Saturday, June 30, 2007

First Time Out

The Hollywood Reporter reported that David Ondaatje has signed on to direct his first movie--a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's first flick The Lodger from 1927.

The original film premise is based on the Jack the Ripper case of the late 19th century. The new version makeover re-imagines the story as an urban thriller set in contemporary Los Angeles, and follows the uneasy relationship between a psychologically unstable landlady and her mysterious tenant.

The new film will also have a "B" story that revolves around a detective playing a cat and mouse game with a brutal killer.

Since the '27 version was a silent film--the movie is ripe for a modern makeover--despite the fact the "Ripper" milieu has been the subject of many a movie over the decades...Redoing Hitchcock will be a daunting task for the newbie helmer...I wish him luck.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Knight-time Call Sheet

Two new cast members have been added to fill out the supporting roles in Christopher Nolan 's The Dark Knight: Melinda McGraw, and Nathan Gamble.

McGraw, according to Variety, will play the wife of Gary Oldman's character James Gordon -- if the filmmakers follow Batman: Year One continuity that would make her Barbara Kean-Gordon. McGraw did her best work as Melissa Scully, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson)'s ill-fated sister, on The X Files TV series.

Meanwhile, Gamble will reportedly play the Gordons' son. He appeared Oscar-nominated Babel , and also starred in the short-lived TV series Runaway.

The 2 actors make fine additions to the mix--But I have one question? Where's Barbara, Jim's daughter/adopted niece (who eventually becomes Batgirl)?

Maybe they're saving her until the next movie...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Digging Bones And Telling Lies

Two flicks on the roster for release in 2008--are making casting news today. Pamela McClintock and Michael Fleming report on both projects in Variety.

First up: Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Lovely Bones adds an Oscar nominee from the class of 2006...

Ryan Gosling is set to star opposite Rachel Weisz in Peter Jackson's feature adaptation of Alice Sebold's bestselling novel "The Lovely Bones" for DreamWorks.

Jackson will begin lensing in October in Pennsylvania and New Zealand. Film will be distributed worldwide by Paramount.

Story revolves around a young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family -- and her killer -- from heaven. Girl must weigh her desire for vengeance against her desire for her family to heal.

Gosling will play the girl's father, Weisz the mother...

Gosling (pictured) was excellent in Half Nelson. And while I have not read the book, on which the film is based, he and Weisz seem like they would be a good match given the material.

And then there's Body of Lies:

Russell Crowe will join Leonardo DiCaprio in "Body of Lies," the William Monahan-scripted adaptation of the David Ignatius novel that Ridley Scott will direct for Warner Bros.

...pic shoots in the fall.

Crowe will play Ed Hoffman, the manipulative CIA boss who teams with operative Roger Ferris (DiCaprio) to trap a dangerous Al Qaeda leader by planting a false rumor that the bomber is in cahoots with the Americans. Crowe has been working steadily with Scott since "Gladiator," teaming on "A Good Year," the recently completed "American Gangster" and the upcoming "Nottingham," a Universal and Imagine drama that will go into production early next year.

Crowe has been courted to play the CIA boss since DiCaprio signed on in April. He's awaiting a polish by "American Gangster" scribe Steve Zaillian before formally committing...

Crowe working again with Scott is a no brainer. It will be interesting to see what happens with DiCaprio added to the formula...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Die Is Cast

After a 12 year hiatus, John McClane (Bruce Willis) is back in action for Live Free or Die Hard (reviews) The fourth film in the action series, in theaters today. McClane's exploits will face off against the CGI animated film Ratatouille (reviews) and the estrogen ensemble Evening (reviews) when they enter the Summer fray on Friday...

"In McClane We Trust"

Pamela McClintock of Variety:

Retrofitting its action franchise after a lengthy absence, Fox is looking to Bruce Willis starrer "Live Free or Die Hard" to do some hard living at the box office. Pic opens today.

Fox moved up the release by two days to provide some extra room before Michael Bay's robot actioner "Transformers" starts some performances Monday night ahead of its official opening Tuesday.

This weekend is shaping up to be a race between "Die Hard" and Disney-Pixar's "Ratatouille," although the toon is predicted to have a strong shot at No. 1 for the three days, particularly since "Die Hard" is opening early and spreading out its take over five days.

Not surprisingly, "Die Hard" is tracking strongest among older women and men. Many in the coveted young male category weren't even alive when the first "Die Hard" debuted in 1988, catapulting Willis to stardom as reluctant hero and macho cop John McClane.

Studio execs say the new edition stands on its own, and auds don't need to have seen any of the three previous "Die Hard" installments; they're hoping that younger moviegoers go for the nonstop action and retro feel.

Both "Die Hard" and "Ratatouille" are drawing strong notices. Disney's big challenge with "Ratatouille" is to manage expectations: Toons and family films don't always open like gangbusters but rake in the dough over the long haul. And the new toon -- the first Pixar pic since the company was acquired by Disney -- will have to measure up to the $60.1 million opening number for "Cars," Pixar's last movie, which bowed in June 2006. And many B.O. pundits labeled that bow a disappointment because it didn't match the opening of "The Incredibles," though "Cars" drove on to a healthy $462 million worldwide cume.

"Ratatouille" also will be vying for the family audience with Universal's "Evan Almighty," which heads into its second weekend.

On the specialty side, the Weinstein Co. expands Michael Moore's docu "Sicko" to 441 screens through Lionsgate. Film played one Gotham theater last weekend, posting $69,000 in receipts. Film also played in 43 sneak peaks across the country Saturday night.

Offering some counter-programming, Focus Features is taking a more wide approach in bowing female drama "Evening," about a woman on her deathbed who recounts her romantic past to her two daughters. Film, which will play in 906 venues in the U.S., stars Claire Danes, Toni Collette, Vanessa Redgrave and her real-life daughter Natasha Richardson, Patrick Wilson, Hugh Dancy, Meryl Streep and her real-life daughter Mamie Gummer.

Fox is working hard to persuade young males to give "Die Hard" a try. Pic positions Willis' character as an analog holdover fighting for justice in a digital world. Justin Long plays a young hacker who aids McClane in stopping a terrorist takeover.

Pic's budget was reportedly $110 million...

The reaction to the latest "Die Hard" is quite positive, but it's not even close to touching the overwhelming positive feeling that critics have about Ratatouille...Will nostalgia for the big D franchise win out over a CGI rat? How will Die Hard's 2 day head start impact the weekend numbers? It's too early to say. The only thing I'm sure of is that all of the new flicks (including Michael Moore's latest docu Sicko --Be sure to read Moore wishes Bush well at LA rally), better make as much as they can before Transformers decimates the competition, with its release next week and beyond.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


A star's outspoken opinions of the past are catching up with him...

Given my very strong criticism of Tom Cruise throughout the history of The Last Reel--This news really caught my attention

Peter Gilstrap of Variety:

United Artists' "Valkyrie" is strictly verboten as far as the German Defense Ministry is concerned.

Due to Tom Cruise's affiliation with the Church of Scientology, the Teutonic governmental body has prohibited shooting the WWII thriller at German military sites.

Decision was based on Germany's longstanding contention that Scientology is not a religion but an exploitative, profit-based business concern.

It's not the first time Cruise has butted heads with the German government. In 1996, German politicians called for a boycott of "Mission: Impossible" and other Cruise films... In 2004, the star was told that he could not film scenes for "Mission: Impossible III" in Berlin's historic Reichstag, a site strictly off-limits for any lensing, though Scientology was apparently not part of the equation.

Cruise met with U.S. Ambassador to Germany Dan Coats in 2002 in an attempt to get German officials to soften their views on the Church of Scientology, which has been officially monitored there since 1997.

For years Cruise has been outspoken in his enthusiasm for science-fiction author and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's alleged faith, claiming that it cured his dyslexia, among other benefits. During the filming of Steven Spielberg's "War of the Worlds," Cruise had a tent on set offering counseling from Scientology ministers. In 2005 Cruise referred to psychiatry -- which Scientology rejects -- as a "Nazi science."

[The Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie produced film is scheduled] to start lensing in mid-July....

"Aside from his obvious admiration of the man he is portraying, Mr. Cruise's personal beliefs have absolutely no bearing on the movie's plot, themes or content," said UA chief exec Paula Wagner in a statement Monday. "And even though we could shoot the movie anywhere in the world, we believe Germany is the only place we can truly do the story justice," she added.

"Production is going ahead and the movie is going to be shot in Germany," UA spokesman Allan Mayer told Daily Variety. "As to what particular locations will be used, that's still being decided."

In a statement to wire services, German Defense Ministry spokesman Harald Kammerbauer said his agency had yet to receive official filming requests from the film's producers; the primary location is said to be the Benderblock memorial within Berlin's Defense Ministry headquarters...

Wagner, Singer and Cruise had to know that this might happen with Valkyrie...given what Germany's position has been in the past...Plan B is already in motion.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Brett And The Bunny Man

You do the math. A director with a reputation as a partier + material that spotlights the ultimate party master = perfect match. Brett Ratner has been tapped to direct a biopic about the life and times of Hugh Hefner (pictured)

Michael Fleming of Variety:

Brett Ratner is set to direct "Playboy," the Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment film about the life of Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner. Brian Grazer is producing, and John Hoffman is writing the screenplay.

Grazer optioned Hefner's life rights several years ago. The producer's "8 Mile" scribe Scott Silver tried it as a musical, and Oliver Stone developed several drafts. Making a film of Hefner's long life as icon of the sexual revolution has proven difficult, but Ratner and Hoffman found a way to do it that pleased Grazer and the 81-year-old Hefner, who approved the take late last week in a meeting at the Playboy Mansion.

Ratner, who completed "Rush Hour 3" for an Aug. 10 release through New Line and has a rep as a playboy himself, knows much about the mag's history, though his mansion visit was his first. When Grazer made his original deal with Hefner, Ratner sent the producer his Playboy pinball machine, which sits outside Grazer's office at Imagine.

Still, Ratner got the call only recently, after Stone departed...

... Hoffman just began writing the Hefner pic...

"Hef came from a puritanical upbringing and reinvented himself to be the godfather of the sexual revolution," Ratner told Daily Variety. "He also used his magazine to advocate civil rights and free speech, and put James Brown on his show 'Playboy After Dark' when they didn't put black performers on national television. He broke all kinds of taboos, especially in sexuality. I want to show it all, from the First Amendment struggles to his first orgy to the stroke in the 1980s that almost killed him."

The stories of Ratner's social life are almost as legendary as Hefner's. Whether those stories have been exaggerated unfairly or not--I find it both ironic and a bit funny that Ratner got the gig.

Divine Intervention

Evan Almighty took out Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer as expected but it's 1408 that's all the rage

Steve Carell And Morgan Freeman Win With Evan

Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo:

Though it led the weekend, Evan Almighty floundered out of the gate with an estimated $32.1 million, while 1408 opened well in second...

Ian Mohr of Variety:

"Evan Almighty" floated the boat of enough moviegoers to take the No. 1 slot at the box office, but it’s an ocean or two behind its predecessor.

Universal’s contempo comedic take on the Noah’s Ark tale starring Steve Carell, washed ashore with $32.1 million, far short of the $68 million brought in by 2003’s predecessor "Bruce Almighty." Earlier pic starred Jim Carrey.

MGM and Weinstein Co. pic "1408" checked in as a surprise No. 2 as the Stephen King adaptation took $20.1 million, just edging out "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" in that franchise pic’s second frame.

After the summer got off to a torrid start last month, weekend was the fourth straight in which the domestic B.O. did not match the same frame a year ago: Box office for the top 10 combined was $122.6 million, according to Rentrak, vs. $124.7 million a year ago, when Adam Sandler’s "Click" led the field.

Meanwhile, "Evan Almighty" sailed to a per-location average of $8,910 from 3,604 theaters. Pic was Carell’s biggest starring vehicle opener yet, according to Nielsen EDI, surpassing the $21.4 million opening for "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" in 2005. That pic went on to hit about $109.4 million.

U brass said they were encouraged by exit polls for "Evan Almighty" and were hoping auds would discover the laffer in later frames.

In a summer of highly anticipated sequels, "Evan" is one of the first big-budget tentpoles to turn in lackluster numbers in its debut after most have bowed to record-breaking numbers or at least stayed close to their predecessors’ preems.

The PG-13 rated "1408," a paranormal thriller starring John Cusack, arrived in theaters to solid notices, but tracking as of Thursday had suggested the movie would hit in the teen millions and no further.

However, the pic attracted a large female audience -- comprising 53% of its ticket buyers -- over the frame. That helped it draw the biggest opening for a Stephen King lit adaptation to date.

Among other new openers, Paramount Vantage’s politically charged "A Mighty Heart," starring Angelina Jolie, made the No. 10 spot with $4 million off 1,355 locations in North America.

That translated intoonly $2,956 per theater for the pic by Michael Winterbottom after Paramount Vantage made an aggressive play at a time when specialty films have been delivering in limited platform release patterns...

The rest of the trade's weekend analysis can be found here

Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly:

Steve Carell's family comedy finished well below expectations, while thriller ''1408'' surprised at No. 2

Makes you wonder what the gross for Almighty would have been if Jim Carrey had agreed to return as the star...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Fast And Fury

Ain't It Cool News is reporting that Samuel L. Jackson (pictured) is set to appear in Iron Man The site claims Jackson's role in the film is that of as another comic book superhero -Nick Fury.

It seems Jackson will film his scenes as iconic super spy over the next few days, though it's unclear exactly how big the role is in the movie. It must be said that a Nick Fury solo feature film is planned as well--with Andrew W. Marlowe tapped to write the screenplay. In fact at one point, Bruce Willis was said to be playing Fury

In related news:The New York Times reports that the financing raised by Merrill Lynch for Marvel.'s film slate includes the following clause, which would affect Fury. "If the movies are not successful, Marvel will forfeit the film rights to certain characters"

Assuming AICN is correct: Jackson would make a fine and dandy Fury. As would Willis for that matter...Either way we win....It's gonna be hard to judge how well Nick Fury will do as a film star from Iron Man He'll have to go it alone for for folks to do that properly.

As for that clause How does one qualify a success? $50 mill over budget costs in profits? I think that would be hard to predict at this stage--too many unknowns. And why would Marvel forfeit the film rights on any of their properties based on financial numbers...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Spliced Film

Today's post is a hodge-podge of stuff that's caught my eye of late.

...Director Steven Spielberg offers up the first glimpse of Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones on the set of the fourth installment...

...Gossiper Page Six claims that William Shatner has been squeezed out of Star Trek XI- As for me, I'm taking everything I read about the film with a grain of salt till we get word from on high.

...Chris Evans recently told the MTV Movies Blog that he wants to see a more grown-up, mature and darker tone for the third flick in the series.-Trust me. The tone of Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer was not the problem

..Kevin Smith interviews Bruce Willis about what it was like bringing back John McClane for Live Free Or Die Hard...Speaking of which Wired Magazine published an article that inspired the sequel's premise

...I actually got all goosebumpy after watching this trailer for the soon to be released 5-disc Blade Runner Final Cut DVD.

...How silly does this sound? There's a report out there that has outline for the next Pirate's will come complete with Jules Verne-esque flying machines, Blackbeard, dinosaurs and Atlantis. Sheesh!!

...This item's been all over the place this week, the folks over at National Lampoon's are indeed, making a comedy called "72 Virgins".

...There's chatter that some of the filming for Zack Snyder's adaptation of Watchmen is gonna be shot in Spain. Cameras begin rolling this fall

...The final one-sheet poster for Transformers is up:

And here's the Variety review by Jay Weissberg

..Will.Cillian Murphy be back as the Scarecrow in The Dark Knight? I sure hope so!

...I can think of no actor better suited than Morgan Freeman to play Mandela. I already smell Oscar buzz

...The final trailer for the Simpsons Movie is here...

Look for more of these type of posts soon...

Friday, June 22, 2007

God Complex

Three new films, representing three genres of the medium, enter the arena this week.

Morgan Freeman plays God to Steve Carell's disciple in the comedy Evan Almighty (reviews); Yet another spooky short story written by Stephen King is adapted for the silver screen in 1408 (reviews); And Angelina Jolie plays Mariane Pearl, widow of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who died while in the hands of terrorists in 2002-for A Mighty Heart (reviews)...

Ian Mohr of Variety:

Universal and director Tom Shadyac's "Evan Almighty" is the latest sequel to hit the multiplexes this weekend, amid high expectations.

"Bruce Almighty" -- the first "Almighty" pic, which starred Jim Carrey as a regular guy who inherits divine powers -- opened to $67.9 million in May 2003.

But "Evan" is tracking to bow well below that number, even while the U pic stands as a likely No. 1 candidate over the frame.

Then again, tracking data has been shaky lately: Last weekend, Fox's "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" looked like it wouldn't beat the pervious pic in that franchise, according to pre-weekend data, but the pic came out ahead of the game with a healthy $58 million.

Also hitting screens this weekend will be MGM's release of the Weinstein Co.'s supernatural thriller "1408," in 2,678 theaters...

Click here for the entire article.

Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly says:

Expect the expensive Steve Carell vehicle to bring in around $45 mil

I have tried to appreciate Steve Carrell, I really have, but frankly, while very good in The 40 Year Old Virgin-I don't find him all that funny...Evan looks very lame.

Next Up: It's another blast from the past as Det. John McClane (Bruce Willis) returns on Wednesday in Live Free or Die Hard...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Pulling Me Back In

Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese are set to work together again..

The actor/director duo will reunite for the feature film adaptation of Don Winslow's "The Winter of Frankie Machine" according to a report in Deadline Hollywood Daily.

De Niro will play a Mafia hit man who has gives up that life, going straight to become the owner of a bait shop. But he soon discovers that he's been tagged for a hit, and is forced to return to his former occupation.

Scorsese will direct the flick as part of a recent deal with Paramount.

"Ocean's Thirteen" scribes Brian Koppelman and David Levien penned the screenplay.

Scorsese and De Niro have made pure movie magic over the years: Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, Casino, and if course, Goodfellas. Here's hoping that the tradition continues with this project as well.

Father Figure

Even as filming gets underway on the fourth Indiana Jones film--anther actor has been added to the cast

Pamela McClintock of Variety:

Jim Broadbent [pictured] has signed up to star in "Indiana Jones 4," playing a Yale U. professor.

Steven Spielberg began lensing the pic Monday in New Mexico from a script by David Koepp. Film will shoot throughout the summer at several locations around the globe, including New Haven, Conn.

Paramount and Lucasfilm plan to release the picture in May. Frank Marshall serves as producer, while Kathleen Kennedy and Lucas are exec producing.

Broadbent, whose last film was action comedy "Hot Fuzz," will next be seen in "And When Did You Last See Your Father?"

Broadbent's talented for sure, but I have to wonder if his casting so late in the process, is the result of Sean Connery turning down the offer to return as Indy's Dad? My instincts say the answer to that question is "yes". I'm glad that production has finally begun.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Your Word Is Your Bond

A director has been chosen for the next James Bond film...

Diane Garrett of Variety:

Bond producers have chosen a 007 rookie as the latest steward of their action franchise.

Marc Forster, best known for intimate dramas such as "Finding Neverland" and "Monster's Ball," will direct the 22nd James Bond film for Sony. He will soon begin working with scribe Paul Haggis on a draft of the screenplay by Neil Purvis and Robert Wade.

Pic, which will again star Daniel Craig as Bond, is slated for a December start at Pinewood Studios in London. Columbia will release it worldwide on Nov. 7, 2008.

..."I have always been drawn to different kinds of stories, and I have also always been a Bond fan, so it is very exciting to take on this challenge," Forster said, adding that the latest direction of the Bond character opens up "a host of new possibilities" for him as director...

Forster makes for an interesting choice, given his recent work, and the fact that Bond #22 is said to be a direct continuation of Casino Royale. It's a bold move on the part of the producers to go with somebody who's not really known as an action guy. Considering how well CR turned out though--I am willing to go with it--fingers crossed.

What's Your Hurry?

As one of the few folks out there who believe that the first Fantastic Four film (2005) got an unfair shake from critics and some comic book fans--I was very much looking forward to seeing Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer--especially after watching the last trailer. You can imagine my surprise then, upon leaving the cineplex on Friday, I was left feeling disappointed...

As the film opens Reed, (Ioan Gruffudd) Sue (Jessica Alba), Johnny (Chris Evans), and Ben (Michael Chiklis)--known worldwide as The Fantastic Four--are preparing for Reed and Sue's wedding...The celebration is interrupted, however, by the arrival of the Silver Surfer (Doug Jones, voiced by Laurence Fishburne) who is wreaking havoc across the planet. In order to stop the Surfer the quartet must rely on the aid of the evil Dr. Doom (Julian McMahon), before all hope is lost.

Tim Story, who directed the first one, is once again calling the shots. And while the film has some great moments in storytelling like the whole power switcheroo subplot--frankly there's not enough of them. The great character of The Thing is almost reduced to nothing more than comic relief...Dr. Doom has maybe three scenes of dialogue in a part that's once again--underwritten (more on the script in a sec) Reed and Sue may be finally getting married but that's all that there is to their personal arc. There's no real growth here--Mr. Fantastic is still a nerd and Sue is still the nurturer. I wasn't expecting them to reinvent the wheel--I just wanted more meat on the bone.

As if that's not bad enough, Mark Frost and Don Payne's screenplay also under serves its main attraction: The Silver Surfer. His function as intergalactic herald gets whittled down to a few lines of dialogue--That if, I were not aware of the Surfer's full backstory--might have left me scratching my head. A creation like Surfer deserves better

I'm smart enough to know that there are preliminary plans for the Surfer to go solo at some point. But come on--the climax, like the rest of the film, at a mere 95 minutes in total, is very rushed. Don't even get me started on Galactus...

Kerry Washington returns as Alicia all be it briefly--And the great Andre Braugher appears as General Hager who asks the FF to stop the Surfer...

I know the film needed to be edited for pace but jeebus! FF 2 would have benefited by had borrowing some of the excess that made Spider-Man 3 too long and found its way into this film...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Halo Be Thy Name

The film adaptation of the popular video game series Halo long thought dead--is showing signs of life:

Ben Fritz of Variety:

Less than a year after its plans to co-produce with Universal a movie based on Microsoft's hit video game franchise were abruptly cancelled, 20th Century Fox has signed a deal to become the primary licensor for "Halo."

That means the studio will handle worldwide merchandise licensing for "Halo" on behalf of the tech giant.

Though the unsuccessful film development helped bring the two companies closer together, Fox's licensing division has a longer relationship with Microsoft.

It handled similar duties for "Perfect Dark Zero" and "Kameo: Elements of Power," two Microsoft-published games that came out in late 2005 in conjunction with the launch of the Xbox 360.

"Those two games established our relationship with them as a licensing agency, and those conversations continued during the same time that a 'Halo' film was in development here," said Elie Dekel, exec VP of domestic licensing for Fox.

He added that Fox's licensing division focuses primarily on teens and young adults instead of kids, as some other studios do, which makes "Halo" a good fit.

Fox is aiming to launch a broad array of products, from books to apparel to collectible merchandise, in conjunction with the release of "Halo 3" in September.

But given the huge popularity of the vidgame series, Dekel said he's confident his division can continue to sell licensed products in the next few years until a fourth "Halo" game comes out.

"Halo" is one of the video game industry's most popular franchises. Original game and "Halo 2" have sold more than 14.5 million units.

Fox is already in various stages of discussion with several dozen licenses and will be talking to potential partners at this week's Toy Fair in [New York City].

It took longer than I expected for a new deal to emerge. But now that the prelims are out of the way...A film can't be far off? Can it? Stay Tuned!

Silver Lining

As most analysts predicted, Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer, took the top spot over Father's day weekend...

Surfer Rises To The Top

Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo:

It was no stretch for Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer to lead the weekend box office, raking in an estimated $57.4 million, while Nancy Drew failed...

Ian Mohr of Variety:

Fox's "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" easily crested to No. 1 over the weekend with $57.4 million in tickets sales, according to estimates. That outpaced the $56 million the first "Fantastic" pic debuted with in 2005...

Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly:

The sequel opens better than the original; meanwhile, ''Ocean's'' and ''Knocked Up'' hold up nicely...

The second FF film may have opened better than the first one did--in terms of tix sales...But I actually think FF 1 is a better film...I'll explain why soon...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

...Not That There's Anything Wrong With That

The Marvel/DC film franchise saga continues with two of the most recent installments...First up: In honor of the theatrical release of Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer (Look for my review soon...) The FF male their first appearance...

...And then Magneto takes on Wolverine as things boil over...

...Dad-Happy Father's Day Thanks for everything! I love you!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Designer Clothes

Jeff Jensen posting on Entertainment offers up a sneak peek of Batman's new threads as seen in the upcoming sequel The Dark Knight

The Caped Crusader won't swoop onto screens again until ''The Dark Knight'' hits theaters on July 18, 2008 — but he's already sporting a new-and-improved getup, and costume designer Lindy Hemming gives EW a first look and tells us about its features

HEAD GAMES Ever wonder why movie Batmans rarely turn their horned heads? It's because the cowls of past suits were firmly attached to the neck and shoulders of the costume — necessary to maintain that iconic silhouette and to prevent the actor from moving around inside the mask. The new headpiece — modeled after a motorcycle helmet — is separate from the neck, so star Christian Bale can now swivel his noggin side to side, or nod up and down. ''It was the hardest part of the suit to make,'' says Hemming.

CAPE FEAR Don't bother asking. ''It's top secret,'' says Hemming. Meaning...? ''Let's just say things happen to the cloak.'' Our guess: It's also a picnic blanket!

BLADES OF GLORY The razors on Batman's forearms are actually part of the suit. (His gloves tuck into the sleeves of the suit.) They're retractable, and yep, they're weapons. ''They shoot at people!'' says Hemming with a Jokersesque laugh.

RAW MATERIAL The new suit is made of 200 individual pieces of rubber, fiberglass, and nylon and metallic mesh. Bruce Wayne's work duds now have a stylish texture, suggesting they're made with sophisticated new technology. ''I thought it would make it more interesting to look at and wonder about,'' says Hemming, adding that the stretchy rubber lines also help bind the costume to Bale's body.

This information makes one really appreciate the work and detail that goes into designing something like a super-suit. It has to be practical enough for av actor to be able function--while looking cool on screen.

Kudos on solving the problem of Bats finally being able to turn his head more than once in a film.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Silver Screen

Superheroes and a super sleuth will duke it over the weekend--as the only new films to open wide today:

The first family of comics is back in Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer (reviews); And Emma Roberts (Daughter of actor Eric Roberts and niece to actress Julia Roberts) brings popular teen detective Nancy Drew (reviews) to the cineplex for the first time...

Ian Mohr and Dave McNary of Variety:

After Sony scored big with its Marvel superhero pic "Spider-Man 3" last month, Fox flies this weekend with its own Marvel sequel, "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," in 3,957 theaters.

Pic looks sure to muscle away the B.O. crown from Warner Bros.' "Ocean's Thirteen." But tracking suggests that it will bow below the $56 million its "Fantastic" predecessor hit in its July opening two years ago. Pic is tracking well with males, but women are lagging behind in interest

Last weekend "Ocean's Thirteen" had been tracking to outdo the last pic in Steven Soderbergh's heist series, but the ensembler came in $3 million below the first three days of "Ocean's Twelve."

Counterprogramming against "Fantastic" -- in 2,612 -- is Warner Bros.' PG-rated "Nancy Drew," the revival of the kid-lit mystery series.

Add to the mix Disney's sneaks for its Pixar pic "Ratatouille" on Saturday.

Holdovers include Universal laffer "Knocked Up," which has been hanging tough.

Overall, B.O. has cooled a bit lately after a socko start to the summer. Ticket tallies were off 11.8% last weekend from the same frame a year ago. But the year is still outpacing 2006 overall by 5.2% through last weekend...

Read the entire article here...

Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly writes of this latest round of the ongoing box office battle:

The ''Fantastic Four'' sequel should leave ''Ocean's Thirteen'' and the new ''Nancy Drew'' in its wake...

Critical reaction for the latest FF flick is on par with the first film--not all that great...But audiences, myself included, liked it enough to warrant a sequel...Will the sequel follow the same path? I will let you know soon after I see the film, later today...

Next Up: Steve Carell picks up where Jim Carrey left off as the chosen one in Evan Almighty...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Disappearing Act

Following in the footsteps of The Mummy, another classic "monster" from the good old days is set to return to the big screen...

Michael Fleming of Variety

Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment have set David Goyer to write and direct "The Invisible Man," a new take on the H.G. Wells classic. Brian Grazer will produce.

Conceived as a sequel to Wells' original tale, the story centers on a British nephew of the original Invisible Man. Once he discovers his uncle's formula for achieving invisibility, he is recruited by British intelligence agency MI5 during WWII.

"I've always been a fan of the original H.G. Wells book as well as the Universal film and felt the property was ripe for reimagining," Goyer said.

...Goyer, who most recently directed ghost tale "The Invisible" and "Blade Trinity," is planning to helm the Sheldon Turner-scripted "X-Men" spinoff "Magneto" for Fox

Like, Goyer, I too, am a huge fan of the original story and classic film of 1933. Given the overall success of the current Mummy franchise, I'm actually surprised that it's taken the studio this long to relaunch this. Goyer has a real knack for this kind of material. I love the fact that the decision has been made to push the story forward-while still keeping it in the past--Just great!

Fingers Firmly Crossed--I hope the update turns out better than either Hollow Man from 2000, or Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992) did. Even though both films had talented folks calling the shots as well, both were major stink bombs.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Role With The Punches

Two bits of casting news..

William Hurt (pictured) has joined the all-star cast of "The Incredible Hulk", according to an article in TheHollywood Reporter.

Hurt will play Gen. Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross, the man who has dedicated his life to capturing the Hulk --He is also is the father of Banner's love interest, Betty Ross.

Shooting begins this Summer in Toronto.

This is interesting news. The addition of Hurt means that director Louis Leterrier is continuing to find top tier actors for the sequel. Having said that though, actor Sam Elliott, who played the role in 2003's Hulk, was one of the best things about the film and did a great job. While Hurt is a consummate pro--I don't know if he's exactly the right fit...

Meanwhile, Rachel Weisz has signed on to star in Peter Jackson's $65 million adaptation of "The Lovely Bones" The story appears, once again, in THR.

Based on a 2002 bestseller, and revolves around Suzie Salmon, a young girl who is murdered but continues to observe her family. She witnesses the impact of her loss on her loved ones, while her killer covers his tracks...

Weisz will play the mother of the dead girl, a role that will be expanded for the movie. Filming begins this October in Pennsylvania and New Zealand.

Weisz can do this role blindfolded... Interesting that her part is to be expanded as compared to her literary counterpart.

Chilly Reception

Another 80's remake is on the way--this time though--it makes perfect sense...

Michael Fleming of Variety

Screen Gems will remake Lawrence Kasdan's 1983 pic "The Big Chill"

The movie will likely be retitled, but the original script by Kasdan and Barbara Benedek will be used as a template; the storyline will be contemporized and the cast will be African American.

Screen Gems owns the rights and will hire a screenwriter to do a polish on the original script. Kasdan is not involved.

Regina King will be part of the ensemble, and she will produce with her sister, Reina King, and Will Packer ("Stomp The Yard").

Screen Gems president Clint Culpepper is out to directors and intends to get the picture in production by year's end.

The remake will stick closely to the original storyline, in which seven college friends reunite over a weekend at a South Carolina house for the funeral of a pal. As they get reacquainted, they become introspective about how their lives turned out.

The cast of the new film will be in their 30s, which means the characters will have matriculated together in the 1990s instead of the '60s. Music will be a big part of the film, though the redo may stick with the original's fixation on Motown classics.

I think this is a great idea! It will be interesting to see the story from the African American perspective. Although, to be honest, I'm disappointed that Kasdan will not be involved in this remake.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sick Day

Dade Hayes, of Variety, had a front row seat for a rather interesting press conference in New York on Monday:

The Weinstein Co., Michael Moore and attorney David Boies held an event Monday, something akin to a movie press junket designed for the Beltway set.

In a conference room of Boies' Midtown Manhattan law firm, they convened a news conference to outline their official response to what they called a Bush administration smear campaign against Moore's latest documentary, "Sicko."

Boies released a copy of a letter sent Monday to the Treasury Dept. that affirmed Moore's status as a journalist and asked for "information regarding the person or persons who participated in the decision" to threaten actions against the filmmaker.

In early May, not long before the film's premiere out of competition in Cannes, the "Sicko" camp disclosed that a Treasury Dept. letter had raised questions about possible violations of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. Possible penalties could include seizure of the film, fines or jail time.

It's been clear ever since "Sicko" got planted in the middle of the summer movie schedule, that its rollout was not going to be a conventional sales job.

Monday's session featured non-entertainment newsies from wire services and international TV outlets eager to examine Moore's health care investigation.

"This is not about Cuba and it is not about whether you like Castro or not," Boies said. "This is about freedom of the press and an attempt to discriminate against Michael Moore's journalism."

At the root of the dispute is a 15-minute segment in the film showing Moore escorting 9/11 rescue workers to Cuba in order to illustrate the caliber of medical care available there compared with the U.S., where most of their requests for coverage had been denied.

Moore and his interview subjects should be considered part of a "journalistic enterprise" and therefore free to travel to Cuba, Boies said. The government suggested a different interpretation: that Moore created something of value while in Cuba (i.e., the film) and then took it home with him. That could be considered illegal in the manner of bringing home a box of Cuban cigars home.

Moore, who did most of the talking Monday, told the 30 or so media members present that he is "concerned about what the Bush administration might do over the next couple of weeks. I would have thought they would have waited until long after the film had been released to go after me."

Harvey Weinstein said "the whole thing baffled me" and insisted he had told the administration members they could "turn off the spigot and we won't get this kind of publicity but they won't turn it off."

"Sicko" went over big in Cannes, but will have its work cut out theatrically upon its bow June 29. Handled in the U.S. by Lionsgate but marketed solely by TWC, it will face weekend competition from "Ratatouille" and the latest "Die Hard" installment. The print run is not final but is expected to be in the realm of the 868 runs of Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11."

Sensing the potential for adverse comparisons to that 2004 election-year phenom, TWC has been pointing out lately that "Sicko" was made for $9 million. Accordingly, the company said Monday after the briefing that its official expectation is for a gross in line with "Bowling For Columbine's" $21.5 million.

On the publicity front, "Sicko" has already snagged magazine covers, a glittery Cannes bow... A likely wave of news and op-ed coverage during the next few weeks will give it more than a puncher's chance to outshine "Columbine." The $119 million domestic tally of "Fahrenheit" seems unlikely, however.

After some sedate opening remarks, Weinstein went on to float some "off the record" conspiracy theories to rival some of Moore's, suggesting a GOP source told him that "kicking Michael's ass would show the anti-Castro constituency that we're tough."

...When pressed about the timing and the suggestion that the whole federal case seemed to materialize at a miraculously well-timed interval, Moore scoffed, "Bob and Harvey actually did call Mr. Bush and ask him to start investigating me. I knew they were tight with the Clintons, but this showed the amount of influence these men have. All in this room should fear them."

..."We didn't ask for this. We were going to open this movie very quietly. We're not talking here about a movie or the opening or promotion of a movie. We're talking about an individual being threatened and I take that very seriously."

Boies noted that a Freedom of Information Act request was filed May 15 in order to elicit more information about what prompted the Treasury's letter. "If necessary, we are ready to go to court," he said...

You gotta read the rest of the article...

"We didn't ask for this. We were going to open the movie very quietly..." Yeah, right. Who are they kidding? Moore loves this stuff. Anyone in the biz who makes movies knows how it works--and given Moore's feelings about President George W. Bush--of course he wants to make as much noise as he can. Why would anyone make a film and say that they want to open quietly?The bottom line, no matter what the motives of the filmmakers are--they want to make money and turn a profit.

As to Weinstein's conspiracy theories about the GOP- They have bigger problems as a party--then to worry about Moore.

Why not hold the presser shortly after getting the Treasury letter? If it was so urgent a matter, why wait till nearly a month later--unless of course, Sicko opens on June 29th...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Promoting Michael

The official website for Rob Zombie's controversial remake of Halloween has launched...And the the theatrical one sheet poster has hit as well...

While I like the tagline Evil Has A Destiny--The mosaic mask is less effective than just seeing a plain mask would have been...

I find it interesting that when the website comes up--You hear the classic theme composed by John Carpenter. This is the second time it's been used to help market the film...This, after Zombie stated that the familiar music would not be utilized in the update at all...Reel them in on the promise of as much nostalgia as you can and then don't deliver...

The film opens August 31st 2007.

Losing Their Cool?

The Ocean's Thirteen gang, led by George Clooney and Brad Pitt (pictured), win the weekend at the cineplex...But the jackpot was not as big as I thought it was gonna be.

Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo:

Grossing less than its predecessors, Ocean's Thirteen led the weekend with an estimated $37.1 million, while Hostel Part II was cut down...

Ian Mohr of Variety:

Warner Bros.-Village Roadshow's "Ocean's Thirteen" launched to $37.1 million, which was on a par with the first two entries in the series and enough to ensure the B.O. crown -- but a reminder, after three socko launches in May, that not every film in the Summer of Sequels is going to ignite the boxoffice with record-breaking figures.

Overall, the weekend was pretty tepid, but "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" and "Knocked Up" proved impressively durable, relegating Sony Animation's newcomer, "Surf's Up," to fourth place while Lionsgate's "Hostel: Part II" bowed at No. 6, taking in just $8.8 million.

The first "Hostel" pic bowed in January 2006 to $19.5 million; a summer opener, in a particularly crowded marketplace, proved a gamble that didn't pay off for the [distributor].

"Ocean's Thirteen" also shifted from the winter debut of its predecessors into a summer slot.

"Hostel: Part II" launched after a recent flood of hard-R slasher pics that also saw underwhelming bows (though the genre almost always does well in DVD afterlife).

"Surf's Up," which took in $18 million from 3,528 locations, had to vie with memories of other films centered on penguins, most recently Warner's CG hit "Happy Feet," which bowed last winter.

In addition, Paramount and DreamWorks Animation's "Shrek the Third" may have stolen some of the "Surf's Up" mojo. The CG pic is still stomping among the top 10 and took in $15.8 million in its fourth weekend, raising cume to $281.9 million after a month in release. A year ago in the same frame, Disney launched "Cars" to No. 1 and more than $60 million.

The $37.1 million opening for "Ocean's Thirteen" didn't quite match the perf of the previous entries in the franchise. "Ocean's Twelve," despite poor critical notices, hauled in $39.1 million in its first frame; "Ocean's Eleven" did $38.1 million in its debut.

Latest installment -- penned by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, and produced by Jerry Weintraub -- scored slightly below expectations despite the kind of critical support that that few other popcorn pics have enjoyed so far this summer. Tracking data had the pic on a pace to jump ahead of the other two films in the series by taking in around $40 million.

But Warners distribution topper Dan Fellman said he expects the pic to wind up with the biggest opening week of any of movie in the franchise by picking up healthy midweek biz during its summer playtime.

Exec noted that most of the pic's audience was over 25, a factor that tends to build biz after opening weekend. Movie could have a good run with the over-25 crowd as younger-skewing films, including "Nancy Drew" and the latest "Fantastic Four" movie, enter the marketplace next weekend...

Click here to read the entire article...

Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly writes:

''Pirates''washes in at second, while newbie ''Surf's Up'' gets beached, dude...

One of my favorite things about Monday mornings is reading the spin that comes from the studio's about their films when they under perform given expectations. Mr. Fellman's assessment of Ocean's 13 is classic. With very few exceptions (The Blair Witch Project) attendance goes down not up from week to week...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Future Sins

Frank Miller says he's already planning a third Sin City movie... despite the frustrating delays that are prolonging the filming of Sin City 2

He tells MTV, the flick would revolve around “Hell and Back”, about a hallucinating artist named Wallace (The part is rumored to be written for Johnny Depp, pictured).

As for the troubled sequel, Miller says “There was just some problems above us that I don’t understand… that I don’t really want to understand.”

Director Robert Rodriguez has said in past interviews that he is 'coyly confident' about that Depp will sign on the dotted line...

Depp would be a perfect fit for the matrial. As great as that would be...Let's solve the issues over the 2nd film first before moving on...How about shooting both movies back to back?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Stir Crazy

Published reports say that Jim Carrey (pictured) is set to star in "I Love You Phillip Morris:" a dark comedy written by Glenn Ficarra & John Requa the writing team behind the cult classic "Bad Santa." The pair of scribes are on target to direct the film as well.

Variety states:...finnancing deal for the less-than-$20 million film is about to close with Luc Besson's Europacorp, which bested several rival bids when the project was shopped in Cannes [last month].

Based on a novel by Houston Chronicle crime reporter Steve McVicker , the fact-based story casts Carrey as Steven Russell, a married father whose exploits landed him in the Texas criminal justice system. He fell madly in love with his cellmate, who eventually was set free, which led Russell to escape from Texas prisons four times.

Script has some of the dark edges of "Bad Santa" but is grounded by the affable and lovesick character of Russell. Project was pitched to financiers as "Catch Me If You Can" meets "Brokeback Mountain"

Given the fact that Carrey's last film, The Number 23 bombed in theaters, earlier this year--Getting into a comedy, even a dark one, might save hos career...He has proven he can do dark humor before with The Cable Guy--In my opinion, a very underated movie, from his resume.

...The timing of the film hasn't yet been resolved. Like many stars, Carrey is plotting back-to-back films that can be completed before the Screen Actors Guild contract expires next summer.

I hope the movie works in Carrey's favor. I really do. He's too talented to be in a slump lasting this long.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Fatherly Advice

Director Steven Spielberg can't be all that happy today.

First, after months of "Will he?", or "Won't he"?--76-year-old acting legend Sir Sean Connery, has officially turned down Indiana Jones 4. The following statement was issued by Connery's people, regarding his decision:

No Reunion for Connery And Harrison Ford As "Dad" Declines Invite.

"I get asked the question so often, I thought it best to make an announcement. I thought long and hard about it and if anything could have pulled me out of retirement it would have been an Indiana Jones film. I love working with Steven and George, and it goes without saying that it is an honor to have Harrison as my son. But in the end, retirement is just too damned much fun.

I, do however, have one bit of advice for Junior: Demand that the critters be digital, the cliffs be low, and for goodness sake keep that whip by your side at all times in case you need to escape from the stunt coordinator! This is a remarkable cast, and I can only say, 'Break a leg, everyone.' I'll see you on May 22, 2008 at the theater!

Rats! While I respect Connery's decision--nonetheless, I'm truly disappointed by this news.. The film simply will not be the same without him along for the ride...

I wonder...Was it a matter of the quality of the part? I can't imagine money was an issue. Might he change his mind, and still appear in the sequel as a "surprise"? Hey, it could happen...

Far more troubling for Spielberg though, is the fact that his summer "reality" series On The Lot, is on life support

Lynette Rice of Entertainment Weekly reports:

The network's decided to scale back the ratings-challenged unscripted show to one night a week, it's switching hosts, and suddenly eliminating contestants off the-air!

And yet despite all of this, going on behind the scenes--The show will continue (for now) through August...If audiences haven't embraced it by now, they are never gonna--Pull the plug and put everyone out of their misery.