The Oscar nominees were announced last Thursday, and we here at Rotten Tomatoes have been pretty fortunate to sit down and chat with a whole lot of them. If you’re still unsure who to root for in the Best Picture race, or you’d just like a little more info on the films being honored on February 22, check out our various interviews with the casts and filmmakers of Selma, The Theory of Everything, Nightcrawler, American Sniper, The Hobbit, and more.



Saoirse Ronan is all over the multiplex these days — the Oscar-nominated Irish actress stars in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel and has a cameo in Muppets Most Wanted. In an interview with Rotten Tomatoes, Ronan talked about her love for classic cinema, her appreciation for David Lynch, and her experience on the set of The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976; 98% Tomatometer)

[Taxi Driver is] a film that really kind of struck me on an emotional level and as somebody who works and can kind of appreciate how films are made. I remember when I saw Taxi Driver for the first time, and I saw the creativity and the imagination that went into the shots that Scorsese chose, and to really kind of capture a very particular kind of New York. I thought it was really wonderful. You know, you can watch certain films and there are certain things that will stick out for you. It can be a great character or a performance or an ensemble performance or whatever, but when everything seems to come into play, it’s always really impressive, I think, when every single cast member is very strong. So I felt like with this film, cinematically, it just kind of ticked all those boxes for me.

On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954; 100% Tomatometer)

I remember when I saw On the Waterfront for the first time. With that, it was kind of the chemistry between Brando and Eva Marie Saint that was so gorgeous to watch on screen. And that’s a wonderful film to go back to. And actually, in the film I’m just about to do, one of the relationships that I have with another character kind of really reminds me of their relationship. So that’s lovely.

I’m intrigued by your expertise in older films.

I’m not an expert.

But I’ll tell you, I think a lot of times it takes a while for someone to appreciate something like On the Waterfront. That’s pretty advanced film-watching.

Well, I mean I remember when I was younger and someone that I worked with got me the book The Story of Film by Mark Cousins. It’s a fantastic book. It’s actually really great because there are so many people who are real film buffs who kind of eat, drink cinema. Whenever I have the time, especially over the last few years, I’ve tried to see as much as I could. But, you know, I grew up watching older films and listening to older music and things like that. My mom’s mother actually was a real film buff when she was growing up in Dublin, and used to write letters to, you know, Cary Grant and people like that, and Humphrey Bogart. She always had a real love for cinema. I think my mom kind of just passed that on to me a little bit. So I grew up with that kind of stuff.

Three Amigos (John Landis, 1986; 56% Tomatometer)

And then just, even like comedies of the 1980s, I mean the Three Amigos, I grew up with…

That’s such a great movie.

It’s such a great movie. I was just talking to someone about it actually and I haven’t seen The Jerk before and we were both saying… she’s a director I just worked with and she grew up watching Three Amigos and loved, obviously, Steve Martin and Martin Short and Chevy Chase. It’s such a simple and ridiculous storyline that it just works. It’s like from the off, you’re just in on this little joke, you know. It’s so great. So I loved that when I was growing up. She was telling me The Jerk, I’d never seen The Jerk before, and I watched it a couple of weeks ago for the first time and it was, again, just really great, kind of like, SNL humor that I really love.

Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977; 91% Tomatometer)

I remember, like, telling everyone ‘cuz I felt really cool, that I’d seen this older David Lynch film, watching Eraserhead

(Laughing) Oh God.

…just trying to figure out what the f— it was about. And I kinda loved it, you know. And then I looked up Q&As that he had done afterwards, and that was kind of the point for him, I think, was to have people kind of ask questions and make up, in a way, their own story for this bizarre character. And I really loved that, and I hoped, God, if I ever got to make a film or anything, it would be such an interesting way to go about it, you know. To kind of make everything so nonsensical that people are forced to make sense out of it themselves.

Right. It’s like abstract painting in a way.

Yeah. Yeah. Almost. Which is great. And it’s always great when films can do that as well. (Laughing) Maybe not quite as abstract as Eraserhead; I mean it’s nice to know what it’s about. But, yeah, just to be able to almost leave your own mark on a film or take what you want away from it is a lovely thing.

Windy City Heat (Bobcat Goldthwait, 2003; No Tomatometer Score)

What’s the name of that film? Was it Jimmy Kimmel that was involved in it? Windy City Heat? It’s this guy, oh God, what’s his name again? I can’t remember. [Editor’s note: Perry Caravello.] He’s Italian-American and, you know, he’s been in the game a long time, and you see footage of him going into auditions and things like that, and he literally thinks he’s, like, the next Marlon Brando. He really believes he’s gonna be the next Marlon Brando. And his friends create this whole film, this fake movie, that he lands the lead part in. They like shoot the film, there’s loads of things that go wrong. And he’s got an awful attitude, like, he’s really cocky and everything. Anyway, the film came out. They released it. They released, like, the making-of, and I think he kind of put two and two together. And he’s done interviews since then and says, “I was in on the joke the whole time! I knew what was going on! I knew what was going on!” And I don’t think he did. And it’s really heartbreaking then to go back to it then and realize that he didn’t know. He really heard that he had gotten this lead part in the film, you know. You should check it out. It’s funny. Jimmy Kimmel’s involved in that, I think.

RT: How much fun was it to work on The Grand Budapest Hotel?

Saoirse Ronan: It was amazing. It was literally like stepping into a world that you know can only be created by one man, and that unless you’re asked to come back, you’ll never be a part of again. From the hotel that we stayed in to the food that we ate to just the set that was built for us to play in, it was all so Anderson-esque. It’s great because for the likes of me and Tony [Revolori], and even Ralph [Fiennes] as well I’m sure, we were the newbies. And everyone else had worked with Wes before, and he does have a very particular way of working. I mean, everything was planned out beforehand. And that comes down to the time allotted for each shot in the film. It’s kind of that meticulous. So to come into that, it kind of throws you for a second and you need to adapt to it. So being around people who have been working with him for… you know, some people like [cinematographer] Bobby Yeoman had been working with him for over 20 years. And I think that just puts you at ease to be with these people who are so, so good at what they do and kinda know Wes and respect Wes so much. Yeah, we had a great time. Costumes were great and, you know, it was lovely.

Do you feel like you can bake particularly delicious delicacies? Because you looked like you knew what you were doing in that movie.

(Laughing) I did look like, yeah… that’s why I’m called an actor. I got paid to do it too! No, I’ve only baked a little bit.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is currently in theatres.

This week we recommend the fourth and final Futurama movie (Into the Wild Green Yonder), but only for diehard Planet Express devotees; otherwise, your new release options are rotten (Sex Drive, The Haunting of Molly Hartley). Horror fans, however, have something new to cheer about (Wes Craven’s original Last House on the Left Collector’s Edition, Dario Argento’s Four Flies on Grey Velvet), as do those with more esoteric tastes (Noah Wyle as The Librarian in Curse of the Judas Chalice and Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge). Blu-ray viewers have the best choices of the week, with new remasterings to devour (Akira, The French Connection, Vanishing Point, and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage).

1. Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder — N/A

When fans first heard that the well-loved animated series Futurama would be reborn on DVD (via four direct-to-video films), cheers of joy echoed throughout New New York. Unfortunately, that joy gave way to mild discontent as the first three Futurama DVDs debuted with mixed results. This week, the fourth and final Futurama film hits shelves; will you be delighted or shake a fist in frustration at Beezlebot?

Into the Wild Green Yonder follows Fry and Co. as Amy’s dad attempts to expand his mini-golf empire into the galaxy, destroying entire planets in the process; can Leela’s eco-terrorism efforts or Fry’s newfound mind-reading powers save the universe? More importantly, will the two ever consummate their series-spanning romance? Die hard fans will want to give this Futurama flick a whirl to see their favorite characters in one last hurrah — especially supporting ones like the head of Richard Nixon — and check out the wealth of cool extras that accompany the DVD. (Extras include a feature length commentary, behind-the-scenes peeks, How To Draw Futurama, Bender’s Movie Theater Etiquette, and more.) Below, watch a deleted scene!

Next: Sex Drive

2. Sex Drive — 46%

Forty-six percent on the Tomatometer ain’t too shabby for a road trip-sex comedy involving a high school virgin, a stolen GTO, a giant donut suit with a sombrero and Amish teens gone wild. Does that mean you should give Sex Drive a go? If your brand of comedy trends towards the Porky’s and American Pies of the movie world, maybe so. The 2-Disc “Unrated and Cream-Filled” DVD (yes, that’s really what Summit Entertainment is calling it) comes with a raunchy filmmaker commentary and a handful of making-of featurettes.

Next: The Haunting of Molly Hartley

Gunning for next year’s Moldy Tomato award, The Haunting of Molly Hartley came in at a robust three percent on the Tomatometer after being not screened for critics (and rightly so, apparently). The tale of a teenager (Haley Bennett) whose soul belongs to the Devil (and to Gossip Girl’s Chace Crawford, who plays Bennett’s devilishly handsome love interest) scored so low with critics and audiences alike, we can’t in good conscience recommend it. The DVD boasts cast and director interviews, though not even a box set’s worth of bonus features could have made this release watchable.

Next: Last House on the Left Collector’s Edition

4. Last House on the Left Collector’s Edition — 68%

Revisit Wes Craven’s 1972 horror exploitation classic (if you have the stomach for it) with a new Collector’s Edition, released just in time to coincide with next month’s remake. The disturbing tale of a band of rapists and murderers hunted by the parents of one of their own victims — itself an update of Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring — earned its controversial reputation for portraying particularly grotesque sadism onscreen, though contrary to his assessment of the similarly-themed revenge thriller I Spit on Your Grave, critic Roger Ebert praised Last House as a guilty pleasure “on par with Night of the Living Dead.” Owners of previously-issued editions will find much of the same bonus menu materials, though new Craven interviews and select scenes have been added.

Next: The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice

5. The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice — N/A

Remember when Noah Wyle seemed poised for success in Hollywood? If his tenure as the world’s most resourceful librarian-turned-action hero is any indication, he’s totally made it to the big time. TNT’s made-for-TV film The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice hits DVD this week and is a must-have for you Librarian fans who already own the first two films (The Librarian: Quest for the Spear and The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines); you know who you are. This time around, Wyle heads to New Orleans in pursuit of a mystical chalice that will resurrect Dracula, falling for a smoking hot vamp (Stana Katic) along the way. Incidentally, The Librarian 3 is directed by actor-director Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek‘s Riker!), so if you’re any sort of self-respecting nerd, this is a must-own title.

Next: Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge

6. Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge — N/A

Those of you familiar with the first Pirates movie — and we’re not talking about Pirates of the Caribbean — will want to take a gander at its sequel, Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge; after all, who can resist owning not one, but two pornographic pirate adventure comedies re-cut to an R-rating? Director Joone picks up where he last left Jesse Jane and Evan Stone (who is surprisingly well endowed…with comic timing), while Sasha Gray and Belladonna join the cast. Porn stars acting! Who’d have thought that would ever be so entertaining…

Next: Akira Blu-ray

7. Akira Blu-ray — 88%

This week is not lacking in great new Blu-ray offerings, beginning with the high definition reissue of Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 anime classic about psychics in post-apocalyptic Tokyo. While its presentation isn’t perfect — the movie’s 30 years old — it sure beats standard definition, and boasts a newly-remastered 192khz/24-bit audio track. Expect, however, to be disappointed with the disc’s lack of bonus materials. Although a 32-page booklet and over 4000 high resolution storyboards are included, additional featurettes (including those previously released) are missing — because, amazingly, they simply couldn’t fit on the disc.

Next: The French Connection Blu-ray

8. The French Connection Blu-ray — 98%

There’s a lot to admire in director William Friedkin’s 1971 film, based on the true story of how a network of smugglers shipped heroin from France to New York City, the simplest admiration being that Friedkin pulled it off at all. In this week’s Blu-ray release of the multiple Academy Award-winning film, Friedkin, walking along the Brooklyn street where he filmed an integral car vs. train sequence, tells of how he shot the high speed chase with a stunt driver and no traffic control at all, weaving quite dangerously through the crowded streets to achieve what has since become celebrated as one of the best chase scenes ever shot. Although The French Connection suffers the negative side effect of older, grainy films given the high def treatment — dancing shadows, distracting at times — it’s still a wonder to behold, and one of the best to come out of the American New Wave. The title includes a commentary with Friedkin and stars Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider, plus new behind-the-scenes features.

Next: Vanishing Point Blu-ray

9. Vanishing Point — 71%

The 1971 cult classic Vanishing Point has long been a flick for movie geeks in the know, but it wasn’t until the biggest geek in Hollywood — Quentin Tarantino — name dropped it in Death Proof that a new generation of hipster movie buffs heard the name. If you’re one of said hipster movie buffs, then the Vanishing Point Blu-ray is simply a must-have; after all, if QT owns it, so should you! Vanishing Point stars Barry Newman as Kowalski, a former cop and current adrenaline junkie on an interstate road trip in a 1970 Dodge Challenger; a filmmaker commentary, new featurettes, in-movie trivia, the UK cut with ten minutes of additional footage and more are included.

Next: Four Flies on Grey Velvet DVD/Bird with the Crystal Plumage Blu-ray

Horror buffs and fans of stylized 1970s cinema should take note of our two favorite releases of the week: Dario Argento’s Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1972), and his earlier film The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970, on Blu-ray), two of the best thrillers of the Italian Grindhouse genre known as “giallo.” The tale of a rock ‘n roll drummer being driven mad by an unknown killer captures a 1970s European vibe with panache, thanks to Argento’s tense atmospherics, a score by Ennio Morricone, and one of the most memorable visual twists in movie history. Hard to find on home video for years, Four Flies is being released on DVD for the first time (we first watched it on a bootlegged copy).

Meanwhile, the folks at Blue Underground are bringing another celebrated Argento giallo to home video: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. Argento’s first film as a director follows an American in Rome who witnesses an attempted murder but can’t quite piece together the details of what he saw; remastered from its original camera negative, Bird with the Crystal Plumage on Blu-ray also includes the U.S. and Italian trailers, interviews with Argento, cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, composer Ennio Morricone, and actress Eva Renzi as well as a commentary with RT’s own Kim Newman!

Until next week, happy renting!

A trip to the cinema is a sure-fire way to beat the January blues, but which film should you be shelling out to see? Vying for your pennies this weekend we have Daniel Craig in non-Bond mode for the WWII epic Defiance. Already a big festival hit, Danny Boyle‘s Slumdog Millionaire finally hits the UK cinemas, as do two US comedies in the Apatow-vein, Role Models and Sex Drive. So what did the British critics have to say?

Defiance tells the incredible true story of the Bielski brothers, a trio of Jewish resistance fighters in Belarus, who saved thousands of lives through their actions in WWII. Directed by Edward Zwick and starring Daniel Craig, Jamie Bell and Liev Schreiber, Defiance is an all-action epic with an amazing true story at it’s heart, but it has split the critics. Currently standing at 52% on the Tomatometer, most critics were wowed by the previously rarely heard story, but felt the production was let down by clichéd narrative, drab cinematography and an all-round muddled approach to the central story. Xan Brooks of The Guardian summed up the general consensus:

Defiance makes a noise but leaves no echo. It feels progressively more bogus and less significant the further it recedes from view, and myths are meant to wax in the memory, not wane.”

Danny Boyle has been a stalwart of British cinema since breaking onto the scene first with Shallow Grave, then the critically acclaimed Trainspotting. Always defying convention, Boyle has tried his hand at many genres, and has now turned his eye to Bollywood, with his Mumbai-set Slumdog Millionaire. With no Rotten ratings compiled from the UK reviews, Slumdog proudly stands at a very healthy, and Certified Fresh, 94% on the Tomatometer. There was universal praise for its uplifting tone, inspirational fairytale story, and stunning use of location and setting. Rob Daniel, Sky Movies, said about the film:

“Hard hearts may balk at the unashamed sentiment, black and white morality, and question-flashback contrivances, but let them eat pie and mash: this is a tangy banquet of smile-on-the-face feel good.”

Role Models and Sex Drive hit the UK cinemas this week both boasting impressive current US-comedy pedigree. Role Models stars Paul Rudd, Seann William-Scott and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (AKA McLovin of Superbad fame) in a comedy about two thirty-something slackers on community service, whilst Sex Drive features Clark Duke, James Marsden and Seth Green in a teen coming-of-age road movie. Role Models is currently faring better on the Tomatometer at a Certified Fresh 76%, whilst Sex Drive is lagging behind at 42% overall, but both films tallied a similar number of fresh ratings with the UK critics, so if a laugh-out-loud comedy is what you are looking for this weekend, you are spoilt for choice. Nigel Andrews of The Financial Times said of the two films:

“Neither film wins a prize for visual style. Each deserves one for clever gags and zanily zig-zagging dialogue.”

Quote Of The Week

“This unfunny studio comedy is so downright demeaning I ended up hating not only it but my entire gender — and most specifically myself for secretly quite wanting to watch it.”

Bride Wars

Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro.

Feature films are supposed to all be about the headliners. The ones who get
the most buzz are usually the actors or the director, or whether the film’s cost
equaled the gross economy of a small Third World country. Hardly ever does
anyone pay attention to the secondary players (unless it’s Christopher Walken,
but that’s for another article), and chances are unless the film’s headed up by
a bunch of nobodies, supporting actors never really get their due.

Now and then a supporting actor catches a break and ends up a character with the
lion’s share of memorable one-liners or unique idiosyncrasies. That’s pretty much what happens with James Marsden in this weekend’s Sex Drive, and so we’ve rattled off
ten of the more memorable performances by supporting cast members we’ve had the
pleasure of viewing. Here are our picks.

Bill Paxton
as Chet,
Weird Science

Bullies on their own really aren’t that much fun to watch, but seeing them get
their comeuppance is where comedy gold undoubtedly lies. The threat of Chet’s
wrath loomed over Gary and Wyatt for the entirety of the movie, and when he
finally does make his appearance he indubitably makes his presence known. If it
wasn’t for Lisa’s magical talents (urged on by Chet’s piggish attitude), those
boys would’ve gotten the drilling of a lifetime.


William Scott
as Stifler,
American Pie

Who would’ve thought glorifying the meathead frat boy persona would churn out so
many laughs? While Jim’s loser attitude and the general middle-of-the-road
lameness of the main crew would somehow translate endearingly to audiences, it
was the hyper-hetero antics of Stifler that would eventually prove to be one of
the more defining moments of the film series. Three direct-to-video sequels
featuring Stifler spin-offs would further illustrate this character’s impact on
the series as a whole.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse
as McLovin,

Superbad already featured a host of eccentric characters, so it does say
quite a bit when much on an entire film’s notoriety ends up being hinged on the
shenanigans of a supporting act. McLovin may seem like the typical nerd
archetype that tries to make up for his inadequacies with overconfidence, but
his true limp-wristed nature would inevitably resurface whenever faced with
trouble (and yes, with hilarious results). Weakling that he is, he nonetheless
represents the ineffectual awkward teen in all of us, and that’s what we love
him for.

Rip Torn as
Patches O’Houlihan,

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

In an arena of washed-up has-been coaches in movies, Patches O’Houlihan still
offers us a reason to expect the worst in this explicitly underdog-glorifying
project. Seemingly ripped from the Disney vault of feel-good films, Dodgeball
was thankfully ribald enough to keep it from being too predictable. Patches has
a lot to do with the film’s success, and while we see through the sophomoric
humor of seeing dorks get beaned by work tools, his strange anecdotes and shady
backstory (not to mention Rip Torn’s spot-on delivery) made up for some of the
movie’s less effective moments.

Paul Rudd as
Pete, Knocked Up
Ironically enough, the jaded individual is frequently a source of comedic
material, and if there ever was a distinct example of this notion in action it
would be Knocked Up‘s candidly blasé Pete, played to the subtle hilt by
Paul Rudd. Honesty is apparently the best policy in Pete and his wife Debbie’s
home, since neither of them have any qualms whatsoever about preaching the evils
of marriage and parenthood. In addition to several scenes of precious
vitriol-laced banter between the couple, Pete and Ben (Seth Rogen) have a few
hilarious moments of male bonding as well.


as Aldous Snow,
Sarah Marshall

Excusing his less-than-stellar appearance at this year’s VMAs, Russell Brand
landed squarely in the public’s sights thanks to his turn as brutally-honest
rocker Aldous Snow in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Personifying the guy everyone
loves to hate, Brand nonetheless succeeded in taking the character a step
further by making him someone everyone can’t help but love regardless of his
attitude. Aldous never makes excuses for the kind of person he is, and despite
his utter bluntness, he will always be one of the coolest characters ever to
appear on the big screen.


Efren Ramirez
as Pedro Sanchez,
Napoleon Dynamite

The name the spawned a thousand shirts, Pedro Sanchez is Napoleon Dynamite’s
stoic yet affable best pal who shoots for the stars and becomes school
president. Granted, Napoleon’s shame-free hip-hop routine could have had
something to do with his victory, but we won’t take anything away from Pedro’s
judgment-free outlook on life lending a hand. Pedro, you and your awful bouffant
wig will always have a special place in our cynical hearts.


Alan Ruck as
Cameron Frye,
Bueller’s Day Off

What better way is there to offset the maniacally happy-go-lucky torrent that is
Ferris than to pair him up with an Eeyore-esque, hypochondriac best buddy like
Cameron Frye? He might have wheedled and whined his way through what could
possibly be the most awesome day of hooky ever, but at the end of it all he
probably had fun himself. Well, maybe not as much since his dad’s car ended up
getting trashed, but at least he learned a valuable life lesson from the


Gary Cole as
Bill Lumbergh, Office

The passive-aggressive manager to end all passive-aggressive managers, Bill
Lumbergh is the epitome of a bureaucrat. Obsessed with the minutiae of office
life, he micromanages Peter Gibbons to the point of hopelessness…which
thankfully we become witness to. If it weren’t for the scenarios expressed
through this character and this movie we would’ve never been treated to such
prime examples of abject office douchery.


Bill Murray
as Ernie McCracken,

Bill Murray’s Ernie McCracken is a clear example that cheaters can (and do) to
win. After sabotaging Roy Munson’s rising career (an act of falling from grace
that would later be penned as being “munsoned”),  Ernie goes on to take the
million dollar championship in a nail-biting one-pin win. Bowling skills aside,
McCracken’s sleazy demeanor, massive comb-over and tacky rose-embedded bowling
ball were no doubt what made the man. We may not have appreciated his victory,
but we couldn’t deny the effect his Reno-inspired duds had on our sensibilities.

Jack Black as
Barry, High

Who could ever forget Barry the Record Store Snob in High Fidelity? Jack Black
put himself on the veritable path to stardom as the snooty music lover who cared
more about the records in his store than the people who bought them. It’s a
performance memorable purely for the sheer amount of sharp wit his acid tongue
spat out at customers. Sure, John Cusack and Iben Hjejle carries most of the
film, but whenever Barry’s onscreen, everything else becomes background noise.

A video game, a novel, and even the current commander-in-chief all get the big-screen treatment as Hollywood banks on known brands to make multiplex cash registers ring in hopes of a fourth consecutive up weekend compared to last year. Mark Wahlberg leads the way in the actioner Max Payne, Josh Brolin steps into the role of George W. Bush in Oliver Stone‘s W, and Queen Latifah heads up the drama The Secret Lives of Bees. Each film targets a different audience so there should be breathing room in the marketplace. Also debuting is the teen comedy Sex Drive which is not expected to be much of a contender.

Following seven consecutive sub-$12M openings, Fox finally will have a hit on its hands with the stylish thriller Max Payne which finds Wahlberg stepping into the role of the title character of the popular video game. The PG-13 film should be the studio’s first number one hit since March’s Horton Hears a Who and will appeal to teens and young adults thanks to a slick marketing campaign that is generating interest with the target audience. Reviews will be irrelevant. Wahlberg draws respectable numbers in action movies so as an anchor, he has the goods. A stylishly exciting look, a popular star in the lead, a commercially-friendly rating, and a built-in audience already familiar with the brand all join forces for what should be a solid top spot bow. Attacking 3,200 locations, look for Max Payne to debut with around $20M.

Mark Wahlberg in Max Payne

With three months left in his eight-year stay in the White House, President Bush stars (sort of) in a major wide release for the second time thanks to director Oliver Stone who takes a friendlier approach than Michael Moore did. The narrative feature W stars Josh Brolin as Dubya and chronicles the ups and downs of his adult life. The PG-13 film also stars Elizabeth Banks, James Cromwell, Ellen Burstyn, and Thandie Newton. Early reviews have been very strong, although the film critics community is not known for having many fans of Number 43 in the first place. Stone is known as a filmmaker who likes to present history through his own viewpoint so Republicans may write off the film without even researching how fair and balanced the pic really is. Blue-staters are more likely to take interest. Lionsgate should score points with politically-minded adults thanks to its purchase of a :30 spot on CNN during the first commercial break after Wednesday’s night final presidential debate. Aside from putting a big W pin on Obama’s lapel, you’re not going to find a much better way to reach the target audience here. Thanks to the unique idea of making a fictional film on an unpopular sitting president, curiosity should help boost business. Of course there are many that are just plain turned off by films that deal with serious politics and those will never be sold on this. Opening in 2,030 theaters, W might debut with roughly $10M this weekend.

Josh Brolin in W.

Queen Latifah, the other former rapper with a new film this weekend, leads an all-star cast that brings book to screen in The Secret Lives of Bees. The PG-13 film also stars Dakota Fanning, Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, and Grammy winner Alicia Keys in the story of a 14-year-old girl escaping her past in 1964 South Carolina. Bees will skew heavily female and African American audiences will make up a large portion of the turnout as well. Though based on a best-selling novel, it is not expected to reach Tyler Perry territory at the box office. With Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love and Basketball) directing and Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith producing, the film has some behind-the-scenes starpower as well. Competition for the Fox Searchlight release will not be fierce since the marketplace has almost nothing at the moment for black women and most films aimed at adult females are aging. Latifah’s guest role on Saturday Night Live’s recent Sarah Palin-Joe Biden debate skit should help since the film’s advertising has been attached to the online videos of the popular sketch. But mixed reviews will prompt some fans to take a pass. With the fewest theaters among the new releases, The Secret Life of Bees will enter about 1,400 locations on Friday and could collect around $7M.

Dakota Fanning and Queen Latifah in The Secret Life of Bees

Prepping a theatrical run just to raise its eventual home video profile, the R-rated comedy Sex Drive arrives telling the tried and true tale of a young man on a quest to lose his virginity. James Marsden and Seth Green join a group of mostly no-name actors which means that the target audience of older teens and young adults will find little reason to shell out top dollar to see this in theaters right away. Competition will be a major factor since Max Payne, Quarantine, and Eagle Eye are all offering more for the money to the same age group. Opening in about 2,400 locations, Summit’s Sex Drive should score a limp $4M debut.

Sex Drive

After two weeks on top, Beverly Hills Chihuahua will have to give up the number one spot to Mr. Payne. But another weekend with no competition for the family audience will mean that a strong hold could put it in the runnerup spot. A 35% fall to about $11.5M could result giving Disney a robust $69M to date and a likely invitation to the $100M club.

Quarantine opened better than expected last weekend but will fall hard like most fright films do. No new terrorfests hit theaters on Friday, but Marky Mark does plan to steal away plenty of young adults. Look for a drop of 55% to about $6.5M putting Sony’s ten-day total at $24.5M.

Warner Bros. saw an underwhelming turnout for its Middle East political thriller Body of Lies which debuted to less than $13M. A 45% decline to around $7M should occur raising the cume for the expensive Ridley Scott vehicle to a weak $25M after ten days. Rival actioner Eagle Eye, which takes place in America and has proven to be far more popular, could drop by 40% to roughly $6.5M and lift Paramount’s total to a stellar $80M.

LAST YEAR: Sony’s vampires-in-Alaska thriller 30 Days of Night claimed the number one spot opening to $16M on its way to $39.6M. The Tyler Perry flick Why Did I Get Married? held up well in its second frame dipping 43% to $12.2M for Lionsgate. Two more holdovers followed – Disney’s The Game Plan with $8.2M and the Warner Bros. drama Michael Clayton with $6.7M. A pair of new releases followed. The sports spoof The Comebacks bowed to $5.6M while the Casey Affleck thriller Gone Baby Gone opened to $5.5M. Final grosses reached $13.3M for the Fox comedy and $20.3M for Ben Affleck‘s directorial debut. Also launching was Disney’s 3D release of The Nightmare Before Christmas with $5.3M and a potent $9,451 average, and the Reese Witherspoon flop Rendition with just $4.1M for New Line. Final tallies reached $14.5M and $9.7M, respectively.

Author: Gitesh Pandya,

Awww, yeah. You know what time it is. Time for some red band action (boom-chicka-wah-wah) from the upcoming teen sex comedy, Sex Drive. Also check out two exclusive stills featuring Seth Green as an Amish mechanic and James Marsden in the strangest role of his career to date!

In the grand tradition of ’80s road comedy The Sure Thing and all things National Lampoon, Sex Drive tells the tale of one horny teenager named Ian (Josh Zuckerman) who, desperate to lose his virginity before college classes begin, embarks on an interstate quest to meet the girl of his dreams — the sexy, mysterious Ms. Tasty, whom he met over the Internet. Along for the ride are his friend-who’s-a-girl, Felicia (Amanda Crew) and his BFF, Lance (Clark Duke), but hot on his trail is his mean-tempered older brother (James Marsden), who really wants his prized vintage Pontiac GTO back.

Watch the exclusive debut of the naughty red band trailer for Sex Drive!

We’ve also got two exclusive stills from the film right here, featuring Lance (Clark Duke) and his Amish homie Ezekial (Seth Green), and a closer look at hyper-masculine meathead Rex (James Marsden, in a fearless, driven performance).

Click for more images from Sex Drive.

Sex Drive hits theaters October 10.

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