(Photo by DreamWorks/courtesy Everett Collection)
A recording career and starring roles on In Living Color and his very own sitcom sound like they would have been enough to keep Jamie Foxx out of the movie game during the ’90s. But indeed, Foxx the multi-hyphenate found time to debut as a comedy movie lead for The Truth About Cats & Dogs in 1996 and then delivered his first dramatic performance in Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday three years later. But that was all a prelude to his big 2004, when Foxx was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award with the Michael Mann/Tom Cruise thriller Collateral and took home Oscar gold that night for Best Actor, thanks to the musical biopic Ray.
He teamed up with Mann again for Miami Vice in 2006, the same year of musical sensation Dreamgirls‘ arrival. Due Date, Valentine’s Day, Rio, and Horrible Bosses were four $100 million-grossing box office hits in a row, so with his reputation as a guy who can get awards and put butts in seats cemented, there was only one place to go left: Casa de QT. Working with Quentin Tarantino produced the brassy Western Django Unchained, which would go on to become the director’s biggest B.O. draw.
Django would be Foxx’s last Certified Fresh movie for a while, through a stretch of years that has included The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Robin Hood, and White House Down. 2017’s Baby Driver brought back some of that critical acclaim, and so has his latest: Just Mercy, a true story legal drama featuring Foxx as Walter McMillian, who was imprisoned for a murder in 1986 he did not commit. Co-starring Michael B. Jordan and Brie Larson, see where the critics place Just Mercy as we rank all Jamie Foxx movies by Tomatometer!
This week, Francis Ford Coppola‘s Youth Without Youth hits theaters in limited release. The tale of a writer who becomes young again after being struck by lightning is a personal one for Coppola, so it’s apropos that legendary editor and longtime collaborator Walter Murch helped him realize his vision.
One of the most important and influential craftsmen of the “Movie Brat” generation that came of age in the 1970s, Murch has worked as a film and/or sound editor on such landmark films as American Graffiti, The Godfather Part II, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and The English Patient. Youth Without Youth is the latest in a long line of collaborations with Coppola; their professional relationship stretches back to 1969, when Murch handled the sound editing on The Rain People.
Murch remains one of the few editors to work standing up, comparing editing film to working as a surgeon or a short-order cook. But he’s no stodgy traditionalist; Murch has been a champion of technological advances in editing, cutting Cold Mountain on Final Cut Pro at a time when AVID was still the industry standard.
In an interview with Rotten Tomatoes, the three-time Oscar winner discussed Coppola’s professional reemergence after 10 years away from the director’s chair, how the tools of the moviemaking trade have changed, and why making movies is like making honey. (Plus, check out an exclusive clip from the movie here.)
What is it about you and Francis Ford Coppola that clicks?
Walter Murch: We clicked right away. We started working together in 1969, which is almost 40 years. I like the way his mind works. I like the adventuresome areas that he goes into. He once described directing as “being the ringmaster for a circus that is inventing itself.” That kind of circus is very interesting to me — being around that — and by the same token I think he likes the way my mind works in complimentary form to his. I’m adventuresome also but also very systematic. I think the two sides — adventuresome and systematic — compliment each other.
Youth Without Youth is a puzzle of a movie. Do you approach a film like this the same way you approach a more linear film?
WM: Yeah, I think so. Every film is a puzzle really, from an editorial point of view. They may look linear when they’re finished but our job is to take scattered pieces of story that have been shot more efficiently out of sequence but that sequence is not necessarily given in advance. The script is a guide but how the performances actually turn out, what the weather was like on a particular day, can influence how the film gets constructed. Then I obviously was very aware of the kind of film that Youth Without Youth is. It ventures into territories film doesn’t usually go, and I tried to help discover the right cinematic language for that kind of a story. But on a day-to-day basis, fundamentally, it’s the same process. You look for the best take, best reading, best shot, to represent what you think is necessary in this sequence and then you put it in the movie and see how it interacts with the shots around it and you make adjustments and go on and find the next shot and so on. When you’ve got the whole film together you look at it and make evaluations about redundancies. “Is there a scene here that does something we already have? Maybe we can shorten it or remove it altogether.” Or, “Maybe we can move it to another location.”
WM: I hope it finds an audience that’s congenial to it. I’m very happy it was made. It got Francis directing again after an absence of 10 years, and now he’s going to be shooting another movie.
What are you working on next?
WM: Another project with Francis called Tetro. It’s an original screenplay and it starts shooting in Argentina in February.
Do you feel it’s unfair for people to compare the current work of someone like Coppola to the stuff he did 30 years ago?
WM: Francis is a special case onto himself because of the success of the films he made in the 1970s. And then he had a period where he got very deeply in debt and had to do films that he otherwise wouldn’t have done to dig himself out the financial hole. In that 10-year time, he was writing a number of screenplays, trying to get them off the ground. But he was not happy with the work. But he was working. Francis is a writer/director. Writers in Hollywood can go 10 years without something of theirs being produced. That doesn’t mean they’re not working, but the process by which a film is selected to be made and turned into a project is a very chancy, quirky operation. Francis has gotten himself into a place where, because of his success with his winery, he can afford, if the budget is low enough, to self-finance these films and get them off the ground.
WM: In this case, yes. Generally, I would start before photography and be there as the film was being shot, but in this case I was still working on Sam Mendes‘ Jarhead, so I didn’t join the film until all the material was shot although I did meet with Francis at a kind of a midway point. He took a break from shooting in Romania and he came for Christmas to the States. We met to talk about the screenplay and he said, “Are there any other scenes we could shoot? Because we still have a month of shooting left.” [Spoiler Alert] And I suggested the scene at the end of the movie where Dominic [played by Tim Roth] gets into an argument with his double which ultimately results in the smashing of the mirror and the killing — so to speak — of the double. It was already an argument there, but I thought, “Let’s take it to its conclusion.” Once the double is dead, it’s really a matter of time before Dominic is dead.
Coppola has said this is a personal film for him. Obviously, there’s the struggle of the writer tying to finish his masterwork, but why else do you think this film is personal for him?
WM: Francis is 68 and this character is 70. It’s been 10 years since Francis directed a movie, and the process of going back into directing I think for him was an invigorating one and one he welcomed, in terms of his own personality but also the young people he found in Romania with whom he collaborated for the film was a very healthy and enriching thing for him. And in a way, that’s like being struck by a lightning bolt and rediscovering your youth, except you’re also still close to 70 years old. I think that goes back to the title of the film that is also the title of the novel. It’s about this person who is youth without youth — he’s young, objectively in his early to late 30s or early 40s but he still has all the knowledge that he had when he was 70 years old. It examines the tension of that situation which really is the tension Francis finds himself in.
You often hear of cinematographers who fight with directors about how things should be shot. What sort of stamp can editors make on a film?
WM: Creatively speaking, your job is twofold. One of them is to choreograph the initial assembly of the images in an interesting and musical way. Even though you’re dealing with visuals, editing film is kind of like making visual music. Which shot you use? When exactly do you cut to the next shot? What shot do you cut to? Who is saying what at any one point of time? Is that line on camera or off camera? All of these are under the control of the editor. The director can always look at it and say, “No, do it this other way,” but if you’re good in the offset, that doesn’t often happen. So you end up establishing the orchestration — in a word — of the ideas and the visuals of the film in a very particular way. Just like in regular musical orchestration. How it’s orchestrated, how it’s performed — why is one orchestration and performance different than another? [This is] similar to the difference an editor can make. Secondly, once you stand back from the whole and see it, the more editorial part of the process comes into play, which is similar enough to an editing of a piece of text or a book. “Should we really begin with this sentence? Maybe we should begin with this paragraph? Maybe you don’t need this part, or you can insert something here to clarify what’s actually going on?” You act both as a consultant for the director and as somebody for the director to bounce ideas off — as a co-creator of the work, at that level. In that mode, I just throw out ideas and implement them and show them to Francis and if he likes them, great. If they spark some other idea, so much the better, and if he doesn’t like them, we’ll go back to the way it was or find some other solution.
As someone who’s kept current with new technology, do you think better tools make for better moviemaking? Or do some standard rules still apply? Is the craft a lot easier now than when you started?
WM: Your last question first — the tools are much better now than they were, but ultimately the creation of the work is of course dependent upon the tools but that dependence is ultimately not significant. Take any writer you want in the 19th century, they wrote with quill pens, dipping a piece of goose feather in ink and writing. And yet we read those novels today, and if we’re sensitive to them, we respond to them with an immediacy that is stronger than anything written today on a word processor. The word processor is a better tool than a quill pen because you can do so much more with it, but on the other hand, what you have to say and how you say it is the ultimate determination. I re-mastered The Conversation a few years ago for DVD. The Conversation was the first film I edited on a flatbed machine — a KEM editing machine. I’ve been using Final Cut or the AVID for 12 years now, so I was interested in looking at this film and seeing if I could tell if it had been edited the old way. Truth be told, I couldn’t. It held up for me. I remember making those decisions and I remember doing them in the old-fashioned mechanical way, but I wouldn’t have changed anything in it and I certainly wouldn’t have changed things because the tools now are so much better and “we could have done it so much better.” I think it’s true in terms of visual effects because [computers] really are a significant new tool. In the old days, it was rare that you would be able to do a blue screen shot without revealing the fact it was blue screen. Whereas now you can take any shot and make a visual effects shot out of it. You could shoot blue screen without revealing its blue screen.
WM: It was emotionally significant for me because I kind of lost my virginity in that decade. It was where all my first love affairs with cinema had happened. I started working in cinema in 1969 — just in the beginning of the 1970s — and ended the 1970s with Apocalypse Now, which is a huge film. In a sense, I look back on it that way but I think that’s a personal thing because that was the decade I really started working in feature films. It’s interesting. I did a survey for an article a couple of months ago where if you go onto a site like Box Office Mojo — they have a listing of films, what they would have grossed in today’s dollars. It’s a list of 100 popular films irrespective of ticket price. And the 1970s stand out because of those 100 films, most of the most popular films are in the 1970s. That’s the decade with the biggest chunk. I think there are two films from the 1930s, four from the 1940s, 10 from the 1950s and 15 in the 1960s and suddenly there are 20 in the 1970s and in the 1980s it falls back to 12 or something. The significant thing is that none of those films in the 1970s were sequels to anything. They were all original works. They may have been based on a novel but it wasn’t like Spider-Man 3. It was Jaws and that was the first time Jaws hit the screen. There was, of course, a Jaws 2, but it’s not on the list of 100 most popular films, whereas this decade we’re in right now, two thirds of the most popular films are sequels: sequels to Pirates of the Caribbean or sequels to Lord of the Rings or Spider-Man or sequels to Harry Potter. It’s a significant shift form that point of view.
Is that indicative of the state of film today? Do you think there are as many good films being made today, or do you think there’s been a drop-off in quality?
WM: Our experience in the 1970s was not, “Gee, this is a classic decade.” When we were in it, we were just trying to do the best job we could. There was a general feeling that because of the dissolution of the studios everything was over and it took the big successes of the 1970s to revive Hollywood. But at the beginning of the 1970s, there was a feeling that this might be it, that motion pictures might end up being something historical like vaudeville. You know, from 1915 to 1974, people used to actually go to see movies in movie theaters. That was a real palpable sense among people. David Niven, in his books, said, “The game’s over. It’s all falling apart.” Yet we were young filmmakers and it couldn’t fall apart because we wanted to make movies. Luckily, the pendulum swung the other direction and we were able to make movies. To answer your other question, I think quality films are being made in every decade in large disproportion to a lot of junk. If you went back to the 19th century, pick a year, read all the novels published that year and the four novels that we remember from that year that were really great, you would find the same thing is true in movies today. There are very popular films today that will soon be forgotten, there are very popular films today that will be remembered, there are very unpopular films today that will remain unpopular, and there are unpopular films today that will be remembered. But that is true for any human activity.
WM: I enjoy when I lose.
WM: What does an Oscar mean? On the face of things it means, “This [winner] is better than anything else.” But that’s bulls—. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. These five nominated films — is any one of them better than another? By which criteria do you judge that? I would be happy if they just gave out nominations and there weren’t any Oscars. But winning them is definitely an experience — to get up there and make a speech. Every film is hard work and a few lucky people do get Oscars for what they do and it’s recognition for all that hard work on a certain level. If you didn’t do the hard work you wouldn’t be standing there. On the other hand, people do a lot of hard work and don’t get Oscars, so it’s a mixture of glory and injustice at the same time.
Have you thought about directing another film?
WM: I’ve thought about it and I tried for a number of years to get projects off the ground and just ran out of luck and went back to what I love, which is film editing. It’s the luck of the draw that Return to Oz wasn’t a critical or commercial hit.
WM: It does, but the projects I was interested in doing… nobody in the industry was interested in making them, and practicality reared its head. I had four kids and college tuition to pay. Developing a career as a director, if you had a film that was successful, is a lot of waiting, which is what I found myself doing and I just love to work.
How is editing like being a short order cook or doing surgery?
WM: Well…both of those people stand for what they do. I believe every editor should stand to edit. That’s just my particular soapbox. Some things are so delicate and depend on such fine, delicate work. One frame in one direction or another can make such a difference and it is, in that, like brain surgery. You’re dealing on an almost microscopic level, trying to achieve a very difficult emotional affect or get across a very delicate story or attack the point. That’s the brain surgery part. Other times, you’re flipping burgers. Three hundred thousand feet of motion picture; to get through you have to make selections. You have to plow through it quickly and not agonize over each position and just hope your instincts are good.
You’re an avid beekeeper. Is making movies like making honey?
WM: [Laughs] Yes, in a sense that a film is a very rich distillation of a tremendous amount of work. I forget exactly what the ratio is for honey but the honey you put into your tea — that teaspoon represents a gallon of nectar that had to be refined and brought down to size. So there is a similarity on that level.
After two weeks of rule by Jodie and Milla, the boys come charging back in what could be a fierce fight for the number one spot. Jamie Foxx heads up the Middle East political thriller The Kingdom while The Rock targets a kinder and gentler audience with his family comedy The Game Plan. With little to no overlap in customers, both films should have room to breathe. Also debuting but in a moderate national release is the Morgan Freeman pic Feast of Love.
After scoring four consecutive $100M grossers this summer, Universal aims for another trip to the number one spot with its new military drama The Kingdom. Oscar winner Jamie Foxx leads the cast playing an agent with the FBI that assembles a talented team of experts to go to Saudi Arabia against government orders to investigate a suicide bomber’s attack against Americans. Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper, Jason Bateman, and Jeremy Piven co-star in the R-rated pic. The studio is hoping to reconnect with the same audience that powered its 2005 Iraq War drama Jarhead to a strong $27.7M bow. It’s even used Kanye West‘s music in its advertising just as it did two years ago.
The Kingdom is part of a handful of fall flicks to deal with political issues in the Middle East. As one of the first ones out of the gate, it may not suffer from the backlash against this genre that may eventually be created. Marketed as a revenge picture featuring Americans fighting back against those who wronged us, the Peter Berg-directed film should tap into a certain segment of the audience that will find comfort in this type of fare. But competition for adults will be a factor especially considering how seven of the top eight films last weekend were rated R. Reviews have been mixed, however starpower is ample which should compensate. Infiltrating more than 2,700 theaters, The Kingdom might open with approximately $19M this weekend.
Of course Diesel, Ice Cube, and other macho men have been showing their softer side in kidpics lately so the idea is not totally new. The studio’s sneak previews last weekend helped to get more buzz out there with the target demo and with the lack of direct competition, Game Plan should have smooth sailing with parents and children. The marketing push has been effective as Disney has proven with films like Wild Hogs that it can sell just about any type of star-driven comedy to the public. Charging into about 2,800 locations, The Game Plan could grab around $17M this weekend.
The Dane Cook–Jessica Alba comedy Good Luck Chuck is also following up on a solid debut. Most of the fans of the actors probably came out upfront so a 50% fall to around $7M seems likely. That would give Lionsgate a ten-day cume of $24M.
LAST YEAR Sony topped the charts with its animated offering Open Season which debuted to an impressive $23.6M on its way to $85.1M. Ashton Kutcher voiced the number one film and starred on-screen opposite Kevin Costner in the second place pic The Guardian which opened to $18M. the Buena Vista release went on to collect $55M. Jackass: Number Two fell two spots to third with $14.6M losing half of it audience. Launching in fourth was the Billy Bob Thornton comedy School for Scoundrels with $8.6M for MGM on its way to $17.8M. Jet Li‘s Fearless rounded out the top five with $5M for Focus.
This weekend, multiplexes hope to cram in lots of moviegoers thanks to a wide selection of new films. Six movies open or expand nationally on Friday making for what will be one of the most competitive weekends of the holiday season.
Adult audiences looking for a laugh can see Will Ferrell in a more mature role in "Stranger Than Fiction." The female vote will be split with daughters going for a scare with Sarah Michelle Gellar in "The Return" while their mothers can spend the evening with Russell Crowe in the romantic comedy "A Good Year." The action flick "Harsh Times" rounds out the menu of new releases targeting young men.
In addition, the cross-continent drama "Babel" expands across the country after two weeks of stellar results in limited release. Despite all the new opponents entering the field, reigning box office incumbent "Borat" will go fully national in an attempt to be re-elected for a second term as commander-in-chief. Rarely does a November weekend have so many new offerings. The fight for screens and moviegoer attention will be fierce. Not every film will survive so some casualties will be left behind on the battlefield by the end of the frame.
After battling Sacha Baron Cohen with race cars last summer in "Talladega Nights," Will Ferrell once again takes on the British comedian at the box office with "Stranger Than Fiction" which will try to stop the seemingly unstoppable "Borat" machine. In the PG-13 film, the funnyman plays an agent with the IRS who begins to hear a voice narrating his life and his every move. Emma Thompson provides the voice while Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, and Queen Latifah co-star. Directed by Marc Forster ("Finding Neverland," "Monster’s Ball"), "Stranger" takes an A-list comedian and puts him in a more mature and serious film that still has some comedic elements. That means that the 14-year-old boys who powered "Talladega Nights" to a $47M opening will take a pass this time around.
When Jim Carrey went arthouse, he saw "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" open to $8.2M with a $6,042 average and "Man on the Moon" bow to $7.5M with a $3,615 average. Adam Sandler‘s "Spanglish" debuted to $8.8M and a $3,617 average. It can often be a tough sell to take a comedian known mostly for mainstream comedies and put him into a more mature film, even if it still has laughs. "Stranger Than Fiction" might find it difficult to pull in teens and young adults, but mature adults will have interest. Reviews have been generally good and the concept makes the film stand out in the current marketplace. Competition for adults will come from both "Babel" and "A Good Year" while "Borat" will continue to steal away millions of moviegoers looking for a good laugh. Launching in 2,264 theaters, "Stranger Than Fiction" might open with roughly $16M.
Halloween may have passed but those in search of a scare, and were disappointed that "The Grudge 2" did not have Sarah Michelle Gellar in a full role, will have a chance to see their favorite vampire slayer in the new supernatural thriller "The Return." With a commercially friendly PG-13 rating, the spookfest finds Gellar playing a young businesswoman guided by mysterious forces to avenge her own death from a previous life. In the horror genre, Gellar is a bonafide star and can pull in teens and young adults. But with so many fright sequels cramming into theaters recently during the pre-pumpkin period, many genre fans might be all scared out by now. Luckily for "The Return," competition will not be too fierce as nothing else is exciting teenage girls at the moment. The marketing push has been decent, but in many ways it does not stand out as something special or unique that is worth seeing right away. Opening in 1,986 theaters, "The Return" might gross around $8M over the weekend.
Russell Crowe reteams with his "Gladiator" director Ridley Scott for a trip to a new genre (romantic comedy) in "A Good Year." The PG-13 film finds the former Maximus playing a financial guru who finds women and wine at a french vineyard he inherits. Talk about a tough sell. On paper, the Scott-Crowe combo is box office gold, only they chose to try out a type of film that will repel fans who spent $187.7M on the 2000 Best Picture Oscar winner. Plus the Fox release has no notable female star to boost its potential. Add to that the bad buzz that "Year" received at the Toronto Film Festival plus the mostly negative reviews from critics, and it surely will have its work cut out for it. Could this be "All the King’s Men" all over again?
"A Good Year" stands as that rare film which reunites an Oscar-caliber director with an Oscar-winning actor that earns bad reviews and lukewarm studio support. Crowe’s last film "Cinderella Man" bowed to $18.3M from 2,812 theaters for a $6,515 average in June of last year and was considered an underperformer. The actor’s latest picture lacks the Ron Howard film’s strong critical support, added starpower from Renee Zellweger, and sizable push from Universal. "A Good Year" should play mostly to adult female audiences as the male appeal is low. That makes "Babel" and "Stranger Than Fiction," which have better cross-gender appeal, direct competitors this weekend for mature couples. Opening in 2,066 theaters, "A Good Year" could find itself with about $8M this weekend and a rough road ahead.
Still in the top ten with "The Prestige," Christian Bale comes back for double duty in the new action thriller "Harsh Times" from MGM. The R-rated film from the writer of "Training Day" finds the Caped Crusader playing an ex-Army Ranger enlisting with the LAPD who still has ties into the crime world in South Central. "Harsh" will play to urban audiences and should skew male but will find the marketplace difficult to navigate with bigger titles like "Borat" and "Saw III" already doing strong business with that demo. Bale lacks the drawing power of Denzel Washington in his Oscar-winning role in "Training Day" so the grosses should not be in the same ballpark. A moderate national release in over 900 theaters will also limit the potential. "Harsh Times" will have to fight hard in order to crack the top ten and could finish the frame with around $3M.
Among holdovers, all eyes will be on "Borat" this weekend. Can the Kazakh superstar spend another weekend at number one? Following its robust $26.5M bow from 837 theaters, the Sacha Baron Cohen starrer has delivered solid midweek results grossing over $3M on both Monday and Tuesday. Now, Fox will expand the raunchy comedy on Friday by more than tripling the run to 2,565 theaters allowing everyone to have easy access to the most-talked-about film of the season. Word-of-mouth has been encouraging and "Borat" might even reach the Holy Grail of the box office – repeat business.
Last weekend’s potent average of $31,607 will certainly come crashing down since the film will be in more theaters and most of the hardcore fans have now already seen it. But the buzz is still hot and the Uzbekistan-hating TV journalist is now trying to crossover into new audience segments not initially sold on the concept last week. With the frame’s new films all a mixed bag without a surefire smash among them, "Borat" looks ready to retain its hold on the number one spot. A weekend gross of around $24M could result giving Fox a stellar $62M in only ten days.
Another cross-cultural film with a five-letter title starting with a B expanding over the weekend is "Babel" starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. Paramount Vantage has attracted scorching results in limited release for two weeks and is now hoping that moviegoers nationwide are ready for the acclaimed drama. Last weekend, "Babel" popped into the Top 20 with a stellar $26,264 average from 35 locations. On Friday, the R-rated film expands to over 1,200 sites and should continue to play to an upscale adult audience.
"Babel" is likely to play to the same crowd that powered last December’s "Syriana" to a $11.7M bow from 1,752 theaters for a $6,699 average. That film had more theaters and a star, George Clooney, who is despised by many American moviegoers for his political beliefs. On the other hand, Pitt can cheat on his wife and father a baby with another woman, and the public still can’t get enough of him. That’s pure starpower. But "Babel" is not the type of commercial role that Pitt attracts large crowds to. Still, the average should be solid so given its level of distribution, "Babel" could gross about $10M this weekend.
Disney and Paramount went head to head last weekend with competing kidpics and split the family vote in half pretty evenly. "Flushed Away" is getting better word-of-mouth and is offering audiences something new so its decline might be smaller than that of "The Santa Clause 3." Kid movies opening in early November typically have good legs and enjoy strong second weekend holds. Sophomore drops for recent films of the genre include 21% for last year’s "Chicken Little," 29% for 2004’s "The Incredibles," 15% for 2003’s "Elf," and 15% for 2002’s "The Santa Clause 2." This weekend, "Clause 3" might drop by 25% and "Flushed" could wash away 20% leaving each with a three-day tally in the neighborhood of $15M. That would push ten-day cumes to roughly $39M a piece for the Mouse House pic and the rat toon.
LAST YEAR: Disney’s poultry toon "Chicken Little" stayed at number one for a second weekend with an impressive $31.7M. Three new releases followed within a tight range. Sony’s big-budget kidpic "Zathura" bowed in second with $13.4M on its way to a disappointing $28.2M. Jennifer Aniston was close behind with her thriller "Derailed" which opened to $12.2M. The Weinstein Co. release went on to gross a moderate $36M. Paramount’s urban action pic "Get Rich or Die Tryin’" debuted in fourth place with a $12M weekend and $17.7M over five days. The 50 Cent starrer finished its run with $31M. Rounding out the top five was the military drama "Jarhead" which tumbled 58% to $11.7M. Premiering to sensational results was the period film "Pride & Prejudice" which grossed $2.9M from only 215 theaters for a sizzling $13,326 average. The Focus release went on to become an awards contender and took in $38.4M making it the top-grossing pic among the weekend’s new films.
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
Andrew Hartman of MovieMusicals.net looks to have snagged quite the impressive scoop … provided it turns out to be accurate, of course. Word is that insane filmmaker Tim Burton and ultra-cool actor Johnny Depp will be re-teaming (yes, again) to bring an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim‘s "Sweeney Todd" to the big screen.
"According to anonymous sources, director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp, who together have worked on five major motion pictures including ‘Edward Scissorhands’ and more recently ‘Charlie & the Chocolate Factory,’ will team once more for the upcoming movie musical adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Sweeney Todd.’
Depp will portray title character Sweeney Todd – the demon barber or Fleet Street – who slits the throats of his innocent (and not-so-innocent) customers.
It is unknown if Burton will opt to use the existing John Logan screenplay adaptation, or start from scratch. Therefore, a release date cannot be predicted at this time.
‘Sweeney Todd’ first opened on Broadway in 1979 which starred Len Cariou, Angela Lansbury, Victor Garber, and Ken Jennings. The show is currently on Broadway in its second revival, starring Patti LuPone and Michael Cerveris. The show features a score by legendary composer Stephen Sondheim who in his career has earned eight Tony awards, including Best Score for ‘Sweeney Todd.’"
Previous collaborations between Burton & Depp have yielded "Edward Scissorhands" (1990), "Ed Wood" (1994), "Sleepy Hollow" (1999), "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (2005), and "Corpse Bride" (2005).
Thanks to Movie City News for sharing the scoop on the Windy City critics and their favorite flicks of 2005.The Chicago film journalists will announce their year-end winners on January, 2006.
Brokeback Mountain by Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana
Capote by Dan Futterman
Crash by Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco
Good Night, and Good Luck by George Clooney & Grant Heslov
A History of Violence by Josh Olson
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Capote
Terrence Howard – Hustle & Flow
Heath Ledger – Brokeback Mountain
Joaquin Phoenix – Walk the Line
David Strathairn – Good Night, and Good Luck
Amy Adams – Junebug
Maria Bello – A History of Violence
Scarlett Johansson – Match Point
Catherine Keener – Capote
Rachel Weisz – The Constant Gardener
Michelle Williams – Brokeback Mountain
Best Original Score
Batman Begins – Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard
Brokeback Mountain – Gustavo Santaolalla
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Danny Elfman
King Kong – James Newton Howard
Memoirs of a Geisha – John Williams
Chris "Ludacris" Bridges – Crash and Hustle & Flow
Georgie Henley – The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Miranda July – Me and You and Everyone We Know
Q’Orianka Kilcher – The New World
Owen Kline – The Squid and the Whale
Most Promising Director
Disney’s "Chicken Little" managed to stay atop the box office charts for a second consecutive weekend, despite family-friendly competition of the outer space kind. "Little" added a big $32 million egg to an omelette presently worth $80.7 million, and the folks over at Disney Animation think the thing’s pretty delicious. Debuting in second place was Sony’s "Jumanji" in Space" adventure "Zathura," which tallied a fairly decent $14 million from 3,200 screens.
Third and fourth place also went to a pair of newcomers: The Weinstein’s thriller "Derailed" pulled in $12.8 million from 2,400 theaters, while Paramount’s 50-Center "Get Rich or Die Tryin’" tried just hard enough to net $12.5 million from over 1,600 theaters.
Universal’s "Jarhead" rounded out the top 5 by adding another $12.2 million to its $47 million war-chest.
Next weekend sees the release of only two wide-openers, but they’re both well-anticipated doozies: Fox will unleash the Johnny Cash biopic "Walk the Line," while Warner Bros. will have to be content an obscure little indie flick called "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."
As always we invite you to stop by the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office page for a closer look at all the weekend numerals.
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.
This week at the movies, we’ve got bored marines fixing for a fight with Saddam ("Jarhead") and a small piece of poultry who overreacts to acorns hitting him on the head ("Chicken Little"). Which of these films will score with critics?
Based on the real-life experiences of Marine Anthony Swofford in the first Gulf War, "Jarhead," starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Jamie Foxx, attempts to show a different kind of war-is-hell scenario; in this case, idle hands are the devil’s playthings. The critics say the movie is different from most war films in that, rather than action, "Jarhead" depicts boredom, exhaustion, and ambiguity. Maybe too much ambiguity. While critics are praising the film for its originality, they say it never quite coheres. "Jarhead" currently stands at 51 percent on the Tomatometer.
No joke: The sky IS falling — at least critically — on Disney’s first CGI feature, Chicken Little. The age-old parable gets a fresh coat of paint, as Chicken Little (voiced by Zach Braff) becomes ostracized after making under-researched claims of nimbus and cirrus plummeting. While critics say the movie isn’t bad looking, the most important thing — the story — is undercooked. At 35 percent on the Tomatometer, the critics dislike this one more than a "Little." Beware of low flying CGI flicks — "Valiant," 2005’s other animated avian adventure — scored even lower, at 23 percent on the Tomatometer.