Microsoft comments on rumors that they’ll be putting Blu-Ray players in Xbox 360s and the MPAA’s best anti-piracy agents have bounties on their heads. Read more of this week’s DVD news, plus find out what’s new in stores!


This week in DVD news:

Format Wars: Episode II

Microsoft has denied a recent rumor that they’d be putting Blu-Ray players into their Xbox 360 consoles following Blu-Ray’s victory over HD-DVD in the format wars of 2008. Too bad, because the debunked rumor sparked the salivary glands of next-gen home entertainment nuts worldwide when it broke last week via the Chinese-language Economic Daily News. For now, Xbox 360 owners will have to make do with their in-console HD-DVD players — but hey, at least HD-DVDs will go on sale soon!

Then again, Blu-Ray releases are looking sweeter and sweeter as former HD-DVD supporters Paramount and Universal start catching up their slates. Coming soon from Paramount are catalog titles Face/Off, Next, and Bee Movie (all May 20), with recent releases Cloverfield and There Will be Blood following shortly (June 3). The Spiderwick Chronicles will be their first day-and-date Blu-Ray release on June 24.

Likewise, Universal has announced that their first day-and-date release will be Neil Marshall’s Doomsday, hitting shelves in DVD and Blu-Ray on July 29.

Format Wars: Episode III?

Perhaps the HD-DVD-Blu-Ray squabble was small potatoes compared to what’s on the horizon: downloadable viewing vs. DVD. (Duh-duh-duhhhhhhhhn!) Lobbying the first volley in a sure-to-be skirmish was Apple, who announced last week that new releases would now be available for purchase and download to iTunes, superseding the need for physical DVDs. Somewhere, Blockbuster execs are weeping, free microwaveable popcorn in hand.

In happier news for DVD executives, Malaysian forces “smashed” an illicit DVD-pirating ring last week, destroying an operation that could have yielded “seven million pirated discs, potentially generating criminal revenues of more than US$22 million,” and arresting all three (three!) men running the joint. Long live legitimate DVD production! In a separate article, such busts are credited to two crack MPAA agents in particular: a pair of black Labradors named Lucky and Flo. The two DVD-sniffing dogs are so good that they’ve had doggie hits put out on them to the tune of $30,000, reports the Houston Chronicle.

Newly Announced

South Park: The 11th Season hits DVD August 12 — you know the one. The season with Guitar Hero! In the spirit of the episode called “Guitar Queer-o,” the Comedy Central release will reportedly come with all-uncensored episodes and three downloadable Rock Band songs.


DigitalBits names the best titles of 2007, with the Blade Runner: 5-Disc Collector’s Edition taking top honors. (Watch it in Blu-Ray/HD for details remastered with pinpoint precision.)

— Mark your calendars for September’s release of the most so-wrong-it’s-hilarious show on TV: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Season 3. The three-disc release with all 15 episodes will retail for $39.98 and include 3 featurettes, a gag reel, two episode commentaries, and more.

— In the market for DVDs of your favorite shows not yet released on DVD? LA Times Gold Derby blogger Tom O’Neill has taken time off of waging war against LA film critics to play consumer guide for shoppers. He’s got the skinny on Emmy screeners for sale on EBay for such hot television shows as Entourage, the complete TNT/TCM/TBS slate, and The Closer, which sold to the highest bidder for $7.49 in cool, hard, Paypal dollars. Read more here.

Finally, drool over this piece of DVD swag: a desktop-sized bust of Christian Bale as Batman to be packaged with the Blu-Ray version of Batman Begins…but only in Japan. (Via Gizmodo.)

Click for this week’s new releases!

I’m Not There


Tomatometer: 77%

Fans of the unusual should delight in Todd Haynes’ experimental casting of six different actors as American icon Bob Dylan; in the edgiest move of all, he cast a woman (Cate Blanchett) to play Dylan in his electric era, a performance so daring it earned her an Oscar nod. How audacious!

Bonus Features:

The Weinstein Co. has given us the gift of the 2-disc release, and we should all be very grateful. On the first disc, jump to select songs in the flick complete with on-screen lyrics (Dylan is, like, such a poet) and hear Haynes’ in-depth commentary. Then pop in disc #2 for an I’m Not There bonanza, including an unreleased 18-minute flashcard trailer, a la “Subterranean Homesick Blues”; a tribute to Heath Ledger; Ben Whishaw and Marcus Carl Franklin’s audition tapes; and the Dylanology guide to all things Bob Dylan.

Over Her Dead Body



Tomatometer: 13%

Eva Longoria’s first major jump from Desperate Housewives to the big screen was a critical and commercial dud in February — but hey, you can rent/buy it this week on DVD! After all, with summer blockbuster season kicking off (thanks, Iron Man!) you probably need a quiet night in, and a romantic comedy about a dead bridezilla haunting her ex on earth sounds like just the thing to hit the spot…

Bonus Features:

Over Her Dead Body boasts both a widescreen version and a full screen version. Silly me, you wanted bonus features — okay, first, you’ve got a widescreen version of the film… and then there’s also a full-screen version. Of the same film. And nothing else.


P.S. I Love You


Tomatometer: 20%

A romantic comedy starring Hilary Swank? Yeah, right. The former Next Karate Kid — and, yes, two-time Oscar-winner — makes for the genre’s perhaps most ill-suited lead as a widow getting motivational letters from her dead husband (Gerard Butler).

Bonus Features:

What could be worse than actually watching P.S. I Love You? Watching a music video by James Blunt (one of a few extras on the release).


First Sunday

Tomatometer: 15%

The man formerly known as O’Shea Jackson (rapper-turned-urban comedy fixture Ice Cube) here scores his fourth rotten movie in a row, to which we say, for shame, Mr. Cube. You can do better. Even with SNL’s Tracey Morgan and dapper-haired comedian Katt Williams in tow, the comedy about church-thieving losers earned too little laughs from critics. Then again, it also stars Flavor of Love‘s New York (Tiffany Pollard) in her first movie role…so it was good for something.

Bonus Features:

There’s actually a lot here, including outtakes, a pop-up trivia viewing option, and commentary from first-time writer-director David E. Talbert. Disc also includes the unusual treat of Talbert’s on-set wrap speech.


Teeth

Tomatometer: 79%

Daring in a way only indie films seem to be these days, Teeth brings the urban legend of the vagina dentata to the screen. What is vagina dentata? If you have to ask, maybe you shouldn’t watch this horror comedy — which if you haven’t guessed, is rated R. Pic stars newcomer Jess Weixler and the kid from Nip/Tuck.

Bonus Features:

Director Mitchell Lichtenstein’s commentary should prove most insightful. Fun fact: He’s also an actor (he played Simon, the gay boyfriend in The Wedding Banquet) and is the son of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.


The Hottie & the Nottie

Tomatometer: 5%

Shocking as it is, the latest star vehicle for Paris Hilton did not strike gold with critics. We could count the number of critics who gave it a fresh review on, well, three fingers. The tale of a hot girl and her disgusting BFF made $1,301,176 to date — which leaves a little over $7.6 million to go if it’s going to make up its losses in home video sales.

Bonus Features:

In the disc’s most distinctive extra, Paris Hilton puts makeup on lead actor Joel David Moore. We’d rather eat paint chips for two hours.

Hollywood plays the race card this weekend opening a pair of star-driven comedies, one for white moviegoers and the other for black audiences. Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson get the wider release with the romantic adventure comedy Fool’s Gold while debuting in 741 fewer theaters is Martin Lawrence‘s family reunion laughfest Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins. Adding to the mix is the standup comedy concert pic Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show which will also try to tickle funnybones from coast to coast. Not all three films will get to laugh all the way to the bank.

Five years and one day after their date flick How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days became a number one hit, McConaughey and Hudson reteam for Fool’s Gold. Directed by Andy Tennant (Hitch, Sweet Home Alabama), the PG-13 picture tells of an ex-couple that must band together to find sunken treasure. The Warner Bros. release looks like a winner on paper. Take two stars with a proven track record, put them in a film that combines romantic comedy with action adventure, and hefty grosses from both genders should come rolling in. The marketing has certainly been pushing all the right aspects trying to sell this as a Romancing the Stone for today’s twentysomethings and thirtysomethings.

But the film’s poor execution will be a major liability in the long run. Reviews have been among the worst of any film in this new year. Since Fool’s Gold will play to an over-25 crowd, the thumbs down from critics could have an impact. Bad word-of-mouth will certainly kick in after this weekend and hurt future weeks. Then again, critically-panned comedies packed with big stars usually sell pretty well with the paying public. Gold will play to the same crowd that powered 10 Days to a $23.8M bow and McConaughey’s 2006 rom-com Failure to Launch to $24.4M. Both skewed female and heavily white. The actor’s latest offering could open in the same neighborhood but should suffer weaker legs. Opening in 3,125 theaters, Fool’s Gold may bow to about $23M.


Hudson and McConaughey in Fool’s Gold

Moviegoers not up for Matt and Kate’s excellent adventure can spend the weekend with Martin Lawrence and his lively family in the Universal comedy Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins. Directed by Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man, Undercover Brother), the PG-13 film packs ample starpower into one film with co-stars Cedric the Entertainer, James Earl Jones, Michael Clarke Duncan, Mike Epps, and Mo’Nique. Four of the stars come from a standup comedy background which only raises the volume in the laughter department. The film finds Lawrence playing a self-help guru and talk show host in Hollywood who returns to his Georgia home to reunite with the family he left behind.

Roscoe Jenkins will pull in most of its business from the African American audience. Turnout should be robust given the starpower. Sure the family reunion story has been done a hundred times, but moviegoers will want to see all the big names under one roof giving them two hours of laughs. In the right film, and when surrounded by other marquee stars, Martin Lawrence is still a big draw at the box office. His comedy sequel Big Momma’s House 2 opened to $27.7M around this time of year in 2006.

Plus with this weekend’s Top 20 set to offer no other films led by black casts, direct competition will be minimal. The Ice Cube comedy First Sunday debuted to $17.7M a month ago and Martin and gang could do better. Reviews will not be very good, but that should not matter much. The only limiting factor will be the theater count. Debuting in 2,384 locations, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins could collect around $20M this weekend.


Martin Lawrence in Roscoe Jenkins.

For those who like their laughs purely from standup comedians on stage, Picturehouse releases Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show. The R-rated pic follows the Hollywood star and a group of comics on the road during their 2005 tour. Hannah Montana and U2 have had great success with their concert films over the last two weeks. But Wild West lacks the music and the 3D element that helped to make those two score at the box office. Most of the successful standup comedy hits at the box office have been from African American funnymen so Vaughn’s experiment does not have a proven formula to follow. Plus none of the comedians are big stars which is why Santa’s brother had to include his name in the title in order to grab the attention of potential ticket buyers. Most will probably wait for the DVD which is sure to have some unrated bonus material. Rolling into about 800 theaters, Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show could take in roughly $3M this weekend.


The marquee says it all.

Miley Cyrus rocked her way to the top of the charts last weekend with her Hannah Montana concert pic which opened to a scorching $31.1M with $15 tickets resulting in more than two millions admissions. The fan fever has spilled over into the midweek period as Monday and Tuesday grosses remained red hot with takes of $3.3M and $2.9M, respectively. A full-week tally of about $42M seems likely and with Disney extending the run of the film, more wheelbarrows will be needed to haul away the green. Still, most fans planned ahead of time to see Best of Both Worlds during the first week since it was promoted aggressively as a one-week-only run. Parents may hesitate to shell out more of the pumped up ticket prices for a second helping. Sales could fall by 45% to about $17M which would push the ten-day cume to an amazing $59M.

The Eye settled for a decent second place finish over the Super Bowl frame and like most fright flicks, should not enjoy a good hold on the second weekend. The new menu of comedies won’t provide too much competition so a decline of 50% would leave Lionsgate with about $6M lifting the total to $21M after ten days.

Fox’s female-skewing comedy 27 Dresses will take a direct hit from Matt and Kate’s reunion. Look for the Katherine Heigl film to fall by 40% to $5M for a 24-day score of $64M. Playing to a slightly different audience, Rambo took a sizable blow over the Super Bowl frame and should see its drop stabilize to 50%. That would leave the ultraviolent Lionsgate sequel with $3.5M putting the overall cume at $36M.

LAST YEAR: Following soon after his first-ever Oscar nomination for Dreamgirls, Eddie Murphy rocketed to number one at the box office with the powerful $34.2M debut for the comedy Norbit. The Paramount release went on to gobble up $95.7M domestically and about $160M worldwide. Opening in second with a respectable $13.1M was the thriller Hannibal Rising which went on to gross $27.7M for The Weinstein Company. The previous weekend’s top two films followed, but switched their order. Universal’s Diane Keaton comedy Because I Said So held up well and grossed $9.2M while the horror pic The Messengers fell harder and took in $7.2M for Sony. Rounding out the top five was the unstoppable holiday hit Night at the Museum with $5.8M in its eighth frame.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

For the first time in four years, the Martin Luther King holiday weekend will not be ruled by a film led by an African American cast. Instead, studios are rolling out a monster movie, a wedding flick, and a bank robbery comedy. Paramount leads the way with its much-anticipated sci-fi thriller Cloverfield, Fox goes after young women with the romantic comedy 27 Dresses, and rookie distributor Overture Films offers the lo-tech heist picture Mad Money. Some audience overlap is sure to result between the new releases but the box office still seems likely to beat out year-ago grosses for the sixth consecutive weekend.

Following a half-year of online hype and savvy marketing that continuously built up fan frenzy, the J.J. Abrams-produced (but not directed) monster movie Cloverfield finally makes its way into the multiplexes. The PG-13 film is shot from a camcorder’s perspective and chronicles the story of a group of New York City friends whose surprise party is rocked when a ferocious and seemingly unstoppable beast attacks the city. The cast is filled with mostly unknowns who do a relatively good job with the material on screen while Matt Reeves (The Pallbearer) directs. Kudos to the creative team for making an engaging and thrilling film unlike anything else out there.

In a world where most sci-fi films have every plot point revealed and every exciting action sequence made public ahead of time through trailers, Cloverfield is something new. The studio has successfully kept most of the film, and the look of the monster, under wraps. This has generated intense fan anticipation which will manifest itself this weekend at the cash registers. But expectations should be kept in check. Two summers ago Snakes on a Plane was the most talked about film on the net and although it debuted at number one, the Samuel L. Jackson actioner fizzled out to a depressing $34M domestic final. The blogs didn’t bring in the bucks.

Cloverfield should do much better thanks in part to its rating which will welcome young teens. Snakes was rated R. The new monster flick is reminiscent in many ways of 1999’s The Blair Witch Project which coincidentally had to battle a new wedding-themed comedy of its own when it opened nationally against Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride. That runaway smash also used shaky handheld cameras to tell a new kind of story for a new generation of young people and used the internet to spread the buzz and build its audience. Since today’s 17-year-old was just eight or nine back then, Cloverfield will play out as the Blair Witch for today’s generation of teenagers.

Rarely does a studio ever position a hot buzzworthy action film into January. That would explain why only one movie in history has ever opened in the first month of the year to a three-day bow north of $30M. Eleven years ago, Fox smashed the January debut record with the Special Edition of Star Wars which opened to an explosive $35.9M ($50M+ at today’s ticket prices). No January pic has been able to beat it since, although Cloverfield will love to try. Business this weekend should be frontloaded with Friday seeing a potent gross and Sunday taking a hit from football playoffs.

With a reported production budget of $25M, the monster flick clocks in at under 75 minutes before the slow-moving credits roll. That will allow for more showtimes with some screens squeezing six showings into each day. But eating into some of its potential with women is Fox’s recent shifting of 27 Dresses from January 11 to this weekend. Until a few weeks ago, Cloverfield had clear sailing over this frame but now some of its female audience will instead get pulled away to the bridesmaid pic. But the films were destined to be together since 01+18+08 = 27. Nevertheless, a solid launch is assured. Crashing into over 3,200 theaters, Cloverfield might take in around $30M this weekend.


The new monster epic Cloverfield

Fresh from her breakout role in Knocked Up (2007’s second biggest R-rated pic after 300), Katherine Heigl is back with another romantic comedy headlining 27 Dresses. The PG-13 venture finds the former Grey’s Anatomy star playing a Manhattan assistant addicted to planning her friends’ weddings whose life takes a turn when her sister falls for the man she secretly loves. Edward Burns and James Marsden co-star as the love interests. Fox truly believes in the potential of Dresses and set up two different weekends of sneak previews to help get word of mouth going. The date flick should skew very female and very Caucasian with teens and young adults making up the biggest age groups.

Getting in males will be tough. Cloverfield and the NFL conference championship games on Sunday will both be major distractions plus Dresses lacks the kind of leading man that can pull in guys. Romantic comedies opening in the first quarter are usually driven higher when both genders have a big star to contribute. 50 First Dates starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore bowed to $39.9M, Failure to Launch with Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker opened to $24.4M, and the Ben StillerJennifer Aniston hit Along Came Polly debuted to $27.7M over the MLK holiday frame. Dresses will be a major test of Heigl’s starpower since she basically carries the whole film on her own shoulders. For Knocked Up, Seth Rogen was more prominent in the marketing and director Judd Apatow was the biggest selling point. Walking down the aisle in 3,058 venues, 27 Dresses could collect about $19M this weekend taking the bridesmaid spot on the charts.


Katherine Heigl and James Marsden in 27 Dresses

In its maiden voyage at the box office, Overture Films releases the bank robbery comedy Mad Money which brings together the unlikely trio of Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, and Katie Holmes. The PG-13 pic should skew female given the talent and the lack of action. The filmmakers made casting choices that shamelessly try to give the movie appeal to various demographic groups across race and age. Ticket buyers will have the chance to decide for themselves this weekend whether these ladies are worth paying mad money to see. Money will try to stand as counterprogramming for women uninterested in football, but 27 Dresses already has that audience locked up.

With the action crowd and female moviegoers already having high profile new releases aimed at them, Mad Money will have intense competition to deal with. Overture will need to rely on Latifah’s pull with African Americans although fellow former rapper Ice Cube will be a direct threat with the second weekend of his hit comedy First Sunday. Reviews for Money have not been very encouraging which could affect the Keaton crowd. But some marketing tricks like having the three actresses ring the opening bell of the NASDAQ stock exchange on Wednesday morning have helped to raise awareness. Five recent comedies anchored by Keaton or Latifah have opened in the $12-13M range proving their bankability. Money will not be as wide of a release as the others and competition will be tougher, but a decent showing may still result thanks to the divide-and-conquer casting plan. Mad Money will sneak into about 2,200 theaters on Friday and could make off with roughly $9M.


The three stars of Mad Money

Last weekend’s top film The Bucket List will get kicked out of the number one spot thanks to monsters and wedding dresses. Older-skewing pics usually don’t fall too hard on the sophomore frame and the added boost from the holiday will cushion the blow too. Look for a 30% fall to around $13.5M which would lift the ten-day cume for the Jack NicholsonMorgan Freeman film to $41M.

Ice Cube was red hot at the box office last weekend with his latest comedy First Sunday which generated the best average of any movie in wide release. The entertainer’s laughers usually see sizable second weekend drops and this Sony release should follow. A 40% decline would give the church robbery tale approximately $10.5M over the Friday-to-Sunday span and put the film’s ten-day sum at $31M.

After missing out on Golden Globe trophies, Juno will see some of its buzz subside this weekend. A 30% drop to about $9.5M could result pushing Fox Searchlight’s total to $84M. Disney’s adventure hit National Treasure: Book of Secrets might slip 35% to $7.5M for a cume to date of $197M.

LAST YEAR: For the second straight weekend, Sony’s dance drama Stomp the Yard topped the charts grossing $12.3M in its sophomore frame. Also holding steady was megahit Night at the Museum which stayed put in second place with $12M in its fifth outing. Adding 300 theaters to its run was Dreamgirls which placed third with $8M. The weekend’s only new release was the horror remake The Hitcher which bowed in fourth with just $7.8M on its way to $16.4M for Focus. Rounding out the top five was Sony’s durable wonder The Pursuit of Happyness with $6.3M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This week
at the movies, we’ve got two wild and
crazy guys (The Bucket
List
, starring
Jack Nicholson
and Morgan Freeman),
pious crooks (First Sunday, starring
Ice Cube and
Tracy Morgan), botanical
buccaneers (The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A Veggietales Movie),
haunted expatriates (The
Kite Runner
), tormented mothers (The
Orphanage
), and Uwe Boll (In
the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
, starring
Jason Statham
and Burt
Reynolds
). What do the critics have to say?

How can a
movie directed by Rob Reiner and starring
Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman
possibly fail? If, say critics, it has a really contrived, sappy script, which
is the problem with
The Bucket List
.
Nicholson and Freeman star as a couple of sixtysomethings who, after discovering they each have terminal
illnesses, team up to do all the living they can in the time they have left —
in the form of skydiving and tattoo-getting, among other things. Pundits say the
two stars give it their all, but they’re undercut by a predictable plot that
overdoses on schmaltz. At 44 percent on the Tomatometer, Bucket probably
shouldn’t top your list.




"I never would’ve put strip solitaire on my list."


Ice Cube

and

Tracy Morgan
are talented people. Unfortunately, critics say their despite
their combined ability to generate intermittent chuckles, they’re unable to save

First Sunday. The film is a tale of two incompetent crooks who contrive a
plot to rob the local house of worship. However, their plan goes awry rather
quickly, and the pair has a crisis of faith. Pundits say First Sunday has
its moments, but it’s ultimately undone by a script that lacks nuance and
consistency; others aren’t buying the sentimentality of the last act. At 25
percent on the Tomatometer, First Sunday might need to do penance.




Ice Cube in the first Sunday the Friday after next.

Fear not,
parents:

The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A Veggietales Movie
contains
no plank-walking, keel-hauling, or bottles of rum. But guess what? Critics say
it’s clever enough to keep you entertained. The latest in Christian animation’s
most venerable franchise since
Davey and Goliath
, Pirates follows
the comic misadventures of Larry the Cucumber, Mr.
Lunt and Pa Grape, as they are transported from their humdrum lives back in time
to the days of William Kidd — and trouble on the high seas. Pundits say while Pirates,
may be several cuts below
Ratatouille
, it’s sweet and inoffensive, with a
positive message and some good laughs.
At 67 percent on the Tomatometer,
this Pirates‘ life may not be for everyone, but at least it won’t make
you want to mutiny.




"We’re off to see the Eggplant Wizard!"



Khaled Hosseini
‘s novel

The


Kite Runner
drew widespread praise for its tale of
youngsters living through a tumultuous period in Afghani history. And critics
say Marc Forster’s big-screen adaptation does a reasonably good job of
translating the book’s sweep — while still taking some liberties. Kite
stars Zekiria Ebrahimi and
Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada as two youngsters who survive both the Soviet invasion and the rise
of the Taliban — albeit with some pretty heavy emotional baggage. The scribes
say Forster gets some great performances from his child actors, and captures the
visual beauty of the war-torn land. But some say the film doesn’t quite have the
same impact as the novel, dialing up some of the big emotions while skimping on
nuance. Still, at 65 percent on the Tomatometer, this Kite flies
reasonably high. (Check out our interviews
here and
here.)




"Take dictation, please. Possible candidates for kite flying
society…"

If you
feel the fine art of cinematic suspense has drowned in a sea of gore, critics
say you’re in for a treat with

The Orphanage
. Produced by
Pan’s
Labyrinth
helmer
Guillermo del Toro, The Orphanage follows Laura (Belén
Rueda
) and Carlos (Fernando Cayo) , the adoptive parents of Simon (Roger
Príncep), an orphan suffering from HIV. The boy has a host of imaginary friends,
and what he says about them starts sounding pretty sinister. The scribes say
Juan Antonio Bayona‘s film is loaded with dread and spooky atmospherics, but it
also succeeds as a heart-wrenching psychological portrait. At 85 percent on the
Tomatometer, The Orphanage is Certified Fresh. (Check out our interview
with Bayona and screenwriter Sergio Sanchez
here and our review from Cannes
here.)




"Oh, crap, I didn’t mean to screen Manos, the Hands of
Fate
."

Yes, Uwe
Boll, everyone’s favorite critical pariah, has a new movie out:



In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
. No it wasn’t screened for critics. But
what did you expect, given the fact that the man’s career Tomatometer is at five
percent? Critics don’t really dig him, especially the one he knocked out. Dungeon
Siege
stars

Jason Statham
,
Ray Liotta,
Leelee Sobieski,

Burt
Reynolds
, and
Matthew Lillard in a tale of a regular guy who must do battle with beasts
conjured by an evil sorcerer; swordplay no doubt ensues. Hey kids, stop laying
siege to that dungeon and guess the Tomatometer! (And read our [qualified]
defense of Mr. Boll’s work in this week’s Total Recall.)




Just pretend it’s your agent, Jason.

Also
opening this week in limited release:


  • Liberty Kid
    , a drama about the
    after-effects of 9/11 on several blue-collar New Yorkers, is at 100 percent on
    the Tomatometer.

  • Hong Sang-soo‘s
    Woman on the Beach
    , a subtle rom-com
    about a filmmaker with writer’s block, is at 94 percent.


  • The Business of
    Being Born
    , a documentary about several couples and their experiences with
    childbirth, is at 71 percent.

  • The Turkish import
    Times and Winds
    ,
    a deceptively simple tale of three youngsters coming of age in a small village,
    is at 73 percent.




It looks like Anne Geddes is going in a more avant garde direction.

Finally,
props to
tabascoman77, both for boldly announcing that
One Missed Call

would end up at zero percent on the Tomatometer, and for his excellent taste in
hot sauce. Personally, I like the garlic Tabasco, but that’s just me.

Recent
Morgan Freeman Movies:
—————————————
93% — Gone Baby Gone (2007)
42% — Feast of Love (2007)
24% — Evan Almighty (2007)
62% — 10 Items or Less (2006)
52% — Lucky # Slevin (2006) 

Uwe Boll
Movies:
————————
4% — BloodRayne (2006)
1% — Alone in the Dark (2005)
4% — House of the Dead (2003)
11% — Blackwoods (2002)

For the first time in three weeks, studios will pack a Friday with plenty of new releases as four films open or expand nationwide giving the box office chart a major shakeup. Leading in the polls and getting the widest release is The Bucket List starring Oscar winners Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Challenging Hollywood’s old guard are three younger agents of change. Ice Cube campaigns for a spot in the top five with the comedy First Sunday, Jason Statham heads up the adventure tale In the Name of the King, and some cartoon vegetables headline the kidpic The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything. Hoping to play the spoiler is the indie smash Juno which once again expands into wider release. The films should each play to different audiences which will help the overall marketplace expand.

After spending the last decade directing flops, Rob Reiner hopes to score his first number one hit in over fifteen years with The Bucket List which features the Academy Award-winning actors Nicholson and Freeman on screen together for the first time. The PG-13 pic tells the story of two dying old men who set out to fulfill their last wishes before taking the big trip upstairs. Financing a major film anchored by two men who celebrated their 70th birthdays last year is not something Hollywood studios typically do. It’s usually seen as a risky endeavor. But Warner Bros. is counting on mature adults, men and women alike, to take interest and come out to see two legends on the big screen together.

Hurting Bucket‘s chances are the mixed reviews it’s been getting from critics. The target audience for this particular movie will definitely be affected by what reviewers have to say. Also, the picture has come up almost empty-handed during awards seasons so it has less marketing tools in its arsenal than the handful of acclaimed adult dramas touting their awards and nominations. In limited release, Bucket scored muscular per-theater numbers over the last two frames averaging $20,989 and $20,424 from only 16 locations. Co-star drawing power will not shoot this film up to the opening weekend levels of recent Jack flicks like The Departed or Anger Management. But even his less flashy films generate solid debut numbers due to his loyal fan following. Kicking its way into 2,911 theaters, The Bucket List could debut with about $15M.


Nicholson and Freeman in The Bucket List

Two petty criminals plot to rob their neighborhood church in the new comedy First Sunday. The PG-13 film stars Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan, and Katt Williams and will find a large portion of its ticket sales coming from African American moviegoers. Cube has seen much success in the past with early-year comedies like Next Friday which opened to $14.5M in January 2000 and Barbershop 2 which debuted to $24.2M in February 2004. But both of those were sequels that took advantage of built-in audiences that wanted to see popular characters return to the big screen for new shenanigans. The rapper-actor is back with another laugher at the start of a presidential election season, but this time winning the job of commander-in-chief of the box office will probably be out of his reach.

First Sunday comes a week before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday frame which historically has been a good time for films led by black casts. Cube’s pictures usually are dependable when it comes to drawing a crowd. However his last two releases, the Sony sequels Are We Done Yet? and XXX: State of the Union, were not exactly major hits. Plus the story of stealing from church may not go down well with some folks. Breaking into roughly 2,000 theaters, First Sunday might open with around $12M.


First Sunday

Targeting young males (and older dudes who spent their childhoods playing Dungeons & Dragons), Freestyle Releasing offers up Jason Statham in the adventure tale In the Name of the King. The PG-13 actioner will try to play to the fantasy crowd although most will probably wait for this one on DVD. The distributor tried to make this genre work in the fall with Dragon Wars. which bowed to just $5M and a poor $2,214 average. Fox also failed with its fantasy clunker The Seeker the following month which opened to only $3.7M and an embarrassing $1,192 average. Though aging, heavyweight holdovers National Treasure: Book of Secrets and I Am Legend are set to steal a combined $20M this weekend from the same audience that might be interested in Statham flicks so there will be distractions for younger guys. Of course the NFL playoffs on both Saturday and Sunday will be factors too. Debuting in an estimated 2,500 locations, In the Name of the King may collect about $6M this weekend.


In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale


The year’s first new toon comes in the form of The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything from the VeggieTales franchise. Universal’s G-rated pic about a squash, cucumber, and grape that go on high seas adventures will play to younger tots and their parents. The 2002 film Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie enjoyed a solid bow opening to $6.2M and a $6,597 average during an October weekend when all other films in the top ten were catering to adults. Those kids are all five years older and have probably outgrown the produce-based characters so it will be a new generation taking interest this time. Plus Pirates will face more competition since Alvin and the Chipmunks continues to do killer biz from the family audience and even National Treasure and The Water Horse are pulling dollars from that sector. The studio’s marketing efforts have been aimed at its target audience only so crossover business is not likely. Opening in 1,336 theaters, look for The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything to gross about $5M this weekend.


Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything

Holdovers will finally get some competition to deal with which will certainly shake up the chart rankings. Fox Searchlight’s Juno has been patiently building up buzz and momentum and was rewarded on Monday and Tuesday by seizing control of the number one spot at the North American box office. The distributor will add another 500 theaters to the run climbing to 2,447 playdates which will lead to a solid hold.in its sixth frame. The pregnant teen will duke it out with a pair of grumpy old men for the top spot. It’s girl vs. geezers. Making the contest even more interesting is Juno‘s new televisions spot which features a clip of star Ellen Page mentioning Morgan Freeman by name in one of the film’s more memorable jokes. A scant dip would give Juno about $15M for the weekend and boost the cume up to a remarkable $72M.

After enjoying the second three-week box office reign of his career (the first being his other turn as Ben Gates), Nicolas Cage will see National Treasure: Book of Secrets drop down a couple of spots in the standings. The Buena Vista smash could fall by 40% to about $12M boosting the overall total to $187M which would make it one of the top ten blockbusters of 2007. Also hopping into that list will be fellow PG-rated holiday hit Alvin and the Chipmunks. Fox’s family comedy looks to slide by 35% this weekend to roughly $10M giving the singing chipmunks a robust $189M to date.

Scary movies from last weekend’s top five should witness larger declines. Will Smith‘s I Am Legend which is the highest grossing zombie movie of all-time may fall by 45% to about $8.5M for a $240M cume. The supernatural thriller One Missed Call should depreciate faster and fall 50% to around $6M giving Warner Bros. a respectable $21M after ten days.

LAST YEAR: The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend was ruled by the urban dance drama Stomp the Yard which generated a powerful $25.9M debut over the four-day extended frame. The Sony hit went on to finish with a solid $61.4M. Holdovers filled up the rest of the top five led by three-time champ Night at the Museum with $21.8M over the long weekend. Will Smith’s The Pursuit of Happyness followed with $10.7M with Dreamgirls in fourth with $10.3M and Hilary Swank‘s Freedom Writers ranking fifth with $8.8M over four days. Three new releases opened lower on the charts. Universal’s action drama Alpha Dog bowed to $7.4M on its way to $15.2M. Debuting in more theaters but with smaller grosses were Buena Vista’s horror pic Primeval with $6M and MGM’s kidpic Arthur and the Invisibles with $5.7M. Final grosses reached $10.6M and $15.1M, respectively.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

The Dark Knight has been stealing all the superhero buzz lately, but Jon Favreau’s Iron Man is still one of the most hotly anticipated movies of 2008 — and look, here’s another shot of Robert Downey Jr. in action to remind us why!

Okay, okay, it’s just one picture. And it isn’t like Downey’s flying around in the suit, vaporizing bad guys with his lasers of justice or anything. But it does give you another small glimpse of what we can expect from Downey, Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jeff Bridges when Iron Man makes its debut on May 2, and really, what else do you have going on right now? Counting down the days until First Sunday comes out?

So go on, follow the link below to check out the new Iron Man still — and as a bonus, watch an amazing short fan film that’ll make you wish there really was an Iron Man TV show. C’mon, Shellhead!

Source: Slashfilm

John Singleton has officially signed on to direct the A-Team movie — and Ice Cube, for one, wholeheartedly approves.

So wholeheartedly, in fact, that he’s contemplating a turn as team mechanic B.A. Baracus, the role originally played to glowering perfection by the show’s breakout star, Mr. T. Responding to a Variety report about Cube being under consideration for the part, Blackfilm took the opportunity to ask him about A-Team during a press junket in support of his latest film, First Sunday.

Asked if he’d consider playing Baracus, Cube responded “Hell yeah, especially with John Singleton directing,” going on to say that as a fan of the show, the role would be “not a dream come true, but…definitely a good thing to do.” And here’s the answer to the question everyone’s asking:

I wouldn’t try to duplicate what Mr. T did, but I will have the same impact on you when you were little watching the TV show. I’m going to bring my own flavor to it and I am going to do the mohawk.

As long as it keeps him from making another sequel to Are We There Yet?, pretty much anything Ice Cube does is all right by us. The mohawk is just a bonus.

Source: Blackfilm
Source: Slashfilm

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