs of erosion as the cume is the lowest ten-day start for the series since the first Saw did $35.4M in 2004. Ten-day cumes for the other chapters include $60.1M for Saw II, $59.4M for Saw III, and $50.4M for Saw IV. Halloween fell within that period for all five films. Look for Saw V to finish in the neighborhood of $55M which should still make it a profitable piece of intellectual property.
Universal expanded its Angelina Jolie vehicle Changeling from 15 to 1,850 theaters and grossed an estimated $9.4M. That amounted to a solid $5,085 average, the best among all wide releases. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the true story of a woman in search of her missing boy in the 1920s attracted mixed reviews which may have dampened sales with the target audience of older adults. Total including last week’s limited run is now $10.1M. The performance was somewhat similar to the expansion for the Oscar-winning filmmaker’s Mystic River from October 2003 which also went national in its second weekend with $10.4M from 1,467 sites. That film earned better reviews and a stronger $7,120 average which at today’s ticket prices would amount to roughly $8,300. Changeling‘s numbers also resembled those of Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers which debuted to $10.2M and a $5,461 average just two years ago in October 2006. Though not generating huge numbers, the former Dirty Harry is dependable when he hits the multiplexes with a new drama. He next pops up on screen this December in Gran Torino which he also directed.
Freestyle Releasing was the most aggressive distributor with Saturday-to-Sunday declines this weekend projecting a slim 13% dip for its horror title The Haunting of Molly Hartley resulting in a reported three-day estimate of $6M. The PG-13 fright flick about a teenage girl hunted by the devil opened with a mild $2,262 average from 2,652 locations. Final grosses to be reported on Monday should see a smaller gross, however its fifth place standing is secure.
The fall season’s second biggest hit Beverly Hills Chihuahua followed in sixth with an estimated $4.7M, off only 31%, for a cume of $84.1M for Disney. Collecting an estimated $4M, down just 34% in its third session, was The Secret Life of Bees which has upped its sum to $25.3M for Fox Searchlight.
Fox’s action drama Max Payne fell 53% to an estimated $3.7M pushing the total to $35.6M. Paramount and DreamWorks held up well once again with Eagle Eye, the fall’s top-grossing flick, with an estimated $3.4M, down 33%, for a $92.5M cume. The $100M mark is well within reach for Mr. LaBeouf. The Edward Norton-Colin Farrell cop saga Pride and Glory dropped 48% in its sophomore frame to an estimated $3.3M. After ten days, the total for the Warner Bros.-New Line Cinema pic is a disappointing $11.6M.
Guy Ritchie’s crime thriller RocknRolla failed to draw much of a crowd in its first weekend of wide release. Expanding from 19 to 826 playdates, the R-rated pic grossed an estimated $1.8M for a weak $2,119 average. Cume is a mere $2.4M for the Gerard Butler starrer.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $70.3M which was down 41% from last year when American Gangster opened in the top spot with $43.6M; and off 35% from 2006 when Borat debuted at number one with $26.5M.
While the North American box office took a big hit this weekend, overseas action was ignited by what could be the top-grossing global blockbuster for the rest of 2008 – the new James Bond adventure Quantum of Solace. Daniel Craig’s second turn as 007 opened to a colossal $24.8M in the United Kingdom breaking the record for that market’s largest three-day opening weekend edging out Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Quantum‘s launch was 35% bigger than Casino Royale‘s from two years ago indicating how firmly engaged audiences are now to Craig in the iconic role in this post-Pierce era. France opened to a stellar $10.5M while Sweden bowed to $2.3M, both bigger than the last Bond.
Quantum of Solace makes its big global premiere this coming weekend when it invades 57 additional markets for what undoubtedly will be a massive worldwide assault. North America was originally scheduled to be part of that debut. But when Warner Bros. moved Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from November to next July, Sony pushed the domestic launch of Bond back by a week to November 14 to move it closer to the lucrative Thanksgiving holiday. All 007 installments since the 1990s were released a week before the Turkey holiday with one exception – Tomorrow Never Dies which opened day and date against Titanic on December 19, 1997.
Recession be damned! Movie fans went on a spending spree at North American
multiplexes as a pair of new sequels pumped over $72M into cash registers
driving the overall marketplace to the biggest October weekend in box office
history. Disney’s High School Musical 3: Senior Year
delivered a sensational opening in first place and was followed in second by a
solid debut for the horror staple Saw V
which proved once again to be the genre’s most dependable franchise. Both hits
tapped into built-in audiences thanks to their strong brands, even though the
crowds could not have been more different. Ticket sales were up by a stunning
40% or more when compared to the corresponding frames from the past few years
proving that the right product will continue to draw large audiences into movie
Kids and parents lined up in massive numbers to enjoy the singing and dancing
extravaganza High School Musical 3 which launched with dazzling results
grossing an estimated $42M in its first weekend of release. Averaging a
fantastic $11,598 from 3,623 locations, the G-rated tale of squeaky clean
Albuquerque teens, who all just happen to carry a tune really well, delivered
the third largest October bow ever trailing just Scary Movie 3 ($48.1M in
2003) and Shark Tale ($47.6M in 2004) and the highest ever for a musical
beating the $27.8M of July’s Mamma Mia! The studio developed the brand on
the Disney Channel with two made-for-television movies that became pop culture
behemoths and took a leap with the third installment by having it graduate to
the big screen where Mouse House execs hoped the fans would follow it to. And
follow they did.
The fan base turned out in droves on Friday with a stellar $16.9M. Sales fell by
9% to $15.3M on Saturday indicating how intense demand was to see HSM3 on
the first day. Online ticketing sites reported brisk advance sales for weeks.
Disney is estimating a Sunday drop of 36% to $9.8M. With a reported budget of
only $13M, the Wildcats tale is well on its way to becoming a cash cow
especially when international box office and home video sales are bundled in.
The franchise is made for repeat viewing which may not happen much at the box
office given ticket prices for each sitting, but should surely be a factor on
DVD where young fans can watch Zac Efron and crew over and over again. Musicals
typically sell well overseas and even an all-American one like Senior Year
already has a global fan base waiting to drop some Euros and Yen. Over the
weekend, international ticket buyers in 22 markets spent an estimated $40M
giving Musical a global debut of $82M with much more to go.
For the first time since the last presidential election season, a Saw
film did not open at number one on the weekend before Halloween. Instead, the
latest chapter in the wildly successful franchise Saw V
settled for the runnerup spot but proved that the series is still alive and well
the fifth time around with an estimated $30.5M in ticket sales this weekend.
Averaging a brutal $9,965 from 3,060 sites, the R-rated torturefest dipped only
a scant amount from debuts of its recent predecessors. The last four Saw films
have bowed in the $30-34M range and are all among the top ten October openings
of all-time. The weekend gross for part five was extremely frontloaded with
Friday bowing to a gruesome $14.2M, Saturday tumbling a troubling 30% to $9.9M,
and Sunday being estimated to fall 35% to $6.4M. The five Saw films have
now grossed a combined $316.2M domestically with the franchise likely to
approach $350M by the time the new installment leaves theaters, or $70M per pic
before overseas and worldwide video revenues are added to the mix.
Led by the HSM and Saw sequels, ticket sales for the Top 20 soared
to an estimated $129M. If estimates hold, it will top the $125.2M from the exact
same frame in 2003 when Scary Movie 3 broke the all-time October opening record
and led the overall marketplace to the strongest weekend ever for the month.
Admissions were still higher five years ago though, with about 21 million stubs
sold for the Top 20 then compared to approximately 18 million this weekend.
Mark Wahlberg’s video game flick Max Payne dropped from first to third
this weekend bringing in an estimated $7.6M. That represented a decline of 57%
which was normal for this type of film. With $29.7M in the bank after ten days,
the $35M Fox release looks to finish its domestic run with around $45M.
Despite the powerful launch of the studio’s HSM3, Disney still fared very
well with the hit Beverly Hills Chihuahua
which slipped 40% to an estimated $6.9M. Sitting in fourth place in its fourth
session, the G-rated family comedy upped its cume to a robust $78.1M.
Opening with weak results in fifth place was the police corruption drama Pride and Glory
which bowed to an estimated $6.3M from 2,585 sites. Averaging a lackluster
$2,447 per venue, the Edward Norton and Colin Farrell
actioner was panned by critics and sat on the shelf for some time before Warner
Bros. put the film out.
A pair of sophomores followed. Fox Searchlight’s Queen Latifah-Dakota Fanning
pic The Secret Life of Bees
dropped a moderate 44% to an estimated $5.9M and upped its ten-day tally to
$19.2M. The presidential flick W.
suffered a larger decline dropping 49% to an estimated $5.3M for Lionsgate
putting the sum at $18.8M. Final grosses should reach roughly $34M and $30M,
The Paramount hit Eagle Eye slipped only 27% to an estimated $5.1M and
raised its total to $88M. Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe saw their
political thriller Body of Lies
gross an estimated $4.1M, off 40%, for a $30.9M cume. Rounding out the top ten
was the horror title Quarantine which got butchered by Saw V‘s
arrival collecting an estimated $2.6M, down 58%, for $28.8M to date.
Generating lots of heat in limited release was Universal’s Angelina Jolie
which bowed in only 15 theaters but grossed an estimated $502,000 for a
scorching $33,467 average. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the R-rated true tale of
a woman whose son disappears in 1920s California earned mixed reviews from
critics. The film’s big challenge will come this Friday when it expands
nationwide into over 1,800 theaters.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $116.4M which was up a sturdy 43% from
last year when Saw IV opened in the top spot with $31.8M; and up 40% from
2006 when Saw III debuted at number one with $33.6M.
Hitting the UK cinemas this week we have Ricky Gervais as a dentist who sees dead people in the comedy Ghost Town, the long awaited big screen debut for the Disney behemoth that is High School Musical 3, and on a slightly less fluffy note we have a young mother who sees her husband and son killed in a terrorist attack in Incendiary. But what did the UK critics have to say?
Ricky Gervais boasts a proud record of two hugely successful TV series with The Office and Extras, pioneering and record-breaking podcasts with Stephen Merchant and the legendary Karl ‘Head Like A ****ing Orange’ Pilkington, a range of critically acclaimed childrens books with the Flanimals, three sellout stand-up shows, and most recently a few minor, but well received roles in Hollywood films Night At The Museum, For Your Consideration and Stardust. But how would he fare in his first starring role as misanthropic dentist Bertram Pincus, who discovers he can communicate with the dead after dying for seven minutes during a botched medical procedure? With the movie Certified Fresh at 85% on the Tomatometer, UK critics reflected what their American counterparts had said about the movie, praising Gervais for his enjoyable, sharp and witty performance as the spirit spotting teeth tyrant, which elevates the film above its possibly creaky concept into, what some of the critics are saying, one of the rom-coms of the year. Up next for Gervais is This Side Of Truth, due for release next year, a comedy in which he not only stars, but he has written, and co-directed, so we will see if we can add auteur to his already glittering CV.
If you are aged over the age of 14, you may find the whole High School Musical phenomenon slightly bewildering, but with ticket pre-sales for the threequel, the first cinematic outing for the smash hit series, breaking box-office records, there is no denying that Disney have a monster on their hands. Teen heartthrobs Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens reprise their roles as Troy and Gabriella, in the final year at East High School, with university looming, the couple have to face up for a possible future apart. UK critics praised the movie for its slick production, feel good factor, and positive messages, but on the whole the jaded critics felt underwhelmed by it’s saccharine lightweight nature, predictable plot and sanitised vision of high school life. But even at a Rotten 58% on the Tomatometer, we’ve no doubt that the critical reception for HSM3 will have no bearing whatsoever on its box office takings come half term week.
Incendiary is directed by Sharon Maguire who previously helmed Bridget Jones Diary and is an adaptation of a novel by Chris Cleave. The novel was notable for its release on 7/7/05, the day of the London bombing atrocities, as it also deals with a terrorist bomb plot in London. Michelle Williams stars as a young mother who’s life is torn apart when her son and husband are killed in a bomb blast at the Arsenal football stadium, who seeks solace in her grief with Ewan McGregor‘s reporter character. The critics have praised Williams’ earnest portrayal as the mourning mother in the well-natured drama, but on the whole the movie has been dismissed for its unrealistic portrayal of modern London, far-fecthed nature and cliché ridden plot. At 26% on the Tomatometer, Incendiary is more of a misfire than a blast off.
Also worth checking out this week…
Chocolate — A tough, uncompromising, real stunt, Thai Kung Fu flick, with a slushy plot but badass fight scenes. 69% on the Tomatometer.
Quote Of The Week
“Committed acting, cast chemistry and the odd touching moment just about save you from checking whether this was actually produced by Bernard Matthews.”
Incendiary. Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro.
This week at the movies we’ve got plucky thespians (High School Musical 3: Senior Year, starring Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens), fraternal cops (Pride and Glory, starring Edward Norton and Colin Farrell), and systematic slayings (Saw V, starring Tobin Bell and Costas Mandylor). What do the critics have to say?
One of the most irrepressible pop culture phenomena of recent years is finally getting the big-screen treatment. And critics say High School Musical 3: Senior Year, while fluff, is toe-tapping and exuberant. Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens star as a pair of teens going their separate ways; they join their peeps to stage a musical that summarizes their high school careers and confronts their fears for the future. The pundits say HSM3 isn’t going to win many converts beyond its tween target audience, but it’s aggressively upbeat, well-crafted, and features an excellent performance by Efron. At 64 percent on the Tomatometer, High School Musical 3 earns a passing grade.
“Awesome! It’s raining Sunny Delight!”
The world is so full of police procedurals that you’ve got to do something to separate yourself from the pack. Unfortunately, critics say Pride and Glory is essentially a generic cop movie enlivened somewhat by the strength of its cast. Edward Norton stars as Ray, a New York City detective who is tasked with investigating the murders of several fellow cops, a mission that leads him to suspect that some of his family members, including Jimmy (Colin Farrell), his brother and fellow officer, may be involved. The pundits say this one’s pretty by-the-numbers, featuring cliched dialogue, familiar plot twists, and an overall sense of weariness. At 34 percent on the Tomatometer, Pride isn’t glorious.
“If the scoreboard is any indication, it appears our team name overstates our gridiron abilities.”
It’s practically becoming an annual ritual: a new Saw gets released, and it isn’t screened for critics. Such is the case with Saw V. Jigsaw may be gone, but Hoffman is just as fond of crafting elaborate traps for those poor souls that displease him. Kids, stop playing with those power tools and guess that Tomatometer! (And be sure to check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we tally the body counts of some of your favorite movie psychos.)
“Ooh, time for Judge Judy.”
Also opening this week in limited release:
Let the Right One In, a darkly atmospheric vampire flick from Sweeden, is at 94 percent.
Stranded: I’ve Come from a Plane That Crashed in the Mountains, a documentary that examines the aftermath on the survivors of the famed 1972 plane crash in the Andes, is at 89 percent.
Fear(s) of the Dark, an animated omnibus horror film from France, is at 70 percent.
Charlie Kaufman‘s directorial debut, Synecdoche, New York, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as a suburban theater director who stages a wildly ambitious play, is at 62 percent (check out our interview with Kaufman here).
Ben X, a stylistically daring drama about a teen with Asperger’s Syndrome who disappears into an online dream world, is at 61 percent.
The Tree of Life, a doc about a Los Angeles woman’s look at her family tree, is at 60 percent.
Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait which follows the French soccer great for an entire match, is at 53 percent.
The Universe of Keith Haring, a documentary about the artist who turned the early 1980s New York scene on its head, is at 43 percent.
Rarely does Hollywood release two films on the same day that are as opposite in every way as this Friday’s pair of new openers. Disney promotes a hit TV franchise to the big screen with the G-rated fun of High School Musical 3: Senior Year which will play to young kids and their parents. But playing in most of those same multiplexes will be the gruesome horror sequel Saw V which pushes the boundaries of its R rating. Both films have built-in fan bases that are sizable with zero overlap so each will have room to find its audience. Also debuting is the cop thriller Pride & Glory which targets serious-minded adults. Thanks to the pair of super sequels, the top ten could break through the $100M mark for only the second time ever in the month of October.
Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, and their clean-cut pals take the leap from the small screen in HSM3, the highly anticipated new story that follows the final high school year for a group of teens. After two wildly popular television movies for Disney Channel, the Mouse House has made an event out of the third chapter by making it a theatrical release. Just as teams do in baseball, the studio cultivated the property in the minor leagues and is now sending it to the majors after earning a spot on the roster. With a G rating and wholesome Disney family entertainment, Senior Year will pull in tweens and younger children with especially large sales from ages 4 to 14. Girls should outnumber boys and plenty of adult tickets for moms will be included in the grosses too. And let us pray for the single dads with daughters of single-digit age who will have absolutely, positively no choice but to trek out and sit through the film this weekend.
Advance ticket sales have been robust for weeks as fans have snapped up stubs ensuring that they don’t get sold out as some had been for February’s other Disney Channel superstar, the Hannah Montana film which bowed at number one with a stunning $31.1M. Though comparisons are inevitable, there are many differences here. The Miley Cyrus vehicle only launched in 683 locations since it played exclusively in digital 3D sites. Plus ticket prices were $15 meaning just over two million tickets were sold for that opening weekend. It was also promoted before its release as a one-week-only event further pushing upfront demand. The studio later extended the run. HSM3 is a more traditional release with regular ticket prices and an ultrawide release in over 3,400 playdates. Given the number of key male characters and the cast’s racial diversity, the potential audience for Musical should be much broader. But don’t expect too many newcomers to join the party. The target audience is large, but finite. The studio collected a sturdy $29.3M for a G-rated little talking dog a few weeks back, so this franchise pic should bring in most of that same crowd and then some. High School Musical 3 is certainly one of those films that could pop and explode this weekend, but a weekend debut of around $39M could result.
This weekend features another sequel from a very popular franchise, but the similarities end there. When the MPAA grants the R rating “for sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture, language and brief nudity,” it must be time for another installment of the Jigsaw series. Lionsgate unleashes Saw V in its usual spot on the calendar – the Friday before Halloween. Diminishing returns set in on the franchise in the last installment and further erosion should occur with this one both with the opening and final grosses. Saw III debuted to $33.6M while Saw IV dipped a bit to $31.8M. Final grosses fell even further from $80.2M to $63.3M across those chapters. And each pic has drawn more of its total audience upfront on the first frame than the previous one. The first Saw drew 33% of its final gross on opening weekend. Shares then grew to 36% for Saw II, 42% for Saw III, and a whopping 50% for last fall’s torturefest. So why keep making the films? Because their budgets are still tiny by industry standards and worldwide box office and video revenue continue to be exponentially higher. Opening in 3,060 locations (the lowest count since Saw II), Saw V might cut up about $27M this weekend.
Edward Norton and Colin Farrell play New York detectives investigating a series of cop killings in the new police thriller Pride & Glory. The R-rated film from New Line Cinema is being released by Warner Bros. and should play to the same adult audience targeted earlier this fall by Body of Lies and Righteous Kill which were also law enforcement actioners anchored by two well-known stars. But Pride is a little lower on the starpower scale and should play out more like last fall’s sibling cop drama We Own the Night starring Max Payne and Johnny Cash which opened to just $10.8M. The push has not been too forceful on Pride and the fall has already had its share of action films so another generic-looking one is not really in demand right now. Busting into about 2,600 theaters, Pride & Glory might debut with about $9M.
For the third straight October, Disney will re-release Tim Burton‘s popular creation The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D venues. The 2006 release collected $8.7M from only 168 sites while last fall a wider run in 564 locations brought in an additional $14.5M. The studio had not reported at press time how many theaters it will open Nightmare in on Friday, but with this year’s growth in 3D theaters and films, it is sure to pack in audiences in each of its sites, despite the studio’s other content out now.
Max Payne looks to suffer a steep drop this weekend thanks to bad word-of-mouth and the latest Jigsaw flick taking away young adults. Look for Fox to absorb a 55% fall putting the Mark Wahlberg actioner at about $8M for the weekend and $30M after ten days. Disney’s HSM3 will be stealing away a bit of the audience for its own hit Beverly Hills Chihuahua this weekend. Look for the dog pic to drop by 40% to around $7M boosting the cume to $78M.
The new films The Secret Life of Bees and W., which are vastly different from each other in both subject matter and title length, debuted neck and neck with $10.5M a piece with Bees squeezing out a small victory despite playing in 439 fewer locations. Each film had a built-in audience and mixed reviews so the sophomore declines should be moderate, possibly 45%. That would give the films just under $6M each for the weekend boosting the totals to $19M for Fox Searchlight and Lionsgate, respectively.
LAST YEAR: If it’s Halloween, it must be Saw. That thinking was good enough to drive Saw IV into the number one spot with a $31.8M bow for Lionsgate nearly tripling its nearest competitor. Steve Carell tried out the world of dramedies with Dan in Real Life which debuted in second with $11.8M and a solid $6,148 average. Buena Vista ended up with a solid $47.6M. Rounding out the top five were holdovers – 30 Days of Night with $6.9M, The Game Plan with $6.1M, and Why Did I Get Married? with $5.6M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com