Mel Gibson is getting the best reviews of his directorial career for Hacksaw Ridge, the World War II true story of conscientious objector Desmond Doss, who received the Medal of Honor for saving 75 men without ever carrying a gun or weapon. The legend of Doss inspires this week’s gallery: 24 Certified Fresh WWII movies!
(And before you ask, Grave of the Fireflies is Fresh but not Certified Fresh.)
Sparred by the triumphant onscreen return of a certain Johnny Rico, we turn
our DVD-minded focus to a few stars of yesterday popping up in new DVD releases
this week: Casper van Dien, Christopher Lambert, and Heather Graham. Also, check
out this week’s geek-tastic new releases: a Starship Troopers box set, Code
Monkeys, and Captain James Tiberius Kirk’s restored adventures aboard the
Casper Van Dien is back in Starship Troopers: Marauder
If you know the name Johnny Rico, then you know Casper van Dien. Back in 1997,
Van Dien turned in a career-defining performance as the brash “roughneck”
recruit Rico in
Starship Troopers; since that breakout role, he
appeared in no less than 28 (mostly made-for-TV or direct-to DVD) films. This
week Van Dien returns, eleven years later, to the franchise that kicked off his
career. (Read Casper van Dien’s Five Favorite Films here and hear what Rico’s up
against in Starship Troopers 3.)
Exclusive: Watch two exclusive behind-the-scenes featurettes about the new weaponry and the Marauder powersuit from Starship Troopers 3!
Unnecessary DVD re-release of the week: Christopher Lambert’s
In the world of home video, it seems everything old can become new again when
re-masterings, retrospective commentaries, or new footage come into play. But
what if no new changes are made whatsoever? Don’t check out Lionsgate’s new
re-release of Stuart Gordon‘s
Fortress, the horror veteran’s schlocky-but-entertaining
sci-fi flick from 1993 starring direct-to-video king
Christopher Lambert. In it,
Lambert stars as an Army officer imprisoned when he and his wife decide to
conceive more than the allotted one child per couple; highlights include what
happens when unruly prisoners get “intestined.” But anyone looking for further
insights from Gordon or even Lambert will be duly disappointed; the new release,
out this week, is merely a repackaged version of Artisan’s 2001 release. As for
Lambert, he’s since returned to his bread-and-butter — direct-to-video and
foreign language films – though we are excited at the thought of him
resurrecting Lord Rayden for a 2010 Mortal Kombat sequel.
The Where-Has-Heather-Graham-Gone Update of the Week
Speaking of celebrities who’ve fallen off the face of Planet Hollywood, this
week we stumble across
Heather Graham. Once an in-demand Hollywood Roller Girl,
Graham has taken to appearing in tiny indie and DVD flicks in the past few
years: a travel writer in the romantic-comedy
Cake; a hot lesbian in the
romantic comedy Gray Matters; a hot lesbian in the dark drama
see a trend here?) This week Graham’s back with another quirky indie:
Conception, the comic tale of one woman’s quest to conceive a child at any costs
before her “baby making days” are over.
Click for this week’s new releases!
Abigail Breslin continues to steal the title of America’s Sweetheart from Dakota
Fanning with her starring role as Nim Rusoe, the precocious, self-sufficient
daughter of a scientist (Gerard Butler) who has lived her whole life on – you
guessed it! – an island. Critics were mixed on the fantasy-adventure, but gave
kudos to the flick (and to producer/co-star
Jodie Foster as a neurotic writer)
for offering wholesome, well-intentioned counterprogramming for the Bratz crowd.
Amusing animated CGI sequences could look great on Blu-ray; deleted scenes,
featurettes, and commentaries by both husband and wife directors Mark Levin and
Jennifer Flackett and stars Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin flesh out the
Still upset about the video game crash of 1983? Is your old Atari 2600 gathering
dust in the attic while the young folk rock out to Guitar Hero? Cheer up by
watching Code Monkeys, G4’s original animated series chronicling the employees
of the fictitious GameaVision video game company during the 1980s. Code Monkeys
combines South Park-style humor with 8-bit animation and features cameos by tech
celebrities like Dungeons & Dragons creator Gary Gygax, God of War developer
David Jaffe, and Steve Wozniak as the “CEO” of GameaVision who leaves to start a
little company called Apple.
Shout Factory’s 2-disc release includes Behind the Scenes of Code Monkeys, Daily
Pranks, gaming tips from G4’s Kristin Holt, original GameaVision games, and
Austria nabbed its first Academy Award when The Counterfeiters won Best Foreign
Film last February; this week, the World War II tale comes to DVD. Based on the
real-life memoirs of Adolph Burger, the critically-acclaimed drama follows the
harrowing experiences of Holocaust victims forced to work for Nazis in exchange
for their lives.
Delve deeper into the film and the events that inspired it with commentaries and
interviews with director Stefan Ruzowitzky, star Karl Markovics, and Holocaust
survivor/memoirist Burger himself.
Breaking news: we’ve got a film this week about a giant killer crocodile, and
it’s got a fresh Tomatometer!! Suspend your disbelief long enough to rent this
creature feature, starring
Radha Mitchell and
Michael Vartan, about a tour group
terrorized in the outback by Australia’s native predator. (Where’s Paul Hogan
when you need him?)
Check out commentary by writer/director Greg McLean (Wolf Creek), a making-of
documentary shot by the director himself, and a few additional features.
How should you prepare for the debut of Starship Troopers: Marauder, writer Ed Neumeier’s directorial debut and the long-awaited return of Johnny Rico? By
picking up the entire trilogy on Blu-ray, available in a three-film box set or
individually this week! Watch Marauder in Blu-ray’s Picture-in-Picture mode to
watch pop-up trivia about new characters, weapons and story. Even the first
Starship Trooper film has been plumped with new Blu-ray features including
pop-up retrospective comments and a Starship Troopers trivia test.
Tons of Marauder-focused extras accompany the release, including commentary with
Ed Neumeier, Casper Van Dien, and Jolene Blalock, features on the newly
introduced Bugs and weapons, and a music video for the satirical government
anthem, “It’s a Good Day to Die.”
Hardcore Trekkers may already own Star Trek: The Original Series on DVD or VHS,
but this week’s debut has something none of the previous home video releases
did: remastered versions of the complete second season! Originally re-broadcast
in 2006, the updated Original Series featured additional CGI effects, recomposed
scenes, and updated image and sound. Season Two also features such memorable
episodes as “The Doomsday Machine” and “The Trouble with Tribbles.”
No new materials can be found on this 8-disc release, though the set is packed
with enough previously released featurettes, documentaries, and commentaries to
keep you engaged in Star Trek lore. However, this is only a standard release,
with no news yet of Blu-ray plans; still, for diehard fans the set will be worth
its weight in quatloo.
Two big doses of comedy from a pair of Hollywood’s funniest men will hit the multiplexes across North America on Friday in a fierce battle for the number one spot. For family audiences there is the animated extravaganza Kung Fu Panda starring Jack Black while Adam Sandler counters with his latest laughfest aimed at young men, You Don’t Mess With The Zohan. The new choices will offer some variety to a marketplace dominated by the female-skewing event pic Sex and the City and the old-school adventure tale Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. With so many worthy choices, and four movies likely to top $20M, it looks to be a sizzling session at the box office as the top five films alone have the strength to beat the entire Top 20 from a year ago.
Jack Black leaps into theaters anchoring Kung Fu Panda playing a Chinese panda bear who trains to become a martial arts expert in order to save his village. The PG-rated toon features voices from a wide array of actors including Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, Ian McShane, and Jackie Chan. The marketplace is certainly ready for a major family film right now. Since March’s Horton Hears a Who, there really hasn’t been anything major to excite this lucrative audience segment. Last month saw two high profile PG-rated pics, but the dark and violent The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian has attracted half of the crowd of its predecessor while Speed Racer was an all-out disaster. With summer vacations getting closer and closer, children of all ages are pumped for something fun and exciting to go and see.
In the DreamWorks stable, Kung Fu Panda should post one of the largest openings for a non-sequel animated entry. It even has the potential to set a new high. Currently, 2004’s Shark Tale and 2005’s Madagascar are tops with $47.6M and $47.2M, respectively. At today’s ticket prices those would be in the low $50M range. Panda has similar features like having a popular comedian in the lead. Dramatic actors add little to the box office strength of an animated film with their voices, even big A listers. But when comedians are at the center and are allowed to improvise and add their own sense of humor, moviegoers cheer. Panda also has the type of comedy that will be loved by adults as well as by kids. Good marks from critics won’t hurt either.
The marketing has been solid. The concept is familiar with a young talking animal going after his dreams while the Asian setting adds something new. Big business should be had with kids of single-digit age since recent family offerings have been too risqué for parents to buy tickets for. Plus direct competition is close to zero making for a perfect time to strike. Attacking over 3,600 theaters, Kung Fu Panda may eat up around $52M this weekend.
No comedian has been more consistent at the box office this decade than Sandler who has scored $100M+ grossers over the last six consecutive years. Aside from Will Smith, no other Hollywood star can claim such a streak. Plus not since the Harold and Kumar sequel has there been a comedy aimed at young males. And after all the media attention that Carrie Bradshaw and pals have gotten in the past week, guys may be ready for some testosterone-fueled fun.
However, Sandler fans are not known to be all that into Israeli soldiers or hairdressers so subject matter could be a problem. Last July’s Chuck and Larry bowed at number one with $34.2M, but it was also the funnyman’s lowest opener for a broad comedy since 2000’s Little Nicky. Maybe the combination of a ridiculously long title and a not-so-macho storyline could prevent Sandler from reaching his usual $40M debut mark again this weekend. In addition, the comedian is straying from his natural voice for the first time since Nicky which doesn’t bode well either. Fans like it best when Adam plays Adam, just a regular American dude getting himself into comical situations. Infiltrating over 3,300 theaters, You Don’t Mess With The Zohan could debut with around $35M.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will face some competition for young men from Zohan while families will be tempted away by Paramount’s own Panda. But adult men will still be focused on the Communist-fighting whip man so a 45% drop could result leaving a $24M frame. That would propel the cume to a stunning $254M after 18 days.
Sex and the City shocked the industry with its stellar $56.8M bow last weekend. Also impressive were the sturdy grosses of $5.5M a piece on Monday and Tuesday this week. But the sizable 34% Friday-to-Saturday tumble showed how much demand was absorbed on that first day which was essentially an after-work girls-night-out for fans. Word-of-mouth has been good, but so much of the target audience has already been reached so a big drop is likely even though the new releases are not direct competitors. Panda however will take many thirtysomething and fortysomething mothers out of the picture. A 60% fall could occur giving the New Line-Warner Bros. flick roughly $23M – still a full-figured number. That would give Sex a fabulous $100M in just ten days.
Universal’s The Strangers was a surprise hit last weekend posting the best horror movie opening of 2008. But a fast fade is likely so sales could slump by 55% to about $9.5M. That would give the Rogue production a solid $37M in ten days. Iron Man is steadily closing in on that triple-century mark. The super hero smash should dip by 35% to around $9M boosting the cume to $290M.
LAST YEAR: The summer of threequels moved forward with Ocean’s Thirteen which bowed at number one with $36.1M for Warner Bros. on its way to $117.2M domestically and $311M worldwide. That put the bad boys behind the $363M of Twelve and the $444M of Eleven. Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End dropped to second after two weeks on top with $21.1M breaking the quarter-billion mark in just over 17 days. Universal’s Knocked Up, the first of two pregnancy comedy hits in 2007 to sail past $140M, followed with $19.6M in its sophomore frame. Sony’s animated penguin film Surf’s Up debuted in fourth with a respectable $17.6M leading to a $58.9M final. Rival toon Shrek the Third sat in fifth with $15.3M. The horror sequel Hostel Part II struggled in its opening weekend taking in $8.2M or less than half the bow of its predecessor a year earlier. Lionsgate reached $17.6M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
at the movies, we’ve got views to a kill (Vantage Point, starring
Matthew Fox), medicated youth (Charlie Bartlett, starring
Anton Yelchin and
Robert Downey Jr.), a pair of DIY filmmakers (Be Kind Rewind, starring
Jack Black and
Mos Def), and
Southern justice (Witless
Cable Guy). What do the critics have to say?
political thriller featuring conflicting eyewitness accounts,
certainly sounds intriguing, like a cross between
Unfortunately, critics say that while the premise is sound, the execution is
lacking. Vantage Point follows eight different people who try to unlock
the truth behind a political assassination attempt, despite their differing
perspectives. The pundits say Vantage Point has some tight, tense
moments, but is ultimately undone by its gimmicky technique and increasingly
far-fetched plot developments. At 33 percent on the Tomatometer, Vantage
isn’t quite on Point.
Ferris Beuller’s Day Off,
Charlie Bartlett is the
story of a teen who’s too clever by half. And critics say the movie’s pretty
Anton Yelchin stars in the
titular role as a teen who’s run afoul with every school he’s attended; in his
latest go-round, Charlie becomes something of a counselor to his classmates —
while attempting to outwit school administrators. The pundits say Charlie
features a star-making performance for Yelchin, as well as some sharp, clever
plotting, though some find it a little toothless. Still, at 56 percent on the
Tomatometer, you’re a (mostly) good man, Charlie Bartlett.
Gondry has carved out one of the most distinctive niches in recent cinema; Eternal
Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and
The Science of Sleep exude a mix of
childlike wonderment and dazzling visual inventiveness. But critics say his
Be Kind Rewind, maintains Gondry’s oddball aesthetic without
the emotional uptick of his previous flicks. The film
Jack Black as a man who has unintentionally erased all the VHS tapes at
his friend’s (Mos Def) video store; the pair team up to remake the movies
themselves. The pundits say that Rewind has sweetness and originality to
spare, but is slighter and less disciplined than Gondry’s previous mind-benders.
At 68 percent on the Tomatometer, Rewind is Kind to the Gondry faithful.
the folks behind
Witless Protection were concerned that movie critics
needed protection from their film, since it wasn’t screened for critics.
stars as a small-town lawman who runs afoul of the FBI after
rushing to the rescue of an attractive witness in a high-profile case, who may
have been victimized by rogue agents. Hilarity (allegedly) ensues. Kids, guess
opening this week in limited release:
Robert Downey Jr. Movies:
89% — Zodiac (2007)
59% — Game 6
30% — Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (2006)
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006)
28% — The Shaggy Dog (2006)