The other day Jon Chu’s Step Up 2: The Streets was added to Netflix’s Watch Instantly program, making it available to millions of viewers for free. The question for us then became: Why not celebrate by doing an audio commentary on it?

In their very first attempt at a movie commentary, Dave, Devindra, and Adam of /Film discuss the hidden layers of meaning behind Step Up 2: The Streets. Special guest Jen Yamato joins in from Rotten Tomatoes to add her unique perspective and love for the film. If you have the DVD of Step Up 2, or if you have access to Netflix Watch Instantly, just listen to the audio file for instructions on how to sync it with your copy of the film.

Download it here!

Like it? Suggest the next cinematic gem ripe for the commentary treatment here and check out more podcasts at /Filmcast.com.

As Dark Knight hype overtakes the free world this week, prepare yourself with a marathon of Batman lore on DVD with our viewing guide below — or, escape from Bat-mania by shacking up with DVDs to get you ready for Bat-alternatives Mamma Mia and Space Chimps.


If you’re a Batman fan, chances are you’ve already reserved your ticket for Friday’s The Dark Knight. (If you’re really an uber-fan, you might even have tickets to those 3am screenings.) In the meantime, turn your living room into a veritable Batcave with a marathon of our favorite Batman classics.

Batman: The Movie (1966, 80 percent on the Tomatometer)

Adam West is at full-camp best in this classic of ’60s superhero kitsch, based on the popular television series. And while West wasn’t the first on-screen Batman (Lewis Wilson and Robert Lowery preceded him in 1943 and 1949, respectively), his remains one of the most iconic characterizations. Best of all, you get not one, not two, but four of the most evil supervillains in Gotham City lore: The Penguin, The Riddler, The Joker, and Lee Meriweather‘s slinky Catwoman.

Pick up the newly released Blu-ray edition for new extras in HD, including a commentary track by West and his Robin (co-star Burt Ward), plus the Holy Pop-Up Trivia Track, Batman!

Batman & Robin (1997, 12 percent)

Joel Schumacher‘s oft-ridiculed film should be enjoyed for what it is; a modern-day throwback to the inherent silliness of two grown men who don costumes to fight bad guys. Holy codpiece, Batman! In the very least, remembering Batman at his preposterous movie low (fighting Arnold Schwarzenegger and Uma Thurman as Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy, two of the worst Bat-villains ever committed to celluloid) will make you really appreciate the sobering, grown-up reboot that Christopher Nolan gave the franchise years later.

The Two-Disc Special Edition DVD features more behind-the-scenes featurettes than you’ll probably want (or would ever watch), but also contains candid revelations from director Schumacher and his cast, who appear to have realized what they had wrought by the time they recorded these bonus materials. One word: Bat-nipples.

Batman – Gotham Knight (2008)

The recently-released animated anthology connects six stories that take place between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, told in different styles by writers like Josh Olson (History of Violence), Greg Rucka, and David S. Goyer. Each of the short stories are shot in their own unique styles, with a visual nod to the look and feel of Japanese anime; Batman himself is voiced by DC Animated Universe alum Kevin Conroy. But don’t dismiss this as animated kidstuff; there’s enough action and violence to warrant its PG-13 rating. Add to that over an hour of extra content, including a look at the life of Batman creator Bob Kane, and you’ve got a great way to supplement your viewing of Nolan’s reboot and its sequel.

Batman Begins (2005, 84 percent)

While our previous selections were more of a Batman variety-hour, this is the no-brainer, must-watch DVD to get you in the Dark Knight spirit. Christopher Nolan‘s 180-degree reboot gave back to Batman what he’d been missing for years: respect. Christian Bale‘s tormented turn as Bruce Wayne/Batman will be remembered as a career highlight for years to come. And while Nolan’s sequel is more of a crime flick than the origin story/character exploration that was Batman Begins, his vision of Gotham City, its people, and its brooding hero will remain much the same in The Dark Knight. As a capper to your Batman marathon, re-watch Begins to ease into the moody atmosphere and recall the state in which we leave Batman and all of Gotham.

(As mentioned in fuller detail last week, pick up the newly released Batman Begins on Blu-ray for the six-minute Dark Knight Prologue.)

Moviegoers looking for alternatives to The Dark Knight this week can have their own DVD marathons, too. Mamma Mia, adapted from the Broadway musical, sets a girl’s search for her real father to the tunes of Swedish supergroup ABBA; luckily for you, there’s plenty of Agnetha, Bjorn, Benni, and Anni-Frid to be found on DVD. Rock out to the 1977 concert doc ABBA: The Movie, watch Guy Pearce and Agent Smith sing “Mamma Mia”; in drag in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and see one woman’s sad-sack life transformed by the power of the pop quartet in Muriel’s Wedding.

If the idea of monkeys blasting off into the galaxy appeals to you, prep for Space Chimps with a more sobering look at the repercussions of NASA’s experiments with chimpanzees in Matthew Broderick‘s 1987 sci-fi flick, Project X. And since he’s carrying the movie as a lead chimp named Ham, get a taste of Saturday Night Live‘s Andy Samberg‘s goofy antics in last year’s stuntman comedy, Hot Rod.

Click for this week’s new releases!

The Bank Job

Tomatometer: 78%

Brit action star Jason Statham (The Transporter) makes a solid career choice in this riveting, well-paced heist flick based on actual events. Toning down his proclivity for fast-paced action roles with an actual drama, Statham exercises his acting chops as the leader of a gang of robbers who stumble upon the scandalous secrets of London’s underworld — and, yes, he does get a few roundhouse kicks in to boot.

Bonus Features:

Here’s a DVD that extends your enjoyment of the film with only a handful of extra features. Director Roger Donaldson (Cocktail) is joined by actress Saffron Burrows and his composer, J. Peter Robinson, in a feature-length commentary that should be interesting to those curious about the real-life events that inspired the film. When the robbery occurred in 1971 London, a government-issued media blackout silenced news coverage, ostensibly to protect the scandalous young royal whose indiscretions may have been uncovered by the contents of stolen safety deposit boxes — a turn of events indeed stranger than fiction.

Step Up 2 The Streets

Tomatometer: 25%

If our culture’s current So You Think You Can Be America’s Best Dancing With The Stars’ Crew obsession is any indication, we loves us some dancing. And if you know the names Comfort, Twitch, and Kherington, then here is a DVD that was made for you. In the sequel to 2006’s Step Up (the movie that bestowed upon womankind the gift that is Channing Tatum) first-time director Jon M. Chu gives America what they want: namely, another star-crossed romance with much, much more hipping and hopping. Where Step Up remained largely in the contemporary dance world (yawn), its sequel, introducing the impressive booty-shaking talents of Briana Evigan and Robert Hoffman, takes us where we really want to go: the streets!

Bonus Features:

In addition to deleted scenes and music videos, director Jon Chu takes you backstage on the very first day of his very first feature film, as well as rehearsals with the cast’s very talented dancers. In the disc’s best feature, watch America’s Best Dance Crew, the JabbaWockeez, in an amazing full dance scene that is only glimpsed in the film — it’s one of the best routines you’ll ever see. Just be prepared to hear a LOT of “Apple bottom jeans, boots with the furrrrr,” because Flo-Rida’s “Low” plays over and over throughout the DVD. .

College Road Trip

Tomatometer: 15%

Road trip, or train wreck? Martin Lawrence makes another journey into dumb hijinks territory as an overprotective dad taking his eager-to-leave-home daughter (Raven-Symone) on a cross-country trip to visit colleges. Note to Lawrence: When Donny Osmond is your co-star — and he gets bigger laughs then you — it’s time to reconsider your career choices.

Bonus Features:

Two featurettes (one with Raven-Symone and director Roger Kumble, the other with the two screenwriters) are probably two too many for this lame G-rated affair. A gag reel dominated by Donny Osmond outtakes might just be the best extra of the bunch.

Penelope

Tomatometer: 53%

Christina Ricci is back playing another quirky chick in Penelope, a modern-day fairytale about a high-society girl cursed with the snout of a pig. Can James McAvoy‘s roguish gambler cure her affliction…with love? Despite a solid supporting cast (Catherine O’Hara, actor-producer Reese Witherspoon), muddled directing by Mark Palansky and a script that turns out a notch below magical divided critics.

Bonus Features:

A spare DVD menu doesn’t say much for Summit Entertainment’s enthusiasm for the flick, although the disc does feature a tantalizing (and completely unrelated) sneak peek at the upcoming teen vampire flick, Twilight (based on the uber-popular novels by Stephanie Meyer).

Shutter

Tomatometer: 7%

The original 2004 Thai version scored well with critics (79%), but Hollywood hasn’t yet learned how to avoid making much crappier versions of Asian horror films. Behold, the latest tired remake to hit DVD: Shutter, starring Dawson’s Creek alum Joshua Jackson and Transformers hottie Rachael Taylor. You won’t find anything new here; rent the Thai version instead. Sometimes reading subtitles are worth the trouble.

Bonus Features:

You’ll find a three-minutes longer unrated cut (plus featurettes, deleted scenes, and commentary), which just might prove better than the theatrical PG-13 version. But probably not.

‘Til next week, happy viewing!

Forget to tune into the 17th annual MTV Movie Awards last night? No problem — here’s a list of the evening’s winners, including the coveted Best Summer Movie So Far award!

Of course, a list of the winners only tells part of the story. To get the full experience, you’ll have to head over to the MTV website (link below) and cue up the many available video clips from the ceremony (either that, or wait for one of the 650,000 inevitable repeats).

Here’s a list of Hollywood’s latest popcorn trophy owners:

Best Movie: Transformers

Best Male Performance: Will Smith in I Am Legend

Breakthrough Performance: Zac Efron in Hairspray

Best Female Performance: Ellen Page in Juno

Best Comedic Performance: Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Best Fight: Sean Faris and Cam Gigandet in Never Back Down

Best Villain: Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Best Kiss: Briana Evigan and Robert Hoffman in Step Up 2 The Streets

Best Summer Movie So Far: Iron Man

To read (and see) more, follow the links below!

Source: MTV (Awards show recap)
Source: MTV (winners list, with videos)

It’s almost time to hand out some golden popcorn — the nominations for the 2008 MTV Movie Awards have been announced!

To cast your vote for each category’s winner — and to choose your favorite of the fan-created movie spoofs in the, um, “Best Movie Spoof” category — head to MovieAwards.MTV.com (link below). A complete list of the nominees follows:

Best Movie:
Juno
Transformers
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
I Am Legend
Superbad
National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Best Male Performance:
Will Smith, I Am Legend
Shia LaBeouf, Transformers
Denzel Washington, American Gangster

Matt Damon, The Bourne Ultimatum
Michael Cera, Juno

Best Female Performance:
Ellen Page, Juno
Keira Knightley, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up
Amy Adams, Enchanted
Jessica Biel, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry

Best Villain:
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Denzel Washington, American Gangster
Angelina Jolie, Beowulf
Topher Grace, Spider-Man 3
Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men

Best Comedic Performance:
Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Adam Sandler, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Jonah Hill, Superbad
Seth Rogen, Knocked Up
Amy Adams, Enchanted

Best Fight:
Matt Damon vs. Joey Ansah, The Bourne Ultimatum

Tobey Maguire vs. James Franco, Spider-Man 3
Hayden Christensen vs. Jamie Bell, Jumper
Sean Faris vs. Cam Gigandet, Never Back Down
Chris Tucker & Jackie Chan vs. Sun Ming Ming, Rush Hour 3

Alien vs. Predator, Aliens vs. Predator Requiem

Best Kiss:
Shia LaBeouf and Sarah Roemer, Disturbia
Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey, Enchanted
Daniel Radcliffe and Katie Leung, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Ellen Page and Michael Cera, Juno
Briana Evigan and Robert Hoffman, Step Up 2 The Streets

Breakthrough Performance:
Zac Efron, Hairspray
Seth Rogen, Knocked Up
Jonah Hill, Superbad
Michael Cera, Superbad
Chris Brown, This Christmas
Nikki Blonsky, Hairspray
Megan Fox, Transformers
Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Superbad

Best Summer Movie So Far:
Iron Man
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Sex and the City: The Movie
Speed Racer
The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Source: MTV Movie Awards

This week's UK Box Office Top EightThe failure of Daniel Craig‘s Flashbacks of a Fool is the big box office story of the week, with the film flopping so spectacularly it didn’t even make the top ten.

The film revolves around Daniel Craig’s fading Hollywood star Joe Scott, who returns home for a friends funeral and looks back over his life – cue self-obsessed naval gazing from a narcissistic Craig.

Critics were decidedly unsure about the film; many praised the performances and technical aspects, but slammed the general premise, with Little White Lies’ Danny Bangs labelling the film “a two-hour whining session” and Empire’s Sam Toy describing the screenplay as ‘malformed’.

However, maybe marketing was a bigger problem than bad reviews for the film — a silly title, an oblique, talky plot where little actually happens, and having the current James Bond in a role that isn’t James Bond must surely have confused the public to such an extent that they gave the film the widest of berths. And good luck to them.

To manufacture a laboured segue, another film with fool in the title made a much bigger splash in cinemas. Fool’s Gold — a daft rom-com with genre experts Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson playing estranged lovers bought together by a treasure hunt (genius!) obviously tickled audiences’ fancies, despite an almost insultingly ridiculous plot and slapdash direction from Andy Tennant (thought of by many as the worst director in Hollywood).

Nonetheless, with the rain pouring down and the threat of a looming recession, it seems our nation’s cinemagoers would love nothing more than some perky, sun-drenched, escapist nonsense to get them through these oh-so-troubling times.

That’s maybe the reason for another of these weeks’ theatrical success stories – Mike Leigh‘s Happy-Go-Lucky – which came in at number nine in the chart but took by far the highest amount of dough-per-screen. Leigh’s optimistic and cynicism-free tale of a school teacher from North London won of the hearts and minds of both jaded critics and audiences – a fact that makes the usually grumpy RT feel warm inside.

This week's UK Box Office Top EightIn a piece of news almost as heartwarming as the film itself, Son of Rambow came in at second place in the UK box office this week, with the British indie nabbing almost £1million in the first four days.

Set on a long, hot summer in 1982, the film revolves around two 11-year old scamps Will and Carter, who — after seeing First Blood for the first time, decide to film their own sequel with nothing more than a camcorder and, natch, some imagination.

The film has been in distribution limbo for the past year after its triumphant debut at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, due to issues surrounding the rights to the real Rambo films. But now it’s finally here and it seems a strong advertising push and good reviews (83% on the Tomatometer, compared to Rambo‘s 32%), has seen it rocket up the charts. Empire’s Dan Jolin summed up the critical consensus by saying: “If you only see one Rambo movie this year, make sure it’s this one.”

In fact, the film would surely have come in at number one had it played on more screens. Instead 27 Dresses, (which played on over 150 more theatres than Rambow), is still grimly hanging onto top spot, despite taking in almost 50% less cash than last week.

Meanwhile sweaty Karate Kid-meets-Fight Club-alike Never Back Downalso made a healthy opening debut this week, coming in at fourth place. Reviewers generally scorned this lightweight effort, with the movie’s laughable homoerotic undertones and checklist of clichés arousing particular critical ire. Greg Kirschling of Entertainment Weekly fame even branded the film as, “yet another product that makes you feel bad about today’s youth culture.” Sadly however ‘Grandad Greg’ and his ilk couldn’t stop the cool kids pouring into cinemas though, and the film made a healthy £840,000 over four days.

Unbelievably, Fox almost didn’t release their animated Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who on the Easter weekend. Until a couple of weeks ago the film was going to be released the week before (and still was in a few cities), when most kiddies were still swapping ringtones in the schoolyard.

The studio will be glad they made the switch though, as armies of rugrats piled into theatres over the weekend to make the film UK box office number one, and pass it a cool £3 million in the process.

It’s generally accepted wisdom ’round these parts that Seuss doesn’t translate to a British audience, seeing as, unlike in the States, he is not required bedtime reading for our crumpet-scoffing nippers. But it seems that despite our relative unfamiliarity with the artist’s peculiar brand of gurn-tastic, inky nonsense, a combination of the film’s strong reviews (it’s at 79% on the Tomatometer) and bedraggled parents literally dragging their unkempt spawn to cinemas to stop them rampaging through their dining rooms conspired to give the film top spot.

A similar healthy formula worked for the second placed movie – and another newcomer in the charts – The Spiderwick Chronicles. Based on the books by Tony Di Teerlizzi and Holly Black, this CGI-happy children’s fantasy, starring the gnomic Freddie Highmore, was praised by critics for having several genuinely scary moments and not being too cutesy. High praise indeed and perfect fodder for today’s hoodied, Harry Potter-obsessed, iPod-thieving youngsters.

Arguably even more successful than either of these child friendly entries however was breakdancing sequel Step Up 2: The Streets, which came third in the charts but nabbed more dough per screen than any other film in the top five. It seems ‘The Kids’ were enthralled by the sweaty, pumped-up dance sequences, and didn’t care one jot about the ropey acting, lack of correlation with the original, and, as some reviewers noted, some rather unsavoury racial stereotypes. Empire‘s Anna Smith summed up the thoughts of jaded critics, saying the film “suffered from a real lack of charisma… still, the dance bits are good.”

Sadly a film without any redeeming features whatsoever also made a strong showing this week. Yes, of course we’re talking about Fox’s Meet the Spartans, which aimed not only to spoof Zack Snyder‘s 300, but also ingeniously skewer the pomposity of today’s celebrity culture. Naturally, seeing as this was written by two of the witless scribes behind Scary Movie and Date Movie, the best way to do this was to simply repeat scenes from/simultaneously pimp last year’s Fox movies and especially TV shows (American Idol, America’s Next Top Model) and hope their audience of braying morons would reward themselves with a self-congratulatory laugh for making the association in their tiny minds. Still, it made Fox over £1 million in the first four days, so fair play.

From the ridiculous to the sublime, and ending on a high note, the Guillermo del Toro-produced Spanish-language horror The Orphanage snuck into our top ten, despite only opening on a select 74 screens. Featuring superb performances, a haunting atmosphere and the obligatory terrifying deformed child, here’s hoping this film gets a wider distribution in the next few weeks.

North American film fans heard the call of the elephant and stampeded to the box office to see the animated Dr. Seuss pic Horton Hears a Who, which enjoyed the largest opening weekend of the year so far. The testosterone flick Never Back Down launched to decent numbers; however, the virus thriller Doomsday was dead on arrival in its debut. But ‘toon power was able to revitalize the marketplace, sending the top 10 above the $100M mark and ahead of year-ago levels for the first time in a month.

Jim Carrey and Steve Carell lent their voices to Horton and ticket buyers responded, spending an estimated $45.1M on the Fox hit for a strong number one premiere. The G-rated tale bowed ultrawide in 3,954 locations and averaged a sturdy $11,406 per theater. The Whoville story generated the fourth best March opening ever, behind 300 ($70.9M), Ice Age: The Meltdown ($68M), and the original Ice Age ($46.3M) and also landed the fifth largest opening in history for a G-rated film.

Horton took advantage of star power, the popularity of the Seuss brand, and an open marketplace with few options for families to help it post the year’s best debut. But the film went beyond just parents and kids — the studio reports that 47 percent of the audience was non-family, with teens kicking in a significant contribution. Budgeted at $85M, the animated feature also garnered glowing reviews from most critics. Horton also bowed in 29 international markets this weekend, and captured an estimated $14.2M tally.

Animated films opening in March usually enjoy strong legs thanks to the Easter holiday and school vacations. Ice Age‘s opening weekend represented only 26 percent of its eventual $176.4M domestic final. Fox’s 2005 film Robots witnessed a 28 percent share, Meltdown played like a sequel and saw 35 percent, and last year’s Disney offering Meet the Robinsons grabbed 26 percent. Horton should follow in the same footsteps, as direct competition in the coing weeks is not too fierce, leading to possibly $150-175M from North America alone.

Trailing the animated elephant were the woolly mammoths of 10,000 BC. The not-so-accurate account of prehistoric times fell 54 percent in its second outing to an estimated $16.4M and pushed the total to $61.2M after 10 days. Given the bad reviews, negative word-of-mouth and the genre, the sharp decline was expected. The Warner Bros. title is playing almost exactly like another spring historical actioner, 2002’s The Scorpion King. The Rock starrer generated similar numbers with a $36.1M debut and $61.3M 10-day take before concluding with $90.5M. 10,000 BC should find its way to the same vicinity domestically. Overseas, the prehistoric pic collected a mighty $38M this weekend as it saw top spot debuts in the United Kingdom, Korea, and Russia and second place launches in France and Italy. The international cume has risen to $73M putting the global gross at an impressive $134M.

So far this year, moviegoers have been showing up in the same numbers, but have spread their dollars across a wider selection of movies than in 2007. Overall domestic box office is up 4 percent compared to the same period last year, and when factoring in the annual increase in ticket prices, total admissions are up only a slight amount. But at this point in 2007, six films had crossed the $50M mark, including three that broke the $100M barrier; this year, none have reached nine digits yet, but a whopping 10 have vaulted ahead of $50M (not including Horton, which is just days away from surpassing that mark).

The Mixed Martial Arts drama Never Back Down debuted to mediocre results and landed in third place with an estimated $8.6M from a wide 2,729 theaters. Averaging a mild $3,155, the PG-13 high school tale is the first in-house production from new distributor Summit and played to an audience of young males. Research showed that 59 percent of the audience was male and 60 percent were under 21. Never was budgeted at $20M.

Martin Lawrence’s second comedy of the year, College Road Trip, dropped a moderate 42 percent in its second weekend,, grossing an estimated $7.9M. With $24.3M collected in 10 days, the G-rated family flick should end up in the neighborhood of $45M.

Sony’s action thriller Vantage Point has been enjoying surprisingly strong legs, and slipped only 27 percent this week, to an estimated $5.4M for a solid cume of $59.2M. Rival actioner The Bank Job posted an even greater hold, sliding only 17 percent in its sophomore frame to an estimated $4.9M, giving Lionsgate $13.1M in 10 days. The high-octane pics should reach about $75M and $27M, respectively.

Universal suffered a dismal opening for its futuristic virus thriller Doomsday, which bowed to just $4.7M, according to estimates, from 1,936 theaters. The R-rated pic averaged a miserable $2,450 and should find its real audience on DVD this summer.

Will Ferrell‘s basketball comedy Semi-Pro fell 49 percent to eighth with an estimated $3M, pushing the total for New Line to $29.8M. Look for a final of roughly $35M, making it the comedian’s lowest-grossing lead performance in a wide release since 1998’s Night at the Roxbury.

Sony’s The Other Boleyn Girl dipped only 28 percent to an estimated $2.9M for a cume of $19.2M. The kidpic The Spiderwick Chronicles rounded out the top 10 with an estimated $2.4M, off 49 percent, for a $65.4M sum. Final grosses should reach $26M and $70M, respectively.

Warner Independent had a mixed weekend with its pair of limited release titles. The Naomi Watts thriller Funny Games opened in 289 theaters and grossed an estimated $520,000 for a dull $1,800 average. But its promising platform release Snow Angels added one Los Angeles site and took in an estimated $26,000 from three sites for a potent $8,667 average. The Kate Beckinsale starrer expands to the top 10 on Friday during its third session.

Three solid box office performers fell from the top 10 this weekend. Fox’s sci-fi flick Jumper dropped 42 percent to an estimated $2.1M, lifting the total to $75.8M. The $85M Hayden ChristensenSamuel L. Jackson actioner should conclude with about $80M. It’s already banked $100M overseas and counting.

The $70M adventure comedy Fool’s Gold collected an estimated $1.7M, off 38 percent, for a $65.4M sum. Warner Bros. looks to end with just under $70M. Step Up 2 the Streets, the latest teen dance drama to score with audiences, took in an estimated $1.5M, down 51 percent. With $55.4M taken in thus far, the Buena Vista release will reach close to $60M, putting it within striking distance of the $65.3M gross of 2006’s surprise smash Step Up.

The top 10 films grossed an estimated $101.3M, which was up less than 1 percent from last year — when 300 remained at number one in its second weekend with $32.9M — and up 13 percent from 2006, when V for Vendetta debuted in the top spot with $25.6M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

First, Disney ordered you to Step Up, and you complied. Then, they demanded that you Step Up 2 the Streets — and you did that, too. You know what comes next, right?

Yes, gang, the House That Walt Built is brewing up Step Up 3-D.

Variety reports that Disney has inked a deal with Offspring Entertainment, the company behind the Step Up franchise, keeping the company under the Disney mantle for another three years. The move comes after Step Up 2 the Streets earned back its $20 million production budget in its opening weekend.

Of course, fancy footwork isn’t all Offspring’s got going for it; founders Adam Shankman and Jennifer Gibgot also brought the studio titles such as Sandra Bullock‘s Premonition and the upcoming Zac Efron comedy Seventeen, not to mention the following crowded development slate:

Among the projects that Offspring is developing at Disney are “Undateable,” a comedy scripted by Jack Angelo and Sam Brown (with Fuse Entertainment also producing); “Monday, Monday,” a Flint Wainess-scripted comedy that is a teenage “Groundhog Day“; “Wish,” a live-action “Aladdin” scripted by Bill Kelly (“Enchanted“); a Jason Filardi-scripted “Topper” remake that Offspring will produce with Mandeville, with Steve Martin starring; and a Don Scott-scripted remake of “All of Me” that has Queen Latifah attached to star.

Source: Variety

A terrorist attack is played out through multiple perspectives in the high-octane political thriller Vantage Point which leads the four-pack of new openers which also includes three small comedies. Sony will score its first number one hit since October with this star-driven actioner which boasts a cast that features Dennis Quaid, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver, Matthew Fox, and William Hurt. The PG-13 pic has the biggest marketing and distribution push of any new release this weekend so a comfortable lead over its competitors should be expected. None of the actors are guaranteed box office sensations, but together they equal one big bankable A-lister.

Adults will make up the primary age group and appeal seems strong to both males and females. The intriguing style of the film will make it stand out from the crowd, although fellow action options Jumper and Fool’s Gold will provide some competition. Plus many adults will be preoccupied with their last chance to see the Oscar nominees before Sunday night’s big show. The five Best Picture candidates banked $14M over Presidents’ Day weekend. Vantage Point should play to the same folks that came out for other star-driven non-special effects action and suspense pics from this time of year like Sahara ($18.1M), The Interpreter ($22.8M) and Premonition ($17.6M). Attacking over 3,000 locations, Vantage Point could open to about $21M this weekend.


Vantage Point

Jack Black and Mos Def star in the video store comedy Be Kind Rewind playing two men who recreate top Hollywood movies after their tapes get damaged. The PG-13 film from New Line comes from acclaimed French director Michel Gondry who after Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep has built up his share of fans on this side of the Atlantic. A marketplace full of new comedies will split that crowd so Rewind will have to rely on fans of the director and stars to come out. Jumper and Vantage Point will also take mainstream moviegoers out of the picture. Breaking into roughly 800 theaters, Be Kind Rewind could bow to about $3M.


Mos Def and Jack Black in Driving Miss Daisy, er, Be Kind Rewind

Larry the Cable Guy returns for more blue collar humor in the Lionsgate comedy Witless Protection opening on Friday. The standup comedian plays a small town sheriff that kidnaps a woman in FBI custody for a road trip to solve a case. Rated PG-13, the pic has the goal of establishing the funnyman as a box office draw, but if the grosses of his last two films are any indication, this one will be gunned down quickly. Two years ago, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector debuted to $6.9M while last year’s Delta Farce slumped by half to a $3.4M bow. Diminishing returns could again be in order especially since Witless will not be released as wide. Opening in 1,333 locations, Witless Protection might collect about $3M this weekend.


Larry the Cable Guy and Jenny McCarthy in Witless Protection

After many delays, MGM releases the comedy Charlie Bartlett which stars that iron guy Robert Downey Jr., Hope Davis, and Anton Yelchin as the title character. The R-rated film tells of a private school kid who becomes an underground shrink and pill pusher in public school. Teens are a core component of the target audience, but the restrictive rating will keep many of them out. The marketing push has not been strong and a lack of starpower and excitement will keep the grosses low. Juno‘s brand of high school fun in its 12th weekend could see a bigger audience. Entering about 1,000 theaters, Charlie Bartlett may debut to around $2M.


Anton Yelchin and Robert Downey, Jr. in Charlie Bartlett

Fox’s sci-fi actioner Jumper should take a big jump down this weekend. Word-of-mouth is not all that great and Vantage Point will steal away much of the action crowd. Look for a 50% drop to about $13.5M which would give the Hayden Christensen flick $57M in eleven days.

The Spiderwick Chronicles got off to a solid start last weekend as the only major offering for families and with no new kidpics entering the scene, a smaller decline is assured. Sophomore drops for Disney’s own Presidents’ Day weekend films from the past two years were 37% for Bridge to Terabithia and 21% for 2006’s Eight Below. Spiderwick could fall in between with a 30% fall giving Paramount $13M for the frame and $44M after eleven days.

Following a potent debut, Step Up 2 The Streets will suffer a sizable drop. The dance sequel may lose 45% of its take and gross $10M pushing the eleven-day cume to $42M. Warner Bros. should see its comedy adventure Fool’s Gold drop by 35% to around $8M. Total would climb to $54M.

LAST YEAR: Spending its second weekend on top, Sony’s Ghost Rider starring Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage fell hard but still pulled in $20.1M to top the box office over Oscar weekend. Jim Carrey gave horror a chance with The Number 23 and debuted in second with a solid $14.6M bow. The New Line release eventually grossed $35.2M and was the first of many thrillers in 2007 that marked major Hollywood stars doing their first scary movies. Disney’s Bridge to Terabithia slipped one spot to third with $14.2M in its sophomore frame. Fox’s comedy Reno 911!: Miami debuted in fourth with $10.3M representing half of its eventual $20.3M final tally. Fellow comedy Norbit rounded out the top five with $9.8M in its third session. Opening at the lower rungs of the top ten were the Billy Bob Thornton drama The Astronaut Farmer with $4.5M and the slave trade drama Amazing Grace with $4.1M from a more limited release. Totals reached $11M for Warner Bros. and $21.3M for Goldwyn/Roadside Attractions.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

The annual convergence of the Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day holidays has lead to a unique situation this year as studios are all releasing their wide openers on Thursday hoping for strong five-day starts for their pictures. The two effects-filled movies heading up the charge are Fox’s science fiction actioner Jumper and Paramount’s fantasy adventure The Spiderwick Chronicles attacking over 3,400 theaters each. Buena Vista counters with its dance saga Step Up 2 The Streets while Universal offers the romantic comedy Definitely, Maybe.

With something for everyone, and the two holidays giving a boost to overall moviegoing activity, the North American box office should be robust this weekend although it may not be able to match the record-shattering frame from a year ago. The last time Valentine’s Day fell on a Thursday was in 2002 but all five wide releases that year had traditional Friday bows. This time studios felt no need to leave business on the table on the typically strong love holiday so openings were scheduled a day earlier.

Fox has a savvy way of taking subpar films not loved by critics and selling them successfully to the ticket buying audience. The success of recent films like Alvin and the Chipmunks, 27 Dresses and Meet the Spartans is proof. The studio is hoping to make the magic work again with the new actioner Jumper which tells of teleporting men who face off against an elite group set to destroy them. Former Jedis Hayden Christensen and Samuel L. Jackson star in the PG-13 pic directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith). Teens and young adults are the target audience here with males likely to slightly outnumber the gals.

The Presidents’ Day frame is often used by studios to launch effects-driven sci-fi films and audiences always turn out. Last year saw Ghost Rider bow to $52M over four days, Constantine opened to $33.6M in 2005, and Daredevil debuted to $45M in 2003. Jumper will play to most of the same people, however it boasts less starpower and its literary source is not as famous. Plus it faces more competition for the action audience with Spiderwick taking away some of the younger crowd and Fool’s Gold stealing away some women and adult couples.

Jumper lacks the goods people expect from a solid sci-fi flick and Christensen proves once again that he’s no leading man so lukewarm buzz from first-day audiences on Thursday may water down some of the weekend rush. But a strong marketing campaign will get the upfront audience to show up this weekend before the large declines set in. Invading 3,402 theaters, Jumper could open to around $30M over four days and $35M over five days.


Hayden Christensen in Jumper

With virtually no other options for the family audience this weekend, Paramount and Nickelodeon Movies hope to have a clear shot at reaching their target audience with the PG-rated fantasy pic The Spiderwick Chronicles. Based on the best-selling books, the effects-driven film aims to connect with kids over a weekend that is typically a good one for that crowd. Don’t expect Harry Potter numbers here, but Spiderwick could appeal to the same people who powered Disney’s Bridge to Terabithia to a $28.5M launch a year ago over the four-day holiday session.

The studio has given an extended marketing push to the film and fans of the books are likely to be curious as to how the leap to the big screen was made. Reviews have been generally positive so that should help persuade parents to give a green light to a trip to the multiplex this weekend. Enjoying the widest release of all new flicks with 3,847 theaters, The Spiderwick Chronicles might premiere with roughly $24M over four days and a five-day haul of $27M.


Freddie Highmore and friend in The Spiderwick Chronicles

In the summer of 2006, Buena Vista scored a surprise hit with its low-budget teen dance drama Step Up which grossed a hefty $65.3M after its $20.7M debut. So no one is surprised that the sequel bug hit this pic resulting in Step Up 2 The Streets which will aim for the same teenage and young adult crowd. Rated PG-13, the new installment will have a built-in audience to tap into which will help it at the box office this weekend. Add in that virtually all students have a long weekend away from school and the potential becomes big. However Streets is not surrounded by the excitement that the first film brought with it for the target audience. For these types of films nowadays, lightning strikes once at the box office and future revenue comes from direct-to-DVD sequels. Plus Channing Tatum who became a big star with teen girls thanks to the first film, is not starring this time. Disney is trying a theatrical approach and is using today’s hottest urban music to keep the franchise relevant and hip. Ethnic youth may contribute some solid numbers. Step Up 2 The Streets will break into 2,470 locations and may gross around $15M over the Friday-to-Monday period and $18M over five days.


Step Up 2 the Streets

Van Wilder himself Ryan Reynolds stars with a little miss full of sunshine Abigail Breslin in the new dramedy Definitely, Maybe which will target female audiences over the long weekend. The PG-13 film finds the actors playing a father-daughter pair examining the dad’s love options with various women. Universal’s Valentine’s Day offering lacks the starpower to become a big hit and competition will be quite tough given all the other options already out there for adult women. Reynolds is more known for male-skewing comedies so selling him in a chick flick could be a stretch. Debuting in 2,203 theaters, Definitely, Maybe might take in about $8M over four days and $10M over five days.


Abigail Breslin and Ryan Reynolds in Definitely, Maybe

Last weekend’s top choice Fool’s Gold should see a sizable drop thanks to not-so-great word-of-mouth and ample competition from new releases. But the holiday frame will help cushion the blow. Look for the four-day tally to drop by about 30% from the three-day opening weekend figure to about $15M. That would give the Warner Bros. adventure flick $42M after 11 days.

Martin Lawrence‘s comedy Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins could see a similar decline due to similar reasons. Both sophomore comedies have earned a troubling C+ average grade from over 1,000 users of Yahoo Movies. Universal’s family reunion pic may drop by 30% and grab about $11.5M over the Friday-to-Monday session boosting the 11-day total to $31M.

Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus should continue dropping fast at the box office but with all the loot it has already taken in, future grosses are just Disney gravy. The 3D concert pic may tumble by 50% to roughly $5M across four days and lift the stellar cume to $60M. After the third week, the numbers should shrink as U23D expands into many of the same Hannah auditoriums on February 22.

LAST YEAR: The Presidents’ Day holiday weekend box office was on fire as five new releases injected a stunning $122M in business into the marketplace over the four-day span. Nicolas Cage led the way with the comic book flick Ghost Rider which bowed to $52M over the long weekend for Sony on its way to $115.8M. Disney posted muscular results in second with its new fantasy pic Bridge to Terabithia which opened to $28.5M over the Friday-to-Monday session leading to a $82.3M final. Eddie Murphy‘s comedy Norbit dropped from first to third with $19.9M. Debuting behind it were the romantic comedy Music and Lyrics with $15.9M and the Tyler Perry pic Daddy’s Little Girls with $13.1M. Final grosses reached $50.6M and $31.4M, respectively. Bowing in sixth was the thriller Breach with $12.3M on its way to $33.2M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com



This week at the movies, we’ve got supernatural dwellers (The Spiderwick
Chronicles
, starring
Freddie Highmore and
Mary-Louise Parker), teleporters (Jumper,
starring Hayden Christensen and
Samuel L. Jackson), a dance dance revolution (Step
Up 2 the Streets
,
starring
Briana Evigan), and uncertain love (Definitely,
Maybe
, starring
Ryan Reynolds and
Rachel Weisz). What do the critics have to
say?

For smart family fare, critics say you could do a lot worse than
The Spiderwick
Chronicles
. Condensing five books by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly
Black, Spiderwick stars
Freddie Highmore as a kid who’s upset about
relocating from New York City to an old Gothic mansion with his mom and
siblings. A series of mischevious pranks are blamed on the boy, but it soon
becomes apparent the house is loaded with supernatural guests, some kind, some
malicious. The pundits say Spiderwick may be a cut below the
Harry
Potters
and
Narnias
of the world, but it still delivers a solid
fantasy/adventure, maintaining a sense of wonderment while addressing the
growing pains inherent in the lives of young people. At 76 percent on the
Tomatometer, Spiderwick is truly one for the whole family.




"I didn’t know there were nude beaches in New England."

Even science fiction films must play by a certain set of rules. Unfortunately,
the critics say Jumper is all over the map. Based upon Steven Gould’s novel,
Jumper stars
Hayden Christensen as a young man who finds he can teleport
through space and time before discovering that another "jumper" (Jamie Bell) is
hot on his trail. Pundits say the film has slick visuals, but betrays its own
internal logic and features bland characters and weak dialogue. At 14 percent on
the Tomatometer, Jumper isn’t making the critics jump for joy. It’s also
the worst-reviewed film of director
Doug Liman‘s career.




Just another service provided by your friendly neighborhood
Spider-Man!

Despite its shopworn plot,
Step Up
was a surprise hit. So what do they do
for an encore? In the case of
Step
Up 2 the Streets
, pretty much the same
thing, say critics. As with the previous installment, 2 combines
culture-clash drama with loads of dance moves. The pundits say Step Up
has some nice dance sequences and a decent amount of energy, but watch out for
the scenes where people are talking to each other, because the characters are
blander than the foxtrot. At 29 percent on the Tomatometer, word on the Street
is this isn’t all that hot. (Check out our feature on notable dance
movies here.)




"Anybody got a cure for the rickets?"

With Definitely,
Maybe
,
Ryan Reynolds seems to have finally ditched the frat boy
image that’s dogged him since his 2 Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place days.
He stars as Will Hayes, a soon-to-be divorcee regaling his daughter (Abigail Breslin) with the story of three women, one of which would eventually become his
wife. Critics say the movie is anchored by the affable chemistry between
Reynolds and Breslin, and while it’s typically cute and sappy, writer-director
Adam Brooks gives the movie just enough wit and light cynicism to keep it from
being cloying. At 69 percent, couples will Definitely want to catch Maybe. (Catch our interview with Reynolds here.)




"I’m drunk and I feel like doing something stupid. Want to vote
Green?"

Also opening this week in limited release.




"My dream is to be as useless as the guy in Cloverfield."

Recent Ryan Reynolds Movies
—————————————-
69% — The Nines (2007)
26% — Smokin’ Aces (2007)
43% — Just Friends (2005)
31% — Waiting… (2005)
24% — The Amityville Horror (2005)

This Friday marks the arrival of
Step Up 2 the
Streets
, the
Briana Evigan-led
sequel to 2006’s teen dancing drama
Step Up
. Aside from
continuing the Evigan family tradition (remember papa Greg in B.J. and the
Bear
?), Step Up 2 the Streets adds another chapter to the long
history of actors hoofin’ it in major motion pictures. Although it’s a genre
critics haven’t always been kind to — the original Step Up, for instance,
only netted an anemic 21 percent on the Tomatometer — audiences have been
historically dismissive of all the critical contempt, pushing dozens of
fancy-footed extravaganzas to the upper reaches of the box-office charts.

For this week’s Total Recall, we’ll be taking a look back
at three movies that used their stars’ nimble moves as the engine driving the
plot. We can’t possibly come anywhere near covering the genre as a whole —
actors have been dancing on the silver screen for about as long as there’s
been
a silver screen — so in the interest of brevity, we’ll be focusing on a
handful of the films that helped resuscitate dancing at a theater near you after
1981. (Why 1981? Because that was the year that
Steve
Guttenberg
,
Bruce Jenner
, the Village People, and
Nancy
Walker
drove a dagger through the film musical’s heart with
Can’t Stop the
Music
. It’s a film worthy of its own feature…but we digress.)

For all their crimes against dancing on film (and film in
general), the makers of Can’t Stop the Music were essentially right — you
can’t stop the music, and in just three short years, a young actor by the
name of Kevin
Bacon
went out and proved it by toplining a little movie called
Footloose

(56 percent). He didn’t do it alone, of course — he had a little help from a
supporting cast that included
Lori Singer,
Dianne Wiest,
and a wonderfully over the top
John Lithgow,
not to mention new music from Sammy Hagar, Deneice Williams, and ’80s soundtrack
king Kenny Loggins — but it was Bacon’s footwork and spiky ’80s hair that kept
kids flocking to their neighborhood megaplexes in 1984.

The plot was nothing more than the standard "rebel boy
dances his way to the top" arc that pretty much every dance film follows —
something critics everywhere noticed as they turned up their noses at
Footloose
. Screenwriter
Dean Pitchford
(who also co-wrote the soundtrack) knew something the critics didn’t, however:
with MTV invading suburban homes, kids across America were hungry for music
videos, and a movie that offered what was essentially a 107-minute video with
short breaks for dialogue would do very, very well for itself. Pitchford wasn’t
able to follow up his Footloose success with further films — 1989’s
Sing
went largely unheard (har!) — but as we’ll soon see, other filmmakers
would be only too happy to pick up where he left off.
 



 

Filmmakers such as director
Emile Ardolino,
who would, just a matter of months after Footloose finally faded from the
national consciousness, take a script by
Eleanor
Bergstein
and use it to create the cultural capstone known as
Dirty Dancing
.

It’s a little hard to explain if you weren’t there when it
happened, but just trust us — Dirty Dancing was H-U-G-E huge in
1987. The story arc is the same as ever, of course; the screenplay is supposed
to be based on Bergstein’s childhood, but that doesn’t change the fact that you
know exactly what’s going to happen at every 15-minute increment from the time
the opening credits scroll. Ardolino’s genius lay in combining a
’60s-fetishizing soundtrack with
Patrick Swayze‘s
lithe sex appeal. (This is not intended to be an insult to Jennifer Grey — but
come on. The number of guys who willingly see these movies is small, to say the
least.)

Critics were less than impressed with Dirty Dancing,
giving it a 67 percent on the Tomatometer (Rob Humanick scoffed, "An animated
rendering of its characters is virtually the only thing preventing the formulaic
Dirty Dancing from being another one of Disney’s crappy romances"), but
the movie hit its crucial demographic like a comet, spawning a live show, two
soundtrack albums, a short-lived television spinoff, and even a very belated,
tangentially related sequel. (What, you thought we forgot about
Dirty Dancing: Havana
Nights
?)
 



 

It may have been a little too successful, in fact;
the dance mini-revival sparked by Footloose lay dormant for awhile after
Dirty Dancing came and went.  The type of feel-good pop music that
dominated the dance movies of the ’80s was decidedly out of vogue during the
first half of the ’90s — just try and imagine a dance flick powered by a
soundtrack including new music from Nirvana and Pavement — and mainstream
filmmakers hadn’t yet hipped themselves to the market muscle behind modern R&B.
That all changed as the ’90s waned, however; by 2001, dance movies were becoming
a semi-regular fixture at theaters, and even Columbia University-bound
Julia Stiles
wanted in on the action.

We’re talking, of course, about
Save the Last
Dance
, the Stiles/Sean
Patrick Thomas
-led drama that, while inarguably far from a distinguished
film, is fairly emblematic of recent dance movies in general. It’s a new
century, but the basic plot remains unchanged: There are tracks, our young
lovers are from opposite sides, and only the power of dance shall convince the
world that their feelings must prevail. The crucial difference here is the
soundtrack — it’s utterly bereft of Kenny Loggins or Eric Carmen, who have been
replaced by Snoop Dogg, Pink, and Ice Cube.

Critics, of course, remained unmoved — Tim Cogshell
dismissed Dance as "a tepid movie with a few decent dance sequences and a
lot of frustrating sexual tension," placing him squarely in line with the
scribes who left the film with a 49 percent Tomatometer — but audiences, as
ever, didn’t care, sending Save the Last Dance to nearly $100 million in
theatrical receipts.
 



 

The moral of the story, when you get right down to it, is
that people like to watch other people dancing on the big screen, no matter how
many stuffed shirts tell them they shouldn’t. It’s a lesson Briana Evigan would
do well to remember this weekend as the inevitably negative reviews come rolling
in — if, that is, the just-as-inevitably healthy bottom line doesn’t help soothe
the sting first. Our advice for Briana? Unplug the phone, kick back on the
couch, and unwind in front of a dance film marathon that includes
Saturday Night
Fever
(97 percent),
Flashdance
(31
percent), and, of course,
You Got Served

(17 percent).

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