(Photo by Elizabeth Goodenough, © Warner Bros. Studios, © Walt Disney Pictures, © A24)

It’s a huge summer for movies. And, yes, that could be said of every summer, but there’s something about 2018. Don’t believe us? Check out the box office receipts. Or check out our summer movie calendar: It’s stuffed full of superheroes and dinosaurs and super spies and master thieves and even the occasional person falling head over heels in love. And it’s stuffed full of big stars — and stars who are about to make it big. This year, we decided to look at the slate of summer movies coming our way and, based on what we’ve already seen (yes, they still let RT into the occasional preview!), and what we’re reading in the movie-season tealeaves (including early Tomatometer scores and reviews), predict which actors are going to own the summer. Some are the headliners of some of the year’s biggest films — while others are headlining a bunch of the year’s biggest films (we’re looking at you, Josh Brolin). Still others are delivering performances in genre flicks that are already drawing awards buzz, and others are about to parlay TV success into a big-screen breakthrough (Constance Wu, step right up). We think you’ll be talking about all of them by the time the season’s over.


Josh Brolin

(Photo by © 20th Century Fox)

Winter, spring, Brolin, or fall, all you got to do is call. Thought the season was called “summer”? Maybe once upon a time it was. But we’ve decided to totally rebrand the sweaty months of this year after Josh Brolin, who has starring roles in some of the season’s biggest films. He’s racked up Certified Fresh scores playing Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War and Cable in Deadpool 2, and returns in June for Sicario: Day of the Soldado. Think you’re safe at home? Think again. This summer, you can also see him in Netflix’s The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter, the latest comedy from Danny McBride and Jody Hill. Brolin will be back next summer as the rubber-chinned Mad Titan — you know, if you’re craving more of that ashtray-filling bastard. That’s a bunch of tough fellas, so if you’re looking for a softer side to Brolin, you will have to wait for George and Tammy, in pre-production, where he plays George Jones to Jessica Chastain’s Tammy Wynette.


Sandra Bullock

(Photo by Barry Wetcher / © Warner Bros.)

It’s been a while. Sandra Bullock’s last live-action movie, 2015’s Our Brand Is Crisis, might have been a let-down — just 34% on the Tomatometer — but that has not dampened our excitement to have her back on the big screen in Ocean’s 8, the all-female newest installment in the Ocean’s heist series. Bullock chooses her roles sparingly, but when she does show up on screen, it’s usually always an event (hello, Gravity). The Oscar winner leads the Ocean’s 8 ensemble cast, which includes Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, and more, but it’s Bullock who we think the crowds are going to go wild for. Bonus: She may just rule the winter, too. Bullock stars with Rosa Salazar and Sarah Paulson this December in the sci-fi thriller, Bird Box.


Donald Glover

(Photo by Jonathan Olley /© Lucasfilm/ © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian dominated social chatter around Solo: A Star Wars Story long before the film’s release. Glover-loving Twitter folks have been asking, “Why wasn’t it Lando who got an origin story?” ever since Disney dropped its first Solo trailer earlier in the year and the world got its first eyeful of that coat. Rotten Tomatoes has seen the upcoming movie, which is currently sitting at 71% on the Tomatometer, and can confirm: Glover is as good as you imagined he’d be as the slick Lando Calrissian. And, yes, the coat is on point. As are the cloaks. Glover is also the Emmy-winning creator and star of Atlanta, which was No. 2 on our Winter TV Scorecard with a 99% Tomatometer score, and which many of us will be rewatching when it’s too damn hot outside. And this month he broke the internet — the kids are still saying that, right? — with his music video for “This Is America.” Next year he will literally rule the summer, starring as Simba in Jon Favreau’s live-action The Lion King, scheduled for July.


Toni Collette

(Photo by James Atoa/Everett Collection)

You know how some actresses just keep plugging away doing such excellent work you kind of take them for granted? Australian actress Toni Collette is that actress. Since breaking out in Aussie classic Muriel’s Wedding — which we just named one of the most essential movies of the ’90s — Collette has been slaying it in movies like Little Miss SunshineIn Her Shoes, and About A Boy and on TV shows like United States of Tara, for which she won an Emmy. She’s also been building a résumé as quite the scream queen, having starred in The Sixth SenseFright NightKrampus, and now, in this June’s Hereditary, the fiendishly scary new family-in-peril flick being released by A24. The movie is sitting at 100% on the Tomatometer with 29 reviews, and critics are singling out Collette for a “staggering performance.” Could this be the second year in a row that an acting Oscar nominee came from a horror movie?


Benedict Cumberbatch

(Photo by Elizabeth Goodenough/Everett Collection)

Few people agree on who stole the show in Avengers: Infinity War, but few would argue with the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange totally held his own with Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark in the humans-lost-in-space plotline. He had charisma, wit, and felt even more relaxed in the role than he did in 2016’s Doctor Strange. And he probably holds the key to restoring the… OK, we won’t go there with the spoilers. On the small-screen, the British actor landed a one-two punch with April PBS film The Child in Time (80% with 15 reviews) and his now–Certified Fresh miniseries Patrick Melrose on Showtime, a passion project based on the novels of Edward St. Aubyn, about the damaged son of an extremely privileged British family. The prolific actor returns later in the year as the voice of Shere Khan in the Andy Serkis–directed Mowgli, and as the title character of Illumination’s animated take on a Christmas classic, The Grinch. And there’s always hope for a new season of Sherlock, starring Cumberbatch in the role our readers love the most.


Mister Rogers

(Photo by © Focus Features/courtesy Everett Collection)

Yes, Fred Rogers: Summer blockbuster season’s biggest star. The documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, which takes an intimate look at the beloved children’s entertainer, may not make that MCU-level cash, but it’s already connecting big-time. Critics have so far given the film a 96% on the Tomatometer, and the internet exploded on the day the first trailer dropped, with fans across the country drying their eyes as they shared stories of how much they loved Rogers. The Rogers love-fest will continue next year, when Tom Hanks plays Rogers in the film, You Are My Friend. We’re investing in red cardigans, stat.


Constance Wu

(Photo by Sanja Bucko / © Warner Bros.)

For four years, Constance Wu has been quietly stealing Wednesday nights on ABC as the hilarious matriarch of the Huang family, Jessica, on Fresh Off the Boat — just renewed for season 5. This summer, she headlines one of the most anticipated romantic comedies of the last few years, starring as one half of the couple at the center of Crazy Rich Asians, based on the hugely popular novel by Kevin Kwan. In the film, Wu’s Rachel Chu travels to Singapore for a wedding and to meet her boyfriend’s parents, and hilarity — and fireworks-punctuated romance — ensues. No word yet on whether the film does the novel justice, but we’re excited to see Wu in her first big-screen leading role and equally excited that we get to see her take this big step in the first American film with an all-Asian lead cast in 25 years.


Denzel Washington

(Photo by Glen Wilson; ©2017 CTMG, Inc.)

Denzel Washington has never done a sequel. Ever. So we sat up and paid attention when it was announced he would return for Equalizer 2, from his frequent collaborator, director Antoine Fuqua. The first flick is just Fresh at 60%, but for fans of the actor, it will always be Certified Fresh in their hearts (no surprises that it has an Audience Score of 76%). The movie also made a healthy $102 million at the box office, so you can expect decent returns. Denzel in controlled and terrifying revenge mode might be our favorite Denzel. On a sidenote, Denzel’s son, John David Washington, is likely to be a breakout star this summer with a starring role in Spike Lee’s BlackKlansman, which just bowed in Cannes to raves and sits at 97% on the Tomatometer.


Tessa Thompson

(Photo by Annapurna Pictures)

Disappointed that Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie did not show up in Infinity War? Dry your eyes: The actress can be seen virtually everywhere else. She’s back on HBO in Westworld and does a cameo in season 2 of Netflix series Dear White People (a nod to her leading role in the original 2014 film) — both Certified Fresh. And you can see her online in the “emotion film” accompaniment to Janelle Monáe’s latest album, Dirty Computer. And, if you wanna go there, you can see her on the excellent Twitter handle @tessaasgoats. Thompson will also be back in theaters this July in the big-screen mindf—k that is Sorry to Bother You (currently 92% on the Tomatometer), about a telemarketer who discovers a unique key to doing well at the job. Thompson plays Detroit, a whirlwind of an activist with pink hair and huge laser-cut earrings whose style we expect to be widely imitated when the film opens, and is being singled out by critics for her performance in the movie opposite Atlanta‘s LaKeith Stanfield. Later in the year she will land another 2018 K.O., returning in Creed 2.


Chris Pratt

(Photo by Elizabeth Goodenough/Everett Collection)

Whether or not you agree that Star-Lord is responsible for the death of half the universe — or restoring perfect balance, depending on your POV — you have to admit it was a blast watching him doing it. Chris Pratt, as Peter Quill, was one of the highlights in Infinity War, particularly when facing off (and voicing off) with the God of Thunder. The actor is back in June as another quip-happy hero in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, seeking out his lovable raptor buddy Blue (not so lovable any more) and running away from exploding volcanoes and such. For sheer being-at-the-center-of-really-really-big-franchises, it’s hard not to give Pratt a laurel for his summer-ownership skills. And speaking of mega franchises, he will reprise his role as blocky everyman Emmet Brickowski in The Lego Movie Sequel next February.

Cameron Diaz
From the moment she made Jim Carrey’s eyes pop out of his skull in The Mask, it was clear Cameron Diaz was a star in the making — and she immediately started making good on that promise, building a diverse filmography that boasts an impressive number of box office hits. Along the way, Cameron has also accumulated a fair bit of critical acclaim — and since she’s returning to theaters this week with Jason Segel in director Jake Kasdan’s Sex Tape, we thought it was high time to take a look back at some of her proudest moments. That’s right, film fans — it’s time to Total Recall!



Matt Atchity breaks down this week’s list.


10. The Last Supper

Witty equal-opportunity political humor has become something of a lost art on the big screen over the last decade or so, but thing’s weren’t always this way. For proof, simply look to 1995’s The Last Supper, an ensemble indie comedy about a group of young liberals (including Cameron Diaz, Ron Eldard, and Annabeth Gish) who begin poisoning conservative dinner guests as part of a misguided campaign to save the world. While the murder victims aren’t terribly sympathetic, their murderers aren’t especially likable either — so by the time they cross paths with a Limbaugh-esque conservative pundit (played by Ron Perlman), loyalties to either ideological extreme have been tested. “In today’s divisive political climate, where compromise is a dirty word,” observed Leslie Rigoulot of Film Scouts, “The Last Supper raises not only timely questions but moral dilemmas as well.”


69%

9. Charlie’s Angels

Charlie’s Angels was one of the most popular television series of the 1970s, thanks in no small part to its genius lowbrow blend of runway-ready jiggle and consequence-free violence — so when Drew Barrymore set about producing a big-screen adaptation of the show, she wisely included heaping helpings of both ingredients, enlisting Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz to join her for 98 minutes of skin-tight blockbuster action. As the Ph.D.-sporting test pilot/model/P.I. Natalie Cook, Diaz was able to give a kung fu twist to the bubbly, air-headed persona that Hollywood has foisted on blondes for generations, mixing tongue-in-cheek cheesecake with glossy action set pieces — and as it had in the 1970s, this proved a thoroughly successful combination, blasting through almost $265 million at the box office and impressing critics such as Kirk Honeycutt of the Hollywood Reporter, who wrote, “The good-natured humor of its three stars, who appear to be having a gas playing these ridiculous figures, goes a long way in overcoming the bad jokes and even worse plot twists.”


8. My Best Friend’s Wedding

In the years immediately following The Mask, Cameron Diaz tended to appear in movies that either didn’t live up to expectations (Feeling Minnesota, She’s the One) or vanished without a trace (Head Above Water, Keys to Tulsa). Her luck changed, however, with My Best Friend’s Wedding, a romantic comedy which put Dermot Mulroney in the middle of a romantic tug-of-war between his longtime restaurant critic pal (played by Julia Roberts) and his 20-year-old fiancee (played by Diaz, natch). Nothing groundbreaking, obviously, but Wedding gave Diaz a chance to show off her gift for goofy comedy after a few darker films — and its $299 million gross didn’t hurt her bankability, either. Unusually for a romantic comedy, it was also praised by many critics, among them the Globe and Mail’s Rick Groen, who wrote, “Every once in a long while, along comes a refreshing change like My Best Friend’s Wedding, a movie whose appeal rests largely on its knack for defying our expectations by riffing off, even undermining, a familiar genre.”


7. In Her Shoes

Author Jennifer Weiner has been lumped into the “chick lit” subgenre, but you can say this much for her second novel, 2002’s In Her Shoes: It translates well to the screen. Directed by Curtis Hanson and led by a cast that included Diaz, Toni Collette, and Shirley MacLaine, Shoes follows the tale of two sisters: Dowdy lawyer Rose (Collette) and flighty, unemployed Maggie (Diaz). Thrown out by the sisters’ stepmother, Maggie moves into Rose’s apartment, where she quickly demonstrates that she hasn’t changed any of the thoughtless behavior that drove a wedge between them, and leaves Rose little choice but to send her packing. Maggie flees to Florida, where she hunts down their estranged grandmother in search of some easy money…and ends up learning a thing or two about herself in the process. Yes, it’s sort of a hackneyed storyline arc with plenty of familiar ingredients, but Susannah Grant’s screenplay reflects the empathy Weiner has for her characters — and Hanson knows how to get the most from his actors. For Diaz, Shoes represented an opportunity to show a breadth and depth uncommon to many mainstream “women’s movies.” As Tom Long wrote for the Detroit News, “It’s a chick flick for non-chicks too, one of those movies that makes you laugh and cry and leaves you feeling satisfied and drained and vaguely embarrassed for having such a good time.”


6. Gangs of New York

When Martin Scorsese decided to dramatize the violent political struggles that took place in 19th century New York, he didn’t skimp on his cast, hiring Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, John C. Reilly, and Liam Neeson to bring his vision to life. Pretty terrific company for Diaz, who co-starred as Jenny Everdeane, the morally ambiguous con artist whose beauty adds a hormonal component to the long tug-of-war between Amsterdam Vallon (DiCaprio), Bill “The Butcher” Cutting (Day-Lewis), and Johnny Sirocco (Henry Thomas). While not the most substantial role, playing Jenny gave Diaz the opportunity to act alongside some of the biggest names in the business — and earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress in the bargain. One of the biggest award-winners of the year, Gangs of New York enjoyed praise from critics like the New York Post’s Jonathan Foreman, who wrote, “It vividly and energetically evokes a fascinating time and place that has never before been the subject of film, and presents a powerful if imperfectly coherent vision of urban politics at their most primal.”


79%

5. The Mask

It wasn’t the largest or most demanding role — in fact, if things had worked out a little differently, it could have doomed her to a career of playing blowsy dames in tight dresses — but Cameron Diaz could hardly have asked for a more memorable introduction to audiences than the part of Tina Carlyle, the vivacious gangster’s moll whose appearance reduced Jim Carrey (and not a few filmgoers) to a leering Tex Avery cartoon. Diaz was so new to acting that she didn’t even start taking lessons until after she was cast in The Mask, but she took to the discipline quickly, and spent the next few years working her way through roles in smaller films that didn’t have the same big-budget sparkle (or co-stars as marquee-hogging as Carrey) as she honed her craft. She quickly developed some star power of her own, and ceased being an afterthought for critics like the Washington Post’s Joe Brown, who wrote, “Even without the state-of-the-art, boundary-busting computerized effects from Industrial Light & Magic, Carrey’s a human cartoon, and his spontaneous, Avery-esque, anything-for-a-laugh outrageousness makes this otherwise blank Mask a must-see.”


83%

4. There’s Something About Mary

Filmgoers were already familiar with Cameron Diaz in 1998, but There’s Something About Mary still counts as her true cinematic coming out party — it was this $369 million smash hit, after all, that proved Diaz had sharp enough comic timing to hold her own against Ben Stiller and Chris Elliott — and that her brilliant smile could help make even the filthiest gags seem almost wholesome. Though it was ostensibly Stiller’s movie, it was Diaz who made us believe that there really was something about Mary — something that would make her senior prom date (played by Stiller) hunt her down years after the painful zipper incident that cost them their big night out, and drive the other men in her life to contemplate leaving their wives, duck out on the Green Bay Packers, or even adopt entire fake personalities. And along the way she carried the most notorious hair gel joke in the history of modern man, helping send an unapologetically lowbrow comedy all the way up to 83 percent on the Tomatometer. What was Mary‘s appeal for ordinarily stuffy critic types? In the words of Roger Ebert, “What a blessed relief is laughter.”


88%

3. Shrek

Cartoons and fairy tales have gone together for decades, leaving DreamWorks with plenty of rich tradition to spoof with their inaugural adaptation of William Steig’s popular book about the misadventures of a hideous ogre (voiced by Mike Myers). In fact, the studio added a few elements not present in the book, such as Shrek‘s ceaseless, quick-fire pop culture references, a number of satirical, fairy tale-derived characters, and a Smash Mouth song on the soundtrack. Also new and improved: The storyline arc for Cameron Diaz’s character, Princess Fiona, who went from an ordinary ogress to the unwilling, secretly cursed royal fiancee of the loathsome Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow), and picked up a few action hero moves in the process. While it wasn’t strictly faithful to the source material, Shrek was lots of fun for critics and audiences alike; it grossed nearly $485 million worldwide, nabbed the first Best Animated Feature Academy Award, and earned the admiration of scribes such as the New York Observer’s Andrew Sarris, who applauded, “What gives Shrek its special artistic distinction is its witty and knowingly sassy dialogue, delivered by vocally charismatic performers whose voices remind us of their stellar screen personae in live-action movies.”


89%

2. Shrek 2

Three years after Shrek broke the bank for DreamWorks, Cameron Diaz helped prove with Shrek 2 that one good turn as an animated ogre deserves another. After Shrek‘s success, everyone knew a sequel was inevitable, and its May release virtually guaranteed summer blockbuster status; what nobody knew, though, is that critics would like the second Shrek almost as much as the first. Following the rule of sequels, Shrek 2 surrounded the titular ogre (again voiced by Mike Myers) and Princess Fiona (Diaz) with an array of new characters, including the suave Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) — but what sets it apart from other follow-ups is the depth and intelligence of its storyline, which sends Shrek and Fiona to the kingdom of Far Far Away, where they’re summoned to meet Fiona’s human parents (voiced by John Cleese and Julie Andrews), who are horrified that their daughter has taken so thoroughly to the ogre lifestyle. This sets in motion a plot involving Fiona’s fairy godmother (Jennifer Saunders) and her son, Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) — as well as a lot of unexpectedly poignant commentary on love and marriage, moving Salon’s Stephanie Zacharek to ask, “Is it going too far out on a beanstalk to say that Shrek 2 is one of the most mature movies about adult relationships ever made?”


1. Being John Malkovich

She’s been in a number of comedies and dramas, with a dash of action and sci-fi thrown in for good measure, but Being John Malkovich stands alone in Cameron Diaz’s filmography. Then again, it’s safe to say Malkovich is pretty much the only movie of its kind, ever — a dramedy about a miserable puppeteer (John Cusack) whose discovery of a magical portal into the mind of John Malkovich throws his life into turmoil. As Cusack’s wife, the equally unhappy Lotte, Diaz played completely against type, burying her glamor under a frizzy mop of brown hair and following the script into a thoroughly twisted love affair-by-proxy with Catherine Keener — and she was rewarded handsomely for her efforts, picking up a stack of Best Supporting Actress nominations from BAFTA, the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, and other organizations. Malkovich wasn’t a huge success at the box office, but it’s acquired a cult over time, and critics certainly appreciated the opportunity to witness art and entertainment intersecting at the cineplex. “Being John Malkovich is more than just the latest cool, smart, funny movie,” wrote Jay Carr for the Boston Globe. “It jumps off the screen with the kind of freshness, originality, and light-handed stranglehold on the Zeitgeist that moves movies forward.”


In case you were wondering, here are Diaz’s top 10 movies according RT users’ scores:

1. Shrek — 90%
2. Being John Malkovich — 87%
3. Gangs of New York — 81%
4. The Holiday — 80%
5. My Best Friend’s Wedding — 74%
6. Any Given Sunday — 74%
7. My Sister’s Keeper — 73%
8. Vanilla Sky — 73%
9. The Last Supper — 70%
10. Shrek 2 — 69%


Take a look through Diaz’s complete filmography, as well as the rest of our Total Recall archives. And don’t forget to check out the reviews for Sex Tape.

Finally, here’s Diaz putting in a plug for Coke:

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

Movie studios are offering something for every age group over the Columbus Day holiday weekend. Mature adults will go undercover with Martin Scorsese‘s cop thriller "The Departed," twentysomethings looking for a scare get the horror prequel "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning," while teenagers have a chance to laugh with the new comedy "Employee of the Month."

Meanwhile, last weekend’s number one film – the animated comedy "Open Season" – will continue to play to young children during a frame when a large percentage of students will have no class on Monday. The top ten will try to crack the $100M mark for the first time in nearly two months thanks to the variety of good product.

Ranking dead last among Hollywood’s big six studios in year-to-date market share, Warner Bros. has a lot of catching up to do in the fourth quarter if it wants to prevent snapping its five-year streak of billion-dollar-plus box office years. So this weekend, it hands the ball off to Scorsese who delivers what critics are calling one of his best films ever with "The Departed." The R-rated picture stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin, and Martin Sheen. Overflowing with starpower, the Boston-set film is an American remake of the award-winning Hong Kong blockbuster "Infernal Affairs" which finds an Irish cop going undercover into the underworld and a mob mole infiltrating the police department.

After rejecting a seemingly endless line of period dramas including "Hollywoodland," "The Black Dahlia," "Flyboys," and "All the King’s Men," adult audiences should be ready to throw its support behind a modern-day action thriller juiced up with major stars worth paying top dollar for. If the cast isn’t enough to seal the deal, glowing reviews from critics across the board should have a big impact on driving in traffic. In fact, reviews are among the best of any wide release hitting theaters this year. DiCaprio and Damon appeal to a wide age group so expect strong numbers from young adults. And Jack is that rare star who can flirt with age 70 but still be relevant to the iPod generation. With $100M blockbusters in each of the last four decades, the Oscar-winner is a perennial favorite and his films are
events.

Warner Bros. has backed "The Departed" with a solid marketing campaign which is effectively exciting ticket buyers. No R-rated film has hit the $30M mark on opening weekend in nearly a year so that could once again be the ceiling on this film’s short-term potential. Appeal to both men and women is substantial, although as is typical at this time of year, business from males may be affected by football and the baseball playoffs. But word-of-mouth is likely to be very positive so look for the pic to remain a contender for weeks to come. With a colossal amount of starpower, sensational reviews, and a Monday holiday helping Sunday night sales,
the Leo vs. Matt flick should be able to generate plenty of excitement with audiences this weekend. "The Departed" opens in 3,017 theaters on Friday and could gross about $27M over the frame.

Leo DiCaprio, ‘lending a hand’ in Martin Scorsese’s "The Departed."

Moviegoers that don’t get starstruck, but instead want some gore and violence in their weekend entertainment, can opt for "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning." The prequel to the 2003 remake of the 1974 horror classic is an R-rated tale with Jordana Brewster ("The Fast and the Furious", "Annapolis") as its only star. Horror remakes usually do not rely on stars anyway, but on the brand name of a popular terrorfest. Budgets are relatively low with most of the money going towards production values rather than talent. Three years ago, the previous "Massacre" posted powerful numbers bowing to $28.1M in mid-October on its way to a brutal $80.1M. It opened the door to many other moneymaking remake hits like "Dawn of the Dead," "The Amityville Horror," and "The Omen" which each went on to gross over $50M.

"Beginning" will play to hardcore genre fans that are older teens and young adults. But look for some older horror aficionados to take a curious peek too. The marketplace is primed and ready for its arrival as there has not been a major horror hit since June’s "Omen" pic hit cinemas. Add in the fact that Halloween is around the corner prompting audience demand for the genre to rise and a large turnout should be expected. Excitement does not seem to be reaching the same height that this installment’s predecessor had, so an opening in the high 20s may not result. Plus Leo, Matt, and even bad boy Jack will be drawing away many twentysomethings this weekend. Buzzing through victims in over 2,800 theaters, "The Texas Chainsaw Massace: The Beginning" could scare up around $19M this weekend.

More teens in trouble in the latest "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" film.

The classic love triangle storyline is set in a Walmart-like super store in the new Lionsgate comedy "Employee of the Month." The PG-13 pic stars Dane Cook and Dax Shepard as co-workers competing for the attention of the hot new sales clerk, played by Jessica Simpson, who only dates those who win the coveted employee prize. The comedy should play to a teen and young adult audience and with the weekend’s other new films being R flicks, Month could score some points with the under-17 crowd. Teenage girls have especially been neglected this fall. Why would they care about 1940s murder mysteries, moronic stunt films, or Sean Penn as a flamboyant politician? Two hunky young dudes fighting over the former Daisy Duke could make for the most interesting film to grab their attention since "Step Up."

Still, "Employee of the Month" will have its work cut out for it. Many older teens and young adults will be drawn away by "Departed" and "Chainsaw" and Ashton Kutcher fans are still checking out "The Guardian." Starpower is not too high, but teenagers in need of a laugh will not have many other options. Opening in 2,579 theaters, "Employee of the Month" could debut with around $10M.

Dane Cook, in his first leading role in "Employee of the Month."

Sony’s animated comedy "Open Season" enjoyed a healthy start to its run last weekend and will face no new competition during the sophomore frame. Plus with the Columbus Day school holiday, the Martin Lawrence – Ashton Kutcher toon should remain a popular (and only) option for young children. A 30% drop would give "Season" about $16M over the weekend and a sturdy ten-day cume of $46M.

Buena Vista’s Coast Guard adventure "The Guardian" did moderately well in its debut last weekend, but adult audiences will be pulled away by the starpower of "The Departed" this weekend. The studio has been reporting strong exit polls so word-of-mouth could prevent a large falloff. A 40% decline would give "Guardian" about $11M for the weekend and $34M in ten days.

"Jackass: Number Two" will face some stiff competition from the weekend’s two new R-rated films so a 45% drop could be in order. That would leave the Paramount hit with $8M and an impressive 17-day total of $64M allowing the comedy sequel to surpass the gross of the 2002 original in under three weeks.

LAST YEAR: New films invaded the box office over the Columbus Day frame taking four of the top five slots. Leading the way was the acclaimed claymation pic "Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" with a $16M debut. The DreamWorks film enjoyed good legs and ended up with $56.1M domestically plus the Oscar for Best Animated Film. Jodie Foster‘s two-time chart-topper "Flightplan" held up well in its third weekend grossing $10.8M for Buena Vista. Cameron Diaz opened her new comedy "In Her Shoes" in third place with $10M on its way to $32.9M for Fox. Universal followed with the sports betting film "Two For the Money" with a $8.7M bow and Sony opened its drama "The Gospel" in fifth with $7.5M. Final grosses reached $22.9M and $15.8M, respectively. Lions Gate saw its new comedy "Waiting" launch in seventh place with just $6M leading to a $16.1M final. Opening with strong results in limited release were the acclaimed dramas "Good Night, and Good Luck" and "The Squid and the Whale" which both earned rave reviews and kudos during awards season. Their domestic grosses reached $31.6M and $7.4M, respectively.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

It’s tough to keep up with all the critics’ awards being tossed out this time of year, but Movie City News sure helps out a whole lot. This time we have the year-end picks from critic’s groups in Phoenix, Arizona, and Toronto, Ontario.

Phoenix Film Critics Awards

Best Picture
Cinderella Man

Best Director

George ClooneyGood Night and Good Luck

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Heath LedgerBrokeback Mountain

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Felicity HuffmanTransamerica

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Jake Gyllenhaal – Brokeback Mountain

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Michelle Williams – Brokeback Mountain

Best Ensemble Acting
Crash

Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Crash

Best Screenplay Adapted from Another Medium

Brokeback Mountain

Best Live Action Family Film
Millions

Overlooked Film of the Year
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Best Animated Film
Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Best Foreign Language Film

Kung Fu Hustle

Best Documentary
March of the Penguins

Best Original Song

Travelin’ Thru – Transamerica

Best Score
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Best Use of Previously Published or Recorded Music

Walk the Line

Best Cinematography
Brokeback Mountain

Best Film Editing
Sin City

Best Production Design
King Kong

Best Costume Design
Memoirs of a Geisha

Best Visual Effects
King Kong

Best Stunts
Batman Begins

Best Makeup
Sin City

Breakout Performance of the Year – On Screen
Terrence HowardHustle & Flow

Breakout Performance of the Year – Behind the Camera

Paul Haggis – Crash

Best Performance by a Youth in a Lead or Supporting Role – Male

Freddie Highmore – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Best Performance by a Youth in a Lead or Supporting Role – Female

Georgie HenleyThe Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

Best Trailer
King Kong

Top Ten Films of 2005
A History of Violence
Brokeback Mountain
Capote
Cinderella Man
Crash
Good Night and Good Luck
In Her Shoes
King Kong
Sin City
Walk the Line

Toronto Film Critics Awards

Best Picture
A History of Violence

Best Director
David Cronenberg, A History of Violence

Best Actor
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote

Best Actress
Laura Linney, The Squid & the Whale

Best Supporting Actor
Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man

Best Supporting Actress
Catherine Keener, Capote

Best Screenplay
Noah Baumbach, The Squid & the Whale

Best Animated Film
Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-rabbit

Best Foreign Language
The World

Best Documentary

Grizzly Man

Best First Feature
Bennett Miller, Capote

It was news-gossiped about just a few days ago, but Empire Online was able to get the word straight from Guillermo del Toro‘s mouth: He has been in talks to direct the movie version of "Halo," but it seems that his "Hellboy 2" might manage to cause some scheduling problems.

"On the one hand, he is raring to go on "Hellboy 2," the sequel to last year’s cracking comic book adaptation, starring Ron Perlman as the red-skinned, demonic, wisecracking paranormal investigator.

The original made just under $100 million worldwide, but has done very well on DVD, prompting Sony Revolution to allow him and producers Lloyd Levin and Larry Gordon to develop a sequel. “It’s going really good,” says del Toro, who’s completed a script. “It’s about the fairy world and the mythical creatures all rebelling against humanity and saying it’s the end of mankind and it’s the season for the sons of the Earth. And basically Hellboy has to try to repress or suppress that rebellion.”

Sounds good. Perlman and the rest of the original cast – including Selma Blair, Doug Jones, David Hyde-Pierce and Rupert Evans – are all coming back, while Hellboy creator Mike Mignola is also on board. “He should be reading the screenplay right now,” laughed Guillermo.

But – and it’s a big but – Hellboy 2 is still awaiting the big greenlight, before filming can take place (partially in the UK, fact fans). “We’re budgeting,” said del Toro. “I’m very much looking forward to it. I wanna do it. It’s still on the front burner, but it’s all about budget.”

On the back burner, but very much in Guillermo’s thinking, is Halo, a game that, with its fully realised alien worlds and bizarre creatures, is after del Toro’s own heart.

“Well, Halo is very much an interesting project because it’s so full of monsters,” he said. “It’s a big temptation. I’m in talks with them [Universal and Bungie Films] and (producer) Peter (Jackson), but it’s not true that it’s on and Hellboy’s off. Hellboy’s on. If everything goes as planned, Hellboy will go.”

An avid gamer, del Toro has been a big fan of Halo for some time. “Most of the time games don’t have an universe or creatures that interest me enough. And this one does. Master Chief [Halo’s mysterious hero] is such an iconic character and it’s very much a sort of a good version of [Hellboy villain] Kroenen.”"

For more of Mr. del Toro’s thoughts on "Halo" and "Hellboy 2," check out the interview over at Empire Online.

The third horror remake to hit the screens this year, Rupert Wainwright‘s "The Fog," beat down a pair of other newcomers to grab the top spot in a rather flimsy box office weekend. Remake of a well-remembered John Carpenter flick of the same name, "The Fog" grossed $12.2 in its opening frame, handily overtaking new movies by Cameron Crowe and Tony Scott.

Holding on in second place was DreamWorks’ "Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit," which snagged $11.7 million, while Mr. Crowe’s romantic comedy "Elizabethtown" netted about $11 million.

Fourth place went to the hangin’ around airplane thriller "Flightplan," which added another $6.5 to its total tally, and Curtis Hanson‘s "In Her Shoes" rounded out the top 5 with a haul of $6.1 million.

The Tony Scott / Keira Knightley collaboration "Domino" debuted in 6th place by pulling in only $4.7 million.

Next week sees the release of four new movies: the videogame adaptation of "Doom," the family-friendly horse flick "Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story," the sexual harrassment drama "North Country," and the Ewan McGregor psycho-thriller "Stay."

As always, you’re invited to stop by the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office page for a closer look at the numbers.

DreamWorks’ clay-mated "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" snagged the #1 spot at the weekend box office with a decent haul of $16.1 million from over 3,600 theaters, handily bumping Jodie Foster‘s "Flightplan" (and its third weekend tally of $10.8 million) into second place.

Curtis Hanson‘s female-oriented "In Her Shoes" debuted on over 3,500 screens and pulled in an estimated $10 million. The rest of the top 5 was populated by a pair of newcomers: The Al Pacino / Matthew McConaughey gambling drama "Two for the Money" made $8.4 million from just under 2,400 theaters, while Screen Gems’ "The Gospel" proved more popular than expected. That film did about $8 million from only 970 theaters.

Also debuting last Friday was Lions Gate’s restaurant comedy "Waiting," which grossed about $5.7 million from just under 1,700 theaters.

"Browncoats" who were hoping for a resurgent second weekend from Joss Whedon‘s "Serenity" may end up feeling a little disappointed. The well-reviewed sci-fi flick dropped 51% from its first weekend, and made about $4.9 million in its sophomore frame. "Serenity" has a total tally of $17.6 so far.

Next week sees the release of Cameron Crowe‘s romantic / dramatic comedy "Elizabethtown," Columbia’s remake of John Carpenter‘s "The Fog," and Keira Knightley as a model turned bounty hunter in "Domino."

For a closer look at the weekend numbers, take a stop by the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office page.

This week at the movies brings us stories of camaraderie. We have a man and his dog ("Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit"), sisters ("In Her Shoes"), disgruntled restaurant employees ("Waiting…"), and men who bond over gambling ("Two for the Money"). Which of these films will get some love from the critics?

Is Wallace and Gromit the funniest duo in animation history? The critics say their feature film debut, "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit," is powerful evidence for that claim. The quirky, cheese-loving inventor and his remarkably sentient and competent canine companion became popular in their Oscar-winning shorts, but critics say this film is something else altogether: funny, wild, eccentric, but also touching. At 95 percent on the Tomatometer, this "Curse" is a blessing. Or, more to the point, it’s the best-reviewed wide release of the year so far. Director Nick Park is batting a thousand; his first feature, "Chicken Run," was another runaway critical success, scoring 97 percent on the Tomatometer.

Sometimes you look at siblings and wonder how they could possibly be related. "In Her Shoes" tells the story of two sisters who are polar opposites except for their shoe size; it also describes Curtis Hanson‘s involvement in the film, as his last was "8 Mile." But the critics say it’s a good fit. The performances by Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette, and (especially) Shirley MacLaine help elevate what could seem clichéd into a warm and involving drama. At 69 percent on the Tomatometer, "In Her Shoes" is a good fit.

Gross-out comedy is tricky business. If you cross the line, a movie can just end up being disgusting. The critics say that’s just one of the problems with "Waiting…," a film that covers similar ground as "Office Space" and "Clerks," but with a greater focus on gags than people. Ryan Reynolds stars as a deeply jaded chain restaurant employee dedicated to high jinks, not customer service. Many of the pranks can’t be described in family newspapers, and the scribes say that’s the problem, they’re too over-the-top to be funny. At 25 percent on the Tomatometer, critics say you’ll be "Waiting" for laughs.

Al Pacino stars as the head of a sports betting agency, with Matthew McConaughey as a once-promising quarterback with an almost preternatural ability to pick winners in "Two for the Money." While the scribes say Pacino is his usual high-strung, compelling self, the rest of the movie is something of a fumble. Like a prima donna wide receiver who never makes the big play, this one’s a bit more flash than substance. At 15 percent on the Tomatometer, the critics say "Two for the Money" is a losing bet. But Pacino should be fine; his combined Tomatometer is at 71 percent.

Recent DreamWorks Animated Films
———————————————-
54% — Madagascar (2005)
35% — Shark Tale (2004)
89% — Shrek 2 (2004)
88% — Shrek (2001)
97% — Chicken Run (2000)

For the second weekend in a row, Jodie Foster‘s air-thriller "Flightplan" was #1 at the North American box office. The Disney flick made an estimated $15 million in its sophomore session, and its grand total now stands at $46.1 million. Debuting in second place, with a not-awful but coulda-(shoulda)-been-better tally of $10.1 was Joss Whedon‘s "Serenity."

The sci-fi western swooped into 2,200 screens, thrilled the "Firefly" fans … and caught the eye of practically nobody else. With strong reviews and positive water-cooler banter, the flick could see an improvement, but hey … the thing cost $40 million and it made a quarter of that in three days, so you Whedonites can take your heads out of the oven.

Tim Burton
‘s "Corpse Bride" dropped to third place with a haul of $9.7 million, which boosts the film’s total to just under $33 million. Expanding from 14 theaters to 1,340 (and reaping some solid rewards for it) was David Cronenberg‘s "A History of Violence," which made 4th place with a total of $8.2 million, while the top 5 was rounded out by the feature-length Noxzema commercial known as "Into the Blue," which made only $7 million from just under 2,800 screens.

Next week sees the release of a rather eclectic collection of new releases: Nick Park‘s eagerly anticipated "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" opens on Wednesday in NY & LA, before hitting wide on Friday, and the clay-mated kooks will have some competition from Curtis Hanson‘s lady-centric "In Her Shoes," the Al Pacino sports-book drama "Two for the Money," and Lions Gate’s raunchy restaurant romp "Waiting."

For a closer look at the weekend estimates, feel free to get comfy at the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office page.

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