Fox scored its first number one hit in five months with "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" which grossed an estimated $57.4M on its opening weekend, tripling its nearest competitor’s sales.

Carrying a milder PG rating into 3,959 theaters, the super hero sequel averaged a sturdy $14,499 and just barely edged out the $56.1M bow of the first "Fantastic Four" pic from July 2005. A sequel has now topped the box office for seven consecutive weekends.

Reviews were mixed, but were better than for its predecessor which was critically panned. The sequel brought back director Tim Story along with the four main cast members Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, and Michael Chiklis. However, the iconic Marvel Comics character Silver Surfer was prominently added to the film, and even to its title, to help bring back comic fans who may have had a bad taste after the first "Fantastic" pic. Laurence Fishburne provided the voice for the computer-generated space traveler.

The latest summer sequel kicked off the weekend on Friday with $22M, dipped an understandable 11% to $19.6M on Saturday, and is projected to drop by another 19% on Sunday to $15.8M. Fox also reported that "Rise of the Silver Surfer" opened in 32 overseas markets with a combined $25.4M this weekend although most were minor territories. Russia, Italy, and the United Kingdom were among the only major international markets that launched this frame with more to come in the weeks ahead.

"Ocean’s Thirteen" enjoyed a good hold in its second weekend dropping only 47% to an estimated $19.1M in its sophomore frame. Warner Bros. has now made off with $69.8M in ten days. Threequels often drop by 55% or more and "Ocean’s Twelve" even fell by 54% in its second try. That caper sequel grossed $18.1M in its second weekend and bagged a similar $68.5M worth of loot in its first ten days. "Thirteen," which will not benefit from holidays like Christmas and New Year’s prolonging its run, could be on track to finish with $105-110M domestically which would still be the lowest in the "Ocean’s" series.

Universal’s sleeper hit "Knocked Up" continued to capitalize on strong word-of-mouth and held onto third place with an estimated $14.5M, off only 26%, for a $90.5M cume. The R-rated smash will join the century club next weekend making it the studio’s first $100M hit since its last June romantic comedy offering "The Break-Up."

Disney’s "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End" followed dropping 43% to an estimated $12M in its fourth adventure. Cume stands at $273.8M which is up 31% from 2003’s "Curse of the Black Pearl" after its fourth weekend, but down 24% from last summer’s "Dead Man’s Chest" at the same point. "At World’s End" did manage to rise to number 32 on the all-time domestic blockbusters list sailing past the $267.7M of 2001’s "Shrek."

A trio of kidpics followed. The animated penguin movie "Surf’s Up" sank 47% in its second weekend to an estimated $9.3M giving Sony a not-so-cool $34.7M after ten days. A final gross of about $60M could result. "Shrek the Third" landed in sixth place with an estimated $9M, off 41%, for a $297.2M total. Knocking on the triple-century mark, the Paramount release now stands at number 24 on the all-time list just behind the first "Pirates" film which banked $305.4M four years ago.

Moviegoers passed on solving a mystery with "Nancy Drew" which opened poorly in seventh with only $7.1M, accoridng to estimates. Averaging a weak $2,732 from 2,612 theaters, the PG-rated film starring Emma Roberts failed to make a dent in the summer box office this weekend. "Nancy" opened in the same neighborhood as other films aimed at tween girls like "Ice Princess," "Little Black Book," and "Aquamarine" which all bowed to roughly $7M a piece.

Lionsgate saw its horror sequel "Hostel Part II" tumble 64% after its weak opening to an estimated $3M this weekend. With only $14.2M taken in thus far, the torture pic should finish with just under $20M, or less than half of the $47.3M of the first "Hostel" flick from last year. MGM’s "Mr. Brooks" grossed an estimated $2.8M, off 43%, pushing the cume to only $23.4M for the Kevin Costner thriller.

"Spider-Man 3" rounded out the top ten with an estimated $2.5M falling 42% from last weekend. With $330M after its seventh frame, the Sony sequel climbed to number 15 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters right behind "Finding Nemo" which took in $339.7M in 2003.

Opening dead on arrival was the new actioner "D.O.A.: Dead or Alive" which bowed to an estimated $232,000 from 505 theaters for a pathetic $460 average. The Weinstein Co. title was released with little fanfare and should see most of its business on DVD.

A pair of hits fell from the top ten over the weekend. Fox Searchlight’s indie darling "Waitress" grossed an estimated $1.3M, down only 21%, for a $14.1M cume to date. A final tally of $17-20M from a limited national release is likely. Paramount’s Shia LaBeouf thriller "Disturbia" collected an estimated $250,000 in its tenth frame pushing the stellar cume to $78.3M. Look for a $79M final which will serve as an appetizer to the studio’s next Shia offering — "Transformers" opening July 3.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $136.8M which was down 2% from last year when "Cars" remained at number one with $33.7M; but up 8% from 2005 when "Batman Begins" debuted in the top spot with $48.7M over three days.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Director Tarsem Singh, best known for doing R.E.M videos such as "Losing My Religion," has been tapped (according to IMDb) to to helm the update of the 1973 classic "Westworld."

The film, which was written and directed by Michael Crichton, depicts a theme park where all your fantasies can come true, thanks to an army of high-end robots. In short order, the dream becomes a nightmare when the robots go on a killing frenzy. The film, which was an inspiration for later works such as "The Terminator" and "Jurassic Park" (also a Crichton work), was a great late career triumph for veteran actor Yul Brynner.

Pre-Governors office, there were rumors that Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis all wanted in on the remake. One plan is for Sly and Arnie to play the James Brolin / Richard Benjamin characters with Willis playing the android. Due to the "Terminator" connection, Arnie thought it might be fun to be the one being stalked. This, of course, is likely to change as casting and politics continue to develop.

The lovely Ms. Michelle Trachtenberg, last seen as an "Ice Princess" and best known for her work on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," has signed to star in Glen Morgan‘s "Black Christmas," which, as any horror fan could tell you, is a remake of a well-regarded Bob Clark chiller from 1974.

According to Production Weekly, "Michelle Trachtenberg is set to topline the horror remake "Black Christmas," along with Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Katie Cassidy and Oliver Hudson. Glen Morgan will direct the film, about a killer who terrorizes a sorority house with phone calls before he begins to murder various sorority sisters during the holiday break. Production is set to begin at the end of this month in Vancouver."

Mr. Morgan will be working with longtime partner James Wong. Together they’ve brought you "Willard," "The One," and the "Final Destination" flicks.

A fresh press release from Universal informs us that there will soon be a "Bring It On 3" to enjoy, but also reminds us that, hey yeah, there WAS a direct-to-video "Bring It On" sequel that we never saw.

"Bring It On 3" (working title), the highly anticipated third installment of the wildly successful Universal Pictures film franchise about status and rivalry in the cheerleading world, began principal photography on Monday, October 24th in the Los Angeles area. Universal Studios Home Entertainment Family Productions and Beacon Pictures present "Bring It On 3," a Universal DVD Original slated for release in 2006.

Following the tremendous success of its ever-popular predecessors, "Bring It On 3" marks the latest effort from Universal’s newly established DVD Original strategy to aggressively develop, produce or acquire superior family-branded fare for the explosive made-for-DVD market.

"Bring It On 3" stars talented young performers Hayden Panettiere ("Ice Princess," "Raising Helen," "Racing Stripes") and Solange Knowles Smith ("Johnson Family Vacation," "The Proud Family") and features gifted newcomers Gus Carr, Marcy Rylan, Cindy Chiu, Giovonnie Samuels, Francia Almendarez, Gary Leroi Gray, Danielle Savre and Jessie Fife. Also on board in a special appearance is Def Jam Records music sensation Rihanna, whose smash dance hit "Pon de Replay" from her debut album "Music Of The Sun" dominated the charts this summer.

"Bring It On 3" is directed by Steve Rash ("American Pie Presents Band Camp," "Can’t Buy Me Love") from a screenplay by Alyson Fouse ("Scary Movie 2," UPN’s "Everybody Hates Chris") and produced by David Roessell ("The Lizzie McGuire Movie," "Inspector Gadget 2"). Jon Kuyper ("Tremors 4: The Legend Begins," "Happy Endings") serves as line producer and unit production manager. The film is executive produced by Armyan Bernstein, Charlie Lyons and Zanne Devine.

The filmmakers have assembled a top production team for "Bring It On 3," including veteran director of photography Victor J. Kemper ("Dog Day Afternoon," "The Jerk," "Pee-wee’s Big Adventure"), production designer Simon Dobbin ("Slipstream," "Kingdom Come"), costume designer Shawn Barton ("Soul Plane," "A Man Apart") and editor Danny Saphire ("Good Advice," "American Pie Presents Band Camp").

The team also includes some of the country’s most accomplished choreographers who collaborate with the filmmakers and cast to present state-of-the art cheer/dance segments, including Tony Gonzalez ("Bring It On Again," "The Hot Chick," "Haunted Mansion," numerous music videos) Eric Little (acclaimed cheer choreographer), Tanisha Scott (music videos for Sean Paul, the Pussycat Dolls, NAS) and the Emmy®-nominated team, Richmond Talauega & Tone Talauega (RIZE-Producers/Music Producers; MTV Video Award nominees for Jennifer Lopez’ "Get Right").

Shake your pom poms! "Bring It On 3" is a sassy and spirited production with new moves, new music and eye-popping dance sequences. Britney Allen (Hayden Panettiere) is living the dream — the cheerleader’s dream. At the elite seaside campus of Pacific Vista High School, Britney is captain of the cheerleading squad and the envy of everyone at school-including one overly-ambitious teammate. When Britney hears about a forthcoming audition for a top cheer squad to appear in recording star Rihanna’s upcoming television special, she is determined that her Pirates cheer squad will capture the coveted spot.

But Britney’s life turns from cheer-topia to cheer-tastrophe when her father’s job takes her family to Crenshaw Heights, a multi-ethnic working-class neighborhood east of Los Angeles. At her new school, Britney is viewed with suspicion by most of the students, especially by Camille (Solange Knowles Smith), the overly confident and acerbic leader of the Crenshaw Heights Warriors cheerleading squad. No one is more surprised than Camille, however, when Britney proves herself and secures a spot on the Warriors’ cheer squad. Britney and her new teammates work feverishly to prepare for the audition for Rihanna, incorporating some edgy new moves into their performance. Now the pressure is on, as the Warriors find themselves locked in a high-stakes cheer-off with Pacific Vista, Britney’s old school! During the climactic, no-holds-barred fight to the finish, friendships, loyalties and talents are tested-but only one team can come out on top."

Described by The Hollywood Reporter as "a cross between E.T. and Parenthood" is the upcoming family film "The Martian Child." John Cusack ("High Fidelity") and Amanda Peet ("The Whole Nine Yards") are set to play the lead roles, and Menno Meyjes ("Max") will be in the director’s chair. First-time feature screenwriters Jonathan Tolins and Seth Bass will be adapting David Gerrold’s short story. Plus Joan Cusack‘s set to play the sister of John’s character … which is great because they really are siblings, and because Joan’s usually pretty hilarious.

Two comedies battled for box office supremacy this Easter weekend and the interracial romantic comedy “Guess Who,” starring Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mac, handily defeated “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous,” starring Sandra Bullock.

The first pairing of Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mac proved successful as “Guess Who” took first place at the box office by grossing an estimated $21M this weekend. This marked a personal best for Ashton Kutcher for films in which he has top billing. His previous best was another romantic comedy, “Just Married,” which debuted with $17.5M in 2003. Of the two new wide releases this weekend, it was the better reviewed with 43% on the Tomatomter. Despite the chemistry of its stars, critics thought “Guess Who,” a loose remake of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” lacked the political relevance of the original.

In 2nd place was “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous,” the sequel to one of Sandra Bullock’s most successful films. It did an estimated $14.5M in business this weekend. Since opening on Thursday, it has grossed $17.6M. “Miss Congeniality 2’”s $14.5M opening is slightly better than the original’s $13.9M debut, which ended its theatrical run with an impressive $106.8M. With almost universally bad reviews at 19% on the Tomatometer, the sequel would be lucky if it can finish with half of the original’s total. Critics thought Sandra Bullock was still as appealing as ever; too bad the movie was not pageant material.

Last weekend’s first place finisher “The Ring Two” dropped to 3rd with an estimated $13.8M, a staggering 61% drop-off from the previous weekend. It has grossed $58M after two weeks of release.

Robots” placed 4th with an estimated $13M. Its total after three weeks of releases is $87.4M.

The Pacifier” continues to do strong business. It did an estimated $8.5M in business and placed 5th. Its total after four weeks of release is $86.2M.

Rounding out the rest of the top 12 are “Hitch” in 6th with $4.3M ($166.5M total), “Hostage” in 7th with $4.1M ($26.2M total), “Ice Princess” in 8th with $3.7M ($13.3M total), “Be Cool” in 9th with $2.9M ($52.4M total), “Million Dollar Baby” in 10th with $2.6M ($94.6M total), “The Upside of Anger” in 11th with $1.3M ($4M total), and “Constantine” in 12th with $1.2M ($72.7M total).

Click here for the detailed chart.

The Ring Two,” may have scared off critics with 26% on the Tomatometer, but audiences still flocked to see the sequel to one of the most popular horror films in recent years. It topped the charts with an estimated $36M this weekend. That’s more than twice of what the original made – “The Ring” debuted in 2002 with $15M. “The Ring Two” made about $15M on Friday alone.

If estimates hold, the 36M debut of “The Ring Two” will get the record for 3rd best March debut of all time, behind “Robots” and “Ice Age.” Since “Robots” only debuted with a little over $36M last weekend, “The Ring Two” has a great shot of beating it for 2nd best.

Ice Princess,” the other wide release that debuted this weekend, only managed to charm an estimated $7M worth of business, placing 4th. Critics were mixed about ice-skating family comedy starring Michelle Trachtenberg. They gave the likable Disney film points for effort, but thought it lacked originality. It recorded a 55% on the Tomatometer.

Last weekend’s top money-maker “Robots” dropped to 2nd place with an estimated $21.8M, a 39% drop-off from the previous weekend. It’s total after two weeks of release is $66.9M.

In 3rd place is “The Pacifier” with $12.5M, holding steady with only a 31% drop-off. It’s total after three weeks is $72.3M.

Hitch” came in 5th with $6.6M and $159.4M total.

Rounding out the rest of the top 12 are “Be Cool” in 6th with $5.8M ($47.2M total), “Hostage” in 7th with $5.8M ($19.3M total), “Million Dollar Baby” in 8th with $4M ($90M total), “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” in 9th with $3.5M ($47.8M total), “Constantine” in 10th with $2.3M ($70.4M total), “The Upside of Anger” in 11th with $1.9M (2.2M total), and “Man of the House” in 12th with $0.98M ($18.1M total).

The total gross for the top 12 films this weekend saw just about a half percent increase over the same weekend last year when “Dawn of the Dead” took 1st place with $26.7M. Compared to last weekend, it’s about 5% higher.

Click here the detailed chart.

(Updated 3/21/2005)

Sequels are not doing well this month as two weeks ago, critics gave a tepid response to "Be Cool," the sequel to "Get Shorty." This week, DreamWorks’ "The Ring Two," the second sequel released this month, receives a similar response. As in the case with "The Pacifier" where it served as counter-programming to "Be Cool," Disney opens another family comedy, "Ice Princess," to compete with "Ring Two." However, unlike the week "Be Cool" was released, where it was not a matter of which film critics like more, but rather which they dislike the least, there is a fresh movie to choose from this week.

Naomi Watts reprises her role in “The Ring Two,” the sequel to 2002’s surprise hit “The Ring.” The original US remake was directed by Gore Verbinski, who also directed the hugely popular “Pirates of the Caribbean.” It grossed a terrific $128.5M and scored a Fresh 73% on the Tomatometer. “The Ring” was based on the Japanese horror hit, “Ringu,” which was directed by Hideo Nakata. He also directed the sequel to the original Japanese release. After Gore Verbinski opted not to re-sign for the sequel to the American version, Dreamworks tapped the Japanese director to take the helm. And critics aren’t impressed. Although there are some genuinely terrifying moments, critics can’t get over the film’s absurd plot and lethargic pace. As of this writing, it has a tedious 34% on the Tomatometer.

In comparison, the Tomatometer for Hideo Nakata’s “Ringu” and its sequel “Ringu 2” are 93% and 0% respectively. Regarding the sequels, 35% is a whole lot better than 0%. The good thing about remaking a 0% movie is that it can’t be any worst, but why remake a 0% movie? Maybe that’s why Gore Verbinski bowed out.

Countering with a gentler film targeted at a different audience, Disney opens the inspirational family comedy “Ice Princess.” According to the production notes, a recent national survey found that ice-skating is the second most popular sport in America, behind football. Since they already made a critically and commercially successful football movie, “Remember the Titans,” Disney decides to try their luck with ice-skating. And at the time of this writing, they are again successful – at least on the critical front. Despite the trite story and misplaced morals, critics recommend the film based on the likable Michelle Trachtenberg and the film’s “good-spirited warmth.” It scored a Fresh 67% on the Tomatometer.

It’s the second week in a row that we have at least one Fresh movie. Last week, it was “Robots” with 64% on the Tomatometer. This week, it’s “Ice Princess” with 67%. It’s time for celebration.

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