Monday, July 31, 2006

Vice As Nice

We have a new box office champ in the U.S.

Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo as usual, kicks things off....

Busted 'Miami Vice,' scored an estimated $25.2 million to dethrone ''Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest' [falling to 2nd place with $20,4 million] while 'The Ant Bully' [at #5 with just $8.1 in ticket sales] was squashed.

Gray has much more to say on the subject--and that can be found here

Ben Fritz of Variety has an overview called 'Vice' gets a grip on still-strong 'Pirates'

'Miami' heats up screens to cool 'Caribbean'

"Miami" takes on "Pirates" is Entertainment Weekly' Dave Karger's weekend wrap-up: (filling in for Joshua Rich)

Heartthrobs rule the box office as "Miami" heats up and teens rush in to swoon over "John Tucker"; meanwhile, "The Ant Bully" gets left behind

Yeah, yeah "Pirates" and all that...

...Another aspect of the story are the tweens...they are indeed quite a force at the movies. John Tucker Must Die made just over $14 million bucks to land in third place among some heavy hitters--putting Ant Bully down and then some.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Money Makes The World Go 'Round

As of today's date, Superman Returns has grossed $185.6 million dollars in the U.S. While overseas, the movie is doing exceedingly well, taking in another $110 million, (U.S. dollars) for a worldwide total of $295,806,000 so far (figures courtesy Box Office Mojo)

Daniel Robert Epstein of Newsarama caught up with SR director Bryan Singer at the recent San Diego Comic Con and got the chance to ask him a few of questions about the movie's all important box office numbers...and about one of those nagging issues I had with the screenplay that I outlined in My Superman Returns Review.

Q: Superman Returns of course, will make plenty of money. The DVD is going to be monstrous. But it seems it's not as successful as everyone wanted it to be or as successful as people wanted it to be.

Bryan Singer: Domestically. Internationally it has so far exceeded our expectations. I was personally surprised because it is an American superhero. Compared to my experiences with the X-Men movies I feel disproportioned. The strangest surprise has definitely been the international gross.

Q: What happened in America?

Singer: In my personal estimation I felt it was an issue with the marketing. You've got a dense summer and you're resurrecting a character. There's a different kind of approach you've got to take when you bring in something new. Even though he's Superman and the character is ubiquitous, a Superman movie is a very new thing and it has to be presented in a new way. So a lot of that burden falls on the kind of presentation it is given.".

Q: I was really surprised that the plot of Superman Returns mirrored the plot of Donner’s Superman movie so much.

BS: It takes you on the same journey that the original one did but as an adult which was quite intentional. Right down to him sinking in the water. It is not remaking the first one but I wanted to take the audience on the same kind of journey as the first one but with a mature guy who’s going through a dilemma that wasn’t in the first one. It’s in the marketing. I don’t know how to specifically qualify but it has to be understood how to present something that hasn’t been around for a while. The last Superman, Superman IV, in its American release made 15 million dollars. It is still something new and it has to be launched on the flip side of the other movies of its ilk.

Q: After he gave up his powers in Superman II, Lois and Superman slept together. I’m going to assume that that’s when he got her pregnant…

BS: Possibly.

Q: Then he gives her the kiss, which made her forget that they even slept together. Was the pregnancy a mystery for her?

BS: I ignored that part. I just assumed she remembered sleeping with him.

It's funny. Whenever there's a story about a film's poor box office, it seems like the marketing of said movie, is always the first to get blamed for the problem...

Everyone who reads this blog on a regular basis, already knows how much I respect the work of Singer, but his answer to that last question really ticked me off. The memory wipe of Supes II, although a bit of a cheat, is still a key component of the film. And if he's gonna structure SR around the first 2 flicks in the series, then he can't just let it slide or assume anything. If Lois remembers that she slept with the last son of Krypton--than does she know his secret identity? Not to mention the fact that the kid Jason displays some of dad's abilities in the film. How is that possible when Clark was human when he slept with Lois? Vague history my eye...Sloppy, just sloppy...

The Movie Reporter caught up with Michael Thau, the man responsible for overseeing Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut DVD (due on 11/28), and he gave them some info on what we can expect from the release in a video interview.

Giddy as a schoolboy.....

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Out On A Ledge

The Australian press reports that Brokeback Mountain star Heath Ledger may have scored the coveted role of The Joker in the Batman Begins sequel. And with that, the U.S entertainment media was of course, off and running with the story:

From the World Entertainment News Network--dated last Thursday

The actor was reportedly offered the plum part last week, and will star in the next installment of the film series, set to be released in 2008. Oscar-winner Robin Williams was reportedly desperate to land the role and The Da Vinci Code star Paul Bettany was also rumored to be in talks for the part. The film website, says filmmakers wanted to cast an actor in the part of Batman's adversary who was roughly the same age as 32-year-old star Christian Bale. Ledger is also working with Bale on I'm Not There, a film in which seven actors embody different aspects of musician Bob Dylan's life and work.

That report makes it seem as though no casting decision has been made yet with regards to the film. Notice the word "offered" not "accepted" is used...However this blurb by Stax of Filmforce makes it appear as though Ledger has the role wrapped up...

July 27, 2006-... The website has heard, as almost everyone has by now, that Heath Ledger is going to play The Joker in the next movie.

The site claims The Joker will be just one of the villains in a larger story and that he won't appear until halfway through the movie, a la Batman in Begins. He is also expected to have a backstory."From what I've heard about the direction of the film expect The Joker to be very creepy and very extreme," a trusted source for BoF advised the site, claiming that Ledger's Clown Prince will be totally unlike Jack Nicholson's portrayal in the 1989 film.

BoF's source suggests, " Ledger is perfect for the role as he has never played this kind of part before which is what Nolan was after. Think about it – if you see Sam Rockwell or Robin Williams or even Hugo Weaving, you'd know exactly how they would play the role before even seeing the film and that's not very intriguing for fans is it? I have a feeling Paul Bettany was out of the mix after his performance in The Da Vinci Code."

BoF also reports that any previously rumored titles for the sequel are just that. "The title will most likely not be known until they've finished shooting."

Hmm...Ledger huh? Let's say for the sake of discussion BoF and Filmforce have it right...I just don't see him playing dark. In his darkest film to date, The Order (2003) he was as stiff as a board. And even though, he now has all this buzz around him following Brokeback--I think he still would be an "ify" choice at best...He is a solid actor, but I think he lacks the range required for the part. Waiting for an official announcement either way...And hey I would be happy to be proven wrong with my assessment

Friday, July 28, 2006

Dog Days Of Summer

This weekend's major box office release, Miami Vice, has been all over the place in recent days--this despite, some very public problems.

For example, Daniel Fierman of Entertainment Weekly takes us behind the scenes of the troubled production, for the Jul 21st issue. The magazines editors predict: "Miami Vice" will arrest "Pirates"

After three weeks on top, Johnny Depp will get into the back of Colin and Jamie's cruiser

Surprisingly, EW film critic Owen Gleiberman, gives the film a solid B

Meanwhile, Ben Fritz and Dave McNary, of Variety pointedly ask Can 'Vice' ice competish?

Roger Friedman of Fox News.Com tells us that a signature part of the 80's TV series has been Axed, but [is] Alive in the new film (think theme song folks). Talk about having it both ways.

Bottom line, after all is said and done, the reviews for 'Vice' are pretty bad... even with Michael Mann in the driver's seat and all that star power.

Other new releases for the week, include yet another CGI animated family film The Ant Bully,(Reviews) Scoop (Reviews) a new flick written and directed by Woody Allen, the dark teen comedy, John Tucker Must Die (Reviews), while A Scanner Darkly (Reviews) finally goes wide and--The best reviewed film of the new batch--Little Miss Sunshine (Reviews) begins a limited run in New York and LA.

Ho-Hum. Other than "Scanner" or "Sunshine"....Wake me up when the weekend's over...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Mmmmm....Simpson Film Footage

Someone out there, in cyberspace, has posted footage from the forthcoming big screen version of The Simpsons movie via You Tube...

...And Harry from Aint It Cool News has it.

Even though the material is in an early stage of animation--It's still quite a hoot to watch. The footage first appeared during last week's San Diego Comic Con, as part of a panel presentation. Thanks to the leaker for doing the deed, and allowing the world a peek at what we can expect from the film, due next year.

The Final Frontier

The late James Doohan (1920-2005) has always a favorite of mine, among the original Star Trek cast of actors...No matter what was going on behind the scenes--he always made sure that his character of Chief Engineer Scott, had a sense of fun about him, and oh that glint in his eye...

A year after his death,Tim Korte of The Associated Press reports that some of Doohan's remains are about to take a special trip.

... a few grams of his ashes blasted 70 miles into space this fall from southern New Mexico.

Houston-based Space Services Inc. plans to have the ashes of 100 others aboard the Oct. 21 "memorial spaceflight" _ among them, Gordon Cooper, one of the original seven Mercury astronauts.

Doohan died last July at age 85. His widow, Wende Doohan, said he would have wanted such a send-off.

"If the privatization of space was available when he was alive, he would have been first in line with a window-seat ticket," she told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday. "It's a way to honor something he would have loved to have done

Doohan appearing as Captain Montgomery ("Scotty") Scott in the 1994 Trek feature Star Trek: Generations. Courtesy Paramount Pictures/Eliott Marks

What a fitting send off...The family of Trek creator Gene Roddenberry made sure that some of his remains took a similar flight, following his death in 1991...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Fletch Lives But Spidey Is Livin' Large

I'm about to make 2 bold statements:

The TV series Scrubs is one of the best shows on the schedule....

And the 1985 film, Fletch, is an underrated highlight in the career of Chevy Chase.

Given those declarative sentences, you can imagine my delight over Michael Flemming's article in today's Variety:

The Weinstein Co. has set "Scrubs" creator-exec producer Bill Lawrence to make his feature directing debut on "Fletch Won," an adaptation of the Gregory Mcdonald novel series.

Lawrence will write the script for a film being set up as a prequel to the 1985 pic "Fletch," which starred Chevy Chase. Though no casting decisions have been made, plan is for Lawrence to direct the pic in April, when his NBC series goes on hiatus. David List produces.

Lawrence, a writer on "Friends" and co-creator of "Spin City," is a big fan of the adventures of Irwin Fletcher and sparked to the chance to work on an origin story. Story follows the early days of the character's career as a junior reporter at the News-Tribune

What a good fit. Lawrence is definitely the right man for the job. I wonder if this means that Scrubs leading man, Zach Braff, will be playing the younger Fletch?...

To that, Gregg Goldstein of The Hollywood Reporter had this:

"Zach is perfect for the role," Lawrence said in an interview from his Los Angeles office, where Braff sat laughing in the background. "I'm going to use all my pull trying to make him do it."... No cast members have been signed yet.

I hope Braff signs on. He and Lawrence make quite the dynamic Duo... And hey, Chase should be available for some sort of cameo, after all, his career is in the toilet. I'm sure he could use the work.

Meanwhile, Ben Fritz, also of Variety, offers up some BIG (but not unexpected) news about next year's Spider-Man 3...

"Spider-Man 3" will be swinging into Imax theaters next May, marking Sony Pictures' first day-and-date release of a live-action film in the large-screen format.

Deal gives Imax what's expected to be one of the biggest tentpoles of the 2007 summer season.

Most of Imax's previous live-action day-and-date releases have come from Warner Bros., including this summer's "Superman Returns" and "Poseidon."

"Spider-Man 2" was released in an Imax version after its regular theatrical run.

First Sony pic to get the day-and-date Imax treatment will be toon "Open Season," which will be in Imax 3-D in September.

IMAX and Superheroes have a great symbiotic relationship, and this deal will only make Spidey ticket sales soar even higher...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Three Sheets To The Wind

Today it's all about movie posters...

The official STAR TREK website has released a teaser poster for next feature film...

Speculation over which direction JJ Abrams plans to take the new film can now be put to rest.

Have a look and bask in the retro glow of nostalgia... Look for Trek XI in 2008. Click here for more info...

On a similar track--

In advance of next year's Transformers movie, attendees of the San Diego Comic Con were treated to 2 mini-one sheet posters for the 7-4-07 flick.

Merrick of Aint It Cool News gives the rest of us a peek at what the San Diego crowd got the chance to see first...

And finally, here's the first poster for Jon Favreau's Iron Man, due 2008:

In a word--Wow!!

Monday, July 24, 2006

RIP Mako (1933-2006)

Memoirs Of A Geisha star Mako lost his battle with esophageal cancer at his home in Ventura County, California on Friday. He was 72.

The Asian-American actor, who was Oscar nominated for his portrayal of submissive engineer Po-Han, in the 1966 film The Sand Pebbles .

Brought up in Japan by his grandparents while his parents were studying in New York, Mako joined his mother and father when they were granted US citizenship. He studied architecture before joining the US Army in the early 1950s and became passionate about acting while performing in military shows. He became a naturalized American in 1956.

After his Army service, he enrolled at the Pasadena Community Playhouse in California and studied to become a professional actor. His other movies include The Ugly Dachsund (1966), The Green Hornet (1974), An Eye For An Eye (1981), Seven Years In Tibet (1997), Bulletproof Monk (2003) and Pearl Harbor (2001). His impressive TV resume includes appearances in Wonder Woman, I Spy, Hawaii Five-O, Kung Fu, and The Streets Of San Francisco. I will also never forget his 2 episode stint on TV's "The Incredible Hulk" in 78/79, as Li Sung.

For more on Mako, read this obituary on the CNN International website

Pirates Continue To Plunder

A fierce battle indeed took place at movies this weekend but it wasn't on the big screen. Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo starts things off...

'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest' became the fastest picture to gross $300 million, [still #1] while 'Monster House ' was solid, [at #2 with $23.0] 'Lady in the Water' [making just $18.2 million in 3rd place] floundered, 'Clerks 2,' was okay [at #6 with $9.6 million] and 'My Super Ex-Girlfriend ' flopped [landing in 7th place with a meager $8.7 million].

Gray's complete analysis of the slug-fest can found here

Meanwhile, Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly focuses on the fact that "Pirates" sequel beats even it's predecessor for his online recap.

Finally, Dave McNary of Variety calls it Fright slighted as Pirates prey on 'Monster,' 'Lady'

Man, "Pirates" is unbeatable! Poor M. Night Shyamalan can't catch a break...Clerks 2--Controversy? What controversy?

Pros And Cons

The recently concluded San Diego Comic Con made movie news throughout its 4 day run, that should both delight and intrigue the fanboys and girls out there in cyberspace. Michael Learmonth of Variety has a nice wrap-up article in today's edition of the trade

Hollywood brought fewer tentpoles to the floor of Comic-Con, but the fanboy nation and a battalion of stormtroopers packed the exhibition floor and crowded sessions for "Snakes on a Plane," "Battlestar Galactica" and "Spider-Man 3."

Sam Raimi showed raw footage of the just-wrapped third installment in the Spidey franchise, Bryan Singer talked up plans for another Superman installment, and New Line screened 10 minutes of "Snakes," which drew huge approval for Samuel L. Jackson-delivered lines like "You have a snake on yo' ass! Hold still!"

Deals announced at the confab included Kurt Russell's for the Quentin Tarantino-helmed half of the Weinstein Co.'s "Grindhouse" and a BET Network pact with Vin Diesel's One Race Prods. to produce animated series "Hannibal of Carthage."

The major studios dominated the main 6,500-seat exhibition hall, but some of the most oversubscribed sessions were for TV skeins and held in conference rooms on the periphery, leaving thousands of disappointed fans for shows like "Lost" locked out and leading convention staff to reconfigure security for bigger crowds...

Sony's "Spider-Man 3" stood alone as the major superhero pic, and the studio brought out director and fan favorite Raimi, as well as the rest of the cast, Toby McGuire, Kirsten Dunst, Bryce Dallas Howard, Thomas Haden Church and Topher Grace. Raimi said to expect a darker interpretation of the character, who becomes more aggressive when he dons the black Spidey suit...

Read the rest of H'w'd enlists geek army for more...

Actors Topher Grace (L) and Tobey Maguire during the Spider-Man 3 panel.
Aint It Cool News

As a "fanboy" myself, of course, I'm stoked for the third Spider-Man film. I also get serious goosebumps over the forthcoming Transformers flick and 300, as well.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

House Cleaning

I know, I know, I'm way behind in posting promised movie reviews.

In an effort to make good though, I am gonna take this opportunity to complete unfinished business, by writing three capsule reviews for those few flicks. They may not be as in depth as the other reviews I have written for The Last Reel, but you will still be able to get the overall flavor of my opinion for each film. The dates at the start of each review signify when I saw them in the theater

Cars (June 15th 2006) The latest Disney/Pixar collaboration is indeed very entertaining--But...

Studio Synopsis: Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), a hotshot rookie race car driven to succeed, discovers that life is about the journey, not the finish line, when he finds himself unexpectedly detoured in the sleepy Route 66 town of Radiator Springs. McQueen gets to know the town’s offbeat characters- who help him realize that there are more important things than trophies.

As you might expect, the film is a marvel for your senses, employing top notch visuals to tell its story. The voice cast is tops too and includes Hollywood legend Paul Newman as Doc Hudson, Bonnie Hunt (I just love her) as Sally, and popular "Blue Collar" funny man Larry The Cable Guy is Tow Mater....All that said--the movie still somehow lags behind other Pixar fare like Toy Story and The Incredibles in terms of the "fun factor". The film revs up fine in the beginning, but then about midway through things seem to get stuck in second gear. Even the the humor of the film seems to slow down and peter out by then. Once that happens, I found myself looking at my watch...You would think a film about Cars would be better paced. It's almost as if the creators ran out of gas...The end of the film is exciting and cool to watch, redeeming things a bit. I just wish we didn't have to to take the scenic route to get there.

Stay tuned through the credits as Pixar has a little fun with voice over vet John Ratzenberger by taking us down memory lane. Cars rates a solid 7 (out of 10).

Click (July 5th, 2006) The film is a perfect example of what happens when a clever premise runs out of steam...As a comedy-drama hybrid, it loses itself as its message takes hold.

Yahoo Movies Synopsis Michael Newman (Adam Sandler) is a workaholic architect, who has been overlooking his family in favor of his career. While out shopping, he comes across a universal remote that allows him to perform TiVo-like functions on his life, such as pausing events or fast-forwarding over them. When the remote begins creating its own memory and choosing what to fast-forward over, the man sees how much of his personal life has passed him by and realizes the importance of spending more time with his family.

The film's major laughs come early, once Michael starts using the device, and learns to use it to his advantage. As Morty--the gadget guru, Christopher Walken, gives a surprisingly tame performance given his function in the film. The script by Steve Koren & Mark O'Keefe is pretty much by the numbers, once things turn serious on us. I saw the end coming a mile away... The best stuff the movie has to offer can be seen in the trailer Directed by Sandler's pal Frank Coraci, Click is really a TV movie of the week, dressed up to look like a feature film with wasted potential in between.

A real disappointment. The film rates a 4.5 (out of 10)

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (July 13th, 2006) Easily, the best film of Summer '06!!

Yahoo Movies Synopsis Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is caught up in another tangled web of supernatural intrigue. Although the curse of the Black Pearl has been lifted, an even more terrifying threat looms over its captain and scurvy crew: it turns out that Jack owes a blood debt to the legendary Davy Jones, Ruler of the Ocean Depths (Bill Nighy), who captains the ghostly Flying Dutchman, which no other ship can match in speed and stealth. Unless the ever-crafty Jack figures a cunning way out of this Faustian pact, he will be cursed to an afterlife of eternal servitude and damnation in the service of Jones. This startling development interrupts the wedding plans of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), who once again find themselves thrust into Jack's misadventures, leading to escalating confrontations with sea monsters, very unfriendly islanders, flamboyant soothsayer Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris) and even the mysterious appearance of Will's long-lost father...

Like its predecessor, "Dead Man's Chest" is fun from start to finish, and despite a long running time of 2 hrs. 31 minutes--it doesn't feel that long. The action zips by and is well realized by series director Gore Verbinski. As Captain Jack, Depp is clearly having a good time, and that helps everything else work. The F/X are amazing and the prosthetic make-up is just beautiful, especially for Davey Jones. Bloom and Knightly continue to sparkle as star-crossed lovers, but ultimately work best when playing off Depp in a triangle It also helps the film that those responsible for the film's script, worked on the original as well.

The set up for a sequel is a bit cheesy but the final revelation is a surprise indeed. I don't know why critics have been hard on this film? It succeeds at being nothing more than a wild, adventurous romp on the high seas--no more no less. Bring on Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At The End Of The World (2007) The film rates an 8.9 (out of 10)

Ahhh.. I feel better now... All caught up.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Con Men

Bryan Singer and Richard Donner made a Superman presentation at the San Diego Comic Con yesterday. Singer took questions from the crowd about Superman Returns and even discussed a "return to Krypton" sequence that cost $10 million bucks to shoot, but was edited out of the picture, among other things... (BTW Singer sees 'Superman' sequel for summer '09--so says The Hollywood Reporter-though nothing has been set in stone by the studio), while Donner talked about his version of "Superman II"


Click here for audio of the entire discussion (courtesy of Justin from

The long awaited "Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut" project was also "officially" announced & previewed at the event.

And in turn Warner Home Video issued a statement about their home video plans yesterday as well.

They announced an eight DVD set called "The Christopher Reeve Collection" which will include a four-disc set of "Superman-The Movie", a two-disc set of "Superman II" (which is not to include the "Richard Donner Cut"--that will be sold separately), and deluxe editions of "Superman III" and "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace".

Here's a copy of the official press release with complete details·

The syndicated entertainment news program Access Hollywood even aired several scenes from "The Donner Cut” on Friday’s episode and you can watch them here.

That "new" cut of Superman II sounds more and more awesome with every passing day! November 28th, 2006 can't come soon enough for me.

A scene from Donner's Cut of Superman II
Marlon Brando and Christopher Reeve?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Cold Case

Like most film blockbusters, the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping case, continues to disappoint. The promise of a surprise ending is just not there, as the case stalls in court.

Variety's Gabriel Snyder writes:

Much talk, little action in 'big case'

Amid all the summer heat, the Pellicano beat is going cold. Once hyped by the media as Hollywood's version of Watergate, the continuing federal investigation into Anthony Pellicano's alleged wiretapping has yet to produce the shocking plot twists originally anticipated.

SOUNDS OF SILENCE does a great job explaining the case, what brought us to this point, and where things go from here...

Still waiting for the final chapter to be written on this one.

Battle At The Box Office

No less than 4 new films will be battling to unseat Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest as the number one movie at the box office this weekend

Lady in the Water, (Reviews) Clerks 2, (reviews), My Super Ex-Girlfriend (reviews) and the CGI animated flick Monster House (reviews)

While Ben Fritz and Dave McNary of Variety wonder a-loud

Will Night fall at B.O.?-given its negative buzz, for "Lady" you would think the answer would be "yes"...

Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly's Joshua Rich seems a bit more certain that: "Pirates" will dunk "Lady in the Water" -- barely adding:

Even with four major new releases in theatres this weekend, keep your eye on the Sparrow

Based on the round-up, Clerks 2 is the best reviewed film of the group of new releases, and it will certainly do well. But I see it more as a niche film. Like its predecessor, its appeal to a mass audience, is limited. If any of the quad flicks can dethrone "Pirates", I say it will most likely be "Monster House" (trailer). It looks to be a very family friendly movie. And it helps to have names like Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis attached...

Next Week: the problem plauged film version of MIAMI VICE opens...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Do You Want Fries With That?

Did You know that there's a "controversy" brewing over Clerks 2 between director Kevin Smith, a donkey, and ABC TV's film critic Joel Siegel? Well, apparently shock jocks Opie and Anthony wanted in on it...

Roger Friedman of Fox will fill you in

The donkey in "Clerks II" is actually very funny, not very smutty.

Joel Siegel is a good critic and a really nice guy who’s allowed to lose his patience even for a funny donkey.

Everyone just stop right here.

I’m more appalled listening to the nasty, disrespectful assault on Siegel that occurred on the “Opie and Anthony” radio show yesterday morning. It’s unbelievable that these two jackals are back on the air, especially after being expunged four years for broadcasting a sex act from inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Opie and Anthony — real names Gregg Hughes and Anthony Cumia — made their way as Howard Stern wannabes a long time ago.

No one over 12 actually listens to them with the exception of people who claim English as a third language. That’s why picking a fight with somebody, anybody, even slightly famous has to be their goal at this point.

Their ratings — slim at best — might possibly improve if they could just get some publicity. The Siegel-Smith contretemps was a perfect storm for them over the last two days.

But picking on Siegel for walking out of “Clerks II” is a sad way for them to go about their juvenile business.

Unlike a lot of TV and radio critics, Siegel happens to be one of the most serious-minded and erudite. He also appreciates independent filmmakers more than most reviewers whose audience is mainstream.

I’m surprised he hasn’t uttered more expletives during a variety of films in the last quarter century. I know I have, many times, and even walked out of a couple of things that were too preposterous for words.

Of course, “Clerks II” is actually a genially raucous comedy, and the donkey is actually a hilarious ode to the famed shot-dead horse in “Animal House.”

If Siegel had stayed a couple more minutes, he might have been very amused. But then again, maybe not.

You do reach a point, after seeing hundreds of films, when the sight of something coming that could be very offensive is more than a critic wants to deal with. That’s his prerogative, and he’s welcome to tell his audience that.

I rather doubt that if Siegel had yelled, “I’m leaving!” at the top of his voice in the “Clerks II” screening room — which he didn’t —that anyone with even the most delicate sensibilities could have minded that much. I mean, the donkey was getting ready to get down.

On the other hand, I wish that Hughes and Cumia would have their producers do a little research rather than attack people on the air without provocation. There’s such a thing as bad karma, it’s instant, and no one needs to bait as much as they have with this little pre-fab scandal

First, this is really much ado about nothing...but hey its a really slow movie news day around here.

Second, while Siegel is entitled to his opinion of Clerks II, as a professional, he could have just got up and walked out. He need not have caused such a stir--using such a "colorful metaphor" in the process only adds fuel to the fire...

...Which leads me to Opie & and Anthony. Of course they are gonna use this to full advantage. Most of their target audience probably didn't know who Seigel was, until now, but they know who Smith is, for sure.

Research!!?? Research!!!??

Don't make me laugh....They want this to drag out for as long as possible...Think about it what else are they gonna talk about? The crisis in the Middle East?

I've heard the show before, when they were on broadcast radio, and I agree with Friedman: Howard Stern they're not (and never will be). But Siegel made himself a target by acting like Donkey.

Boy, it sure is a slow movie news day....

RIP Jack Warden (1920-2006)

One of my favorite character actors is gone....

Jack Warden died yesterday of heart and kidney failure in New York. He was 85 years old. His prolific career took him from both film and TV and back again with ease. He was at his best when playing the everyman, the average Joe, looking to get by. Warden was, and still is, one of the best at his craft...and will be missed.

He was Jackie in the 1979 remake of The Champ. That same year he appeared in ...And Justice for All as Judge Francis Rayford. Speaking of remakes, in Heaven Can Wait from 1978. he played Rams Coach Max Corkle. Even though Warden had a bad foreign accent in Death on the Nile (1978), his turn as Doctor Ludwig Bessner is still a hoot to watch...Who could forget him in All the President's Men from 1976? As Harry M. Rosenfeld he helped that film crackle with dramatic flair. His greatest film role? That's easy. 12 Angry Men from 1957 where he played Juror #7, amid an all star casr that can't be beat. He also did countless TV shows over the years, but his two episodes of "The Twilight Zone", - The Mighty Casey (1960) in which he played Mouth McGarry, and The Lonely (1959), where he was cast as convict James Corry are among my favorites in the entire series.

As a fan of the Chicago Bears football team, his role as legendary coach George Halas, in the 1971 TV movie Brian's Song, (in which he won an Emmy for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role) is savored on a number of levels.

For more on Warden, be sure to read The Los Angeles Times obituary...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Troubled Waters?

To be honest, I have absolutely no desire to see writer/director M. Night Shyamalan's latest film, Lady in the Water.

After being disappointed by his last three pictures--The Village (2004), Signs (2002), and Unbreakable (2000), I have given up getting excited about his work...Three Strikes and all that stuff. In my opinion, this new movie looks like its gonna be pretty awful, based on the trailers anyway...A creature killing Mermaids? Yikes!! Sheesh! I'm a fan of actor Paul Giamatti but really. I suppose it could be worse--In his 411 column for today, Roger Friedman of Fox News.Com basically validates my suspicions about "Lady"

There are plenty of revelations in Michael Bamberger’s new book about director M. Night Shyamalan. The strangest is that in his new film, "Lady in the Water," Shyamalan briefly considered replacing Oscar nominee and indie-film favorite Paul Giamatti with … Kevin Costner. He even checked his availability at one point. Right away, you know something is off with Shyamalan.

You know the name M. Night Shyamalan from the third film he directed, “The Sixth Sense.” It was a sleeper for Disney and Bruce Willis, going on to make millions and enter the cultural vernacular, thanks to the line uttered by Haley Joel Osment: “I see dead people.”

Disney went with Shyamalan in a big way. They next made “Unbreakable,” which was a dud, and “Signs,” which ripped off Alfred Hitchcock.

More recently came “The Village,” another flop that brought all of us press to a premiere in Brooklyn that was scary only for how long it took to get a cab home.

The biggest surprise at the time was not in the film, but that Michael Eisner — who was then in a lot of tumultuous situations — attended it.

But Disney isn’t stupid. They got out of making “Lady in the Water” by offering the director only $60 million in all. Shyamalan declined, and now Warner Bros. will release the film on Friday. The budget was $75 million.

No one I’ve talked to likes this movie. Two nights ago, Warner Bros. held a premiere at the American Museum of Natural History and banned all columnists from attending. One reporter from The New York Times was invited, but she was instructed not to speak to the press.

Even Ron Howard, father of star Bryce Dallas Howard, skipped the event, a rarity for him. He must have been tipped off.

Surprisingly, only Variety and the Hollywood Reporter were allowed to cover the premiere.

After all, the Variety reviewer, Brian Lowry, said "Lady in the Water" was “a ponderous, self-indulgent bedtime tale. Awkwardly positioned, this gloomy gothic fantasy falls well short of horror, leaving grim theatrical prospects beyond whatever curiosity the filmmaker's reputation and the mini-controversy can scare up.”


The Hollywood Reporter was kinder, but eventually Kirk Honeycutt gets around to the business at hand. “The film utterly fails,” he concludes.


Warner Bros. owns up to the $75 million budget for “Lady,” which probably means $100 million, with another $50 million for prints and advertising. That’s a $150 million write-off if they can’t convince audiences that early reviews are wrong.

Of course, the studio is still wrangling with the “Superman Returns” dilemma, as the failed blockbuster peters out around $170 million domestically.

But now things get interesting. Last night, Disney fired Nina Jacobson, the executive who almost made “Lady.” This is on the eve of the publication of Bamberger's new book about Shyamalan called “The Man Who Heard Voices: Or, How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career on a Fairy Tale,” which describes how the movie was planned, and how it ultimately switched studios.

Jacobson doesn't have the greatest taste — she made the Kate Hudson movie “Raising Helen.” But according to Bamberger’s book, she at least confessed early on, after reading the sixth draft of “Lady,” that she had no idea what it was about.

Now the ball is in Warner's court — and if “Lady” becomes a total disaster, the Warner Bros. crowd may be looking for their own scapegoat. The method would be easy — see if anyone can explain the film.

Six drafts and Jacobson was still in the dark...

It's such a shame, Shyamalan showed some genuine film making skill and gained prowess with 1999's The Sixth Sense and now look where he finds his career, teetering and ready to fall off a cliff.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Will Superman Return?

There's been a lot of speculation lately, as to whether or not Warner Bros. Pictures will move ahead with a sequel to Superman Returns, given its less than expected gross at the box offoice thus far. Three weeks after its release in the U.S., the film has made some $166,017,362, as of Monday July 17th, 2006 (figure courtesy Box Office Mojo)

This from

Unless Superman Returns can gross more than $200 million domestically, Warner Bros. is said to be unsure it wants to back any sequels.

Fan site TMZ quotes talent agency insiders with ties to the film as saying Warner Bros. chief Alan Horn will decide the fate of a sequel on whether Superman Returns can make $200 million.

Also, the studio wants to "shave millions, many millions" off any Superman sequel's budget, the site says. The most Horn is said to be willing to spend is $150 million, the agency sources told TMZ since he feels burned by [director Bryan] Singer's high-flying FX budget.

And then there's this from today's Studio Briefing:

Studio estimates for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest's weekend came in pretty close to the actual figures, with the official gross put at $62.3 million. After two weeks, the film has already become the highest-grossing movie of the year, with its total gross put at $258.4 million. Sony's Little Man and Universal's You, Me and Dupree fought it out for second place, with Little turning out bigger than expected with a take of $21.6 million. Dupree was less than $88,000 behind, with $21.5 million. Warner Bros.' Superman Returns, which finished in fourth place, continued to look as if it were still struggling against Kryptonite as it earned $12.3 million to bring its total to $164.3 million. Some analysts expressed doubt that the film, which cost about $210 million to produce, plus another $40 million to develop, would even hit $200 million during its domestic run

Even though the film isn't bringing in the kind of numbers at the pace WBs wants, I predict that it will indeed reach the magic $200 million mark, before it ends its stateside theatrical run in a few weeks time. I also believe that if they solve the film's pacing and (related) cramped screenplay issues, on the next one, they can move forward and come out better for it. Sure, I had issues with SR, but there's also lots to like as well It's not a total failure...Besides Supes is too important to the studio for there not be another one. Do you see them waiting more then three years in between installments? I sure don't. Not with all of the principals already optioned for the next movie And don't forget, there's also domestic DVD and On Demand/Pay Per View revenues down the road as well...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sea Legs

As predicted, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest held onto the top spot at the multiplex for the second weekend in a row. This, despite a 54% drop in ticket sales, over its monster opening last week.

In his weekend wrap up Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo put it this way:

'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest' raked in an estimated $62.2 million and shattered the 10-day record, while comedies 'Little Man' [at #2 with $21.7 Million] and 'You, Me and Dupree' [in 3rd place with $21.3 Million] were neck-and-neck with solid debuts.

Gray's complete analysis can be found here...

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Mission Control

No matter what you think of the work of JJ Abrams (I happen to think he's doing some of the best out there doing work in any medium today and that he's very talented--Thanks for askin'), you have to hand to him, he had three studios fighting for him recently. That's quite the feat in Hollywood... Josef Adalian of Variety talks of Winners and Losers

Warner Bros. TV and Paramount Pictures are betting big bucks on J.J. Abrams.

In a move that left many observers scratching their heads, Abrams' longtime home, Touchstone Television, apparently balked at a key deal point, opening the door for the "Alias" and "Lost" guru to move to Warner Bros. TV next month via a highly lucrative multiyear pact.

Separately Paramount, which continues to fine-tune its studio strategy, has inked Abrams and his Bad Robot production company to a five-year first-look deal. It is Abrams' first film production pact, aimed at making him one of the studio's biggest suppliers of film.

Par deal guarantees Abrams will receive $22.5 million from the studio. Pact includes $2 million a year for Bad Robot's film development overhead; Abrams also will receive $2 million per year as an advance against his producing or helming fees. Shingle will receive $500,000 per year as a discretionary fund.

The WBTV deal guarantees Abrams about $4 million a year between now and June 2012, though one source indicated that number could be as much as $1 million per year higher. Studio also will pay overhead costs of approximately $2 million per annum, bringing WBTV's total outlays to roughly $35 million.

As with most major TV deals, Abrams will pull down even more from backend coin on hit shows.

Bad Robot's cut of those monies is said to be about one-third of any profits. There are also provisions in the pact covering a host of other media, from digital platforms to videogames.
Abrams' camp had shopped a combined film/TV production deal to studios earlier this year. But sources at Par said they had been interested only in the film side, because after Viacom's corporate split from CBS, it is largely out of the TV production business.

Paramount had made clear for months its desire to land Abrams. What nobody saw coming was Abrams' agreement with WBTV, which didn't come together until a bit after 3 a.m. Friday. As recently as Wednesday, the Abrams camp was in active talks with Touchstone about reupping at the studio he has called home for the better part of a decade.

So what happened?

Find out here

Wow...The man responsible for setting Star Trek straight again is gonna be very busy--not to mention very rich.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Go Dark

I'm so looking forward to Richard Linklater film adaptation of writer Philip K. Dick's novel A Scanner Darkly. It looks like its going to be amazing movie, mixing live action and CGI animation, in a way that's never been done before

I was stunned watching the trailer...And now the folks at IGN-Filmforce have gone a step further and posted the first 24 minutes of the flick on their website. Great googley-moogley! So Cool!!


The film's been in limited release since July 7th. It goes wide on the 28th...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Yo-Ho, Yo-Ho

Expect "Pirates" to break more records--so says Entertainment Weekly's Joshua Rich His prediction: "Dead Man's Chest" (No. 1 again -- duh!) will top $200 mil and have the best second weekend of all time

Ben Fritz and Dave McNary of Variety see it much the same way...

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" will test its sea legs this weekend, while "Superman Returns" gets a big chance to fly overseas.

"Pirates" will almost certainly break the one week B.O. record of $192.1 million held by "Spider-Man 2" and move past $250 million by Sunday -- six-day cume was $184 million on Wednesday. Only question now is whether the sequel will have a long run that brings it into the $400 million-plus or even $500 million-plus B.O. stratosphere.

Pic has set records nearly every day this week, and it's seeing weekday declines better than those of other blockbuster openers, such as both "Spider-Man" films, the "Star Wars" prequels, "Shrek 2" and the "Harry Potter" pics. If "Pirates" drops less than 47%, it will break the all-time second weekend record of $72.2 million held by "Shrek 2."

With some 30 million tickets sold already, Johnny Depp starrer will have to quickly start mustering repeat business to maintain its momentum.

Frame's openers are "You, Me and Dupree" and "Little Man," which will most likely compete for No. 2 in the high teens or 20s.

After a two-week domestic run that has brought its cume to $149.6 million, "Superman Returns" opens this weekend in most key international markets, where Warner Bros. had been holding off due to the World Cup...

"Dead Man's Chest" has taken in $66.4 million overseas through Wednesday in a total of seven markets, including the U.K., Australia and South Korea. Over half that haul is from Blighty, where the movie's grossed a boffo $35.3 million...

Back at home, "You, Me and Dupree" will be the first test for Owen Wilson as the primary star of a comedy. His two biggest bows, "Wedding Crashers" and "Starsky and Hutch," which opened to $33.9 million and $28.6 million, respectively, co-starred Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller, respectively. A somewhat more modest bow for "Dupree," which hits 3,132 playdates, looks likely...

I saw "Pirates 2" last night and thought it was as good as the first film. I would even go so far as to say it's the best movie of Summer '06. No really...A full Pirates review will be forthcoming.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

RIP Red Buttons (1919-2006)

Actor Red Buttons passed away today, at the age 87--due to complications from vascular disease

Buttons had an extremely versatile career, conquering TV and film with the greatest of ease. He may have started out as a comedian on variety shows like "The Dean Martin Show" and "The Jackie Gleason Show" , but his film work proved he could be serious. He won an OSCAR for his performance as Sgt. Joe Kelly in 1957's Sayonara. Personally, I will never forget him as James Martin in the original Poseidon Adventure (1972), which I just watched again, a few days ago on Special Edition DVD. The bonus material included his recollections about the film. As a kid, I saw him in Disney's Pete's Dragon (1977) playing Hoagy. In 18 Again! (1988), he played Charlie, opposite his pal and fellow comedy legend, George Burns...

He also appeared on many TV series, like "Roseanne" , "Wonder Woman" and "The Cosby Show" His final series appearance was in 2005, playing Jules Ruby in "ER"-a role he played 4 times before--going back to 1995.

For more on his life and times, read the Reuters obituary

What Does Donner Think?

BBC News caught up with "Superman-The Movie" (1978) director Richard Donner to see what he thought of "Superman Returns".

Donner is convinced that Superman Returns signals the rebirth of the Warner Bros franchise, which has laid silent for 19 years...

"The picture's good. It was a two and a half hour movie, but I could have easily taken another hour and a half. I think they'll go onto make a series of wonderful films."

Read the entire article here

Considering that SR relies, in part, on the vision set forth by Donner--his positive comments about the flick are not a surprise. Even moreso,when you consider the fact that Donner was asked for his blessing by director Bryan Singer, before he took on the project.

I respect Donner a lot but c'mon another hour and a half...that would have killed the film for sure. It's 20 minutes too long as it is...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

RIP Bernard Hughes (1915-2006)

Character actor Barnard Hughes died yesterday in New York, at the age of 90, after a brief illness .

My favorite of his film roles is as Grampa in the 1987 vampire flick The Lost Boys ...He had a small role--but every time he's on screen, he makes the most of it. In Doc Hollywood, from 1991, he played retiring physician Dr. Aurelius Hogue. And in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993) played a Priest to Whoopi Goldberg's fast talking Nun, "Sister Mary Clarence"

Hughes won a Tony on Broadway for his portrayal of the curmudgeonly title character in Hugh Leonard's Da, a role he reprised for the film version in 1988

He also had three memorable guest appearances on the classic sit-com"All in the Family", as Father Majeski, always getting the best of Archie

For more on Hughes read his New York Times obituary

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

World Trade Center...

Here's a first hand account of a screening for the highly anticipated World Trade Center a film about 9/11, from director Oliver Stone. Courtesy of today's column by Roger Friedman of Fox News.Com

Six weeks ago, I told readers of this column about seeing the first half hour of Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center" at the Cannes Film Festival.

It was a sneak peek, but I predicted that Stone had made an excellent movie about the Sept. 11 tragedies based on what we saw that night.

Last night, a handful of others and I got another preview — this time of the full film. It was shown to us on high-definition videotape, with temporary music and not all of it has been color corrected.

As Stone said to us in a statement that was read aloud before the screening: There wasn't a bit of actual film in what we watched. The final cut is slated to hit theaters Aug. 9.

Even so, I can still tell you from this screening that Stone has made an elegant, powerful, moving and genuinely personal document about the horrors that happened inside and outside of the World Trade Center.

Because of its scope, "World Trade Center" is grander than "United 93" and perhaps has some loftier cinematic aspirations. And as much as it's all about the real men and women whose acts of courage nearly got them killed that day, "World Trade Center" is nonetheless an Oliver Stone film through and through.

What Stone has done is base his movie on the stories of two Port Authority policemen who went into Tower 2 of the World Trade Center too late and with little information. The building collapsed on them, burying them and their colleagues.

Only 20 people were pulled from the rubble alive. John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno — played respectively by Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena — were numbers 18 and 19.

We have to think of "World Trade Center" as a movie first — and in that Stone has done an excellent job. The three best-known actors are Cage, Maria Bello as McLoughlin's wife and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Jimeno's wife. From then, on, however, the casting of this film is really terrific.

There are lots of small parts, and you'll see Donna Murphy, Patti D'Arbanville, Stephen Dorff, William Mapother, Dorothy Lyman, Frank Whaley and Nicholas Turturro, among others. The underused Viola Davis has a beautiful turn toward the end as a woman Bello's character meets in a waiting room. It's like a who's who of character actors.

Andrea Berloff's script gently weaves together the stories of the McLoughlin and Jimeno families, avoiding ethnic stereotypes. The screenplay feels streamlined and clean, wasting no time telling the story of how the men became trapped and what was done to save them.

Much of Cage and Pena's performances rely on close-ups of their faces in the dark, and often just their voices to get them through scenes. That these are incredibly effective says as much about the actors as it does the director.

And don't think that because we know the end of the story there aren't some surprises. In particular, there is one moment underneath the collapsed skyscrapers between the trapped policemen that will leave you shaken — it's so unexpected.

The movie also makes a hero of Dave Karnes, the retired Marine who discovered where McLoughlin and Jimeno were hidden. Karnes, played by Michael Shannon, was in his Wilton, Conn., office when he saw the towers fall. He got a haircut, changed into fatigues and drove to Ground Zero.

Karnes' story is really one of serendipity and fate, although Stone — and it wouldn't be one of his films otherwise — tries to paint him as a sort of mythic, unknown American soldier-hero. We'll let him have that.

What Stone has done, though, is make a real war movie with the World Trade Center as a battlefield. In that way, it almost resembles his best film, "Platoon," as the Port Authority cops are instantly turned into soldiers who know they may not be coming home.

Cage comes across as a kind of John Wayne figure, with Pena as his loyal student. You can feel Stone straining toward emulating John Ford, and I think a few times he actually achieves it, especially in the scenes with Cage and Pena underground.

But mostly Oliver Stone has made a wrenching, accurate account of a terrible tragedy seem personal and immediate. There's nothing exploitative here, just good, well-wrought drama.

I've never been too keen on Nicolas Cage as an actor---but I will definitely see WTC--just the same...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Treasure Chest

Wow! The fact that Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is the number one in America is, of course, no surprise. But what is surprising is just how many records the movie broke injust three days to claim that top spot...

In his weekend report for Box Office Mojo, Brandon Gray, had this to say:

'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest 'claimed record booty, sailing past 'Spider-Man' with an estimated $132 million weekend...

Gray's complete break-down of the numbers can be found here

While Ben Fritz, in article for Variety wrote:

You'd be hard pressed to find a record that "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" didn't set.

Disney's theme park sequel opened to an astounding $132 million -- a full $17 million ahead of the previous three-day weekend record set by "Spider-Man."

It even beat the four-day weekend title previously held by "X-Men: the Last Stand," which took $122.9 million over the Memorial Day frame.

Johnny Depp starrer set records every day. On Friday, its $55.5 million gross was the biggest single day in B.O. history. By Saturday, its $100.2 million take was the biggest ever two-day gross and made pic the first to break the $100 million barrier in 48 hours.

Saturday's $44.7 million gross was $100,000 off from the best-ever Saturday gross of $44.8 million, drawn by "Shrek 2" in 2004.

Despite setting sail at an ultrawide 4,133 theaters, "Pirates" averaged an amazing $31,945 per play -- the biggest ever for a film in wide release.

Pic also helped establish a new ceiling for the overall market; "Pirates" led the way to a record breaking weekend for the industry of $217 million, according to Nielsen EDI. That crushes the previous record of $188 million, set in June 2004, when "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" opened.

Boffo take was so far ahead of previous records that it upended many industryites' estimates of how much a film could gross in a single weekend.

"This was really made possible by the new megaplexes, where the exhibitors found a way to make auditoriums available when they saw the lines," said Disney distribution [president]Chuck Viane.

Frame was up an amazing 46% compared to a year ago, and took the 2006 box office from a 3% lead last weekend up to 5% over 2005.

Online ticketers Fandango and both set single-day sales records on Friday thanks to "Pirates."

Saturday gross was down a bit from Friday, a fact the studio attributed to the $9 million the film took from midnight shows on its opening day.

Clearly establishing itself as the blockbuster of the year, "Pirates" has already grossed more than "Superman Returns" did in its first 10 days and "X-Men: the Last Stand" in its first five.

"Pirates" played virtually evenly to all audience segments as matinees were packed with families and latenight shows with adults.

"These are some of the best balanced crowds you've seen," said Viane. "Moviegoers of all types had an insatiable appetite to see this film."

According to exit polling by Fandango, women came out of "Pirates" with a somewhat more positive opinion of the film. But approximately two-thirds of both genders said they would "definitely recommend" the pic.

Predicting the future for "Pirates" is difficult since there's no model for such a huge opening. Viane admitted that even calculating the estimated Sunday gross of $31.8 million was difficult. Actual weekend take could end up several million dollars higher or lower.

But with no more tentpoles left this summer, the film seems to have a relatively wide berth to keep playing. Even if it falls at a normal rate for a blockbuster of around 50% per frame, it should easily surpass the $305 million domestic booty of the original "Pirates."

Assuming foreign grosses are healthy as well, the Mouse House will be well on its way to proving that its costly investment in two "Pirates" sequels shot simultaneously was wise.

Rather than crushing the competition, "Pirates" seemed to benefit other studios, as most films had relatively modest drops.

Only exception was last weekend's blockbuster bow, "Superman Returns," which fell a sizable 58% on its second frame to $21.9 million. After 12 days, cume is a healthy, though far from spectacular, $141.7 million.

What's ironic here, is the fact that Superman Returns has had a far better reaction from critics overall, then "Pirates" did

The masses have spoken...

Friday, July 07, 2006

Booty Call

Even though I'm still rooting for The Man Of Steel to do very well financially, so that everyone can calm down about how much the film cost to make, I have to say I'm quite giddy over Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Every time I watch the trailer for the sequel, I can't help but smile from ear to ear--it looks like its a lot of fun...

Gabriel Snyder and Dave McNary of Variety report today, that the second installment looks like it will be a box office bonanza for Disney, not only in the states, but abroad as well.

With absolutely huge tracking numbers for Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest'' -- more than 50% of those polled in one survey said it's their first choice pic to see this weekend -- a monster opening is expected from the sequel when it bows today at an ultrawide 4,133 locations.

Based on the massive interest from all audience quadrants, rival studio execs say "Dead Man's Chest," starring Johnny Depp and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, has a good shot of breaking the current three-day box office record held by Sony's "Spider-Man," which took in $114.8 million in May 2002.

But Disney is staying mum on how big it thinks "Pirates" will be. "I have no idea. I am not even going to fathom a guess," Mouse House distrib topper Chuck Viane said. "No matter how you answer that question, it can come back to hurt you."

Still, the studio has made a huge bet on the surprise franchise, plunking down over $350 million to shoot both "Dead Man's Chest" back-to-back with a third sequel, "At the End of the World," currently [scheduled] for release over next summer's Memorial Day weekend.

Other studios, meanwhile, are expecting "Pirates," the only new wide release pic this week, to plunder the competition. Both Warner tentpole "Superman Returns" and Fox's "The Devil Wears Prada" could find their auds distracted by the Mouse House's buccaneers.

Warners distrib chief Dan Fellman said, "We expect to take a substantial drop because of the holiday, but after that we're going to level off." Part of the reason that Warners moved up "Superman" to a Wednesday bow last week was to take advantage of the seven-day holiday stretch and maximize grosses before "Pirates" sailed in.

"The premiere weekend of the summer (to release a movie) without a doubt was the Fourth of July. We'll probably have $115 million before they open and that's a good jump start in any situation."

Warner also announced Thursday that Imax showings of "Superman Returns" had set a record for best opening week at $6.83 million at 76 screens and best seven-day per screen average at $89,804. Pic, which also opened at 11 internationally, will add 24 theaters for a total of 111, setting the record for the widest Hollywood release in Imax history. The previous record was 87 Imax theaters worldwide for "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."

Early signs are showing a huge demand for "Pirates" tickets. Viane said nearly every show at the Disney-owned El Capitan Theater in Hollywood is sold out through the weekend...

Viane said he expects at least 1,000 theaters to have midnight screenings on Thursday night, but added the number could be double that after theaters report their grosses.

Online ticket sellers Fandango and both reported that pre-sales of "Pirates" tickets are moving at double the rate for "Superman Returns" last week. At, "Pirates" had become the biggest pre-seller of the year, passing "X-Men: The Last Stand," which earned $45.1 million on its opening Friday.

Anecdotally, Viane said exhibs are reporting similar experiences. "My grapevine is saying 'Wow.' They say people are already asking for tickets for shows on Saturday and Sunday. There seems to be this unbelievable pent-up demand."

Overseas, Disney will avoid pitting "Pirates" against Sunday's World Cup championship match[Go Italy!!!! T] and will hold the pic back from the most soccer-obsessed territories. Only seven markets are opening day-and-date, including Australia and South Korea.

Buena Vista International won't officially report numbers until Sunday, but rival distribs estimate Thursday's opening day biz in Australia at a socko $1.95 million from 270 playdates. That performance that could lead to the biggest launch weekend in Australia since "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" opened with $10.4 million last year.

In 2003, before Disney released "The Curse of the Black Pearl," the theme park ride-based pic was largely an afterthought on the summer sked scattered with the more anticipated tentpoles "Finding Nemo," "The Matrix Reloaded" and "X2: X-Men United."

Read the entire article--'Pirates' set to plunder--for more

The critical and financial success of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl from 2003 took everyone by surprise. Who knew that a film based on a theme park ride would turn out so good? I had my doubts. And then I saw it and was blown away....

Having said that, the critical reaction to the sequel has been...dare I say it... less than kind...And Entertainment Weekly critic Lisa Schwarzbaum gives the film a D+ (she didn't like the first one either).

Ah, another interesting weekend at the movies...