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Meryl Streep landed her first Oscar nomination for just her second on-screen role: 1978’s The Deer Hunter, opposite John Cazale. A few more performances after that and she’d find herself standing before Hollywood’s elite, accepting the gold trophy for her complex “villain” role in 1980’s Kramer vs. Kramer. Stardom came within that decade, as she made her mark across disparate films and genres, becoming versatility personified in the acting game, as featured in a Best Picture winner (Out of Africa), rom-coms (Heartburn), political social thrillers (Silkwood), dramas (Sophie’s Choice), and period pieces (Ironweed).
This canny ability to wedge and dissolve into roles that sparked her attention has been rewarded with a record 21 Oscar nominations over decades, winning three for Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, and The Iron Lady. Yes, there were noms for so-called Oscar bait like Doubt, The Post, and the actually-Rotten Iron Lady, but Streep pulled nominations out of more unique genres, like musicals (Into the Woods), broad comedies (The Devil Wears Prada, Florence Foster Jenkins), and wherever you want to categorize Adaptation.
Streep’s most recent films have been Greta Gerwig’s Little Women adaptation, and the mostly-ignored The Laundromat. She must’ve enjoyed the Steven Soderbergh experience on Laundromat, because she’s teaming up with him again for comedy Let Them All Talk next. Additionally, she’s got another musical (along with the Mamma Mia! movies, they’ve been a late-career boon) in the works in The Prom, from Ryan Murphy. And now, we’re celebrating with all Meryl Streep movies, ranked by Tomatometer!
In what must be a first at the box office, an aerobics queen takes on killer zombies in a vicious battle for the silver medal during what no doubt will be another mammoth weekend for "Spider-Man 3."
Fox unleashes its horror sequel "28 Weeks Later," Universal counters with its femme-driven star vehicle "Georgia Rule," Lionsgate tosses in the comedy "Delta Farce," and MGM releases yet another laugher with "The Ex." Meanwhile, back in New York City, the webslinger will attempt to swing to a massive quarter-billion-dollar cume by the end of its second weekend.
As the second of ten sequels hitting theaters over the May-June corridor, "28 Weeks Later" is the follow-up to the cult hit zombie chiller "28 Days Later" which lit up theaters four years ago. Danny Boyle shifts from the director’s chair to the executive producer’s office as Juan Carlos Fresnadillo takes the helm. "Days" was very well-received which explains why a sequel was greenlit. In the new installment, the killer virus infects people once again as London tries to repopulate and madness ensues. The built-in audience will help the R-rated "Weeks" right out of the gate.
Its predecessor bowed to $10.1M from only 1,260 theaters for a potent $7,986 average on its way to a solid $45.1M final. Through video and cable, it found an even larger fan base and many will give "Weeks" a try. However working against it is of course competition from "Spider-Man 3" which has a hold on fans of comics and sci-fi. Plus 2007 has seen 1,001 horror films flood theaters causing recent fright fatigue. Casual fans of scary movies may pass on "Weeks" if they’re trying to stay away from blood and gore. Fox’s marketing has been clever and effective and the target audience is excited. Plus reviews have been very positive which will help a bit too since most horror films nowadays are either not screened for critics in advance or earn poor marks. Attacking over 2,000 theaters, "28 Weeks Later" might scare up around $13M this weekend.
"28 Weeks Later"
For those looking to avoid zombies and super heroes in their weekend entertainment, Universal offers the dramedy "Georgia Rule" starring Jane Fonda, Lindsay Lohan, and Felicity Huffman. The R-rated story tells of a teenage girl dumped at her grandmother’s house for the summer by her alcoholic mother which leads to the uncovering of family secrets. Just in time for Mother’s Day weekend, "Georgia" will play almost exclusively to women as men will have to be dragged against their will. However, moviegoers from a broad age group should turn out since the cast boasts stars of different generations. The one troublespot could be the rating though. Lohan arguably still has pull with teenage girls who may be left out because of the MPAA’s tag. But the film’s two uses of the F word are essential to the story as are the adult themes so the R was unavoidable.
"Georgia Rule" should play to the same audience that the studio saw for previous chick flicks like Diane Keaton‘s "Because I Said So" ($13.1M opening, $5,195 average), Meryl Streep‘s "Prime" ($6.2M, $3,405), and Debra Messing‘s "The Wedding Date" ($11.1M, $6,566). Reaching the $23.1M debut of Fonda’s last film "Monster-in-Law" is not likely however since it won’t crossover into other demographic groups like the J. Lo pic did. The weekend’s new releases will not provide too much competition which means that the universal appeal of the webslinger sequel will be the main enemy. Bad reviews will eat into sales from mature adults, but many from the "Desperate Housewives" crowd will still make a trip out to this chick flick. "Georgia Rule" enters 2,523 theaters on Friday and could walk away with about $13M.
Larry the Cable Guy stars in the new military comedy "Delta Farce" which also hits theaters on Friday. The PG-13 film from Lionsgate finds three hapless men being mistaken for Army recruits who are sent to Iraq but mistakenly dropped in Mexico. Not since "Best Defense" has a film of this type been such an unwelcome entry in the marketplace. Young males are the only group likely to show interest and with Spidey in only his second swing, few will find this new comedy worth paying top dollar for. Plus starpower is lacking and none of the cast members are known for anchoring box office hits. Larry’s self-titled film last spring bowed to just $6.9M and this one will probably slump even lower. Opening in about 1,800 locations, "Delta Farce" will probably shoot up around $4M.
Zach Braff and Amanda Peet play a thirtysomething New York couple with a new baby in the new romantic comedy "The Ex" marketed by The Weinstein Company and distributed by MGM. In the PG-13 pic, the likable duo moves to Ohio where Braff’s character gets a job at her father’s ad agency where he butts heads with his wife’s former fling from high school. Jason Bateman, Charles Grodin, and Donal Logue co-star. "The Ex" will be targeting the date crowd and young women, but will have rough sailing. "Georgia Rule" will already be tapping into the female moviegoing base and Spidey is attracting his share of women and young adults too. The promotional push has not been too forceful either so the film may end up with just the die-hard "Scrubs" fans. Mixed reviews won’t help either. Also, Braff and Peet are not box office anchors who sell lots of tickets. Sure "Garden State" was an indie hit with $26.8M in 2004, but that was a word-of-mouth platform release that made its money over time and not a commercial Hollywood comedy. Debuting in 1,009 theaters, "The Ex" might gross roughly $3M this weekend.
None of these new films will come close to defeating the mighty "Spider-Man 3" which will enjoy its second comfortable box office win in a row. But a steep fall is likely. The first webslinger flick opened at the beginning of May five years ago and dropped by only 38% on the second weekend which was phenomenal. But like most sequels, especialy third-parters, "Spider-Man 3" attracted so much of its total audience upfront that rapid erosion is assured. The previous record-holder for the biggest opening weekend, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest," fell by 54% in its second adventure last July while its summer counterpart "X-Men: The Last Stand" tumbled by a troubling 67% in its sophomore frame. Of course that was coming off of a Memorial Day holiday opening so the decline was larger than normal.
"Spider-Man 3" has already been taking a hit during the week dropping to $10.3M on Monday and $8M on Tuesday. Those numbers come close to what "The Matrix Reloaded" took in on the same days after its colossal opening weekend in mid-May 2003. That sci-fi pic crashed 60% in its second weekend despite its sophomore frame being helped by a holiday. Luckily for the Sandman flick the competition this weekend will not be too menacing. "Spider-Man 3" could still fall by more than 55% to about $65M this weekend which would boost the domestic haul to a mammoth $247M in only ten days.
LAST YEAR: Tom Cruise topped the charts with "Mission Impossible: III" which dropped 48% in its second weekend to $25M. Opening in second place was the pricey disaster film "Poseidon" which debuted to $22.2M for Warner Bros. on its way to a disappointing $60.7M domestically. Worldwide, the Kurt Russell starrer grossed $182M. Robin Williams placed third with "RV" which eased by less than 10% to $10M in its third weekend. Lindsay Lohan stumbled into fourth with her new comedy "Just My Luck" which opened to a weak $5.7M on its way to $17.3M for Fox. Rounding out the top five was the horror flick "An American Haunting" with $3.6M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
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’s wide releases both involve publishing. In "The Devil Wears Prada," the setting is a fashion magazine, and in "Superman Returns," it’s The Daily Planet. So maybe that’s why the critics like both these movies so much…
While there has been some debate over the quality of Lauren Weisberger’s novel "The Devil Wears Prada," there’s less divergence over the movie adaptation, particularly because of the presence of Meryl Streep in the titular role. Anne Hathaway plays an earnest small-town girl who hopes to write high-minded stuff for the New Yorker, but is little match for the Cruella De Ville-esque Miranda Priestly (Streep). The scribes say the film ultimately works because of Streep’s excellent performance, but "The Devil Wears Prada" is also an incisive examination of workplace politics. At 76 percent on the Tomatometer, this "Devil" wears a Certified Fresh badge.
You may have heard that there’s a new Superman movie out. It’s called "Superman Returns," and it stars a relative unknown as the Man of Steel (Brandon Routh), an actress who was in that Bobby Darin movie (Kate Bosworth), and the guy who played Bobby Darin himself in that same movie, this time playing Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey). (Dude, he was probably Keyzer Soze as well) The critics say "Superman Returns" is able to pull off the neat trick of sticking closely to the age-old particulars of the Superman myth, while making them fresh. "Superman Returns" is at 76 percent on the Tomatometer, and it’s Certified Fresh.
This is a week of well-reviewed releases in general. Also opening, albeit in limited release: "Who Killed the Electric Car," a documentary about the short-lived EV1, is at 87 percent; "The Motel," a coming-of-age tale set in a fleabag motel, is at 82 percent; "The Blood of My Brother," a documentary about death in Iraq, is at 67 percent; and the big-screen adaptation of the cult TV hit "Strangers With Candy" is at 57 percent.
Recent Meryl Streep Movies:
80% — A Prairie Home Companion (2006)
50% — Prime (2005)
81% — The Manchurian Candidate (2004)
71% — Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
62% — Stuck On You (2003)
Variety reports a rather interesting piece of international movie news, the gist of which is this: "DreamWorks will release "Typhoon," the most expensive Korean film ever made, in North America next year.
It has pacted with South Korean major CJ Entertainment for the multilanguage pic, helmed by K.T. Kwak, about a modern-day pirate planning a massive attack on North and South Korea.
Pic is the first Korean feature released by a U.S. major.
Shot on location in Thailand, Korea and Russia, "Typhoon" has earned a record 1.8 million admissions, totaling $11.1 million, in Korea over its first five days of release, despite a cool reception from local critics.
"Typhoon" has an officially stated budget of $15 million, but it is rumored to be several million dollars higher. It features local star Jang Dong-gun, who also appears in Chen Kaige‘s "The Promise," which posted a record-setting bow in China the weekend of Dec. 16."
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.