Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Quick Hits

In an effort to get into the Halloween sprit, I decided to rent a handful of "scary" movies, over the last week or so...Rather than go into any long diatribe about them--Here now are a few quickies, designed to get right to the point:

The 2006 version of The Omen is as I thought it would be--An almost beat for beat copy of the 1976 original. It's a film that desperately wants to work, and maybe it would have, if not for poor casting of the two leads...Ugh!

On the other hand, the updated (unrated) version of The Hills Have Eyes takes nothing away from the 1977 original, while somehow making it seem fresh. The gore factor is ramped way up for this one--It's not for the squeamish. Kudos to Aaron Stanford for giving an excellent performance as someone who's scared silly--yet still manages to do what needs to be done...

Dracula 2000 puts a few new wrinkles in the classic legend ala Scream with mixed results Worth the rent though...

Meantime, the folks at Rotten Tomatoes have compiled a four-part list of the top 20 best reviewed horror/suspense flicks....

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

The list is worth a look for some great films that will scare you silly as you celebrate Halloween! Save some peanut M&Ms for me to munch on...

Delay Of Game

Remember all of that optimism I had last week about the Halo movie being picked up by another movie studio--after Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox backed out last week? You can forget it--it's gone (for now anyway)

Apparently the other studios are a little gun shy about taking on the project right now...The movie is officially delayed indefinitely--But not dead.

Through a press release, New Zealand based Wingnut Films Ltd said:

As was previously confirmed, we deeply regret that both Universal and Fox did not choose to move forward with financing the Halo film under the original terms of the agreement.

At this time Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, along with their partner, Microsoft, have mutually agreed to postpone making a feature film based on the Halo video game universe until we can fulfill the promise we made to millions of Halo fans throughout the world that we would settle for no less than bringing a first class film to the big screen.

We are fully supportive of Director Neill Blomkamp's vision of the film. Neill is a tremendously gifted filmmaker and his preliminary work on Halo is truly awe-inspiring. While it will undoubtedly take a little longer for Halo to reach the big screen, we are confident that the final feature film will be well worth the wait.

I hope so too! Despite the delay, Neill Blomkamp gets a vote of confidence from Wingnut, which is fine... I really thought some other studio would snatch this right up--sooner rather than later...Now it's a game of Wait And See...

Monday, October 30, 2006

A Cut Above...And Then Some

Saw III sliced and diced the competition over the weekend, to become the top movie in America...In fact, the numbers so impressed the suits, the word is already here that a fourth film is already being talked up for the franchise

In his Weekend Report for Box Office Mojo Brandon Gray writes:

'Saw III' pulled in an estimated $34.3 million to set a new Halloween record...


Jigsaw solves the cinema puzzle--Saw III comes up #1

Ian Mohr of Variety:

Halloween was lucky again this year for Lions Gate, which grossed $34.3 million for the third installment of its slasher series "Saw" -- the biggest bow in the company's history.

Frame's only other new wide release, Focus Features' political drama "Catch a Fire," flamed out, taking in just over $2 million from 1,305 locations and missing out on the top 10.

On the kudos front lines, Clint Eastwood's war epic "Flags of Our Fathers" expanded its campaign to an additional 314 locations but came up behind Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" -- which dropped just 27% in its fourth frame to land at No. 2 -- and Christopher Nolan's "The Prestige" at No. 3.

Paramount's "Flags" took in another $6.3 million on 2,190 battlefields, lifting cume to just under $20 million.

Pic -- which dropped 38%, with the added screens -- is playing on par with Eastwood's "Mystic River" and "Million Dollar Baby," which both gathered steam as they rolled into awards season.


Finally, in his wrap-up, Joshua Rich from Entertainment Weekly says of the numbers of Saw III: The best in its franchise so far, the horror flick brings in $34.3 million.

It's nice to see the Saw saga hasn't lost any of its ability to put people in the seats--three films along--for 3 years straight. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

Meanwhile, Death Of A President only made about $1835, per its 94 screens...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Festival Of Samhain

As I have said many times before--John Carpenter's horror classic Halloween is a nearly perfect piece of film making. Even now after almost 30 years since its original theatrical run the film holds up remarkably well. Spawning 7 sequels (with a ninth film in the pipeline) the saga of psycho slasher Michael Myers shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

To celebrate the enduring legacy of the film series, Anchor Bay Entertainment released Halloween: 25 Years of Terror, a direct to DVD documentary a few months ago:

Written and directed by Stefan Hutchinson the double disc set includes the feature length documentary--narrated by P.J. Soles (who played Lynda "See anything you like" in the first movie)--taking viewers through the entire series...Using "new" and archival interviews, the producers leave no stone unturned--discussing with great candor, both the high and low points of the series history...When it came to these films, I thought I knew most everything that a person could know. As it turns out, there was still plenty of stuff, for even this die hard fan to learn.

Disc 2 contains extended interview outtakes with cast and crew, a plethora of material from the 25th anniversary convention of 2003, and special panels for most of the films as well.

For fans of the Halloween series and horror flicks in general--the set is a great way to relive every moment of Michael's cinematic killing spree.

...The Chicago Bears return to the football field this afternoon, taking on the San Francisco 49ers. Do the Bears have a few tricks up their sleeves in order to get a treat in the form of another win?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

You Don't Say

On today's menu of Cinema Stew:

A fond farewell to an unsung hero of film; A controversy surrounding Blood Diamond; News of 2 more trailers for Spider-Man 3; The Superman Returns sequel is confirmed again...and you'll also get to see an awards show calendar for dessert

Quint of Aint It Cool News starts us off with some sad news:

I may never have known the name Tommy Johnson, but I have heard him at least 400-500 times in my life... if not more when you factor in the spoof-usage of his work. He was the tuba player in John Williams' orchestra when recording the soundtrack for my favorite movie of all time, JAWS. That famous duh-duh duh-duh shark theme started as breath in his lungs.

Mr. Johnson died in Los Angeles at the age of 71 from cancer and kidney failure. Like most of these thankless talents in the business, when you do a little digging you find that they wove in and out of some amazing projects, lending their talent as invisible contributors to some of the greatest works of all time.

Mr. Johnson not only played music for JAWS, he also recorded for Coppola's THE GODFATHER, the STAR TREK films and Cameron's TITANIC. He performed regularly with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and even the Academy Awards Orchestra.

I couldn't have paid tribute to Mr. Johnson any better.... except by adding: Thanks for all of your fine work over the years.

From Studio Briefing:

Did 'Blood Diamond' Producers Back Out of Deal With Amputees?

The producers of the upcoming Blood Diamond have denied reports that they had reneged on an agreement to provide prosthetic limbs to amputees used as extras in the film.

The New York Post quoted one amputee, Nkululo Mnisi, as saying that Warner Bros. had promised to buy him and 27 other extras the prosthetic devices.

But producer Ed Zwick, in an interview with L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke, said that such reports are "the work of someone who clearly bears the film ill will." Zwick claimed that those involved in making the movie set up a fund to aid the villagers who appeared in it. He said that the fund is being used for everything from classroom repair to road repair to prosthetics.

Zwick added, "People are still continuing contributing to the fund months since production ended. They were really trying to affect positive change. The fund has gotten to a number of things on the list, but there's more to go. And in the list of things to do, prosthetics are part of that list

Sony Pictures confirmed that the second trailer for "Spider-Man 3" will be attached to Casino Royale on November 17th, and the third trailer will debut on February 16th with Ghost Rider .

The studio wanted to ensure people would go see Nicolas Cage in "Rider"---that's probably why Spidey's tagging along.

IESB/The Movie Reporter tells us that director Bryan Singer has finalized a deal to helm the Supes sequel with a smaller budget at his disposal, this time 'round

Here's The Report.... This story was all over the place a few days ago...I let you decide if you think it's news-worthy--considering what we've known for months...

And finally Variety has published an award season calendar

Friday, October 27, 2006

Buzz Saw

Just in time for Halloween , the third installment of the Saw horror franchise, aptly titled Saw III, leads the pack of new releases. The reviews for the scare-fest are very positive (as I write this anyway)...As a fan of the first and second films, I look forward to seeing what "Jigsaw" is up to this time...

Tobin Bell Is Back For Saw III And He Is Ready To Cut You Up...

The other big release for the week is the Tim Robbins apartheid drama, Catch A Fire (reviews), surely hoping for a few votes at Oscar time...

Just in time for the 2006 mid-term election...The controversial film Death Of A President (reviews) opens in just 91 theaters today...

Getting even less play is the Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett flick Babel (reviews). Look for the film to go wide on November 10th 2006 when it will really make noise

Given the fresh competition out there, Saw III should come out on top for the weekend, when all is said and done.

Ian Mohr of Variety:

The third installment of the "Saw" horror franchise -- Lions Gate's left-field slasher series that has managed to gross out aud[ience]s to the tune of more than $142 million to date -- should easily top the B.O. charts in time for Halloween. Pic could take a stab at $30 million.

Away from any bloody good fun, a glut of highfalutin holdovers and new arrivals will battle it out for the remaining spots -- and awards momentum -- as the fall scene kicks into high gear.

Universal specialty arm Focus Features will roll out its politically themed "Catch a Fire" on 1,305 screens, trying to catch the spirit of last year's breakout "The Constant Gardener." But in the way are holdovers "Flags of Our Fathers," "The Departed" and "The Prestige." ....

Story Continued...

Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly says: "Saw III" will rip through the competition--This weekend's goriest release will extract big bucks from movie fans leading up to Halloween...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sharper Blade

Grant Lauchlan of the stvsales.tv website got the chance to talk with director Ridley Scott about his extended cut of Kingdom of Heaven...I thought the theatrical version of "Heaven" was mediocre at best, while the longer version is better realized

Of even more interest to me though, was the fact that in this forum, Scott also discusses how the Hollywood studio system works, test audiences, and reveals what plans he has in store to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his seminal sci-fi classic Blade Runner. Was Deckard a Replicant or not? Hear it straight from the horse's mouth.

See the Ridley Scott interview now!!

The long-awaited four-disc anniversary edition is due for release September 2007 and will include his new extended release cut of the film. The interview has updated info on the set, not originally announced...

Blade Runner a great film about to get even greater.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Happy 1st Birthday!

It's hard to believe that a year has already gone by since I started The Last Reel blog!! Can you stand the excitement! Time flies when you are having fun!

I would like to take this occasion to thank all of my readers for their continued support over the last 365 days. It's much appreciated! I hope you have enjoyed my coverage and unique take on the film industry... A shout out must also be given to all of my media sources. To those websites and publications...Thank You.

This has certainly been quite a year:

From Paramount Pictures buying DreamWorks Pictures SKG, to the celebrity meltdowns of Tom Cruise (What’s his next movie, anyway? ) and Mel Gibson (His new film poses marketing challenge--Well Duhhh!) , to the film fests and big awards shows (Crash wins Best Picture at the Oscars...), the talented folks that have left us...Summer '06: Pirates of the Caribbean-Dead Man's Chest, X-Men The Last Stand, and of course, Superman Returns (BTW-The film hit the coveted $200 million mark in the U.S. a few days ago), premieres, casting news, all the problems that Casino Royale had out of the gate...Trailers...it's all been discussed here...

I hope I can get even better at this as the next year begins...

Thanks Again!

P.S. I haven't forgotten that I promised a post on the 40th anniversary of Star Trek...It's coming... really.

Flame On!

MTV personality, popular men's magazine cover girl and Entertainment Tonight host/correspondent Vanessa Minnillo has reportedly signed to star in 20th Century Fox's Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

Minnillo Has Landed Her First Film.

Variety is reporting that Minnillo will play the love interest of Chris Evans' character, the Human Torch. The role would mark the first "real" acting gig for Minnillo who up until now, has only appeared in bit parts on a few TV shows

Two Snaps Up--Evans Will Be Getting Hot For Minnillo In FF 2

IGN-Filmforce says that The Torch may indeed be busy with two ladies in the new movie

It's unclear whether or not the role filled by Minnillo is the same one that model-turned-actress Beau Garrett (Turistas) was linked to earlier this month. Garrett had been set to play Frankie Raye, a scientist (fans will know that she later becomes Nova) and love interest of Chris Evans' character. Maybe the Human Torch has more than one love interest? Go ahead, player! Otherwise, one of these actresses has got to go.

No matter which beauty plays a role in the film...The cast and crew are very lucky to have either lady (or both) on set. Acting skills? That's another matter all its own. Filming on Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer is underway in Vancouver Canada. The movie is scheduled to hit theaters on June 15, 2007.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Back And Forth

Trying to figure out just what the heck is going on with the Halo movie is like trying to find the meaning of life.

On Saturday I told you that film hit a major roadblock, after both Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox backed out of a deal to co-finance the flick. Until last week, Halo The Movie was to be directed by first-time helmer Neill Blomkamp.

Stax of IGN-Filmforce reports that folks behind the popular game offer their 2 cents about what happened:

...Industry reports claimed that the studios wanted a better deal for themselves and were concerned about the huge budget. Now the companies behind the video game sensation — Bungie and Microsoft — have chimed in on the film's collapse and offered hope for its future.

"We are disappointed that Universal and Fox wanted to significantly renegotiate the financial points of the deal," Microsoft said in a press release. "But the Halo franchise is hugely popular and our goal remains the same — to find a partner that shares our passion and will creatively collaborate with us to best represent the story and spirit of the Halo franchise."

The statement continued, "[exec producers] Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and the rest of the creative team are dedicated to ensuring the Halo movie becomes a reality. We are already in discussions with potential partners who recognize the value of the Halo brand and its appeal to consumers worldwide."

Bungie's Frank O'Conner said in a posting at Bungie.net, "The reality here at Bungie towers is a feeling of optimism, satisfaction and happiness for reasons we can't go into. Frankly we're interested in making the best movie, and it's possible that a partner who's more concerned with numbers, might not be the best partner for what's more vitally a creative process. Suffice it to say that Peter, Neill, Fran and Microsoft are as excited and dedicated as ever and WETA continues the pre-production process. Actually, when you do finally get to see the stuff WETA has already made, you will probably pee a little".

Bring on the Depends undergarments! Seriously, I think some studio will pick this up at some point...The genie is already out of the bottle for this thing not to happen. Momentum is there and so is the audience...

When it comes to Indiana Jones 4, there's been so much on/not on of late--I'm feeling a bit whipped by it all.

[Series star] Harrison Ford, speaking to the press at the Rome Film Festival - last week, said that he feels "fit to continue" to play Indiana Jones, despite growing older, the Associated Press reported. Ford, 64, said that he was delighted to team up again with director Steven Spielberg and producer George Lucas for the film.

"We did three films that stay within the same block of time," Ford told reporters. "We need to move on for artistic reasons and obvious physical reasons. I feel fit to continue and bring the same physical action."

Indiana Jones IV has been in development for more than a decade. Lucas has said he and Spielberg are working on a script, though no details have been disclosed.

Ford added that Sean Connery, who played Indy's father, Henry Jones, in 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, might also appear in the planned fourth feature. "He's part of the emotional fabric of these films," Ford said. "I think there may be an opportunity, I believe that Sean is still willing, and I'd be delighted if he joined us." For his part, Connery has said previously that he's received no offer about the movie.

Ford says he is looking forward to Indy IV and hopes Sir Sean Connery will tag along again

Earlier this month Lucas did not sound as optimistic that Indy 4 would happen at all...Back in August, Ford himself seemed less than enthusiastic...

Come on guys, it's time to either ante up or fold and move on...I wish someone would just decide Indy's fate one way or the other.

Monday, October 23, 2006

RIP Jane Wyatt (1910-2006)

Actress (and New Jersey native) Jane Wyatt passed away in her sleep today...She was 96 years old.

Ms Wyatt began her long acting career, appearing in such films like 1934 version of Great Expectations, playing Sondra in Lost Horizon, and in the classic Elia Kazan drama Gentleman's Agreement from 1947.

Wyatt had the most success on television, playing memorable Mom Margaret Anderson on Father Knows Best (1954-1960). She also made guest appearances on countless other TV series. The one that will always be with me though is her role as Amanda (Spock's Mother) on the original Star Trek series 2nd season episode Journey to Babel. She would return to Trek for a welcomed cameo in the feature film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in 1986. Quite a "Lady Jane"--She will never be forgotten but surely missed

Be sure and read The Los Angeles Times obituary for this great lady here

Nothing Up Its Sleeve

Christopher Nolan's mystery/thriller The Prestige was a tough (magic) act to follow--taking the top spot as the #1 movie in the country. While its most direct competition, Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers, had to settle for third place...The makers of this WWII drama also find themselves responding to a "color blind" controversy for the movie...

Poof!-- Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman help make The Prestige
The #1 Movie In The U.S.

Leading off the analysis of the weekend numbers is Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo:

'The Prestige' summoned an estimated $14.8 million to top the weekend, while 'Flags of Our Fathers' floundered [with just $10.2 million in tickets sold] and ' Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas" [in 12th place with $3,.2 million] scared up strong business in 3-D...

Here's Gray's full report...

Over at Variety, Ian Mohr had this headline:

'Prestige' makes magic at B.O.

Fall is upon us: Three serious-minded pics with awards aspirations were tops at the B.O. over the weekend.

...Disney's "Prestige" conjured $14.8 million from 2,281 playdates for a per-engagement average of $6,496.

Mouse House distribution exec Chuck Viane said that older auds made up roughly a third of "The Prestige" turnout, adding that the pic benefited from positive reviews, as well as a following for "Batman Begins" helmer Nolan.

"Departed," from Warner Bros., meanwhile, slid just 28% in its third frame. Star-studded cop drama added $13.6 million over the weekend to hit $77.1 million, and is now on track to become Scorsese's highest-grossing film ever. Pic is playing in just over 3,000 precincts.

Paramount is taking a slow-and-steady approach with "Flags," which the studio unfurled at 1,876 in an attempt to mirror the perfs of previous Eastwood pics, "Mystic River" and "Million Dollar Baby." WWII epic planted $10.2 million for a healthy per engagement average of $ $5,437.

Perf of "Flags" -- co-produced by Par and DreamWorks -- was on par with that of Eastwood's 2003 effort "Mystic River," which opened on 1,470 to take in $10.4 million on its way to $90 million-plus.

"Million Dollar Baby" bowed in 2004 at 2,000, nailing a $12.3 million first frame before wrapping up $100.5 million and a best pic Oscar.

According to exit polls, 80% of "Flags" auds were over 30 -- a demo that doesn't typically run to the movies in their opening frames -- and 55% were men.

Par, meanwhile, is undecided how much it will expand "Flags" next frame: [President] of worldwide marketing Rob Moore said the studio would be pow-wowing with Eastwood -- who has been hands-on in all "Flags" decisions -- on Monday morning to mull any immediate expansion.

"Clint Eastwood tends to have an older audience," Moore said. "And this will play like 'Mystic River' and be driven by critical acclaim." He added that "Departed," which is benefiting from solid word of mouth, may have stolen some of the Eastwood pic's potential auds over the frame.

"There's no question that 'Departed' appeals to a significant core of our audience," he said. "With its subject matter, it did start out younger. But there's plenty of capacity in the marketplace now to support both."....

I think it's interesting that Gray calls "Flags" performance "floundering", while Mohr says that it was a "solid" showing--looking at the same data.

Finally, Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly called the entire weekend "sluggish" for his weekend wrap-up: New releases get off to a shaky start, while "The Departed" holds strong...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Shape Stalks...

My favorite horror movie is coming back to theaters for a limited two day event..

Made on a shoe-string budget in 1978 John Carpenter's Halloween still packs quite a wallop--even after all of these years...The opportunity to see it on the big screen is a pretty cool way to celebrate all hallows eve 2006...

HalloweenMovies.com has all of the proper theater and ticket information you'll need...

Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears have the week off. I'll have to settle for replaying the"They should have lost that game", from last Monday night in my head to hold me over till the team plays again

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Great Expectations

The latest Cinema Stew has a little sequel news...direction for a remake, a possible timetable for a prequel...a major movie has been abandoned by not one, but two studios--or has it... a star for a star, and some casting news for a potential summer '07 blockbuster:

The Sleuth remake I told you about last month is, apparently, a remake in name only--so says IGN-Filmforce

Christopher Nolan tells Sci-Fi Wire that Batman 2 Prep Is Easier

Earlier word all around the net was that the Halo Movie Got Dumped by Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox. But The Los Angeles Times now says Game Not Over for 'Halo' Movie. What's really going on?

Paul Davidson of Filmforce has the latest on Star Trek XI:

Star Trek XI -- the prequel film that could bring big changes to the franchise -- is still on the drawing board at the moment, but the movie could be given an official green light for production this winter.

According to The Trek Movie Report, the eleventh Trek motion picture is likely to get the nod from Paramount in December or January. "Although it hasn't been greenlit yet, it is as close as you get around here," the site's industry source told them. Paramount intends to make it one of their 2008 summer tentpole releases.

Additionally, producer [J.J.] Abrams and his team are already interviewing potential cast members. A first draft of the movie script is expected soon, and the story's main characters apparently include Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Scotty.

If all goes well, Trek XI could begin filming in the spring, with production lasting six months...

Beamed Up And Ready To Go...

On Oct 16th 2006, actor Bruce Willis was honored with a star on The Hollywood Walk Of Fame...TMZ.Com was there

Bruce Willis received the 2,321st star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame... in front of a crowd of fans, friends and family.

Willis' ex-wife, Demi Moore, was in attendance along with her husband, Ashton Kutcher, and Willis and Moore's three daughters -- Scout, Rumer and Tallulah. "I used to come down here and look at these stars and I could never quite figure out what you're supposed to do to get one," Willis said. "And time has passed and now here I am doing this, and I'm still excited about it. I'm still excited to be an actor."

Willis And His Star

Other celebs in attendance included Kevin Costner, Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton, Don Johnson and Sylvester Stallone...

...The fourth film in the "Die Hard" series, "Live Free or Die Hard," is due out June 29, 2007...


Speaking of Die Hard 4, two more actors have joined the cast...One plays a villain--the other Det. John McClane's daughter...

Friday, October 20, 2006


Clint Eastwood's World War II drama Flags of Our Fathers, (reviews) goes head to head with Christopher Nolan's mystery/thriller The Prestige, (reviews) in this weekend's box office derby for the top spot...Both films are getting their fair share of critical praise. It will be interesting to see which one of them comes out ahead by Monday.

Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale face off as rival magicians in The Prestige
Will the film be #1 on Monday?

Other new releases for the week include: Marie Antoinette (reviews)-an historical biopic from Sofia Coppola. Unfortunately though, the buzz on this period piece is pretty flat. Flicka (reviews) is based on the popular best selling novel, My Friend Flicka, by Mary O'Hara. The movie should do well with its target demo--teen women. And finally, Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas"--originally released in 1993, gets a second shot, all jazzed up by new 3-D effects...

Variety's Ian Mohr talks about all of this and more in Prestige pics battle at B.O.:

Clint Eastwood's WWII epic "Flags of Our Fathers" will have to fight off Christopher Nolan's magic-themed period piece "The Prestige" this weekend as studios start rolling out their big guns in the slog toward awards contention.

Also entering the fray will be Sony's Sofia Coppola-helmed "Marie Antoinette," the hipster twist on the story of the French queen that will target a mix of younger auds and arthouse denizens as it opens in just 859

Sony also has another upmarket awards hopeful hitting screens, the lit adaptation "Running With Scissors," which starts its fall platform run in eight markets.

Fox is counterprogramming with family pic "Flicka" in 2,877 playdates as the frame's widest new rollout. Pic butts up against Disney's 3-D release of Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas," which hits in time for
Halloween at 168 engagements.

But frontrunners "Flags" and "Prestige" both face challenges in their effort to replace Sony horror sequel "The Grudge 2" at the top of the charts.

"Flags" will roll out on just 1,800 screens -- 481 less than "Prestige" -- since Paramount has chosen to take a slow-and-steady release path, rather than try a blitz, based on Eastwood's track record.

Par brass said they have targeted 1,800 engagements by looking at the behavior of Eastwood's 2003 effort "Mystic River," which opened on 1,470 to take in $10.4 million on its way to $90 million-plus.

Venerable helmer's follow-up, "Million Dollar Baby," bowed in 2004 in 2,000 playdates, nailing a $12.3 million first frame before wrapping up $100.5 million and a best pic Oscar.

Par will be happy with a finish in the low eight figures for "Flags," which will skew toward older males.

Meanwhile, "Prestige," opening in 2,281 playdates, comes on the heels of another, unexpectedly popular pic with magic themes, the Yari Group's "The Illusionist." Edward Norton starrer has performed above expectations, taking in $36.5 million to date.

"Prestige" could very well conjure a young demo with stars Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale.

But still standing in the way is Martin Scorsese's "The Departed," the starry Warner Bros. cop drama that slid a scant 31% to land at No. 2 last frame...

Over at Entertainment Weekly, Joshua Rich thinks This weekend will be more about "Prestige" than "Flags" or "Flicka"...saying A cast of Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman will spell a winner for Disney's magic thriller

Both "Flags" and The Prestige look awesome and either film will look good in the coveted top spot...

In unrelated matters: Remember I told you on Wednesday about legal troubles for film star Wesley Snipes and that he was on run? Well, he has finally turned up...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mist-y Eyed

Writer/director Frank Darabont is adapting another story, his third, by author Stephen King for the big screen...

Michael Fleming of Variety has the details:

Dimension Films will turn Stephen King novella "The Mist" into a horror film, which Frank Darabont will direct from his own script.

Thomas Jane
[who was also in 2003's Dreamcatcher--another King tale turned movie] is in talks to be part of the ensemble cast.

Darabont, whose biggest hits were the King adaptations "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Green Mile," has long been enshrouded in "The Mist."

King entrusted the rights to him several years ago, when Darabont had a first-look deal at Paramount. Darabont is in the final stages of reclaiming rights to his script.

"It's a project Stephen King and I have been talking about doing for almost 20 years now," Darabont said. "In fact, it almost was my first directing project many years ago, but I went classy and did "The Shawshank Redemption" instead. It's time to get down and dirty and make a nasty little character-driven gut-punch horror movie." ...

Published in 1985 as part of King's short story collection "Skeleton Crew," "The Mist" takes place in a small town where a thick mist engulfs the area, killing those caught in its darkness.

Terrified survivors seek refuge in a supermarket, while a swarm of murderous critters tries to get in...

Click Here For More Of The Story

King is one of my favorite storytellers and I loved what Darabont did with The Shawshank Redemption. It's one of the BEST films ever made...I know I'm in the minority here, but the film version of The Green Mile made 5 years after, just wasn't as good. Solid at best...It's interesting that "Mist" was on Darabont's radar--even before Shawshank. It's funny how it all worked out. I'm curious to see how Darabont will use his talents for this 'down and dirty' horror tale..

In case you were wondering--The Dreamcatcher is a horrible movie...If Jane does Mist--he should have better luck with Darabont calling the shots this time...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I'm A Fugitive...And I Used To Play One In A Movie

Talk about "Art Imitating Life"...
Where Is He?

Actor Wesley Snipes once played a fugitive from law enforcement in the 1998 actioner U.S. Marshals. In that movie, he was framed for murder, and spent lots of screen time running from a persistent Tommy Lee Jones. Now Snipes finds himself in trouble with the law for real, indicted by the Feds yesterday, on eight counts of tax fraud.

Greg Farrell of USA TODAY reports

...According to the indictment, Snipes allegedly not only avoided paying millions in income taxes from 1999 through 2004, but he fraudulently tried to get an $11 million refund for taxes paid in the 1990s.

Prosecutors also filed charges against two Florida men who acted as tax advisers to Snipes, Eddie Ray Kahn and Douglas Rosile.

Snipes, who used to have a residence near Orlando, has starred in nearly 50 movies including White Men Can't Jump, New Jack City and the highly successful Blade series. But he reportedly also has run into a series of financial and legal difficulties. In this case, prosecutors allege that Kahn and Rosile convinced Snipes that under an unusual interpretation of federal law, known as the "861 argument," only income derived from foreign-based activities was taxable. A U.S. court has never supported the argument.

Kahn founded a group known as American Rights Litigators and Guiding Light of God Ministries. Although GLGM described itself as a "Christian ministry and organization established to assist men and women in their pursuit of truth and freedom as Americans," the government alleges GLGM is a for-profit operation that sells fraudulent tax schemes. According to the indictment, Snipes paid Kahn a consulting fee and paid to become a member of his American Rights Litigators group.

Rosile, an accountant whose CPA licenses to practice in Ohio and Florida were revoked, worked with Kahn to file tax returns for GLGM clients to claim refunds based on the "861 argument." According to the indictment, if the government refunded money based on the "861" theory, Kahn would take 20% of the refund and pay half to Rosile.

Despite warnings from previous tax advisers that his movie-related income was taxable and the "861" scheme was bogus, Snipes apparently sided with Kahn and Rosile in 2000 and stopped paying income taxes, the indictment says. Using the "861 argument," Snipes tried to recover $4 million in taxes paid for 1996 and $7 million for 1997. The government also claims that Snipes tried to pay some of his income taxes from 2000 to 2002 by sending $14 million in bogus checks to the U.S. Treasury.

Paul Perez, the U.S. Attorney in Tampa who filed the charges, said in a statement: "Those who intentionally and unlawfully harass the IRS through deceit, trickery and fraud undermine the collection of revenue that is vital to every aspect of the operation of our government."...

Further complicating things for Snipes...The Associated Press is reporting:

Perez said Snipes has not been arrested because authorities don't know his whereabouts. Two of the charges that Snipes each carry a maximum sentence of five years. The remaining six charges carry up to one year each...

I really like most of Snipes' work--especially as an action star in The Blade Trilogy...I hope he has enough sense to arrange for surrender. As for his career...That's been in the tank for some time.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What The Flock?

News of another remake is on the agenda today...

Stax of IGN Film Force writes:

Universal Pictures and Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes production company have been developing a remake of the Alfred Hitchcock suspense classic The Birds for over a year now.

The powers-that-be are reportedly eager to take the next step in the development process and attach a star. According to TMZ.com, Universal is poised to make an offer to scream queen Naomi Watts (The Ring, King Kong) to star in the film.

The role would be the one played by Tippi Hendren in the original film. TMZ also claims that screenwriter Leslie Dixson (The Thomas Crown Affair) has come onboard the pic.

IGN was advised this past June by Platinum Dunes producer Brad Fuller that Stiles White and Juliet Snowden (Boogeyman) were scripting the project, which Fuller stressed would be more faithful to Daphne Du Maurier's original story than Hitchcock's film was.

The original TMZ post can be found right here...

The 1963 version of The Birds and the work of its director Alfred Hitchcock, in particular, are among my favorite films. And as I've said before:

When it comes to hearing news about remakes of movies that I like (or love), my initial reaction is usually one of skepticism or yes, seething rage, while I ask something like 'Why risk ruining a good thing with a dopey remake?' ...

Take this--On Tuesday, June 6th, 2006, discussing The Omen remake, I wrote:

...in my opinion, if all you are doing is ripping off the original (particularly with a classic) then why bother? Think the 1998 version of Psycho, made by director Gus Van Sant, and you might understand what I mean...

While it sounds like the plan is to follow the short story source material more closely, than Hitchcock did--thus, making it different. I still believe a remake of The Birds is ultimately unnecessary...Of course I know this is a subjective argument...Just because you can remake a film doesn't mean you should It's a classic that need not be touched....If it does move ahead though, I hope Michael Bay uses the model he employed for the 2003 version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Tippi Hedren in a classic scene from the Hitchcock film...
Do we really need a remake?

I'll be watching out for news on this one...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Holding A Grudge

As expected--The Grudge 2 is the new number one movie in America...

In his Weekend Report for Box Office Mojo, Brandon Gray, said this:

Losing much of its predecessor's audience, 'The Grudge 2' grabbed an estimated $22 million, while 'The Departed' [at #2 with $18.7 million in tickets sold] held firm and 'Man Of The Year' [in 3rd place with $12.6 million] had a moderate turn-out...

Gray's entire report can be found here

Sarah Michelle Gellar is living another nightmare in The Grudge 2

Meantime, Ian Mohr Of Variety writes in Fright has B.O. bite

Sony horror sequel "The Grudge 2" easily topped the weekend's box office, taking in $22 million off 3,211 playdates for a per-screen average of $6,851...

...With "The Grudge 2" at the top of the frame, the weekend was the second in a row to see an English-language remake of an Asian pic land at No. 1, following the last frame's boffo bow of Martin Scorsese's star-studded cop pic "The Departed."

"Departed," from Warner Bros., meanwhile, held well, slipping a scant 31% to land at No. 2.

"Departed" took in $18.6 million over the weekend after topping the charts last frame for Scorsese's biggest opening ever. Pic is now on track to become the director's biggest earner ever: Cume is $56.6 million after two frames.

Pic's staying power spelled bad news for Universal's presidential parody "Man of the Year." While helmer Barry Levinson successfully mined politics for laughs with his earlier "Wag the Dog," auds didn't go for the mix this time around. Robin Williams starrer opened on 2,515 screens to take in just $12.5 million and a per-engagement average of $4,990.

Laffer's auds were primarily older females, while older males chose "Departed," which has been crossing over to younger auds with a cast that include Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg.

Fox, meanwhile, bowed "The Marine," which World Wrestling Entertainment pumped heavily because it stars grappler and sometime rapper John Cena. Pic played to $7 million from 2,545 screens to land in the top 10 with a per-playdate average of $2,745...

Lastly, Entertainment Weekly's Joshua Rich offers in his weekend wrap-up: "The Grudge 2" brings in a crowd on the weekend of Friday the 13th

My belief that the Grudge sequel would be number one for the weekend, was confirmed as early as Friday night--after finding out that my teenage niece and her friends were going to see the film that night.

In tonight's Monday Night Football match-up the Chicago Bears take on the Arizona Cardinals and rookie QB Matt Leinart...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Diamond In The Rough

Hot on the heels of The Departed, the trailer for Leonardo DiCaprio's next film, Blood Diamond has hit the net...

After watching it, I have a few comments to make--DiCaprio's accent sounds really awful...Jennifer Connelly looks absolutely stunning as always...It's nice to see Stephen Collins break away from his TV role as a Minister...Director Edward Zwick is a very good filmmaker, and despite the bad accent I mentioned, seems to have made another thought provoking movie...Djimon Hounsou is a great actor and it looks like he turns in another fine performance...

Look for Blood Diamond in theaters on December 15th, 2006

DiCaprio And Hounsou In Harm's Way For Blood Diamond

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Mea Culpa Tour Continues

Actor/director Mel Gibson faced tough questions from ABC News Good Morning America anchor Diane Sawyer earlier this week...

The Apocalypto helmer has been apologizing six ways to Sunday for his despicable behavior during that now infamous traffic stop last July.

Kudos to Ms. Sawyer for not letting Gibson off the hook. Having read transcripts of the interview, as well as seeing a few video clips--here, here, and here--of Sawyer's piece, I don't feel sorry for him. And I don't buy his explanations/apology at all.

To say that he's not a racist, but then admit that those "feelings came from somewhere" just doesn't wash with me. I know he is human and as such is very flawed, and that I should forgive him...Yadda Yadda. Here's my problem: He just didn't come across as genuine in the interview...As someone who used to enjoy his work, I want to forgive him, I really do. But the cynic in me wonders what Gibson would be saying if he didn't have a new movie coming out--or didn't need to get back in good graces with his Hollywood pals--to continue his career?

Another part of the interview that bothered me: His concern at the time of his arrest that his mug shot not resemble the wild haired look of Nick Nolte...

You've just been arrested on serious charges...and you worry about looking bad in your mug shot? Wow!! I guess even at that point in the story, he knew he would be avoiding jail...What a dumb ass.

For a fee, you can Watch the Full Mel Gibson Interview...

I am glad he's in rehab getting the help he needs...but he has done little else to win me over as yet... He has a long way to go in that regard.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Nudging A Grudge

Leading off the new releases for this week is The Grudge 2 (reviews). I very much enjoyed the first film in the series--the second one looks decent enough--and is poised to take the top spot after all the receipts are counted...

Other fresh flicks include: The Marine (reviews), an actioner that is very reminiscent of the kind of films Arnold Schwarzenegger used to make in the 80's... The drama One Night With the King (reviews) is based on the novel by Mark Andrew Olsen and Tommy Tenney of the same name and is clearly the "Serious" pic of the lot; Despite having the talents of writer/director Barry Levinson and funnyman Robin Williams on its side, as political satire Man Of The Year (reviews) is getting a vote of "no confidence" from critics.

Ian Mohr of Variety sizes up the contenders for us:

After waking up last Sunday to his most flush weekend ever, Martin Scorsese should find his star-studded, sophisticated crime drama "The Departed" deposed by the latest installment of Sony's "The Grudge" horror franchise.

Pic -- with Sarah Michelle Gellar back in the lead -- should pack a potent punch heading into Halloween: First remake in the series bowed a year ago to $39.1 million on its way to $110.3 million.

And gunning for "Departed's" older-skewing core aud, meanwhile, will be Barry Levinson and Universal's populist political fantasy "Man of the Year," in which Robin Williams toplines as the U.S. president.

Fox will bow "The Marine," which has been getting a raft of promotion through World Wrestling Entertainment.

Sony isn't expecting "Grudge 2" to hit the opening frame heights of its predecessor in a market still offering the latest in New Line's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" franchise, which bowed to $18.5 million last frame.

Last year, "Grudge" had little genre competish. But in the sequel's corner is that it's the frame's widest new release, with 3,211 playdates, and it's rated PG-13, whereas "Chainsaw" is rated R.

Continue reading the article here

Competition aside, Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly says, "The Grudge 2" will possess the No. 1 spot this weekend... adding: The horror sequel will scare up big bucks leading into Halloween I think he's right...

The Grudge 2
The Creepy Albino Child Is Back!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Raise The Flag

Clint Eastwood's latest film, the World War II drama Flags of Our Fathers, looks to make some noise come Oscar time. TV Ads for the movie have started to pop up everywhere and the theatrical trailer will certainly tug at one's patriotism for America.

As part of his daily 411 column, Fox News.Com's Roger Friedman offers his take on 'Flags', and its quite interesting:

Clint Eastwood is 76 years old, and in less than four years he’s made three remarkably good films: "Mystic River," which was nominated for an Oscar; "Million Dollar Baby," which won Best Picture; and most recently, "Flags of Our Fathers," which opens a week from tomorrow.

This is a film with much merit, and it will get a lot of kudos, "thumbs up" and the all the rest. The question is, is it as good as the other two? I’m not sure.

“Flags of Our Fathers” tells the story of what happened to the soldiers who were photographed in the famous picture of an American flag being planted on Iwo Jima during World War II.

The story is based on a book written by James Bradley, the son of one of those soldiers, with Ron Powers, one of the great dramatic non-fiction prose writers of our time. I’d love to see his “White Town Drowsing” made into an HBO film. It’s wonderful.

The screenplay for “Flags” was written by William Broyles Jr. and then tweaked by Paul Haggis, who wrote the screenplays for “Mystic River” and “Million Dollar Baby.” It’s too bad he didn’t just overhaul “Flags” from top to bottom.

Broyles — who started out at Newsweek years ago — can be pretty stodgy in his delivery.

Witness such lumps of exposition as "Jarhead," "The Polar Express," "Planet of the Apes" (remake) and — ugggh! — "Cast Away," in which the most memorable character was a volleyball.

Broyles also co-created “China Beach” for TV, and that’s what “Flags” reminds me of the most. It has a big ensemble cast and one self-destructive main character.

In “China Beach,” it was Dana Delany’s alcoholic McMurphy, the nurse. In “Flags,” it’s Ira Hayes, actor Adam Beach’s Native American soldier whose lack of self esteem sends him into a downward spiral. Luckily, Beach like Delany, finds the vulnerability. Delany won Emmys; Beach will at least be nominated for Oscars.

“Flags of Our Fathers” soars in many regards. Grisly and realistic, Eastwood’s battle scenes are incredibly exciting.

He’s shot most of the movie in dull blues and grays, and black and white. In fact, the only real colors you ever see are bright blue (in a dress, in the ocean) and red (in the stripes on the American flag). Otherwise, as just about everything blows up and limbs are shorn, the picture is muted of life.

At the same time, though, Eastwood has to balance the story of the soldiers from that picture.

They’re sent home to become public-relations icons; heroes who must sell war bonds to a weary, financially-drained populace.

In the process, they see the act they performed diminished, and the heroism that’s projected on them becomes uncomfortable.

Ryan Phillippe and Jesse Bradford, playing Hayes’ buddies, do a good job as likeable guys caught in a tricky spot. Eastwood does everything he can for them, but the screenplay is their enemy. The pair gets no showy scenes, nothing that might illuminate their plight separate from Hayes’.

And there are so many pointed digs at Hayes’ heritage (everyone, annoyingly, calls him “Chief” as in “Indian Chief”) that it almost seems that being Indian is more central to the story than having planted the flag at Iwo Jima.

There are some caveats about “Flags of our Fathers” that can’t be overlooked, and again I think they have more to do with Broyles’ script than anything else.

First, there don’t seem to be any black soldiers at Iwo Jima. Outside of Beach’s character, it’s an all-white American army. This is historically inaccurate.

Writer Christopher Paul Moore talks about the Army’s 471st, 473rd and 476th amphibious truck companies in his excellent book, “Fighting for America: Black Soldiers — The Unsung Heroes of World War II,” and includes many pictures of black Marines and soldiers from the month-long battle of Iwo Jima. Certainly, at least one of them could have been represented (to be fair, black soldiers were also omitted from Steven Spielberg’s "Saving Private Ryan," as Moore notes).

No black characters, but more than 30 actors from Iceland, where a big chunk of the movie was filmed, are credited as soldiers.

And there’s almost no mention of Joe Rosenthal, the Pulitzer prize-winning photographer who took the picture of the flag raising. An actor who resembles Sean Penn snaps the photo in the movie, but he’s uncredited and never again discussed (there are about 40 references in the book upon which the movie is based, however). Rosenthal died this past August at age 95.

But these are mere quibbles: “Flags of Our Fathers” remains undiminished.

“Flags” also has a cast that’s a who’s who of solid actors, including John Slattery, Jon Polito, Robert Patrick, Neal McDonough, Barry Pepper, John Benjamin Hickey and Judith Ivey.

There’s also a top notch selection of younger actors in key soldiers’ roles with Jamie Bell, Joseph Cross and Paul Walker (in a cameo) as the standouts.

And the older actors who play the WWII soldiers in the present — Harve Presnell, Len Cariou, George Grizzard and George Hearn — make the whole thing that much more believable

All the actors are, as Eastwood once told me, “get up and go” kind of actors, the sort who are already so talented he says he doesn’t have to tell them much.

“Flags of Our Fathers” comes out at an interesting time. Like “Bobby,” (a film about the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy) which doesn’t hit until Nov. 20, “Flags” is a historical picture with a lot of contemporary resonance.

Setting aside the tremendously grand nature of the battles, the central issue of “Flags” — how a war is sold to a country that may no longer want it — is far too important to dismiss without discussion. That the discussion comes from Clint Eastwood, an American icon, means the director earns even more respect this time around.

I agree that as a screenwriter William Broyles Jr. leaves a lot to be desired. I was surprised by the fact that the film practically omits the guy that took that now famous photo at Iwa Jima. Sheesh. As to the issue of diversity in the film, It's not the first time its happened in a movie like this, as was noted, and it sadly probably wont be the last.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Battle Plans

One month ago, MGM announced big plans to roar back to life. Now, as Variety's Alison James reports, the studio's chief exec knows that it will be a tough slog. But he sounds as if he is more than prepared on paper at least, for the challenges that lie ahead

MGM topper Harry Sloan thinks he's the best thing that's happened to the studio in a while -- and he said so at the Mipcom TV mart Tuesday.

When asked what single new factor would be responsible for getting the Lion to roar again, he replied: "Can I be immodest? It's me."

But the times offer some tough challenges, Sloan said -- not least because of the fact that, in his view, "the studio system is broken."

A day after Google's $1.6 billion acquisition of YouTube, the topper warned of a looming "battle between user and commercial content."

"We've got to get the creativity to stand up against user-created content -- because that's what people are watching in my house," Sloan, the father of a 17-year-old, told Daily Variety's Elizabeth Guider, who moderated the panel.

"The TV is on in the background, behind him. He's got two screens in front of him, one connected to friends and the other to play 'World of Warcraft.' "

Investors have already understood the changes taking place, Sloane said.

In his keynote, Sloan predicted that 1 trillion dollars was being invested worldwide in new media platforms, of which half that sum was being spent in the U. S.

That, he continued, will mean ever greater need for content and for expert marketing to steer consumers to what they want to experience.

"There's a line around the block at MGM of films that are fully financed, looking for distribution," Sloan said.

Evoking MGM's recent overhaul, the topper outlined the changes he'd made at the company, based on the observation that studios are bad at certain things -- development and production -- and good at others --marketing and distribution.

"The best product is being made outside the studio system," he said.

Sloan talked up the new distribution-orientated strategy he has put in place at the Lion, which will involve the studio's producing only two or three tentpoles a year, while marketing and distributing around twenty independent films.

As a result of the changes, the company has shed 1,000 staff, down now to 400, and is saving $200 million a year.

"I think we have the model right this time," he said.

MGM has five $100 million- $200 million tentpoles in the works

Outlining your strategy for success, in a multi-faceted marketplace, during some panel discussion is one thing...Now let's see him actually implement said plan.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Casting Service

Two films that I've been following for this blog, recently made some pretty cool casting news, that should mean good things for the projects in question...

Variety's "Dynamic Duo", Michael Fleming and Ben Fritz lead things off

Terrence Howard is set to join Robert Downey Jr. in "Iron Man."

The Jon Favreau-directed film is the first to be coined through a financing arrangement that Marvel Studios formed with Merrill Lynch. Paramount Pictures releases the film May 2, 2008.

Howard will play Jim "Rhodey" Rhodes, the confidante of Iron Man's alter ego, Tony Stark. Rhodes, a high ranking military officer and aviator, steers the team that develops the robotic suit that allows the sickly Stark to fly around and battle bad guys.

In the comic, Rhodes' character gets his own armored suit and evolves into an occasionally antagonistic character called War Machine. That development seems likely to be saved for the sequel, though, as Iron Man will battle villain the Mandarin when shooting begins in February in L.A.

"The suit is purely an innovative creation, so this is Marvel meets Tom Clancy technology," Marvel Studios production president Kevin Feige said. "Having the best actors for the key roles allows them to inhabit the hyperkinetic reality of this world."...

...Howard recently completed "The Brave One" and is shooting "Spring Break in Bosnia."

He's poised to play country music icon Charley Pride in a biopic for Paramount...

I can think of no better actor to play opposite Robert Downey Jr. for this movie than Howard. He has already proven himself as a talented guy--with roles in flicks like Hustle & Flow, Ray and of course Crash--Just to name a few. Kudos to director Jon Favreau for enlisting some top talent to bring Iron Man off the pages of comics books and onto the silver screen. Please keep it up.

Fellow Variety scribe, Pamela McCintock posted this news a few days ago:

Lee Pace will star opposite Sarah Michelle Gellar in supernatural thriller "Addicted," set to begin shooting later this month.

The Yari Film Group is financing and producing with Vertigo and Spitfire [films].

Joel Bergvall and Simon Sandquist, who helmed Swedish film "The Invisible," will direct from a Michael Petroni script loosely based on the 2002 South Korean pic "Jungdok." Story revolves around a woman whose husband and brother-in-law end up in a coma; when the brother-in-law awakes, he insists he is her husband...

Pace appeared in Sundance fave "Soldier's Girl" and is in two films hitting the big screen this fall: Truman Capote biopic "Infamous" and "The Good Shepherd."

Pic reunites Gellar with Vertigo, which produced "The Grudge" and "The Grudge 2" (latter bows Friday). Vertigo also produced "The Ring" and "The Ring 2."

Lee Pace has made some interesting choices over the years. Obviously his chemistry with Sarah Michelle Gellar will be key, of course, but I think he makes a good fit in terms of the material...He was great in Soldier's Girl.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Departed Returns

The Departed took U.S. cineplexes by storm over the weekend--whacking the competition but good

The Weekend Report by Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo starts off with this:

The Departed' left 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning' and 'Employee of the Month' [clocking into 4th place with just $11.8 million] in the dust with an estimated $27 million opening...

To read more from Gray, click here

Meanwhile, for his article in today's Variety Ian Mohr writes:

Martin Scorsese scored his biggest opening ever with Warner Bros. release "The Departed" as the cop drama took in just over $27 million on 3,017 screens over the weekend.

Among the helmer's previous pics, only 1991 remake "Cape Fear" had bowed to more than $10 million.

New Line's latest entry in the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" franchise, meanwhile, ripped $19.1 million from 2,820 locations to land at No. 2.

Pic's predecessor bowed in October three years ago to more than $28 million and a No. 1 finish.

Frame's other new wide opener, Lions Gate's PG-13 rated "Employee of the Month," with a cast including Dane Cook and Jessica Simpson, punched in on Sunday with an estimated $11.8 million off 2,579 playdates.

Unlike three years ago, this October is filled with a glut of genre product aimed at young males, as Paramount and MTV Films' "Jackass Number Two" and "Jet Li's Fearless" both stayed in the top 10.

Tracking on "Departed" had suggested the film would be popular with older males, but the feature managed to bring in female and younger
[folks] as well.

You can read the complete article for more...

Lastly, Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly, had this to say about the results: Martin Scorsese and a hunky cast ruled the box office

I'm happy that Scorsese has both a critical and financial success in The Departed. If anyone deserves it--he does. Unfortunately, for me, my schedule is such that I will not be able to see the film in theaters, anytime soon...