This week at the moves, we’ve got America’s favorite family in their long-awaited big-screen debut (The Simpsons Movie); a tale of two chefs (No Reservations, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart); a rumble in the jungle (Rescue Dawn, starring Christian Bale), a kidnapping mystery (I Know Who Killed Me, starring Lindsay Lohan); and wacky golf gags (Who’s Your Caddy? Starring Lil Wayne and Big Boi). What do the critics have to say?
The wait is finally over: The Simpsons have migrated from the confines of television to the silver (or is that yellow?) screen. The result? Well, maybe not the “best…. movie… ever,” but pundits say it’s still pretty exxxxx-cellent. Homer, responsible for an eco-disaster, piles Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie into the car and leaves Springfield for Alaska (you were expecting Capital City?). Ah, but who cares about the plot? The critics say The Simpsons Movie is essentially an extra-long episode of the show, but one that contains plenty of the S-M-R-T jokes, killer slapstick, and poignancy that fans have come to expect. At 84 percent on the Tomatometer, The Simpsons Movie is Certified Fresh. Release the hounds.
Recent Catherine Zeta-Jones Movies:
26% — The Legend of Zorro (2005)
55% — Ocean’s Twelve (2004)
61% — The Terminal (2004)
71% — Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
46% — Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003)
Recent Werner Herzog Movies:
66% — The Wild Blue Yonder: A Science Fiction Fantasy (2006)
94% — The White Diamond (2005)
94% — Wheel of Time (2005)
93% — Grizzly Man (2005)
53% — Invincible (2002)
The producing / screenwriting team of Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci haven’t been in Hollywood all that long, but already they’ve brought some pretty flashy product to the screen. After starting out on TV ("Hercules" and "Alias" mainly), the duo broke in with "The Island," "The Legend of Zorro," and "Mission: Impossible 3." Their next flick is a little something called "Transformers," and once the dust settles there, they’ll be finishing up their screenplay for J.J. Abrams‘ "Star Trek" prequel.
But what the movie studios care about the most is this: How do you please the loyal fans … while also offering up a movie that’ll be tasty to complete newcomers? In a recent New York Times article, "Lost" creator Damon Lindelof had this to say about the duo: "They can have a tremendous amount of respect for the source material, but they know that a studio is bringing them in because they can make it understandable to an audience that has no comprehension of that source material whatsoever."
As far as the new "Star Trek" movie goes, the Kurtzman / Orci team seems to strike a nice balance: One of ’em is a die-hard and lifelong Trekkie, while the other one … sorta gave up around "Star Trek 5." Should make for an interesting project. We’ll find out at the end of 2008.
Apparently the plot WILL revolve around the younger versions of James T. Kirk and his pal Spock as they become friends at Starfleet Academy and head off on an adventure together. One can only assume that the rest of the "Trek" crew will also appear as younger folks.
So the deal is finally sealed; Abrams will be at the (younger) Enterprise helm, and I do believe he’ll be working from a screenplay by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the guys who penned "The Island," "The Legend of Zorro," "Mission Impossible 3," and the upcoming "Transformers."
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
A pair of new family films aimed at kids will duke it out for the top spot this weekend while a bumbling reporter from the former Soviet Union will cause a commotion for a more adult crowd.
Disney unleashes "The Santa Clause 3," Paramount counters with its own kidpic "Flushed Away," and Fox lets loose its outrageous comedy "Borat." Together, the three new releases should provide some zing to the North American box office.
Kris Kringle takes on Jack Frost in Disney’s latest family pic "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause" which the studio hopes will win the weekend’s battle of the kidpics. With a tame G rating, the Tim Allen film finds the former "Home Improvement" star trying to get back to his winning ways at the box office with a new chapter of his most successful franchise. Martin Short joins the cast as Frost. Allen crapped out at the multiplexes this past summer when his kidpic "Zoom" crashed and burned with only $4.5M on opening weekend. He needs to prove that he can still sell tickets.
The studio has had great luck with its "Santa Clause" franchise and its launching pad of early November. The first film in 1994 bowed to $19.3M on its way to $144.8M while the 2002 sequel opened to $29M heading to a $139.2M final. The gimmick just isn’t as interesting anymore. However, this time of year is typically active for the family audience and there could be room for both new pics to find their audiences. Still many of the same people will be torn between the two and will not have time to see both. Disney and Paramount would have been wise to open their films at least a week apart instead of on top of each other. Opening in more than 3,000 theaters, "The Santa Clause 3" could debut with about $22M.
Parents looking for another kind of battle this weekend can pick the claymation film "Flushed Away" which presents a pampered pet mouse against a slimey sewer rat having fun in each other’s world. The PG-rated film is produced by DreamWorks and released by its new parent Paramount. Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, and Kate Winslet provide their voices. "Flushed Away’s" biggest challenge, of course, will be from stiff competition from the opening of an established franchise film like "Clause 3." Reviews have been quite good so the studio is hoping that many adults will find "Flushed" to be the more original and entertaining choice and choose it instead. DreamWorks scored a $16M bow last fall for the critical darling "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" and could approach the same territory here. The marketing push for the new film has been stronger, but the competition will cancel out that added benefit. Opening in roughly 3,250 locations, "Flushed Away" might debut to about $16M.
Sacha Baron Cohen hits theaters on Friday in one of the season’s most-talked-about films, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan." Box office expectations are all over the map for Fox’s R-rated comedy and it’s anyone’s guess how it will play out as there is no real film in history it can be compared to. The studio has executed a brilliant marketing campaign over the past several months with teaser posters of the fake journalist sparking curiousity with those not familiar with the character from Britain’s "Da Ali G Show" which has also found a home in the U.S on HBO. The Toronto International Film Festival screening brought the buzz to a whole new level with its outrageous red carpet premiere, projector snafus, and overwhelmingly warm response. Publicity stunts this fall with Kazakh government officials also helped "Borat" leap from the entertainment page to the front page reaching an audience that would otherwise be tough to reach. Reviews have been glowing with many critics calling it the funniest film in years.
The studio is releasing "Borat" in moderate national release with 837 theaters hoping to keep the product limited in the beginning. Sell outs combined with the expected positive word-of-mouth should fuel even more excitement justifying an expansion next week. The "Ali G" crowd will be out in full force so strong business should result from young men. That means that the second weekend of "Saw III" will provide some tough competition. Reports indicate that awareness is not too high in the middle of the country, but that should not be the case with the college crowd. Young adults want bold envelope-pushing films to see like the "Jackass" pics and "Borat" will play to much of that crowd. But is this only a blue-state film? Some thought that would be the case for 2004’s "Fahrenheit 9/11" before it opened to a surprising first place finish with $23.9M from only 868 theaters.
"Borat’s" humor has the potential to go beyond the immature set and play to CNN-watching adults. Many will be offended and will never be converted. But a very strong average is assured this weekend and long-term success is likely too since there will be no other movie out there that comes close to resembling this picture. For the opening weekend, "Borat" might gross around $11M for an average north of $10,000.
"Saw III" should be the only holdover likely to still put a dent into the box office. Second weekend declines for the previous installments in the franchise were 39% for the first pic and 47% for last year’s "Saw II." Even with no competition for the horror crowd, a hefty drop should occur. Look for the third torture flick to get sliced in half which would give it around $17M for the frame and $61M in ten days.
LAST YEAR: Disney led the frame with its non-Pixar digital toon "Chicken Little" which debuted to a cool $40M. The animated film went on to gross $135.4M. Opening with strength in the runnerup spot was Universal’s war drama "Jarhead" with $27.7M on its way to $62.7M. "Saw II" dropped to third with $16.9M in its second weekend. Fourth place went to "The Legend of Zorro" with $10M while Meryl Streep‘s "Prime" rounded out the top five with $5.1M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Blood will flow and screams will be deafening at North American multiplexes this weekend when the horror sequel "Saw III" buzzes its way into theaters. While there will be no fight for the number one spot, the rest of the top ten will see new films and holdovers scrambling for high positions.
The political thriller "Catch a Fire" opens on Friday in moderate national release and the comedy "Running with Scissors" expands into major markets after an impressive debut in limited release last weekend. Meanwhile, star-driven pics "The Prestige" and "The Departed" will try to remain popular choices with adult moviegoers.
If it’s Halloween, it must be "Saw." That’s the tagline that Lionsgate hopes will keep horror fans coming back for a third helping of pain for the newest chapter in its highly profitable fright franchise, "Saw III." The R-rated film finds Jigsaw returning to terrorize another set of young people. Once again, the formula of no stars plus extreme brutality unleashing its fury on the weekend before the pumpkin holiday remains intact. Now a major player in the horror genre, Lionsgate opened its first "Saw" in 2004 to the tune of $18.3M and grew its audience over the following year, especially with DVD, to propel the sequel to a $31.7M bow. Over the last 15 months, no other R-rated film has opened better. Now, a marketplace without many exciting choices for the 17-30 age group will embrace a film, though familiar, that appeals to young adults.
This month has already seen a pair of horror franchise pics open weaker than their predecessors which bowed in mid-October of recent years. "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" debuted to $18.5M, down 34% from the $28.1M of 2003’s "Massacre," and "The Grudge 2" launched with $20.8M, a steep 47% less than the Gellar original. But "Saw III" is in a different situation. "Beginning" was a prequel three years later with not much new to offer while "Grudge 2" was no longer a star vehicle. "Saw III" promises more of what its fans want – brutality, gore, and torture – so it stands on almost equal footing when compared to the last installment. The fan base has probably not grown much in the last twelve months and some might even drop out thinking it’s just the same offering yet again. But with competing fright flicks fading fast, "Saw III" will basically be the only horror film in town for those getting ready for Halloween. Opening in over 3,000 theaters, "Saw III" might cut up around $30M.
Tim Robbins plays an elite South African leader and Derek Luke stars as an oppressed everyman in the apartheid drama "Catch a Fire." Directed by Phillip Noyce ("Patriot Games, "Clear and Present Danger"), the PG-13 political thriller tells the true story of a man captured and tortured by his government, only to become a radical freedom fighter for his people. Focus is likely to attract an audience similar to the one it saw last fall with another African-set political pic, "The Constant Gardener." The Ralph Fiennes–Rachel Weisz film boasted a similar level of starpower and screens when it bowed to $8.7M over three days from 1,346 locations for a solid $6,444 average.
Reviews for "Fire" have been generally positive, but it will not be an easy sell at the box office. Robbins is the top star here and his track record selling tickets is spotty when it comes to films where he is the solo anchor. Plus the marketplace is filled with pictures targeting mature adults like "The Departed," "The Prestige," and "Flags of Our Fathers" so a crowded field will make it tough for "Fire." Using the ‘based on a true story’ angle in the marketing is always a helpful thing and Focus will soon see how much mileage it can get from it. Attacking 1,305 locations, "Catch a Fire" might capture about $6M over the Friday-to-Sunday session.
Annette Bening‘s dysfunctional family pic "Running with Scissors" enjoyed a strong platform debut last weekend with a scorching $28,263 average from only six sites. This Friday, Sony hopes to build on its bow by expanding the R-rated film into 586 theaters across North America. Critics agree that "Scissors" is not the next "Little Miss Sunshine." Reviews have been unflattering which will limit the commercial potential of a film that will mostly play to upscale adult audiences. A weekend take of around $3M could result diluting the per-theater average down to the neighborhood of $5,000.
Arthouses continue to get more crowded with fall films hoping for critical buzz and possible awards attention. Paramount Vantage packs the most starpower with its Brad Pitt–Cate Blanchett drama "Babel" which took home Best Director honors at Cannes this year for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ("Amores Perros," "21 Grams"). The R-rated tale trots across the globe from Morocco to Mexico to Japan with four interweaving stories about people from around the world who have no idea how connected their lives are. "Babel" opens in just six locations in New York and Los Angeles, most of them major multiplexes, and expands nationally in November. Reviews have been solid.
With Election Day around the corner, President George W. Bush stars in two documentaries that will try to stir up some controversy in order to get audiences running to their local theater. Newmarket Films releases "Death of a President," a docudrama about the fictional assassination of Bush in October 2007 and its aftermath. The R-rated whodunit was one of the hottest films at the Toronto Film Festival last month and hopes to capitalize on its buzz when it invades over 100 theaters this Friday. Also trying to wage a Red State vs. Blue State rivalry is "Shut Up & Sing" which examines the hardships that The Dixie Chicks faced recording their new album after their public outcry against the current Commander-in-Chief. The Weinstein Company opens the film in New York and Los Angeles on Friday before expanding to much of the country on November 10.
Among holdovers, the period thriller "The Prestige" and the mob drama "The Departed" should remain popular contenders in the top five. "Saw III" should not detract from either pic too much and the frame’s other new films will not play wide enough to offer significant competition in the rankings. "Prestige" swiped the top spot last weekend and is well-liked by moviegoers. A 40% drop would give Buena Vista about $9M and a ten-day total of $28M. "The Departed" has been holding up superbly so another 30% dip would leave Warner Bros. with around $9.5M which could be good enough for a third consecutive weekend at number two. The cume would rise to $90M.
LAST YEAR: Doing what its predecessor couldn’t do, "Saw II" opened triumphantly at number one and grossed a sturdy $31.7M for Lionsgate on its way to $87M continuing its most popular horror franchise. Sony countered with its family friendly adventure sequel "The Legend of Zorro" which debuted in second place with a decent $16.3M. The pricey Antonio Banderas–Catherine Zeta-Jones pic went on to reach just $45.4M domestically. Meryl Streep and Uma Thurman quietly bowed in third with the comedy "Prime" which opened to $6.2M from less than 2,000 theaters. Universal found its way to a $22.8M final. The horse flick "Dreamer" held up well in its second jump taking in $6.1M while fellow kidpic "Wallace & Gromit" rounded out the top five with $4.3M in its fourth weekend. The fourth new wide release of the frame, Nicolas Cage‘s "The Weather Man," got rained out collecting a mere $4.2M leading to a wimpy $12.5M finish.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
This week at the movies, we explore the joys of dance ("Take the Lead"), mistaken identity ("Lucky Number Slevin"), our national pastime ("The Benchwarmers"), and the search for love ("Phat Girlz"). What do the critics say?
It’s a scenario Hollywood loves to ("Stand and") deliver: A tough-but-fair new teacher helps a ragtag bunch of teenage troublemakers learn to be better citizens and believe in themselves through a disciplined approach to basketball/martial arts/poetry/feng shui/tiddley winks, etc. Add ballroom dancing to the list. "Take the Lead" stars Antonio Banderas as a professional dancer whose old-school approach melds with the students’ hip-hop sensibilities. (If this sounds familiar, it’s because there was a documentary called "Mad Hot Ballroom" that told the same tale, albeit with elementary school kids, and uh, it was real.) Critics say the movie is fine, if a little shopworn; while the performances and dance numbers are stirring, we’ve kinda seen this one before. It’s currently at 45 percent on the Tomatometer.
From its inscrutable title to its labyrinthine plot, the scribes are pretty split on "Lucky Number Slevin." Is the screenplay smart? Yes, critics say. Too clever for its own good? Perhaps, they concede. Josh Hartnett stars as a regular dude who falls into a web of intrigue after a case of mistaken identity. The film has a stellar cast (Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis, Lucy Liu, Ben Kingsley) and a plot with more twists and turns than a marathon session of Chutes and Ladders. So, is "Lucky" any good? Depends on which critic you ask. At 55 percent on the Tomatometer, "Slevin" is either pulp heaven or an overplotted purgatory.
Like a utility infielder hitting well below the Mendoza line, "The Benchwarmers" probably deserves to ride the pine, since the scribes weren’t allowed to see it. And likewise, "Phat Girlz," which was also not screened for critics, is probably not all that, uh, phat. So kiddies, it’s time for our new national pastime: Guess the Tomatometer! The winner gets tickets to the World Series and a complete makeover. (Sorry, you only win props.)
Recent Antonio Banderas Movies:
26% — The Legend of Zorro (2005)
89% — Shrek 2 (2004)
44% — Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003)
68% — Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)
33% — Imagining Argentina (2003)
I think this might be the third or fourth trailer for Paramount’s "Mission: Impossible 3," but as long as the promo clips are this cool, well, I’ll keep on reporting ’em. Click here for the slickest trailer yet.
"M:I3" Bullet Points:
—J.J. Abrams is directing. You might know the guy because he created "Alias" and "Lost." If you don’t watch TV, you’ll know Abrams from his screenwriting work on "Joy Ride," "Armageddon," and … "Gone Fishin’."
–Flick looks to have a whole bunch of impressive action scenes.
–May 5th is when you can decide where "MI:3" stands in comparison to its predecessors.
Low budget horror film “Alone in the Dark” took home the industry’s biggest booby prize as Hollywood’s annual anti-Oscars, The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards, dished out awards in 24 competition categories. The dishonors came courtesy of the Los Angeles-based Bad Cinema Society, a panel of movie critics and film fans which annually awards Hollywood’s worst films and performances.
Though “Alone in the Dark” didn’t receive the most awards, it managed to beat the field in four major categories, including worst film of the year, worst director (Uwe Boll, who some critics and fans have likened to legendary bad movie maker Ed Wood), worst actress (Tara Reid), and worst special effects.
The top award winner for 2005, with five Stinkers, was “Son of the Mask,” New Line’s ill-conceived follow-up to the Jim Carrey mega-hit “The Mask.” The mind-numbing sequel, which was inexplicably still produced after Carrey refused to participate in the project, took honors for Worst Actor (Jamie Kennedy), Worst Sequel, and Worst Couple (Kennedy and anyone forced to co-star with him). The film was also named 2005’s foulest family film.
Jessica Simpson picked up three awards for her portrayal of Daisy Duke in the big screen remake of the TV series “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Her warbling of “These Boot Are Made For Walkin’” earned her a Stinker for worst song in a movie. She was also named worst supporting actress of the year and can lay claim to having sported the most annoying fake accent in a movie.
Media target Paris Hilton, who had a small role in the horror remake “House of Wax,” came away unscathed by the society. Mentioned as a worst supporting actress on other year-end lists, the hotel heiress did not make the final cut on the more selective Stinkers ballot. "To get on the Stinkers ballot you are judged on your performance, not your tabloid persona,” said Stinkers Bad Movie Awards co-founder Michael Lancaster. “Anyone that would put Paris Hilton on a list of the five worst supporting actresses in 2005 didn’t see a lot of movies in 2005."
The Stinkers ballot featured five worst film candidates that any other year would have been winners or at the very least runners-up in their own right. Proof positive that 2005 will go down as one of the worst film years on record. One category (worst song) had ten nominees, tying a Stinker record. “Hollywood just doesn’t seem to understand that what’s keeping paying customers away is the bad product they hype. You can’t just keep advertising that bad films are the funniest films of the year. Eventually the lies will catch up with you,” said Bad Cinema Society co-founder Ray Wright. He warned that 2006 was gearing up to be more of the same. “We’ve already had another film by Uwe Boll [BloodRayne] released and we will be all over ‘The Pink Panther.’”
With more than 50 sequels and remakes lined up for release in the next year, it’s safe to say that Hollywood has run out of ideas.” Added Lancaster, “I think the public has finally caught on to what we’ve been saying for years — that a lot of what Hollywood sells is not worth the price of an admission ticket. I love that people are avoiding some of these overhyped films like the plague.”
Lancaster and Wright say the film that earned the most Stinkers for 2005 (“Son of the Mask”) is a perfect example of a Hollywood system gone horribly wrong. “I can’t for the life of me imagine how this project got approved. I think the minute Jim Carrey passes on this you say, ‘let’s not make the sequel.’ Now I guess we can all see how New Line is spending their ‘Lord of the Rings’ profits,” said Lancaster.
The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards have been featured in Entertainment Weekly, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times, and on the BBC, CNN, as well as in a slew of regional and international newspapers and magazines. The group’s website has received nearly two million hits.
Complete list of winners and nominees for 2005:
Alone in the Dark
WORST SENSE OF DIRECTION (Stop them before they direct again!)
Uwe Boll (Alone in the Dark)
WORST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Jamie Kennedy (Son of the Mask)
WORST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Tara Reid (Alone in the Dark)
WORST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Jessica Simpson (The Dukes of Hazzard)
WORST SCREENPLAY FOR A FILM GROSSING MORE THAN $100 MILLION*
*using Hollywood math
MOST PAINFULLY UNFUNNY COMEDY
Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
WORST SONG OR SONG PERFORMANCE IN A FILM OR ITS END CREDITS
These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ (Jessica Simpson) (The Dukes of Hazzard)
MOST INTRUSIVE MUSICAL SCORE
Son of the Mask
WORST ON-SCREEN COUPLE
Jamie Kennedy and anyone forced to co-star with him (Son of the Mask)
MOST ANNOYING FAKE ACCENT
MALE: Norm MacDonald (Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo)
FEMALE: Jessica Simpson (The Dukes of Hazzard)
LEAST "SPECIAL" SPECIAL EFFECTS
Alone in the Dark
Yours, Mine and Ours
Son of the Mask
WORST RESURRECTION OF A "CLASSIC" TV SERIES
WORST CHILD ENSEMBLE
Yours, Mine and Ours
FOULEST FAMILY FILM
Son of the Mask
LEAST SCARY HORROR MOVIE
MOST OVERRATED FILM
WORST ANIMATED FILM
For full nominee lists and more awards, stop by the Stinkers official website!
The 2005 Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards announced their annual awards on Monday, Dec. 19, in Atlanta, Ga. Forty-two members in nine states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia) voted in the 14th annual SEFCA poll.
SEFCA TOP TEN
1. "Brokeback Mountain"
2. "Good Night, and Good Luck."
5. "A History of Violence"
6. "The Constant Gardener"
8. "Cinderella Man"
9. "King Kong"
10. "Walk the Line"
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Winner – Paul Giamatti, "Cinderella Man"
Runner-up – George Clooney, "Syriana"
Winner – "Junebug"
Runner-up – "Hustle & Flow"
The Wyatt, given in memory of late SEFCA member Gene Wyatt of The Tennessean, is awarded a film that captures the spirit of the South. This is the first year a recipient has been chosen.
Disney’s first non-Pixar CG feature, "Chicken Little," had a lot to crow about over the weekend as it pecked an estimated $40 million out of the moviegoers pockets, giving it the #1 spot by about 12 million boks. (Sorry.) Coming in at second place was the surprisingly powerful "Jarhead," which pulled in about $28.7 million in its opening frame, which is a good deal more than anyone (including Universal) was expecting.
Third through fifth place went to a trio of holdovers: Lions Gate’s "Saw 2" added another $17.2 million to its $60 million piggy bank, while Sony’s "Zorro" sequel tallied an additional $10 million, giving it a total of approximately $30.2 million. Rounding out the top five was the romantic comedy "Prime," which managed to hold on in fairly impressive fashion, earning another $5.2 million to its $13.5 million total.
Next week sees the unleashing of three new wide releases: Jim Sheridan‘s 50 Cent flick "Get Rich or Die Tryin’" opens on Wednesday, while the Clive Owen/Jennifer Aniston thriller "Derailed" and the family-friendly sci-fi adventure "Zathura" will wait until Friday.
For a closer look at the weekend numbers, stop by the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page and poke around a little.
The quickie sequel to last October’s surprise hit "Saw" ruled the Halloween weekend box office, raking in $30.5 million from just under 3,000 screaming screens. By comparison, the original "Saw" had a first-weekend "gross" of just over $18 million a year ago, on its way to a total domestic haul of $55.2 million.
Debuting in second place is another sequel, Martin Campbell‘s family adventure "The Legend of Zorro," which made about $16.5 million from 3,500 theaters, while third place went to the Uma Thurman rom-com "Prime," which snagged $6.4 million from just under 1,900 theaters.
Fourth and fifth place went to a pair of hangers-on: Horse opera "Dreamer" roped in $6.3 million ($17.5 million overall) and "Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" munched down $4.4 million ($49.8 million overall) worth of carrots. Paramount’s Nic Cage dramedy "The Weather Man" hit the scene in poor form, tallying only $4.2 million from 1,500 theaters.
As always, you can get a closer look at the weekend numbers by visiting the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page.
This week’s wide releases contain tales of existential, angst-ridden meteorologists ("The Weather Man"), psychopaths in sequels ("Saw II"), swashbuckling spouses ("The Legend of Zorro"), and the trials and tribulations of love ("Prime"). Which of these films will get good marks from the critics?
Zorro is back! And this time he’s facing his biggest challenge yet…. domestic issues! Yes, one of the silver screen’s favorite heroes is married with child in "The Legend of Zorro," starring Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. "Legend" is an attempt to mix swashbuckling with family fare, both onscreen and off, but the results are mixed at best, critics say, and too campy and — gasp! — dull at worst. At 46 percent on the Tomatometer, this "Zorro" isn’t leaving much of a mark. And it’s definitely a cut below its predecessor, "The Mask of Zorro," which galloped off with an 86 percent.
The original "Saw" didn’t exactly score with critics (45 percent), but its perverse, squirm-inducing catch-22s turned it into an instant cult favorite. Now comes "Saw II," which also features the antics of Jigsaw, but ups the stakes with more potential victims. While some scribes say "Saw II" succeeds on its own grisly terms, others say it’s so repulsive that it disgusts more than it thrills. At 50 percent, this is a rusty "Saw" that may still cut, depending on your taste.
Nicolas Cage‘s character in "The Weather Man" seems to be drawn from a lyric in "Stormy Weather:" "Life is bare/ Gloom and misery everywhere/ Stormy weather/ Just can’t get my poor old self together." That’s also an apt summary of what the critics are saying about the film. Cage stars as a Chicago TV meteorologist who is unhappy with both his professional and family life. And while some critics have praised the film for its (very) dry, dark humor, others say it’s too much of a slog, too dark to really resonate. At 57 percent on the Tomatometer, this one’s mostly cloudy.
A romance with an age gap, set in Manhattan, with its protagonists in therapy… is "Annie Hall" back in theaters? Nope, it’s "Prime," starring Uma Thurman, Meryl Streep, and Bryan Greenberg. The scribes say this May-December rom-com has its moments, but lacks a strong forward drive. At 43 percent on the Tomatometer, this one might not be ready for "Prime" time.
Recent Swashbuckling Films:
80% — Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
86% — The Mask of Zorro (1998)
37% — The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)
26% — The Three Musketeers (1993)
100% — The Princess Bride (1987)
The Rock‘s trek through a "Doom"-filled space station was enough to bring in an estimated $15.4 million from over 3,000 screens, giving the flick the #1 spot over a handful of other newcomers. Disney’s inspirational horse drama "Dreamer," which was "Inspired by a True Story," snagged the #2 spot with $9.3 million from 2,000 theaters.
Still treading water in third place is the animated comedy "Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit," which added another $8.7 million to its $44 million total. Fourth place went to last weekend’s #1 flick, "The Fog," which made $7.3 million this weekend and $21.5 million all told. Rounding out the top five is the newcomer "North Country," which netted only $6.5 million from 2,500 theaters in its initial weekend. But it still did better than Marc Forster‘s "Stay," which made only $2.1 million from 1,700 theaters in its opening frame.
Several limited release titles are faring rather well this time of year: George Clooney‘s "Good Night, and Good Luck" almost cracked the top ten with $2.3 million … and it’s only playing on 225 screens! Steve Martin‘s "Shopgirl" and Shane Black‘s "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" also netted some impressive per-screen numbers, which means if you’re not into space aliens and inspirational horses, head on down to the arthouses!
Next week sees the release of four new wide releases: Lions Gate’s horror sequel "Saw 2," Sony’s adventure sequel "The Legend of Zorro," Paramount’s Nic Cage dramedy "The Weather Man," and Universal’s rom-com "Prime."
For a closer peek at the weekend numbers, take a visit to the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page.