Blonde cutie Julie Benz has been cast as the female lead in Sylvester Stallone‘s "Rambo 4: I Forget Which Title They’re Using This Week." You might recognize Ms. Benz from a variety of TV and movie roles, and if so, then you probably already know she’s hot.

Movie freaks will know Julie from flicks like "Jawbreaker," "Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth," "The Brothers," "George of the Jungle 2," and "8MM 2." (Which means that "Rambo 4" would actually be a step UP.)

TV junkies might remember her from "Roswell," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (she played Darla), and "Dexter."

And get this: She also played the voice of Miranda Keyes in "Halo 2"! Cool!

Yeah, so anyway: She’ll be the chick running around next to Sly in "Rambo 4."

Source: Variety

With the pumpkin holiday approaching, Sony unleashes the terror with its frightfest "The Grudge 2" which aims to dominate the marketplace this weekend.

Giving ticket buyers some not-so-scary alternatives are the political comedy "Man of the Year," the action flick "The Marine," and the historical epic "One Night with the King." After a September slump, the North American box office should continue its October rebound.

Two years after shocking the film industry with one of the biggest openings ever for a horror film, Sony returns to the scene of the crime with its new supernatural thriller "The Grudge 2." Director Takashi Shimizu is once again at the helm, but the PG-13 pic this time tells the story of a young woman who investigates the curse that previously afflicted her sister in Tokyo. Amber Tamblyn ("Joan of Arcadia") and Jennifer Beals ("Flashdance") star in this new installment. "The Grudge 2" has one of the best release dates a studio with a horror film could ever ask for – a Friday the 13th in the middle of the Halloween month of October. But with Sarah Michelle Gellar having only little face time this time around, the sequel has lost significant starpower. The former "Buffy" star was integral in getting teens, young adults, and genre fans out on opening weekend last time. With the story now shifting to her character’s sister, many of those who turned up on opening weekend for the first, will decide to skip the second installment in theaters.


Amber Tamblyn, no longer talking to God in "The Grudge 2."

Sony has been giving "Grudge 2" a healthy marketing push hoping to reach young females once again. As a fright flick, guys will automatically be there. The sequel should give the underserved audience of teenage girls an exciting option and the rating opens the door to plenty of business. Even the teen date crowd could contribute a nice chunk of change. However, the competing horror pic "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" is coming off of a strong bow and will take dollars from some older teens away. Numbers should not come close to Gellar’s first "Grudge" which had the whole horror crowd to itself two Octobers ago with a potent $39.1M launch on its way to a $110.2M domestic final. Still, between the relatively low costs and the solid sales in theaters and on DVD, these types of scary sequels tend to become very profitable, very fast. "The Grudge 2" will spook audiences in 3,211 locations and could gross about $27M this weekend easily giving it the number one spot.

Fresh off of his hit family picture "RV" from last spring, Robin Williams tries to get his career back in order with the new political satire "Man of the Year." Written and directed by Barry Levinson ("Rain Man," "Wag the Dog"), the PG-13 film finds the former Mork playing a popular talk show host who decides to run for U.S. President adding lunacy to an otherwise dull election. Christopher Walken, Laura Linney, Jeff Goldblum, and Lewis Black round out the cast. After struggling for hits after 1998’s "Patch Adams," Williams rebounded at the box office by appealing to kids. He lent a voice to last year’s animated Fox pic "Robots" and enjoyed great legs with "RV" which went on to gross $71.4M after spending seven weeks in the top ten.


Robin Williams and Laura Linney in "Man of the Year."

Now the Oscar winner goes after adults with "Man" which is not likely to pull in many votes from teens and young adults. The subject matter will appeal most to the 30+ crowd making last weekend’s well-liked champ "The Departed" a serious competitor. Universal’s mid-October release makes sense as the studio is placing the pic in the marketplace just weeks before the country’s mid-term elections when politics are on the minds of many citizens. But the story will not be too big of a factor in pulling in audiences which means Williams will see his starpower put to the test once again. Luckily he is back with a comedy which is his comfort zone when it comes to commercial success. Casting votes in 2,515 theaters, "Man of the Year" might debut with about $11M.

Wrestling superstar John Cena anchors his first Hollywood film in "The Marine" playing, well, a marine discharged from duty in Iraq that must fight to save his kidnapped wife. The PG-13 actioner will play mostly to young males who follow the antics of the champ in the squared circle. Crossover potential is limited as those not familiar with who he is will probably take a pass. Fox won’t see many good reviews and a bigger audience should find it on DVD early next year. Marching into 2,546 locations, "The Marine" could open with roughly $8M this weekend and find itself dismissed soon after.


John Cena means business in "The Marine."

Babylon is the setting for the epic historical adventure "One Night With the King" which stars Tiffany Dupont, Omar Sharif, John Rhys-Davies, and Peter O’Toole. The PG-rated tale following the rise of the Queen of Persia is using church-based marketing to reach Christian audience members looking for entertainment that the whole family can enjoy together. These types of grassroots efforts have worked magic at the box office in the past, but not every time. Distributor 8X generated a respectable $5,011 opening weekend average with 2001’s "Megiddo: Omega Code 2" but struggled with a $3,315 average for "Carman: The Champion" earlier that year. While those films never made it past 400 theaters, "King" will enter about 900 sites and is getting a more mainstream promotional push so the potential could be more. A $4M bow may result.

Last weekend’s top choice "The Departed" plans to stick around and still be a popular film in its second weekend. Strong reviews and word-of-mouth will help the Warner Bros. crime thriller hold up well in the sophomore frame. Plus there is little competition for adult audiences as "Grudge" and "Marine" should skew younger while the comedy of Robin Williams may play to a different segment of the mature crowd. "The Departed" might fall by 35% this weekend which would give the DiCaprioDamon hit around $17M and an impressive ten-day cume of $55M.

On the other hand, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" will face a direct threat from the "Grudge" sequel beginning on Friday. Horror franchise flicks typically drop hard anyway so a 55% tumble would give the New Line prequel about $9M and a respectable $32M after ten days.

LAST YEAR: The horror remake "The Fog" topped the charts with the worst gross of the year for a number one film bowing to $11.8M to lead the weak box office. Sony’s fright offering stumbled to just $29.5M. Close behind in second place was the DreamWorks toon "Wallace and Gromit" with $11.5M in its second weekend. Paramount’s Orlando BloomKirsten Dunst pic "Elizabethtown" opened in third place with $10.6M on its way to a mild $26.9M. Rounding out the top ten were Hollywood blondes Jodie Foster with $6.5M for "Flightplan" and Cameron Diaz with $6.1M for "In Her Shoes." Bloom’s Caribbean queen Keira Knightley fared even worse with her action flop "Domino" which debuted to just $4.7M. New Line eked its way to just $10.2M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

No stranger to horror-style movies ("Wrong Turn") and TV shows ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), Eliza Dushku has signed on to star in "Mamba," a teen-oriented thriller that sounds a lot like "Jumanji" meets "Stay Alive."

From IGN FilmForce and Variety: "Hottie Eliza Dushku, not seen on the big screen since 2003’s "Wrong Turn," will star alongside "Poseidon" actor Mike Vogel in the new teen-centric thriller "Mamba."

Dushku and Vogle, says industry mag Variety, will headline the flick which follows a group of surfers who find an old satanic board game called Mamba. As you might imagine, when a person loses in the game, they die a terrible death… do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Filming will reportedly begin Monday in northern Spain’s Basque Country and continue for the next eight weeks. The director is newbie Spanish helmer Alvaro de Arminan."

Click here
for the full report.

The lovely Ms. Michelle Trachtenberg, last seen as an "Ice Princess" and best known for her work on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," has signed to star in Glen Morgan‘s "Black Christmas," which, as any horror fan could tell you, is a remake of a well-regarded Bob Clark chiller from 1974.

According to Production Weekly, "Michelle Trachtenberg is set to topline the horror remake "Black Christmas," along with Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Katie Cassidy and Oliver Hudson. Glen Morgan will direct the film, about a killer who terrorizes a sorority house with phone calls before he begins to murder various sorority sisters during the holiday break. Production is set to begin at the end of this month in Vancouver."

Mr. Morgan will be working with longtime partner James Wong. Together they’ve brought you "Willard," "The One," and the "Final Destination" flicks.

According to Variety, fan-favorite filmmaker Joss Whedon, who has "Serenity" coming next week and "Wonder Woman" sometime this decade, has signed a deal with Universal to bring the sci-fi thriller "Goners" to the big screen.

Creator of such fantastical-ish adventure-fests like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel," and "Firefly," Mr. Whedon’s next project seems a little bit different … and a little bit familiar.

"Whedon was cryptic in describing the project, but the title conveys that it will tread on supernatural turf comparable to his series creations "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and the bloodsucker spinoff "Angel."

"It’s the story of a young woman’s journey that involves a great deal of horror and some heroics," he said. "It’s certainly darker than "Serenity," and there are a lot of left turns along the way. It is something I had in mind for a while, and it just poured out of me when I finished my film."

Timing isn’t clear, since Whedon is writing to direct "Wonder Woman," the Warner Bros. film based on the DC Comics heroine. That may take some time, as Whedon started his script from scratch.

"I was given license to purely make it my own and yet she is already an iconic Amazon princess," Whedon said. " "Goners" has some similarities, but the heroines could not be more different, and the story is a bit more intimate and less complicated than "Wonder Woman."

Whedon, who began his career writing features "Speed" and "Toy Story," shuttered his TV operation this year to focus on features. He will continue to spend the majority of his time with bigscreen fare but acknowledged he has been toying with a TV project that would continue the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" universe, focusing on Spike, the punk-haired vampire played by James Marsters.

Whedon’s challenge is to figure a way to do it and be able to keep directing movies.

"Directing a film was as exciting and daunting as it was supposed to be," said the CAA-repped Whedon. "I learned a lot on "Serenity" and hope I hid that from the audience."

Fred Topel over at About.com had an entertaining sit-down with writer / producer / director / nutcase Joss Whedon, and together the pair chatted mainly about "Serenity," but digressed into bursts about "Veronica Mars" and "Wonder Woman," too.

Mr. Whedon on…

…movie marketing: "This is really a story movie as opposed to a concept movie. And I know that makes it difficult to sell, so the idea that everybody knows everything means that people get to get inside the process and find out the one thing that’s going to be able to sell this movie which is the fact that I think it’s good."

…"Star Wars" influences: "And the idea behind Serenity in the first place really did have to do with the idea of the Millennium Falcon as a real concept. What if you were that guy, forget the aliens and the robots and the force. What if you just had a crappy little spaceship and you had to make a living and you didn’t really care how? How hard would your life be? That to me, the reality of that fantasy is what makes it so fascinating and ultimately that’s the benchmark of everything I do. It’s finding the reality behind the fantasy no matter how absurd the fantasy may be."

…comparisons between "Serenity" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer": "I have to think about them as totally separate because they have different sensibilities and they have different sets of rules. It’s very important that Serenity be grounded. I had to go into outer space to come back down to earth but Buffy was a fantasy, a metaphor for rites of passage of our lives and Serenity is something else."

Plus, over at Dark Horizons there’s a bit more Whedon-droppings in regards to "Wonder Woman."

Regarding the "Whedon-esque" dialogue: ""Absolutely. Wonder Woman’s perspective is very serious. But that’s what’s so funny about her. She doesn’t understand the world…She’s not a wisecracker. But at the same time, she’s not going to miss an opportunity… Usually, people I write are very, very down to earth and she’s the opposite. She’s somebody who is supposed to be Wonder Woman and spend her life being Wonder Woman but then she’s still as vulnerable and as new at it as anybody else, but she’s the opposite of every character I’ve ever written"."

For a lot more from Wonder Whedon, be sure to check out the interviews over at About.com and DarkHorizons.net.

Based on the extremely well-received video game known as "American McGee’s Alice" comes an all-new silver screen adaptation. Sophomore director Marcus Nispel ("The Texas Chainsaw Massacre") will be directing "Alice," and his leading lady will be "Buffy" and "Grudge" gal Sarah Michelle Gellar.

THR describes the game’s plot like so: "Alice has grown up to become a disturbed young woman. After her parents are killed in a fire, Alice returns to Wonderland, a dark and threatening place of looking glasses, mysterious potions, nonsensical tea parties and talking animals, confronting her fears and the wicked Queen of Hearts."

Screenwriters Erich & Jon Hoeber will be adapting the Electronic Arts video game into screenplay form. Not very long ago, screenwriter John August and director Wes Craven were attached to the project, but that’s back when Dimension was involved in the property. But it’s all Uni’s game now, and Nispel & Gellar are the direction they’re going in.

According to fan-favorite Joss Whedon, the creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel," the all-new trailer for his big-screen "Firefly" adventure (entitled "Serenity") will debut today at the Apple / Quicktime trailers page at approximately 4:00 PM (eastern). Based on the short-lived, yet widely-admired science fiction series, "Serenity" will be a big-screen adventure that mixes sci-fi adventure with a decidedly Western motif.

The entire cast from the Fox series will be returning for the multiplex adaptation, and that includes Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Adam Baldwin, and Alan Tudyk. "Serenity" is scheduled to hit theaters on September 30th, but the legions of fans out there are pretty darn excited to see the trailer today.

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