Never bet against Jamie Foxx, who plays a Las Vegas cop on a search-and-destroy mission to save his kidnapped son in new thriller Sleepless. Beware criminal crooks, or you’ll craps your pants! Yep, it’s just another day in the wild ways of Vegas, inspiring this week’s 24 Frames gallery: an all-you-can-watch buffet of best and worst movies (with at least 20 reviews) set mostly to wholly in Sin City!

No awards season would be complete without the Golden Raspberry Awards (AKA The Razzies), awarded each year to the very worst movies to hit Hollywood. This year’s winners will be announced on Oscar weekend; could multiple-nominee The Love Guru take home top honors? See the full list of nominees below.

This year, a few standout films and filmmakers nabbed multiple nominations, making for really good odds come February 21, when the Golden Raspberry winners will be announced. Leading the pack is Disaster Movie (2 percent on the Tomatometer), which managed to earn six nominations; The Hottie & the Nottie (5 percent), up for honors in five categories; and Uwe Boll’s In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, which also earned the Teutonic Terror a Worst Career Achievement Razzie.

The complete list of nominees:

Worst Picture Nominations

Disaster Movie & Meet the Spartans (double nominee from the same writer-directors)

The Happening

The Hottie & The Nottie

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

The Love Guru

Worst Actor Nominations

Larry the Cable Guy, Witless Protection

Eddie Murphy, Meet Dave

Mike Myers, The Love Guru

Al Pacino, 88 Minutes & Righteous Kill

Mark Wahlberg, The Happening & Max Payne

Worst Actress Nominations

Jessica Alba, The Eye & The Love Guru

The cast of The Women (Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Meg Ryan)

Cameron Diaz, What Happens in Vegas

Paris Hilton, The Hottie & The Nottie

Kate Hudson, Fool’s Gold & My Best Friend’s Girl

Worst Supporting Actor Nominations

Uwe Boll (as himself), Uwe Boll’s Postal

Pierce Brosnan, Mamma Mia!

Ben Kingsley, The Love Guru & War, Inc. & The Wackness

Burt Reynolds, Deal & In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

Verne Troyer, The Love Guru & Uwe Boll’s Postal

Worst Supporting Actress Nominations

Carmen Electra, Disaster Movie & Meet the Spartans

Paris Hilton, Repo! The Genetic Opera

Kim Kardashian, Disaster Movie

Jenny McCarthy, Witless Protection

Leelee Sobieski, 88 Minutes & In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

Worst Screen Couple Nominations

Uwe Boll and any Actor, Camera, or Screenplay

Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher, What Happens in Vegas

Paris Hilton and either Christine Lakin or Joel David Moore, The Hottie and the Nottie

Larry the Cable Guy and Jenny McCarthy, Witless Protection

Eddie Murphy and Eddie Murphy, Meet Dave

Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off, or Sequel Nominations

The Day the Earth Blowed Up Real Good

Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Speed Racer

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Worst Director Nominations

Uwe Boll, 1968: Tunnel Rats, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale and Uwe Boll’s Postal

Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans

Tom Putnam, The Hottie & the Nottie

Marco Schnabel, The Love Guru

M. Night Shyamalan, The Happening

Worst Screenplay Nominations

Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans

The Happening

The Hottie and the Nottie

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

The Love Guru

Worst Career Achievement

Uwe Boll

It’s a good week to catch up on your favorite shows before the new TV season begins (Heroes Season Two) and a good week to satisfy your curiosity for a certain guilty pleasure (Uwe Boll‘s Postal). Read on for exclusive clips from Heroes Season Two and Postal, and find out what new releases you should be looking for this week on DVD, including Redbelt, What Happens in Vegas, Son of Rambow, and more!

NBC’s Heroes was a pop culture phenomenon from the get-go, a riveting comic book come to life that followed a host of heroes — and villains — as they gradually developed their powers. Season 2, on DVD this week, continues the epic story as the line between good and evil becomes blurred, new characters emerge, and the fate of the world once more lies in the hands of Peter Petrelli.

We’ve snagged an exclusive clip from the Heroes Season Two DVD release, in which cast member Zachary Quinto (who will also appear as Spock in next year’s Star Trek) sheds light into the motivations of the show’s preeminent villain: the all-powerful sociopath (we think he’s just misunderstood) Sylar.


But wait, there’s more! We’ve got another exclusive bonus clip for you from another of this week’s most anticipated — and notorious — titles: Postal, from director-businessman-pugilist Uwe Boll. (Get an intriguing rare glimpse into the mind of Boll in our interview here.) Postal, adapted from the video game of the same name, offers an irreverent, bawdy, and violent satire of American society and politics made the only way Uwe Boll could have done it: with a star-crossed romance between George W. and Osama bin Laden, full frontal Dave Foley, Verne Troyer as himself, and a cameo by none other than…Uwe Boll!

As a treat for our readers, we exclusively bring you a sneak peek at the full “Raging Boll” bonus feature from the DVD release of Postal. Watch and see why Uwe earned his pugilistic nickname, as he enters the ring to go head-to-head with Something Awful critic Richard “Lowtax” Kyanka!


Click on for this week’s exciting new releases, including What Happens in Vegas, Redbelt and more!

What Happens in Vegas



Tomatometer: 27%

If only this movie had stayed in Vegas. The unholy union of pretty boy Ashton Kutcher and bubbly blonde Cameron Diaz was a summer event destined for boffo box office returns, released smack dab in the middle of wedding season as the chick-friendly alternative to muscular blockbusters like Iron Man and Indiana Jones. And, thanks to their combined powers of evil — vapid good looks and daffy charm, the movie-star equivalent of a smile and nod — Ashton and Cameron raked in a whopping $211 million in worldwide returns.

Bonus Features:

A single-disc and an extended “Jackpot” edition are available, which begs the question: is it worth the gamble? You’ll find extra features galore on both DVD releases, though seven deleted and extended scenes are only available on Blu-ray.



Postal



Tomatometer: 9%

Shockingly, it would seem Uwe Boll‘s projections for Postal, his latest video game adaptation, is far from Fresh. Congrats are nevertheless in order, since Uwe Boll’s comically violent, self-referential political satire is, at nine percent on the Tomatometer — his highest-rated film since debuting with 2002’s Blackwoods (11%). So celebrate his career upswing (and satisfy your own morbid curiosity, dear reader) as Postal debuts on DVD this week.

Bonus Features:

Uwe Boll is a smart man. And he knows what we want. The media-savvy filmmaker includes a feature commentary on Postal‘s DVD release, footage of his infamous “Raging Boll” boxing matches, a clip of Verne Troyer as Indiana Jones, and more. Showing their support for what Boll hath wrought from their video game, the makers of Postal have included the complete PC game Postal 2 in the release (creator Vince Desi also cameos in the film as himself).

**Reminder: Buying Postal on DVD is exactly what Uwe Boll wants you to do. If you watch it, he wins…and we all lose.

Redbelt



Tomatometer: 71%

If you did a double take when you heard of Redbelt, join the club. A Mixed Martial Arts movie written and directed by…David Mamet?? Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tim Allen, and Randy Couture star in the favorably-reviewed morality play, written with less of Mamet’s signature talkiness. Watch it in a double feature with the other MMA drama of 2008, Never Back Down.

Bonus Features:

Featurettes on the making-of process and Mixed Martial Arts put the focus on the fighting, as do “Fighter Profiles” and an interview with UFC President Dana White. The crown jewel of Redbelt‘s DVD release is its feature-length commentary, which presents the unlikeliest of duos together, at long last: David Mamet and Randy Couture.


Son of Rambow


Tomatometer:
75%

Ever daydream as a child and find yourself smack dab in the middle of your favorite movie? Young Will (Bill Milner) does just that, as a chance viewing of Rambo: First Blood inspires him to let his imagination fly, leading him and his friends to make their own sequel for a local filmmaker’s competition. It’s a throwback to the sounds, sights, and great action flicks of the ’80s (and ladies, catch Gossip Girl‘s Ed Westwick in a supporting role). If you see one new release this week, make it this gem of a film, which is Certified Fresh to boot.

Bonus Features:

Director Garth Jennings and producer Nick Goldsmith (the filmmaking team known as Hammer & Tongs, who also made 2005’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and their tremendously poised young actors Bill Milner and Will Poulter provide a commentary and look at the making of the film, including peeks inside their production offices, parked on barges on a London canal.



Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?


Tomatometer: 36%

The most interesting discovery in Morgan Spurlock‘s latest documentary isn’t whether or not he actually finds Osama bin Laden (guess what — he doesn’t) but what he learns along the way. As with his Oscar-nominated Super Size Me, Where in the World relies a bit too heavily on gimmicks (such as a faux-video game showdown between a pixilated Spurlock and bin Laden), but unearths common ground between Americans and the people of nations halfway around the world.

Bonus Features:

Additional interviews with political figures and an animated history of Afghanistan bolster Spurlock’s cross-cultural debate.


A/k/a Tommy Chong


Tomatometer: 70%

As one half of the duo Cheech & Chong, Tommy Chong became one of the biggest pro-cannabis celebrities in Hollywood; in 2003, that fame also made him one of the biggest targets in a $12 million DEA sting, one of the biggest “enemies” in the War on Drugs. Director Josh Gilbert’s involving documentary follows the actor-comedian as he grapples with the government, pleads guilty, and is sentenced to nine months in prison for financing a glass pipe company owned by his son — a conviction pursued and intentionally made harsher because of Chong’s famous onscreen persona. (Last May, 10,000 copies of A/K/A Tommy Chong DVDs were seized by federal agents under the direction of U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan, the same prosecutor who spearheaded Tommy Chong’s case.)

Bonus Features:

Chong appears with former partner Cheech Marin for an interview (the duo reunited for a road show following Chong’s incarceration) and sits down to discuss his case with his family in an additional featurette.


Heroes – Season Two


Tomatometer: N/A

Having aired only eleven episodes during its second season (thanks, writers’ strike!), Heroes didn’t have the chance to show us what it really had in store for Peter Petrelli, Claire Bennett, Hiro Nakamura and the rest of the super gang…until now. Snag Heroes Season Two on DVD to hear insightful episode commentaries and deleted scenes — but most importantly, learn of the Season Two that might have been. Think plague, contamination, and large-scale action set pieces — elements that might have saved Heroes from its perceived sophomore slump.

Bonus Features:

Watch the alternate ending and a featurette that delves deeper into the original story arcs planned for Season Two, plus deleted scenes, faux documentaries, and a sneak peek at Season Three!


Entourage – Season Four


Tomatometer: N/A

Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and Co. go on location for a film about a Columbian drug lord, then take it all the way to the Cannes Film Festival in the Emmy-nominated fourth season of HBO’s Entourage. Watch for guest stars like Anna Faris, M. Night Shyamalan, Snoop Dogg, and Kanye West.

Bonus Features:

Three episode commentaries and the fake trailer for Vincent’s film, Medellin, should prove entertaining, but core fans will really love a panel filmed during the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, featuring Entourage‘s cast and crew as interviewed by critic Elvis Mitchell.


Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas 2-Disc Collector’s Edition


Tomatometer: N/A

It always seems to happen this way; your favorite movie comes out in a special edition DVD, only to be upgraded years later with yet another, more special, collector’s edition! If you can come to terms with this inevitability, you’ll do a celebratory skeleton dance for the latest home video release of The Nightmare Before Christmas, which has been digitally restored (read: more vivid colors, previously unnoticeable visual details) and is available in a 2-disc Collector’s Edition, an Ultimate Collector’s Edition that comes with a talking Jack Skellington bust, and on Blu-ray.

Bonus Features:

The limited run Ultimate Collector’s Edition Skellington bust will be a must-have item for diehard fans, something the goth kids won’t be able to pick up at Hot Topic. Otherwise, a host of new featurettes accompany previously released DVD extras, including a tour of Disneyland’s Nightmare-themed Haunted Mansion, a newly recorded commentary track combining the memories of Tim Burton, director Henry Selick, and composer Danny Elfman, and the reading of Burton’s original Nightmare poem read by Christopher Lee, animated in 2-D with Burton’s early concept art.

Want another glimpse of this super-special, hand-painted Jack Skellington bust that doubles as a DVD set and comes with optional Sandy Claws dress-up gear? Disney’s put together a nifty stop-motion demo of their own to show you what it will be like to have Jack sitting on your mantle this Christmas. Watch below.


To read previous installments of RT on DVD, check out our column archives here. ‘Til next week, happy renting!

This week's UK Box Office Top Eight

It was grizzled masculinity versus shopping-obsessed, emotionally-open womanhood at the box office this week — yep; Indy Jones battled Carrie Bradshaw, with the archeologist ousting the Monolo Blahnik-clad Manhattan socialite from the top spot only two weeks into its run.

Without wishing to stereotype (but we will anyway), women — many with their bedraggled boyfriends — flocked to theatres nationwide see the cinematic continuation of the hit TV show Sex and the City, earning studio Entertainment Film Distributors almost £9 million in its first three days of release.

Critics weren’t entirely sure about the film – many found the movie overlong and thought it added little new material to the ground covered in the long-running HBO series — yet most conceded that the show’s army of fans (approximately 95% of the female population) would still lap it up.

Sex and the City‘s success will have bought Paramount’s Indy IV down to earth with a bump, after the movie’s spectacular opening numbers last week. The film still did very respectable business — raking in over £5 million — but this was still down over 50% from last week. Dare we say it; maybe word of mouth about the film — which has been fairly negative — has gotten around and is beginning to affect the box office performance.

Meanwhile, the other films released last Friday didn’t have a hope of competing against these money-making titans; duff niche comedies Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay and Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins predictably tanked in a wave of non-publicity.

The summer movie season gets a big shot in the arm as the highly anticipated launch of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull kicks off the extended Memorial Day holiday weekend a day early with its Thursday bow. The rest of Hollywood steered clear of opening anything against the SpielbergLucasFord reunion so a towering total is expected over its five-day debut period. Paramount unleashed the PG-13 adventure sequel in a mammoth 4,260 theaters making it the third widest opening in history after only Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix which bowed in 4,362 and 4,285 locations last summer, respectively.

The new tale arrives 19 years after the previous installment Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. That film debuted to a then-stunning $37M from 2,327 theaters over the same four-day holiday on its way to a powerful $197.2M making it the second biggest grosser of 1989 trailing the $251.2M of Batman. The Caped Crusader and the Joker will give Indy a run for his money during this summer’s box office race as well. At today’s ticket prices, Crusade‘s tally would stand at roughly $330M.

Crystal Skull puts Steven Spielberg back in the director’s chair, George Lucas back to his writing and executive producing chores, and Harrison Ford back into the starring role. Shia Labeouf and Cate Blanchett join the cast to help diversify the film’s appeal and help it stay relevant to younger folks who have never seen an Indiana Jones flick on the big screen before. In fact Shia was in diapers when Dr. Jones went on his last adventure. The story fast forwards from the past films by two decades to 1957 and finds the whip-cracking adventurer trying to solve the mystery behind ancient skulls that wield a mysterious power and must be returned to their rightful place in South America.


Dr. Jones and the crew are back.

There are numerous box office records that Crystal Skull will try to break in the coming days. The largest Memorial Day holiday opening was generated a year ago by At World’s End with $139.8M over the Friday-to-Monday span. That sequel also enjoyed the biggest worldwide launch with a gargantuan $404M in six days globally. The best five-day start for any film was the $172.8M hauled in by Star Wars Episode III in May 2005. That would amount to roughly $190M at today’s prices.

Reviews for Crystal Skull have generally been positive. For a much-awaited sequel with tons of hype, they are more than good enough to drive in foot traffic. And if all the publicity wasn’t enough, the extra jolt of buzz from its star-studded world premiere at Cannes only made the spotlight brighter.

Competition that Spielberg and gang will face this weekend will be weaker than anyone would have guessed just a couple of weeks ago. With both Speed Racer and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian performing below expectations, the field is basically clear for Skull to not just rule, but to dominate with an iron fist. Plus no other film opens in wide release this weekend. The rest of the top five combined looks to gross roughly $80M over four days which would be the worst showing for this holiday weekend since 1999. Normally there is much more depth in the marketplace at this time.

With the Thursday opening, Paramount is letting hardcore fans see the film a bit early allowing for more seats over the weekend to open up for the rest of the public. Sure it dilutes down the weekend figure, but the strategy is more about making as much money as possible and not about setting records. Lucas launched his Star Wars prequels with mid-week May bows as well and is too old to care about commercial milestones anymore. Skull‘s Thursday may not break the opening day record currently held by Spider-Man 3‘s $59.8M. Since Indy skews older more of the audience will wait for the weekend to see it. Typically films heavy on digital effects draw the biggest crowds on opening day like Spider-Man, Pirates, Star Wars, and Harry Potter films. Indiana Jones is old-school Hollywood that is more driven by stunts like the James Bond and Jason Bourne pictures. A Thursday debut in the neighborhood of $40M could result. The official four-day weekend might reach the vicinity of $125M giving Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull around $165M across the five-day opening weekend span.


Indiana Jones finds himself in familiar territory.

For the last five consecutive years, the number two film over the Memorial Day holiday frame managed to gross over $40M over four days. That streak might come to an end if Disney’s The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian doesn’t post a strong hold this weekend. PG-rated family films typically witness small declines on this session, however Caspian may play more like a sequel and nostalgic parents could be more in the mood to take the gang to see Dr. Jones despite the PG-13 rating. The first Narnia, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, fell by 51% when it faced the launch of King Kong in December 2005. For Prince Caspian, its four-day holiday tally this weekend could fall by 30% from its three-day debut and hit about $38M. That would boost the 11-day total for the fantasy flick to $107M.

Iron Man has been nothing short of an overachiever for Paramount this month. A third-place finish is guaranteed and even though the studio is launching a new Indy saga, its effects-driven super hero film will remain a popular entry with those who have heard great buzz plus with others who will line up for repeat viewing. The Robert Downey Jr. vehicle might drop by 25% to roughly $24M and lift its domestic haul to $256M as it becomes the 45th film to join the quarter-billion club.

Fox has had great legs for its star-driven comedy What Happens in Vegas which will be a formidable choice for young women not interested in a geezer archaeologist, kids in fantasyland, or a metallic comic book dude. As the Sex and the City crowd waits a week for SJP and her gal pals to hit the multiplexes, a date with Cameron and Ashton could be in order over the holiday weekend. Look for the Friday-to-Monday take dip 15% from last weekend’s three-day figure to about $12M. That would put boost the winnings to $57M.

Poor Speed Racer has been neglected by moviegoers in every country. Nobody has interest in paying top dollar for this colorful concoction. A 35% fall to around $5M could result giving Warner Bros. a dull $38M to date.

LAST YEAR: Johnny Depp and mates conquered the Memorial Day holiday box office with a record haul of $139.8M over four days for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and $153M including Thursday grosses from showtimes that began at 8pm. Worldwide the adventure sequel shattered another record with a stunning $404M in global sales in the first six days accounting for 42% of its eventual $961M tally. In North America, the Disney smash sailed to $309.4M which narrowly edged out the first Pirates and fell $114M below the total of the middle installment. Dropping to second was Paramount’s Shrek the Third with a massive $67M sophomore take, however sales tumbled by 56% thanks to bad word-of-mouth. The month’s other mega threequel Spider-Man 3 ranked third with $18.1M and vaulted past the triple-century mark. Moviegoers spent a jaw-dropping $225M on seeing the trio of threequels over the holiday frame. Rounding out the top five with $4M each were the horror flick Bug and the indie comedy Waitress with the latter posting a much stronger average.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, BoxOfficeGuru.com

Cripes! The bloodthirsty summer movie season has its first big-budget flop of the summer, and we’re only two weeks in. The disappointment, no scrap that, disaster in question is the Wachowski brother latest effort Speed Racer, which had designs on taking Iron Man‘s top spot, but instead, only came in a lowly fourth…

Getting piped to the post by Jon Favreau’s comic adaptation, which has found a huge audience thanks to a combination of a charismatic, likeable leading man and a fizzy, funny tone, is not unexpected. But limping in behind the likes of What Happens in Vegas… and Forgetting Sarah Marshall (which has been on release for three weeks) represents a shocking return for the iconoclastic directorial siblings and uber-producer Joel Silver. In fact, the film made less than a £800per screen – pretty shocking compared to the £3500+ raked in by Iron Man.

So what went wrong? Well, the mixed reviews certainly didn’t help; whilst many admired the delirious, barmy visual stylings of the film, many more were annoyed by the less-than-complex plot and characterisation and general cartoony tone (with some hacks obviously forgetting it was based on a Japanese anime and was made for kids…).

We think however it may have been Warner Brother’s marketing strategy for the movie, with the studio targeting too broad a base and ultimately capturing no-ones imagination. Traditional fans of the Wachowski’s previous effort The Matrix trilogy were almost certainly put off by the Speed Racers more childish moments (forum monkeys have been ‘flaming’ the film and giving it ‘bad buzz’ for months), while maybe not enough was done to woo the film’s natural audience — families with pre-teen kids. Indeed a summer or Easter holiday release would have perhaps been a better bet for the film’s chances… too late now of course.

Elsewhere another similarly-hard-to-market film also made a disappointing run at the British public, with Neil Marshall‘s Doomsday also failing to garner much interest from Joe Public. The director of top horror flicks the Descent and Dog Soldiers was given more money for his latest effort, but many thought he wasted it on a collection of flashy set pieces with out much interlinking plot in between. This post-apocalyptic tale, which borrowed liberally from Mad Max, Escape from New York and many more, only made it to sixth place in the charts.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines! The RT Review Revue is here to talk about this week’s pair o’ flicks: What Happens in Vegas (AKA Cameron vs. Ashton) and Speed Racer (better known as The Wachowskis Blow Minds, Part II). Click here to watch.

We’ll start with the movie where a guy pees into a sink. Charmers Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz star in What Happens in Vegas as a mismatched couple who accidentally get married in Sin City and spend 90 minutes trying to trick each other into divorce. Date night, anyone? Nothing says “safe first date” like a movie about strangers getting hitched!

Then again, if you check out What Happens In Romantic Comedyland this weekend you might miss out on Speed Racer, the Wachowski brothers’ (…or is it siblings, we ask?) high energy live action-anime mashup based on the classic ‘toon about a race car driver named Speed (Emile Hirsch), his girlfriend Trixie (Christina Ricci), and his racing-obsessed family (Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, scene stealer Paulie Litt, and a chimpanzee). Critics look split on this one — but it does feature a buffed out, leatherclad Matthew Fox as the mysterious Racer X. To borrow a line from the trailer, “Hubba hubba.”


Buckled up this week (at the wheel, on the passenger side, and sitting in the middle of the empty backseat reminiscing on that one time Carrie Underwood touched his arm, respectively) are RT editor in chief Matt Atchity, Senior Editor Jen Yamato, and special guest Dave Chung.

Watch this week’s video right here. (You can also download in Quicktime.)

What do you think? Will you be watching What Happens in Vegas, Speed Racer, or queuing up again to see Iron Man??

Fast cars and comedy stars make their way into North American multiplexes on Friday hoping to shake things up after Iron Man‘s sheer dominance of the box office over the past week. Warner Bros. unveils its family actioner Speed Racer while Fox counters with its anti-romantic comedy What Happens in Vegas starring Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher which targets young adults. Neither is expected to steal away the crown from Tony Stark,
however they will provide some variety to the marketplace and try to keep the new summer season moving along. With three strong players, look for the box office
to outperform last year’s webslinger-led frame.

From the small screen to the big, Speed Racer zooms into theaters this weekend hoping to tap into nostalgia on its way to building an audience. The PG-rated film
is from The Wachowski Brothers and is their first non-Matrix directorial effort in 12 years. This time the boys are going after young kids and their parents plus the cult following that the Americanized version of the popular Japanese cartoon series has built up over the decades. Emile Hirsch stars as the title character and is joined by Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Christina Ricci, and Matthew Fox.

Speed Racer offers amazing visuals that fans will want to catch on the big screen. Plus there are no films out there for younger children except for the PG-13 Iron
Man
which is playing very broadly. But the Mach 5 crew has an uphill battle as awareness is not too high and current tracking data suggests that excitement levels
aren’t so high. And that flying iron guy is certainly going to be tempting to the family audience even though technically it’s not a kidpic. Speed Racer may also
struggle with word-of-mouth as adult fans may find it too corny and childish while parents might feel many elements are a bit too racy for little kids. Long-term
prospects are also shaky as Disney’s rival PG flick The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian opens seven days later and is based on a property that is significantly more popular. Racing into 3,606 locations, Speed Racer could make off with around $32M.


Speed Racer opens this weekend.

Following a string of four successful comedies debuting over three frames, Fox’s What Happens in Vegas becomes the latest offering giving moviegoers some laughs. The PG-13 pic stars Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher as down-on-their-luck New Yorkers who meet and marry in Vegas, but must try to make the marriage work in order to keep their $3 million jackpot. The film packs more starpower than just about any other live action comedy released this year and the studio is banking on that to pull in dollars. Cross-gender appeal is strong given the actor names and the premise. Creatively it’s everything that 2006’s The Break-Up tried to be, only it won’t reach that film’s commercial heights.

But a big problem with the marketing is with the television spots as the film is much funnier than the ads make it seem. Diaz is usually a pretty bankable draw at the box office, especially in comedies, and Kutcher lends some weight of his own too. Audiences may be interested in seeing the chemistry between the blonde superstar and the boy toy of her Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle co-star Demi Moore. Plus Mother’s Day weekend could add some business from adult women looking for something to see that speaks to them. Iron Man probably won’t be it. Most female-skewing comedies have opened in the $14-18M range over the past couple of weeks. Entering 3,208 theaters, What Happens in Vegas will probably score a bigger opening and debut with about $20M.


Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher in What Happens in Vegas

Despite the new releases, Iron Man is not worried at all and plans to remain in the top spot by a comfortable margin. The film has been cheered by critics and audiences alike so word-of-mouth is in its favor. Plus competition from new films is not too strong. However, the metal man was made to absorb much of its audience upfront so a sizable drop cannot be avoided.

In 2002, Spider-Man shattered the all-time opening weekend record and then went on to decline by only 38% to $71.4M in its sophomore frame. The following year, X2: X-Men United fell 53% in its second try playing out more like a sequel. Iron Man is more likely to mirror the Wolverine flick despite the positive buzz. Megahits just don’t hold on like the first webslinger pic anymore. Iron Man could see its sales get chopped in half leaving Paramount with roughly $49M this weekend. That would make the cume surge to $171M after ten-plus days of play.

Made of Honor could see its sophomore drop cushioned a bit by Mother’s Day. Recent declines for comedies aimed at the same audience have been 38% for Forgetting Sarah Marshall and 42% for Baby Mama. Look for Patrick Dempsey to snuggle into that range and see a 40% slip. That would give Sony’s romantic comedy about $9M and a mediocre ten-day tally of $27M.

Universal’s Baby Mama has been holding up pretty well and a 35% decline would give the surrogate motherhood pic $6.5M and a total of $41M.

LAST YEAR: For the second weekend in a row, Spider-Man 3 ruled the box office taking in $58.2M boosting the ten-day cume to a jaw-dropping $240.2M. The Sony megahit fell a steep 62% but still managed to be the only film to attract double-digit millions. Opening in second was the horror sequel 28 Weeks Later with $9.8M for Fox while Universal bowed its dramedy Georgia Rule in third with a dismal $6.8M. Final grosses reached $28.6M and $19.1M, respectively. Paramount’s hit thriller Disturbia starring Spielberg‘s favorite new kid ranked fourth with $4.7M and a slim 19% dip. The comedy Delta Farce flopped debuting in fifth with just $3.4M for Lionsgate with an average of under $1,800. A $8.1M final resulted.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

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