Netflix decided to unleash a veritable buttload of new movies this week, several of which are Certified Fresh. Choices range from Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey to P.T. Anderson’s ensemble drama Boogie Nights to perennial fan favorite The Shawshank Redemption, plus a whole lot more. Read on for the full list.


New on Netflix

 

Sunset Blvd. (1950) 98%

One of the best movies ever made about movies, Billy Wilder’s portrait of a delusional Hollywood has-been holed up in a decaying mansion is both darkly funny and deeply poignant, and features terrific performances from Gloria Swanson, William Holden, and Erich von Stroheim.

Available now on: Netflix


The Right Stuff (1983) 96%

Philip Kaufman’s Oscar-winning look at the origins of the United States’ manned space flight program stars Ed Harris, Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Barbara Hershey, and Dennis Quaid.

Available now on: Netflix


The Princess Bride (1987) 97%

Cary Elwes and Robin Wright star in Rob Reiner’s witty and heartfelt fairy tale comedy about a pirate on a quest to rescue his long-lost love from an evil prince

Available now on: Netflix


2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) 92%

Stanley Kubrick’s thought-provoking space opus is a beautifully shot meditation on morality, mortality, and mankind’s search for truth. It’ll probably blow your mind.

Available now on: Netflix


Best in Show (2000) 93%

A fine example of writer-director-star Christopher Guest’s gift for improv comedy, this mockumentary about comptetitive dog shows boasts brilliantly talented cast.

Available now on: Netflix


Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) 93%

Through a series of real-life trials that might test the patience of any normal person, the effervescent Poppy (Sally Hawkins) maintains a smile no matter how rough life gets, to the consternation of her grumpy driving instructor Scott (Eddie Marsan) in Mike Leigh’s enseble comedy.

Available now on: Netflix


Boogie Nights (1997) 93%

Paul Thomas Anderson’s ensemble drama about life in the porn industry made a movie star out of Mark Wahlberg and benefited immeasurably from great performances by Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Don Cheadle, Heather Graham, Luis Guzman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and William H. Macy.

Available now on: Netflix


The Shawshank Redemption (1994) 91%

Frank Darabont’s adaptation of the Stephen King novella stars Tim Robbins as a wrongly convicted accountant who befriends another inmate while serving his sentence.

Available now on: Netflix


Water (2005) 91%

This period drama from Deepa Mehta centers on a group of oppressed widows, one of whom struggles against societal norms when she falls in love with a young priest.

Available now on: Netflix


A Clockwork Orange (1971) 88%

Stanley Kubrick’s pitch-black satire, set in a brightly-colored but antiseptic futuristic England, features eye popping production design and a terrifically maniacal lead performance from Malcolm McDowell.

Available now on: Netflix


Mystic River (2003) 88%

Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, and Marcia Gay Harden star in Clint Eastwood’s drama about a Boston gangster whose life is upended when his daughter is murdered — a crime with echoes of another traumatic moment in the lives of three childhood friends on various sides of the law.

Available now on: Netflix


Inside Man (2006) 86%

Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, and Clive Owen star in Spike Lee’s heist thriller about a New York cop who faces off with a clever bank robber who manages to stay a step ahead of the police.

Available now on: Netflix


Erin Brockovich (2000) 85%

Julia Roberts stars in Steven Soderbergh’s drama as the real-life single mother who discovered a utility company’s efforts to cover up water poisoning and took the case to court.

Available now on: Netflix


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) 83%

Johnny Depp stars in Tim Burton’s adaptation of the famous Roald Dahl novel about an eccentric confectioner who invites five children to his mysterious chocolate factory for a tour.

Available now on: Netflix


Dolphin Tale (2011) 82%

Based upon a true story, Dolphin Tale stars Harry Connick Jr., Morgan Freeman, and Ashley Judd in the — ahem — tale of an injured seafaring mammal who damages her tail in a crab trap. A team of specialists and a lonely youngster band together to help our aquatic heroine — now sporting a prosthetic tail — to swim again.

Available now on: Netflix


Elizabeth (1998) 83%

Cate Blanchett earned accolades for her performance as Queen Elizabeth I of England, who is crowned queen after being imprisoned by her half sister for several years.

Available now on: Netflix


Looking for Richard (1996) 82%

Al Pacino steps behind the camera for this documentary of one production of William Shakespeare’s Richard III, with actors such as Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, and Winona Ryder in the cast.

Available now on: Netflix


Bowfinger (1999) 81%

Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy (in a dual role) star in Frank Oz’s Hollywood satire about a struggling film producer who enlists the help of a celebrity lookalike to complete a movie on the sly.

Available now on: Netflix


V for Vendetta (2006) 73%

V for Vendetta tells the story of a near-future dystopia, where a lone freedom fighter named V (Hugo Weaving) plots a series of revolutionary bombings to bring down a shady, secretly policed government. Along the way, V recruits young, frightened Evey (Natalie Portman ), shaves her head, and turns her into a proper young revolutionary.

Available now on: Netflix

There’s two ways to predict the Oscars: (1) dissect the awards buzz, attempting to get a feel for the fickle machinations of the Academy voter. Or (2) use your powers of geek math to crunch box office numbers and awards statistics for some cold, hard facts. With both methods in full swing, here’s a rundown of the Internet’s major Oscar predictions.

Best Picture
As usual, the nominees have settled into their niches: two big flicks ("The Departed" and "Babel"), one major underdog ("Little Miss Sunshine"), and two wallflowers ("The Queen" and "Letters from Iwo Jima"). FilmJerk, having combed the last 28 years of Oscar winners for meaningful statistics, posits "The Departed" has history on its side. The Envelope, L.A. Times’ one-stop hub for Hollywood buzz, agrees.

But it ain’t over yet. After polling readers from over 20 blogs, Vizu Answers reveals that 54 percent believe "Babel" will emerge victorious. And in our own unofficial Rotten Tomatoes research of the past 15 or so Oscar ceremonies, we discovered that the best-reviewed nominee never wins, along with the ones that make less than the average gross of all the nominees combined. This knocks "Babel" out of the race and pits "The Departed" against "Little Miss Sunshine."


Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio with hats in "The Departed."

Best Director
Martin Scorsese.

All signs point that this is going to be his year (more so than the other million times that statement’s been made). And what if another nominee (probably that Iñárritu guy) swoops in? People will be angry, more Hitchcock comparisons will be made, Scorsese will make a quip and then go back to work.


Martin Scorsese in a "Departed" powwow.

Best Actor and Best Actress
Statistically, Leonardo DiCaprio has a lead on the Best Actor race for "Blood Diamond," but no one is expecting him to win. Peter O’Toole, always the rascal, might pull off an upset. But based on the strong reader and industry insider buzz, it’s hard to imagined the award won’t be going to Forest Whitaker for "The Last King of Scotland."

As for Best Actress, statistics argue that Meryl Streep in "The Devil Wears Prada" has an advantage. Everything else is pointing towards heavy favorite Helen Mirren for "The Queen."


Peter O’Toole is old in "Venus."

Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress
The Supporting races are the the most unpredictable ones this year. The Envelope recently bumped "Dreamgirls"’ Eddie Murphy down, replacing him with "Little Miss Sunshine"’s Alan Arkin as favorite to take home the statue. But blog readers want Murphy to win and the numbers also slightly favor him.

Jennifer Hudson looks to be a shoo-in for her performance in "Dreamgirls." But the buzz has been almost too good; something’s got to backfire at some point. Abigail Breslin from "Little Miss Sunshine" seems an unlikely contender, but the Academy does like to hand out the tot votes (Haley Joel Osment’s nom for "The Sixth Sense" and Anna Paquin’s win for "The Piano" being recent examples).


Jennifer Hudson hitting high notes in "Dreamgirls."

Best Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay
"Babel" and "The Queen" are contenders, though the talk of the town is that the award’ll probably go to "Little Miss Sunshine." Recently, this category’s become the designated play area for quirky indie films ("The Squid and the Whale" and "The Royal Tenenbaums" anyone?). "Lost in Translation" won Best Screenplay but lost Best Picture in 2003, so if "Little Miss Sunshine" doesn’t nab Best Picture, it’ll get this consolation prize.

And Best Adapted Screenplay? Reader and Hollywood buzz and historical statistics are in favor for "The Departed." And why not? "The Departed"’s popular with critics, audiences, and picky "Infernal Affairs" fans. And it was written by only one guy (compare with "Children of Men"’s and "Borat"’s five apiece) so we won’t have to sit through a really long acceptance speech.


Steve Carrell and Toni Collette action pose for "Little Miss Sunshine."

Best Foreign Language Film
A strong crop have been nominated this year, including "Water," "Days of Glory," and "The Lives of Others," all Certified Fresh. But the award is likely to go to the critically lauded, record breaking "Pan’s Labyrinth." Since a "Pan" win for Best Screenplay isn’t going to happen, Academy members are going to want to pay their respects and dogpile the votes here.


A charming "Labyrinth" inhabitant.

Best Animated Feature
For the first time in maybe ever, Pixar doesn’t look to be a sure-fire bet. "Cars," despite being Certified Fresh and grossing nearly $250 million, in relative Pixar terms, it wasn’t a huge success like "Toy Story 2," "Finding Nemo," or "The Incredibles." The other big nominee, "Happy Feet," however, was a surprise hit, much like that other penguin movie. Academy voters are probably still thinking fondly about "Happy Feet," while "Cars" has the Ghost of Pixar Movies Past looming over it.


Owen Wilson as an unhappy car.

Best Documentary Feature
Each of the four major nominees have big positives going for them. "Iraq in Fragments" is timely and "Deliver Us From Evil" has a perfect Tomatometer. "An Inconvenient Truth"
may win on the sheer number of people who have seen it as opposed to the other nominees. "Jesus Camp" was an underground, word-of-mouth hit and actually resulted in the closure of the titular camp. You can’t buy better buzz and publicity than that.


Solidarity in "Iraq in Fragments."

Source: FilmJerk, The Envelope, Vizu Answers

It’s that time of year again: Right before the fancy awards are doled out, all the different critics’ groups chime in with their favorite flicks of the year. Here we have the picks from the New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) for your perusal.

NY FILM CRITICS ONLINE AWARDS FOR 2006

New York Film Critics Online is composed of major reviewers in the New York area who work exclusively for online publications or for print/broadcast media with a strong online presence. The twenty-six members (NYFCO.ORG) met at O’Neal’s Restaurant, 49 W 64 Street in Manhattan on December
10th, 2006, and voted for these awards:

Picture — "The Queen"

Director — Stephen Frears – "The Queen"

Screenplay — Peter Morgan – "The Queen"

Cinematography — Dick Pope – "The Illusionist"

Actor — Forest Whitaker – "The Last King of Scotland"

Actress — Helen Mirren – "The Queen"

Supporting Actor — Michael Sheen – "The Queen"

Supporting Actress — Jennifer Hudson – "Dreamgirls" & Catherine O’Hara – "For Your Consideration" (tie)

Ensemble Cast — "Little Miss Sunshine"

Debut as Director — Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris – "Little Miss Sunshine"

Breakthrough Performer — Jennifer Hudson – "Dreamgirls"

Film Score — Philip Glass – "The Illusionist"

Documentary Feature — "An Inconvenient Truth"

Animated Feature — "Happy Feet"

Foreign Language Picture — "Pan’s Labyrinth"

Humanitarian Award — Deepa Mehta ("Water") for taking risks to create films about the difficulties of social change in India especially as it affects women.

Ten Best Pictures (Alphabetical)
"Babel"
"The Fountain"
"Inland Empire"
"Little Children"
"Little Miss Sunshine"
"Pan’s Labyrinth"
"The Queen"
"Thank You For Smoking"
"Volver"
"Water"

Tom Cruise‘s spy sequel Mission: Impossible III remained the most popular film in North America for the second straight weekend while the big-budget disaster film Poseidon opened in second place to disappointing results.

The frame’s other new releases, the Lindsay Lohan comedy Just My Luck and the soccer drama Goal! The Dream Begins, opened miserably as well giving the industry little to celebrate. Overall ticket sales fell behind those of the comparable weekend in each of the last four years as a sluggish marketplace waits for that one true summer blockbuster that draws the masses into the multiplexes.

Despite a weaker-than-expected opening weekend, Paramount’s MI3 enjoyed a respectable sophomore frame dropping 49% to an estimated $24.5M to retain its standing as the number one film. Playing in an ultrawide 4,059 theaters, the Ethan Hunt actioner averaged a solid $6,039 per location and raised its ten-day total to $84.6M. The decline was very similar to the 48% second weekend fall for last summer’s big spy flick Mr. & Mrs. Smith which grossed $26M in its sophomore shot after a $50.3M bow. The Pitt-Jolie vehicle, however, captured a more muscular $96.7M in its first ten days thanks in part to a June release when more students were out of school.

With so many action sequels tumbling by 55% or more on the second weekend, Mission: Impossible III managed to hold up relatively well. Competition from Poseidon was not formidable so moviegoers were not drawn away to another big event pic. The latest Ethan Hunt film will face its true test this Friday when the much-anticipated thriller The Da Vinci Code starring that other Tom opens followed a week later by the mutant juggernaut X-Men: The Last Stand. At its current pace, look for MI3 to reach $130-140M domestically making it the lowest grossing installment of the decade-old franchise. The first Mission: Impossible grossed $181M in 1996 while MI2 took in $215.4M in 2000. Overseas, MI3 jumped to $129.2M in foreign sales putting the worldwide tally at $213.8M in under two weeks. The global box office gross looks to be on a trajectory to hit $350M.

Failing to sink Cruise’s ship, the ocean liner disaster pic Poseidon settled for the runner-up spot this weekend opening with an estimated $20.3M from 3,555 locations. Warner Bros. generated a decent but not impressive per-theater average of $5,717 with its first pricey entry of the summer movie season. Directed by Wolfgang Petersen (The Perfect Storm, Air Force One), the PG-13 film was a remake of the 1972 picture The Poseidon Adventure and starred Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, and Richard Dreyfuss as passengers on a luxury ship who must fight to survive after a rogue wave capsizes the vessel. Poseidon opened weaker than other big-budget maritime action films like 2003’s Master and Commander ($25.1M), 2000’s The Perfect Storm ($41.3M), and even 1995’s infamous Waterworld ($21.2M).

Although audiences in years past have flocked to May disaster films like Twister, Deep Impact, and The Day After Tomorrow, this time Poseidon lacked the goods to draw in a paying audience. Reviews were not kind which also made the adult-skewing picture a tough sell. Varying reports on the film’s budget put the production cost in excess of $160M so a stellar run internationally and on DVD will be needed in order to turn a profit. Poseidon set sail in a handful of Asian countries to the tune of $4.4M this weekend, but will open in most foreign territories in June and July.

Once again scoring the best hold among all wide releases was the Robin Williams family comedy RV which dipped a mere 14% in its third weekend to an estimated $9.5M. The Sony hit has collected a solid $42.8M in 17 days.

Ticket buyers ignored Lindsay Lohan’s new film Just My Luck which flopped in its opening weekend grossing a mere $5.5M, according to estimates. The Fox release averaged an unlucky $2,165 per location and played almost exclusively to a teen girl audience. Studio research showed that the crowd for Luck was a remarkably high 80% female and 70% under the age of 25. Critics, not surprisingly, panned the film.

Horror flick An American Haunting enjoyed a solid sophomore session dropping only 36% to an estimated $3.7M for fifth place. Distributed by Freestyle Releasing, the PG-13 thriller has banked $10.9M in ten days and should scare its way to a mediocre $17-19M. Universal’s 9/11 thriller United 93 followed with an estimated $3.6M, down just 33%, lifting the cume to a decent $25.6M.

The teen gymnastics pic Stick It dropped 41% to an estimated $3.2M to land in the number seven spot with a total to date of $22.2M for Buena Vista. Fox’s animated sequel Ice Age: The Meltdown, still the top-grossing film of 2006, grossed an estimated $3M sliding just 29% in its seventh weekend. No other film has spent as many weeks in the top ten this year. Cume stands at $187.4M domestically and over $600M worldwide.

Sony’s fright pic Silent Hill placed ninth with an estimated $2.2M, off 45%, for a sum of $44.5M thus far. The New Line flop Hoot fell 37% to an estimated $2.1M in its second outing as the total inched up to a dismal $6.2M. Last weekend, the owl film had the distinction of suffering the worst opening in history for a film debuting in over 3,000 theaters. Hoot’s puny $3.4M bow in 3,018 sites beat out the dismal $6M launch from 3,006 theaters of 2004’s New York Minute starring the Olsen Twins for that unfortunate honor.

Another film failing to connect with kids was Buena Vista’s new soccer drama Goal! The Dream Begins which kicked off its run with a weak estimate of only $2M. The PG-rated film failed to qualify for the top ten this weekend and averaged a poor $1,989 from 1,007 locations.

Two April releases fell from the top ten this weekend. The spoof comedy Scary Movie 4 dropped 44% to an estimated $2.1M in its fifth frame. With $86.6M to date, The Weinstein Co. release looks to finish with roughly $90M which would not be far off from the $110M of its predecessor 2003’s Scary Movie 3. The Lionsgate family drama Akeelah and the Bee declined 41% to an estimated $2M in only its third turn. Cume sits at just $13.6M and should reach $16-18M.

Opening in limited release this weekend, Miramax’s family reunion comedy Keeping Up with the Steins grossed an estimated $621,000 from 138 locations for a respectable $4,500 average. The PG-13 film stars Garry Marshall, Jeremy Piven, and Daryl Hannah. The Swaziland-set drama Wah-Wah debuted in 25 theaters and grossed an estimated $57,000 for a mild $2,270 average. Starring Gabriel Byrne, Miranda Richardson, and Emily Watson, the R-rated film is distributed by Roadside Attractions and Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Among indie films expanding into more markets, Sony Classics grossed an estimated $1.2M from its comedy Art School Confidential after widening from 12 to 762 theaters across the country. That left the John MalkovichAnjelica Huston starrer with a pitiful $1,593 average per venue as it failed to register with moviegoers on a national level. Cume is $1.4M. Fox Searchlight expanded its Indian drama Water from 36 to 62 locations and grossed an estimated $257,000 for a $4,138 average. Total sits at $593,000 with more markets opening on Friday.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $77.7M which was down 15% from last year when Monster-in-Law opened at number one with $23.1M; and down 23% from 2004 when Troy debuted in the top spot with $46.9M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, BoxOfficeGuru.com

Tom Cruise climbed into his usual number one spot at the box office with his heavily-hyped spy sequel Mission: Impossible III, however ticket sales fell below most industry expectations as the debut was not spectacular.

The weekend’s other new releases, the horror flick An American Haunting and the kid drama Hoot, both generated lukewarm openings. But thanks to a weak early May in 2005, the overall marketplace still beat out last year for the seventh consecutive frame.

Paramount claimed the top spot with MI3 which invaded a staggering 4,054 theaters collecting an estimated $48M in ticket sales over the Friday-to-Sunday period. The third installment in the decade-old franchise averaged a potent $11,846 per venue. But Tom Cruise’s box office muscles were expected to lift the tally much higher given all the factors that were working in the $150M film’s favor. The newest Mission pic obviously had plenty of starpower but with its early May bow, it had virtually no competition in the multiplexes to deal with. Plus the studio’s marketing hype was deafening, the pic opened in the second highest number of theaters in history for a live-action film (behind Spider-Man 2‘s 4,152), and even the reviews were mostly favorable. That was a welcome bonus as critics are rarely kind to big-budget action sequels.

According to studio research, MI3 connected with the same audience that the previous two did. Men made up 56% of the crowd and 64% were age 25 or older. Joining Cruise in the PG-13 film’s cast were Ving Rhames, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell, and recent Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Openings for other high-profile action films debuting on the first weekend of May include $68.1M for 2001’s The Mummy Returns, $85.6M for 2003’s X2: X-Men United, and $51.7M for 2004’s Van Helsing. MI3 didn’t even reach the level of Van Helsing. In fact, its opening gross was even weaker than that of Mission: Impossible 2 which launched over Memorial Day weekend six years ago with $57.8M over three days, $70.8M over four days, and $91.8M over its six-day Wednesday-to-Monday span. Even with higher ticket prices, a Friday bow, and hundreds of more theaters, MI3 still failed to reach the heights of MI2. Adjusting for inflation, MI3’s opening was the weakest among the Ethan Hunt flicks. The first Mission bowed to $74.9M over its six-day holiday frame in May 1996 including $45.4M over the Friday-to-Sunday span.

Instead, the new J.J. Abrams-directed IMF saga opened in the same neighborhood as other recent star-driven spy films like last summer’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith ($50.3M), 2004’s The Bourne Supremacy ($52.5M), and 2002’s James Bond film Die Another Day ($47.1M). Although opening near the $50M mark over three days is an impressive feat, Cruise’s new film was backed by one of the most expensive marketing campaigns in recent memory. The highly-paid star/producer attended premieres all around the world, popped up on major talk shows and magazine covers, and press coverage, not surprisingly, was non-stop.

Industry watchers must now wonder – was there too much marketing? Were audiences sick and tired of hearing and seeing Tom Cruise everywhere? Did they really want to spend money seeing even more of him? Media-saavy moviegoers voted with their dollars and those who seemed to have had enough chose to stay away. The MI3 hype machine brought back memories of Sony’s Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle from three years ago. That action sequel also arrived in theaters on a disturbingly loud wave of promotion revolving around its flamboyant stars and Demi Moore‘s relationship with Ashton Kutcher which was constantly covered on the airwaves. Despite the pricey marketing investment, Throttle debuted weaker than expected with $37.6M and crumbled 63% in its sophomore frame.


Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle

Paramount was pleased with the international results for Mission: Impossible III as the actioner took in an estimated $70M over the weekend opening in almost all major markets around the world except for Japan. The spy sequel blanketed the globe with roughly 9,500 theaters in 55 markets putting its worldwide opening weekend tally at $118M. The ratio between sales outside and within North America remained the same as with previous Mission pics. The 1996 original grossed 61% of its $465M global tally overseas while MI2 took in 60% of its $538M internationally. This weekend, 60% of MI3’s dollars came from abroad.

With no major competition for the family audience, the Robin Williams comedy RV enjoyed the smallest decline in the top ten easing just 32% to an estimated $11.1M. The Sony release dropped one notch following its top spot bow and has grossed a solid $31M to date. In just ten days, RV has already become the second biggest live-action grosser for Williams in the past seven years after the $67.4M of 2002’s Insomnia. Look for the $50M road trip flick to end its journey in the neighborhood of $60M.


R.V.

Opening in third place was the supernatural thriller An American Haunting which scared up an estimated $6.4M in ticket sales in its first three days. The PG-13 film averaged a decent $3,825 from 1,668 theaters. Reviews were mostly negative for the Donald SutherlandSissy Spacek starrer about a possessed young woman in the 1800s. Distributor Freestyle Releasing’s weekend estimate included an unusually low Saturday-to-Sunday decline of less than 5%. Final grosses released on Monday could see the figure come down.


"An American Haunting," "Stick It," and "United 93"

The gymnastics comedy Stick It tumbled 49% in its second weekend to an estimated $5.5M giving Buena Vista $18M in ten days. Look for the teen pic to reach $27-29M which is commendable for its genre. After a solid takeoff last weekend, the 9/11 hijack thriller United 93 declined a substantial 55% in its sophomore frame and grossed an estimated $5.2M. After ten days, Universal’s $15M pic has collected $20.1M and should find its way to roughly $30M domestically.

Fox’s Ice Age: The Meltdown dropped 45% to an estimated $4M in its sixth frame to boost its cume to $183.3M. Crumbling 58% in its third spook was Sony’s fright flick Silent Hill which grossed an estimated $3.9M lifting the cume to $40.8M.


"Ice Age: The Meltdown," "Silent Hill," and "Scary Movie 4"

The spoof sequel Scary Movie 4 fell 52% to an estimated $3.8M and brought its total to $83.7M. The Starbucks-promoted kid drama Akeelah and the Bee enjoyed a respectable second weekend hold dropping 43% to an estimated $3.4M. After ten days, the Lionsgate release has still only grossed $10.7M and seems likely to finish close to $20M.

Opening to dismal results with an estimated $3.4M from 3,018 theaters was the kid drama Hoot from New Line. The PG-rated story of a group of boys who set out to save endangered owls averaged a pitiful $1,127 per location. Fans of the best-selling book apparently avoided the film adaptation and critics for the most part were unimpressed.


"Akeelah and the Bee," "Hoot," and "The Promise"

A handful of films opened in limited release to mixed results. Warner Independent debuted the Chinese epic The Promise in 213 theaters but grossed only $271,000 according to estimates for a poor $1,272 average. The Golden Globe-nominated adventure was China’s official submission to this year’s Oscars and is reportedly that country’s most expensive film ever made. U.S. critics were not very pleased.

Sony Classics bowed its indie comedy Art School Confidential which grossed an estimated $142,000 from a dozen sites in New York and Los Angeles averaging a strong $11,833 per site. The Terry Zwigoff-directed film expands to nearly 800 theaters in most major markets on Friday. ThinkFilm debuted its Edward Norton starrer Down in the Valley to an estimated $26,000 from three New York houses for a solid $8,770 average. The film widens to three more cities on Friday before gradually expanding throughout May.


"Art School Confidential"

Among holdovers, Fox Searchlight expanded its widow drama Water from five to 36 theaters and grossed an estimated $188,000 for a $5,222 average. The ten-day total stands at $270,000 and this Friday the Deepa Mehta film will widen to about 60 sites. The distributor’s indie sensation Thank You for Smoking collected an estimated $1.1M, off 40%, for a $20M cume.

Three April releases were pushed out of the top ten this weekend. The Michael Douglas political thriller The Sentinel took a big hit from MI3 and crashed 62% to an estimated $3M putting its 17-day cume at $30.9M. Fox should find its way to about $36M. Disney’s underperforming toon The Wild slumped 46% to an estimated $2.6M. With only $32M in the bank, the animated film looks to conclude with $36-38M. Sony, on the other hand, has generated solid numbers for its sports comedy The Benchwarmers which grossed an estimated $2M this weekend. Down 54%, the Rob SchneiderDavid Spade film has taken in $55.6M thus far and is set to end with just under $60M.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $94.7M which was up a healthy 24% from last year when Kingdom of Heaven opened at number one with $19.6M; but off 4% from 2004 when Van Helsing debuted in the top spot with $51.7M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, BoxOfficeGuru.com