(Photo by Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)
It’s now 20 years into the Willennium, and how has our reigning Fresh Prince fared since the 1990s? On the Oscars front, Will Smith notched two Best Actor nominations for 2001’s Ali, and then for The Pursuit of Happyness in 2006. He’s adapted two genre literary classics into blockbusters (I Am Legend and I, Robot), and he was there during the 2008’s summer of superheroes with Hancock, which released one month after Iron Man and one before The Dark Knight and Hellboy II.
Of course, that’s not to say Smith was slacking in the ’90s (though if he was, certainly no one would have noticed), which saw a diversified pop culture portfolio that includes a beloved TV show at the beginning of the decade, and a slew of hip-hop crossover hits at the end. Sandwiched in between were films like Independence Day, which at the time felt like the biggest movie event ever, and Men in Black, which got its first Smith-less sequel in 2019.
But on the subject of sequels that didn’t disappoint, and even surprised: Bad Boys For Life, which reunited Smith with Martin Lawrence for some Certified Fresh throwback buddy action. Next, you can see him in the inspirational family drama King Richard. Now, we’re ranking the best Will Smith movies by Tomatometer!
This week’s Ketchup covers ten stories from the arena of film development news. Included in the mix this week are headlines for such movies as the Ghostbusters reboot, The Girl on the Train, and Sicario 2; and new roles for Benedict Cumberbatch and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Often times, stories about film development as you read them in columns like this one get their start as fully fleshed out stories in trades like Variety, or these days, on blogs like Deadline. There are other situations, however, where the “story” itself can be expressed in very few words, and then from there, writers can (and do) feel free to extrapolate and speculate at great length. Such was arguably the case this week when an interview with producers (and spouses) Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald ended with two brief statements about the future of Men in Black. Those ten words tell us that Will Smith is likely done (at least as the star) with his biggest franchise, and that Men in Black will be rebooted as a new trilogy of movies. This update also doesn’t conflict with the news earlier this year that Sony Pictures is considering connecting two of their franchises with the third Jonah Hill/Channing Tatum movie that we could just call 23 Jump Street. (Though it doesn’t actually go all the way and confirm that those plans will indeed happen; that probably would have required at least three more words.)
In July, we first heard that next year’s reboot of Ghostbusters (7/15/16) would feature an appearance by one of the stars of the original film, when Dan Aykroyd confirmed that he had filmed a scene with Kristen Wiig. Then, about a month later, Bill Murray also confirmed that he had filmed a “cameo” appearance in the reboot. Neither Aykroyd nor Murray are playing their original characters (Ray Stantz and Peter Venkman), and indeed, Dan Aykroyd was reportedly cast as a skeptic of the paranormal. This week, two more casting stories doubled the number of original stars returning, starting with the news that Ernie Hudson had also filmed at least one scene (on what was also the last day of principal photography). Hudson’s participation might be the most surprising, since he created something of an online stir several months ago, with the question, “If it has nothing to do with the other two movies, and it’s all female, then why are you calling it Ghostbusters?” Annie Potts, who played the Ghostbusters’ receptionist Janice, also was seen in Boston for filming recently. Finally, director Paul Feig took to Twitter this morning to announce that Sigourney Weaver has also agreed to be in the reboot. With the passing in 2014 of Harold Ramis, that now leaves only Rick Moranis (who played Louis) as the one of the original seven stars who hasn’t yet been mentioned as appearing in the Ghostbusters reboot.
The drug war movie Sicario has only been in limited release a week, and won’t get its wide release until October 2nd. The film has had, however, a high per-screen box office average (the year’s highest to date), and is already being discussed by pundits as a strong contender in this year’s awards season. Perhaps for these reasons, Lionsgate has already begun development on a Sicario sequel, having hired the film’s screenwriter to start work. As explained in the linked article (which may reveal or suggest spoilers, be warned), the focus of the second movie will be on Benicio Del Toro’s “mysterious hitman” character. It is not yet known if director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy) would return for the Sicario sequel.
(Photo by Feng Li / Staff / Getty Images)
In the 72 years since his death, something of a cult of personality has built up around the legacy of inventor Nicola Tesla. A frequent target of Tesla’s acolytes is American inventor (and former Tesla employer) Thomas Alva Edison, with much of that debate stemming from the late 19th century competition over which system would be used in widespread transmission of electricity. Tesla, however, actually sold his patent to an entrepeneur named George Westinghouse, so the “The War of Currents” was actually waged between Edison and Westinghouse, not Tesla himself. That little history lesson is important to explain this week’s news that Benedict Cumberbatch and Jake Gyllenhaal have been cast by the Weinstein Company in The Current War. Cumberbatch will play Thomas Edison, and Gyllenhaal will play George Westinghouse. The Current War will be directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, whose first two films as director were last year’s remake of The Town That Dreaded Sundown, and this year’s Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. George Westinghouse was something of a “portly” gentleman, and it’s not yet known if Jake Gyllenhaal will be bulking up on a diet of carbs to match Westinghouse’s look (it might just be easier to sport Westinghouse’s awesome ‘stache).
Captain America and the Joker may come from opposite sides of the DC/Marvel superhero movie competition, but this week, the two actors playing those characters — Chris Evans and Jared Leto — joined the same movie in similar roles. Now that the three female leads in the adaptation of the popular novel The Girl on the Train are cast, the production is moving on to two husband characters. If their deals come through, Chris Evans would play the husband of the character played by Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation), and the ex-husband of Emily Blunt’s title character. Likewise, Jared Leto would play the husband of the character played by Haley Bennett (The Equalizer). The Girl on the Train will be directed by Tate Taylor (The Help, Get On Up) for DreamWorks Pictures.
Although it does not yet have a release date in the States, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ English language debut, The Lobster, has been a hit on the international festival circuit, most notably winning the Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. This week, even as the US waits to actually see The Lobster, Lanthimos’ next film already started casting up. Kate Winslet, Emma Stone, and Olivia Colman (TV’s Broadchurch) are all in talks to costar in Yorgos Lanthimos’ next film, The Favourite. The premise is described as following the “political machinations behind the scenes during the reign of Queen Anne, the last monarch of the House of Stuarts” during the years 1702 to 1707. If the deals go through, Olivia Colman would play Queen Anne, Winslet would play a close confidante of the Queen, and Stone would play a distant, poor cousin of Winslet’s character who gains a court position serving the Queen.
(Photo by Stephen Lovekin / Stringer / Getty Images)
The idea of a movie based on the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” tennis matches between male player Bobby Riggs and female player Billie Jean King has been bouncing around Hollywood for several years now. In that time, the delay has allowed three different projects to emerge and compete to be the one that beats the other two to actual production and eventual release. Two of them are a HBO/Playtone movie called Proof (starring Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti) and another called Match Maker, which has Will Ferrell attached to play Bobby Riggs. The project that appears it may be getting closest to happening is Fox Searchlight’s Battle of the Sexes. Steve Carell has long been attached to star as Bobby Riggs, but Emma Stone recently departed from starring as Billy Jean King. That casting conundrum was solved this week with the news that Brie Larson (Short Term 12, Trainwreck) is now in talks to replace Emma Stone. If the deal works out, Battle of the Sexes will be directed by the team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who are best known for the indie comedy hits Little Miss Sunshine and Ruby Sparks.
(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez / Staff / Getty Images)
It’s obviously more common for actors and actresses with common names like “John” or “Tom” or “Jennifer,” but for most, it’s rare that they land a role where the character has the same name they do. (Although sometimes the character name is chosen based on the name of the actor playing them.) In the case of Rachel Weisz, who knows, perhaps she’s always dreamed of starring in a movie based on Daphne Du Maurier’s classic 1951 novel My Cousin Rachel. Well, if that were true, she would be in luck, because she is now in talks with Fox Searchlight to play the title character in a new adaptation of My Cousin Rachel. The novel was first adapted as a 1952 film starring Olivia de Havilland and Richard Burton. This new adaptation will be directed by Roger Michell (Le Week-End, Notting Hill, Hyde Park on the Hudson). Rachel Weisz’ Rachel is a woman suspected of murdering a cousin by one of her other cousins. There sure is a lot of double wordplay in this story.
Although Hollywood does experiment with the era every once in a while (Last of the Mohicans, The Patriot), 18th century America is represented a lot less in modern movies than, say, the 19th century. You might think such movies would be much more common, considering that the late 1700s is the setting of the Revolutionary War, and the founding of the United States. This week brought news of at least one new movie attempting to correct that oversight. In a mid-six-figures deal, New Line Cinema has acquired the rights to a script called The Virginian about George Washington when he was a young colonial soldier. The Virginian is described as an action thriller about how a “down-and-out, young George Washington — desperate to join the British Army — accepts a dangerous mission to conquer a French fort and save the American colonies.” New Line’s acquisition of The Virginian may spark a race to production with another George Washington movie called The General, which is reportedly more of a traditional biopic about Washington’s later life. The Virginian was written by Michael Gunn, who has worked as a story editor on Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series, The Newsroom.
In his 1983 stand up comedy film Delirious, Eddie Murphy riffed on The Amityville Horror, mocking the spooky whisper “GET OUT!” as something that would make him leave any house (NSFW clip here), regardless of how nice it was (“too bad we can’t stay, baby!”). Thirty years later, that refrain is now being used as the title of a horror comedy to be written and directed by Jordan Peele, best known as one half of the comedy duo Key & Peele, along with Keegan-Michael Key, who will costar with Peele in the comedy Keanu (4/22/16). Get Out is about “a young African-American man who visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s family estate.” Jordan Peele is writing and will make his feature film directorial debut, but is not expected to star as the lead character (though he may take a supporting role). Get Out will be produced by Blumhouse Productions, the company behind such horror films as Insidious, the Paranormal Activity franchise, and next year’s Amityville: The Awakening.
All three of the movies opening in wide release this week might have Rotten Tomatometer scores, but here in the Weekly Ketchup, we’re pleased to announce… no major “Rotten Idea” stories this week!
He’s been a chart-topping rapper, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and the undisputed king of the July 4 movie blockbuster — and this weekend, Will Smith returns to the big screen alongside Margot Robbie in Focus, so we knew now would be the perfect time to pay tribute to some of the brightest highlights from his blockbuster filmography. You’ll obviously find some of the biggest hit films of the last 15 years in here, but Big Willie Style isn’t always about the big-budget smash hit; his efforts include a few eclectic diversions that may surprise you. Let’s find out how many of your favorites made the cut — it’s time for Total Recall!
Isaac Asimov’s classic short story collection had a long journey to the screen — and when it finally arrived in 2004, the end result bore little more than a passing resemblance to its literary namesake. It may have disappointed purists, but I, Robot was another in a line of hit summer films for Smith — and although its transformation into a big-budget action thriller may have sacrificed thought-provoking subtext along the way, it was still enough for Nev Pierce of the BBC, who argued, “Whether there’s anything substantial under the sheen and CGI of Alex Proyas’ glistening future vision is debatable, but this enjoyable, engrossing picture is at least intelligently artificial.”
After establishing himself as an action star with Bad Boys, Smith kicked off a string of July 4 blockbusters with Independence Day, Roland Emmerich’s 1996 ensemble sci-fi thriller about the worldwide chaos unleashed when an armada of terribly unfriendly aliens stops by Earth for a visit. With a worldwide gross of over $815 million, Independence Day was the biggest hit of the year, and although Smith had a lot of help along the way, his wisecracking heroics were a big part of what inspired critics like Empire’s Angie Errigo to hail it as “a throwback to traditional entertainment with an old-fashioned, gung-ho good time thrilled up by ’90s-style state-of-the-art technology.”
Smith trained for a year to prepare himself for the title role in Michael Mann’s Muhammad Ali biopic, both inside the ring and out, with a workload that included everything from live sparring to Islamic studies and time with a dialect coach. While Ali ultimately packed a somewhat disappointing punch at the box office, where its $87 million gross failed to earn back its budget, all that preparation paid off handsomely for Smith, who walked away with a Best Actor Oscar nomination — as well as glowing reviews from critics like Jay Carr of the Boston Globe, who wrote, “Smith makes contact with enough of Ali’s swagger, sweetness, wit, and pride to convince us that justice is being done to the boxing champion.”
Otherwise known as the film that proved Will Smith’s cinematic dynasty would eventually extend to his kids, The Pursuit of Happyness used the real-life story of Chris Gardner’s journey from homeless single parent to stockbroker as the basis for an inspirational drama starring Smith alongside his son Jaden, who was all of eight when the movie came out (and stole the picture anyway). It takes a special kind of performance to make audiences believe a multimillionaire box-office king as a desperate dad on the brink of losing everything, and Smith delivered it here; as Tom Meek wrote for the Boston Phoenix, “Smith turns in a career-capping performance, and director Gabriele Muccino ingeniously turns the material inward, cautioning us all to be grateful for what we have, for we’re closer to the edge than we think.”
Romantic comedies get a pretty bad rap, but when they’re put together with enough sensitivity and skill, the results can be pretty hard to resist. Case in point: 2005’s Hitch, starring Smith as a legendary “date doctor” who’s playing matchmaker for a schlub (Kevin James) and his celebrity crush (Amber Valletta) while wooing a gossip columnist (Eva Mendes) whose latest assignment puts her on an unwitting collision course with Hitch. It’s all familiar stuff, but that was just fine with critics like Terry Lawson of the Detroit Free Press, who wrote, “Smith and Mendes are terrific together. He brings her game up so high you’d think she has had as many good parts as Smith.”
After languishing in development hell for more than a decade and passing through the hands of a list of stars that included Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Matheson’s classic novel finally made its way to the screen for the third time in 2007, with Will Smith starring as Robert Neville, the virologist who just happens to be one of the last healthy people left after a government-engineered vaccine goes awry and turns the human race into vampire-like beings. Although its deviations from the book — particularly in the final act — made the movie something of a blown opportunity as far as some fans were concerned, most critics enjoyed Legend on its own merits, with an appreciative Rex Reed calling it “a grenade that goes off when least expected. It has more horror than heart, but it is never boring.”
Depending on your ideological leanings, Enemy of the State‘s pre-9/11 warnings of an encroaching government surveillance state are either quaint or chillingly prescient — but either way, this techno-thriller, which united Bruckheimer with director Tony Scott for their fifth film, is a solidly built piece of big-budget entertainment. Starring Will Smith as a lawyer targeted by the NSA, Gene Hackman as the retired spook who helps him evade capture, and Jon Voight as the creepy bureaucrat who will stop at nothing to ensure the passage of a key piece of legislation, State blended good old-fashioned man-on-the-run action with state-of-the-art technology, and scared up a healthy $250 million along the way — as well as praise from critics such as Marc Savlov of the Austin Chronicle, who called it “a thriller straight through to its sleek, millennial-fever heart, an onrushing, giddily paranoiac roller-coaster ride with bad brakes, clever dialogue, and a reach that only occasionally exceeds its grasp.”
As a rapper and an actor, Smith spent the first several years of his career largely in comedy mode — so when he decided to make the jump into film, he chose the decidedly unfunny role of a handicapped, homeless Los Angeles youth in the ensemble drama Where the Day Takes You. Surrounded by a crowd of veteran actors that included Dermot Mulroney, Lara Flynn Boyle, and Kyle MacLachlan, Smith was able to test the dramatic waters without having to carry a movie on his own — and it paid off for critics like Roger Ebert, who wrote, “Maybe the director, Marc Rocco, is good with actors. Or maybe these actors haven’t had this kind of strong material to work with before.”
The fascinating story of real-life con artist David Hampton formed the basis for Six Degrees of Separation, adapted from the John Guare play about a smooth-talking young man named Paul (Smith) who shows up on the doorstep of a wealthy New York couple (Donald Sutherland and Stockard Channing) and convinces them he’s not only friends with their college-age kids, but that he’s the son of Sidney Poitier. Before the night is out, he’s sleeping in their guest room — and before the closing credits roll, the extraordinary truth of Paul’s story is revealed. While far from a blockbuster on par with Smith’s future efforts, Separation earned Channing an Oscar nomination and won praise from critics like About.com’s Fred Topel, who called it “a compelling drama” and “Will Smith’s greatest performance.”
The success of The Fugitive catapulted Tommy Lee Jones from “distinguished character actor” to “leading man” status, and after Bad Boys, the mid-to-late 1990s pretty much belonged to Will Smith — so Men in Black wasn’t just your average action/comedy/sci-fi summer blockbuster, it was an Event Movie with almost $590 million in ticket sales (and a pair of sequels) waiting to happen. It didn’t win any awards for storytelling depth (although it did win a Best Makeup Oscar), but its unapologetic popcorn thrills, fueled by Smith and Jones’ easy interplay, entertained a whole lot of people — including Slate’s David Edelstein, who called it “The smartest, funniest, and best-looking sci-fi comedy since the movies learned to morph.”
Finally, here’s one of the Fresh Prince’s oddest recordings — a surrealist nightmare called “Then She Bit Me”:
Click to Page 2 to see the availability of Kick-Ass, Dredd, 300, and the Superman, early Batman and Men in Black franchises, plus more!
Enter Marvel Movie Madness, wherein Rotten Tomatoes watches all of the significant Marvel movies ever made. Full Marvel Movie Madness list here. Tune in! We give you our thoughts, and you give us yours.
Grae: It wouldn’t be too hard to top the disappointment that was Men In Black II (sorry, Lara Flynn Boyle, I know you tried). But even though my crushed spirits had finally rebounded, watching Pitbull sing the MIBIII theme didn’t make me dance as much as it made me consider Botox to iron out my furrowed, worried brow. But lo and behold, Barry Sonnenfeld apparently had spent the last ten years brewing up a new pot of awesome that was ready to be served to modern audiences.
This installment of MIB is a heckuva lot closer to the first one than the second, thanks in part to Josh Brolin as the young Agent K. His take on 60s-era Tommy Lee Jones was so dead-on, it’s like watching Eyes of Laura Mars with more aliens than just Faye Dunaway. It makes the series fun again. On top of more amazing makeup work from Rick Baker and much-improved effects, the time-travel tale made me completely forget its sophomore slump. In fact, I’m excited about the next one. Maybe we can fast-forward in time and get Morgan Freeman as an older Will Smith?
Ryan: Let me begin by saying I don’t have a very clear recollection of this movie. I remember Jemaine Clement being Jemaine Clement, but with scary teeth and a missing arm, and I remember Josh Brolin’s kind of beautiful Tommy Lee Jones impersonation, which is probably the first thing anyone mentions when talking about this movie. Wait, are there people out there who “talk about this movie?” Oh, and I remember Bill Hader as an exasperated, inspiration-starved undercover Andy Warhol, which is great in the way that Bill Hader randomly showing up in movies is usually great. And something about time travel, alternate realities, and an alien invasion. Does that about cover it?
Alright, I’ll admit, MIB 3 wasn’t a terrible way to return to the franchise. I don’t know if it was particularly memorable, but I can think of worse ways to spend a couple of hours. I mean, the anachronistic humor was kind of fun in spots, despite the fact I kept thinking to myself, “Would Agent J really feel so carefree roaming the streets of 1960s America?” Otherwise, this is all pretty familiar stuff, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I could have done without the somewhat groanworthy twist at the end, but all in all it was a sufficiently diverting, pleasantly surprising adventure. Ultimately forgettable, methinks, but an enjoyable popcorn rental.
Cat: I attempted to watch Men in Black III twice while on a plane. Both times I fell asleep after the first 5-10 minutes. All I remember is Pussycat Doll chick, Nicole Scherzinger, bringing an incarcerated alien a pink birthday cake. Another alien who was inside the cake jumped out and helped the super bad alien escape, and gone was Miss Pussycat Doll into outer space. Don’t cha wish this movie was less bor-ing?
Will Smith made his long-awaited return to multiplexes and seized the number one spot at the North American box office with his new sci-fi sequel Men in Black 3 which booted The Avengers down to second place in its fourth weekend. But fewer people came out to greet the 3D alien comedy compared to the two previous installments prompting the top ten to fall by a troubling 31% from last year’s four-day Memorial Day holiday session.
Sony topped the box office with Men in Black 3 which opened to an estimated $70M over the long Friday-to-Monday weekend and an estimated $55M over the Friday-to-Sunday portion. Boosted by higher ticket prices for 3D and IMAX screens, the PG-13 film averaged $12,947 over three days and $16,478 over four days from an ultrawide 4,248 theaters. Comparisons to the first two Men in Black films are uneven since those both debuted mid-week ahead of the Fourth of July holiday frames. Plus they did not have 3D surcharges and ticket prices were significantly lower back in 1997 for the original film and 2002 for the first sequel. Still, those Friday-to-Sunday debuts were $51.1M and $52.1M respectively indicating a big drop in admissions this time around for the aging franchise.
Reviews were fairly good for MIB3 which reunited Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, and director Barry Sonnenfeld with Josh Brolin added to the cast of the new time-travel story. The production cost is estimated to be $230M which is to be expected for a star-driven threequel. Smith has not had a film since the flop Seven Pounds from December 2008 and has not had a number one hit, or any action movie, since Hancock from July 2008. The new alien pic earned a good B+ grade from CinemaScore.
Rejuvenating a franchise after a decade-long absence was a challenge as was attracting audiences when The Avengers is doing so well with action-hungry moviegoers. The four-day opening does not even rank among the top ten best Memorial Day weekend debuts despite the help from 3D prices. Historically, sequels debuting over this holiday are very front-loaded putting Agents J and K on course to finish their third domestic trip in the $150-175M range which would be the lowest tally of the trilogy.
Sony reported that Men in Black opened at number one in 104 international territories this weekend too with an overseas bow of $133.2M and global launch of $203.2M. A series of red carpet premieres in Asia and Europe helped to drive excitement with the leading markets being China ($19.5M), Russia ($18.9M), Korea ($8.5M), and Japan ($8M). Thanks to growth overseas since the last MIB, domestic shortfalls could be made up from strong international sales.
Dropping out of the number one spot didn’t stop The Avengers from racking up more impressive numbers and breaking additional records. The assembly of super heroes took in an estimated $46.9M in its fourth weekend with the three-day portion of $36.8M declining by only 34% making for a terrific hold as holiday moviegoers caught up on the most-talked-about movie of the year. With “see it again” ads hitting the marketplace for the long weekend, movie fans of all types are responding by seeing a blockbuster film that delivers the escapist entertainment people are looking for.
After 25 days, the amazing cume shot up to $523.6M and broke the half-billion domestic mark on Saturday in a record 23 days. Avatar previously held that record with 32 days so this was quite a fast achievement. Avengers is now on track to surpass The Dark Knight’s $533.3M by next weekend to take over the number three spot on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters trailing the James Cameron double feature.
International crowds are still coming out spending an estimated $28.1M this weekend in the fifth round boosting the overseas haul to $781.9M and the global gross to $1.305 billion. Currently the fourth biggest worldwide grosser, the Marvel gang will soon surpass Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 to take the number three spot on a global basis too. Avengers may just end its run with close to $1.5 billion. Pleasing movie fans everywhere, the Disney juggernaut has been sucking the life out of the worldwide box office for a month now.
Following its weak launch, the mega-priced action tentpole Battleship just could not stay relevant with moviegoers and plunged 57% over the Friday-to-Sunday period to an estimated $10.9M which was a sizable drop given that Sunday was stronger than usual with a holiday following it. The four-day weekend was $13.8M. After 11 days, the board game pic has grossed only $47.3M and is on course to end its domestic run with a very disappointing $70M or so. With a production cost of at least $209M, that just isn’t what the studio needed to turn it into a moneymaker, much less a franchise. Sandwiched in between Avengers and MIB3, Battleship did not become a must-see action pic for summer audiences this month. Overseas grosses rose slightly to $232.7M putting the worldwide total at $283M which is still lower than what a costly project like this needed. The final global tally won’t go too much higher than $300M.
The Dictator, another big May offering from Hollywood that isn’t exciting too many ticket buyers, fell in its second weekend to an estimated $11.8M over the long weekend putting the 13-day sum at $43.6M. Paramount will struggle to get its final domestic gross to match the $65M production cost. Overseas audiences also fled from the Sacha Baron Cohen political satire with an estimated $11.8M from 29 international markets, down 53%. With $50.3M from outside of North America, Dictator’s worldwide total rose to $94M. Johnny Depp’s vampire comedy Dark Shadows followed with an estimated $9.4M across four days for a total of only $64.9M for the expensive Warner Bros. release.
The new horror pic Chernobyl Diaries opened poorly with an estimated $9.3M over the long weekend from 2,433 theaters for a slow $3,822 average over four days. Audiences instantly disliked the Warner Bros. film as Saturday sales tumbled 33% from the opening day with the CinemaScore grade being a horrible D+. Fright films rarely succeed in the month of May when much bigger summer popcorn movies are rolling out for young adult audiences.
Lionsgate’s underperforming all-star comedy What to Expect When You’re Expecting dipped to an estimated $8.9M and has collected just $23.9M in 11 days. Expanding nationwide, Fox Searchlight’s indie hit The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel climbed up to an estimated $8.2M over four days doubling its weekend gross after widening to 1,233 locations. The British pic averaged $6,671 per location and has banked $18.4M so far.
The blockbuster The Hunger Games placed ninth with an estimated $2.9M remaining a popular choice for fans in its tenth weekend. With $395.9M to date, the Lionsgate smash looks set to break the $400M mark. Sony’s hit comedy Think Like a Man rounded out the top ten with an estimated $1.8M over four days for a $88.7M total.
Focus generated a spectacular platform debut for Wes Anderson’s latest film Moonrise Kingdom which opened in just four theaters with an estimated $669,000 over four days for a jaw-dropping average of $167,372. Generating buzz from its opening night slot at the Cannes Film Festival, the quirky dramedy was loved by critics and will expand in the weeks ahead becoming a major force on the indie scene. The filmmaker’s loyal fans in New York and Los Angeles routinely come out for his latest stories and soon it will test the waters in more parts of the country.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $182.9M over the Friday-to-Monday period which was down 31% from last year when The Hangover Part II opened at number one with $103.4M over the long weekend; but even with 2010 when Shrek Forever After stayed on top in its second frame with $57.1M.
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