Friday, August 31, 2007

He Is Coming To Haddonfield Again

The final weekend of Summer '07 sees the debut of Rob Zombie's version of Halloween (reviews) How does it stack up against John Carpenter's 1978 masterpiece...? So far, the reaction to the update that I've seen online pre-release, has been pretty bad. Until I see the remake for myself--it's impossible to know for sure. I will say this: No matter how much I like or dislike Zombie's vision--In the end, the original, is and always will be my my favorite horror film. Period. End of discussion.

Tyler Mane As Killer Michael Meyers

Moving on to the week's other notable wide releases:

The comedy Balls Of Fury (reviews) got a head start by opening on Wednesday. Based on every stitch of the film that I have seen, it looks really really dumb. How in the world did the producers ever convince the great Christopher Walken to appear in the film?

Death Sentence (reviews) is the latest film by director James Wan--who helped give birth to the Saw film franchise. Kevin Bacon looks like a total badass in the movie...Based on author Brian Garfield's sequel novel to Death Wish that also inspired a classic film), starring the late great Charles Bronson...

Pamela McClintock and Dave McNary of Variety:

Dimension Film's Rob Zombie-helmed "Halloween" will try this weekend to scare up the last rays of summer B.O. sunshine, with the record-breaking box office expected to cross the $4 billion mark today for the first time ever in summer, if it hadn't already done so Thursday night.

R-rated remake of John Carpenter's 1978 classic horror pic will compete with Rogue Pictures' PG-13 laffer "Balls of Fury," which opened Wednesday to $1.7 million.

The Labor Day frame has never been a big moviegoing holiday and has largely become a landing place for genre fare and smaller titles, with studios having packed up their tentpoles and headed inside for the fall and winter. But studios have plenty to celebrate over the holiday.

Overall, summer box office receipts were roughly $3,993,886,113 as of Thursday morning, about $6.1 million shy of $4 billion, according to Rentrak. The season is running 8% ahead of summer 2006 and, more significantly, 4% ahead of 2004, the previous summer record-holder.

Total B.O. receipts were $3.86 billion for summer 2004 and $3.73 billion for the season last year.

Dimension and distrib partner MGM open "Halloween" on 3,472 locations today. Pic stars Malcolm McDowell and Brad Dourif.

Rogue's "Balls of Fury," directed by actor Ben Garant, plays in 3,052 locations this weekend. Film, about a down-and-out professional pingpong player, stars Dan Fogler, Christopher Walken and George Lopez.

Other wide debuts include revenge drama "Death Sentence," which 20th Century Fox is distributing under its deal with Ashok Amritraj's Hyde Park Entertainment. "Saw" helmer James Wan directed the pic, which stars Kevin Bacon and Aisha Tyler. Producing with Amritraj are Howard and Karen Baldwin. Film opens in 1,822 locations...

Read the entire article here.

Nicole Sperling of Entertainment Weekly:

With a huge theater count, Rob Zombie's horror remake figures to walk off with more box-office candy than challenger ''Balls of Fury''...

Summer turns to Fall at the cineplex next week, as Christian Bale faces off against Russell Crowe in the ultra-cool looking remake of 310 To Yuma!

I've been working on some special posts for Labor Day weekend. Make sure you check 'em out!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Informed Decision

Michael Fleming of Variety:

Senator Entertainment has set Billy Bob Thornton and Kim Basinger for "The Informers" an ensemble drama based on short stories by Bret Easton Ellis.

Pic will star Brandon Routh ("Superman Returns"), Austin Nichols ("John From Cincinnati"), Ashley Olsen , Jon Foster and Lou Pucci ("Thumbsucker").

The drama is set over the course of a week in 1983, in the chillingly nihilistic world of Ellis' youth in Los Angeles. Seven storylines intersect, involving movie execs, rock stars, a vampire and other morally challenged characters. Gregor Jordan ("Buffalo Soldiers") is directing.

Production begins in October in L.A., Uruguay and Buenos Aires...

While Ellis novels "American Psycho," "Less Than Zero" and "The Rules of Attraction " have been turned into films, "The Informers" is the first one he had a hand in adapting...

Of the three films that have been made, thus far--based on material by Ellis--American Psycho is clearly the best of the lot...With the author having more of a hand in shaping "Informers" on screen adaptation, it will be interesting to see if that makes a difference.

Trying to broaden his career before the next Supes sequel is Routh...

Basinger is a great talent as long as the material in front of her is solid...

Thornton has been sewing his comedic muscles of late, his new laffer Mr. Woodcock (hitting theaters on September 14th), proves that. It's good to see that he's once again getting serious...

The Same Boat

Tatiana Siegel of Variety:

Renée Zellweger (pictured) and Harry Connick, Jr.. are in negotiations to team in Gold Circle Films' fish-out-of-water comedy "Chilled in Miami." Danish writer-director Jonas Elmer is aboard to helm.

Penned by Ken Rance and C. Jay Cox, script centers on a Miami businesswoman who's transferred to the sticks of Minnesota.

Project, formerly titled "32 and Single," was originally set up at Universal Pictures. Gold Circle has a first-look deal at U, which will likely distribute.

Shooting is scheduled to begin in January in Miami and Winnepeg...

Zellweger will film New Line Cinema's Ed Harris-helmed Western "Appaloosa," opposite Viggo Mortensen, in the fall before segueing to "Chilled."

Connick Jr. most recently appeared onscreen in the Lions Gate thriller "Bug." Elmer, who directed the Danish-language drama "Let's Get Lost," most recently helmed the 2005 comedy "Nynne," which was dubbed the Danish "Bridget Jones"

Zellweger has done her fair share of romantic comedies over the years...I doubt she'll do anything to screw this up.

Connick Jr., of course, does the acting thing in between singing gigs. He has already been pegged as a leading man.

Gee, given the structure of the genre, it's not hard to figure out how this one's going to play out.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Right Move

Owen Wilson has dropped out of Tropic Thunder--a comedy directed by his pal Ben Stiller.

Stiller supports the actor's decision.

"Ben and Owen have made eight movies together," a source close to the project said. "And he can't wait to work with Owen again. It's just not going to be on this film."

Tatiana Siegel of Variety has the full story here...

Given Wilson's problems; Making movies is the last thing he should be thinking about.

Friends With "Ben-efits"

Now that he's all but done directing the film version of the book Gone Baby Gone, Ben is ready to get back in front of the camera...

Dave McNary of Variety:

New Line is in negotiations with Ben Affleck (pictured) to round out the cast of ensemble comedy "He's Just Not That Into You with Drew Barrymore and Nancy Juvonen producing through their Flower Films banner.

Shooting starts Sept. 10 in Los Angeles, with Ken Kwapis ("License To Wed") directing.

Along with Affleck and Barrymore, "You" will star Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper, Ginnifer Goodwin, Scarlett Johansson and Justin Long.

Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein ("Never Been Kissed") adapted the bestseller about modern-day relationships Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, who worked together on "Sex and the City" The book focuses on how men and women often misconstrue the intentions of the opposite sex

Just as Affleck's last on screen role in Smokin' Aces, was part of a larger ensemble, so is his part in "He's Not". He really has taken his career back to basics--Avoiding the easy blockbuster...

Snyder Is The "Man"

Another day, another remake of a sci-fi flick, but at least this one is in great hands...

Diane Garrett of Variety:

Warner Bros.. has tattooed Zack Snyder's name on its redo of "The Illustrated Man."

The helmer, busy prepping "Watchmen" for the studio, is attached to direct and produce the remake based on 'Ray Bradbury's collection of short stories by the same name. "Watchmen" scribe Alex Tse will tackle the screenplay.

The collection, first published in 1951, is narrated by a mysterious man with living tattoos that predict the future. Rod Steiger starred in the title role for the 1969 big screen adaptation, distributed by Warner Bros.-Seven Arts; Claire Bloom co-starred.

Di Novi Pictures and Snyder's shingle, Cruel and Unusual Films, are producing the remake. Denise Di Novi, and Deborah Snyder, the helmer's wife and producing partner, are also producing, along with Frank Darabont...

Snyder and his wife signed a first-look deal with the studio in the wake of his success with "300". They are producing "Illustrated Man" through Cruel and Unusual.

Di Novi's shingle has produced numerous films at the studio under its production deal, including "Nights in Rodanthe."

The original film is entertaining enough. But it doesn't quite reach the level of greatness that its contemporary cousins Logan's Run, Soylent Green, or the original Planet of the Apes do. Snyder's such a talented guy though--He could actually end up improving on the first adaptation.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Stone's Throw Away

Controversial and talented filmmaker Oliver Stone (pictured) is tackling a subject that helped to put him on the map for his next feature.

Michael Fleming of Variety:

Oliver Stone is heading back to Vietnam.

He is closing a deal with United Artists to finance "Pinkville," a drama about the investigation of the 1968 My Lai massacre that he would direct. Pic would be distributed through MGM.

Bruce Willis and Channing Tatum will star. Mikko Alanne wrote the script.

A UA commitment could be finalized this week, putting the picture into production by early next year, with a budget of roughly $40 million.

It marks the fourth time Stone has directed a film set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, following Oscar winner "Platoon ," "Heaven & Earth" and "Born on the Fourth of July." "Pinkville" also reunites the director with Tom Cruise, who starred in "Born on the Fourth of July" and who, with partner Paula Wagner, is now a co-owner of UA.

Willis will play Army Gen. William R. Peers, who supervised the investigation into the massacre by U.S. soldiers of as many as 500 My Lai villagers, most of them unarmed women, children and elderly.

Tatum will play Hugh Thompson, a helicopter pilot who, upon realizing what was happening below, put a stop to the killing by placing his craft between gunmen and the few villagers who were left, and telling his two shipmates to fire on the soldiers if they shot any more people. They airlifted the survivors and reported the carnage to superiors.

Pinkville is the description on a military map for the region where My Lai is.

Stone had been expected to follow "World Trade Center" with a drama about the CIA's attempt to catch Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan after 9/11.

Instead, he will tackle "Pinkville," which is set up as a mystery but explores the themes of barbarism and heroism. Thompson was initially excoriated for his actions, while Peers' revelation of one of the most atrocious acts in U.S. military history (and subsequent military cover-up) helped galvanize opposition to the war.

Alanne, who wrote and directed the 1997 docu "Voice of Dissent" about the LAPD and the murder of Sen. Robert Kennedy most recently scripted "Notorious" about the killings of rappers Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur

Say what you will about Stone outside of movies--but there's no denying his skills. As for his return to 'Nam--I can think of nobody better suited to tackle the material. Platoon still packs a wallop even after 2 decades...

Until now, Tatum has only had one occaision to stretch himself beyond, his "pretty boy" image. See A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints...It will be interesting to see how he does here.

Willis can do millitary men with his eyes closed.

Get Better

I'm sure you've already heard about what's been going on with actor Owen Wilson...Here's an update on the troubled star...

Tatiana Siegel of Variety:

Owen Wilson's emergency hospitalization and recovery are throwing a major monkeywrench into production of two movies and causing marketing headaches for two more.

The Sunday incident, which several news services claimed was a suicide attempt, is also the latest -- after Lindsay Lohan's summer troubles -- to pose the question of insurability for top-tier stars.

Wilson, who was taken by ambulance to to St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica and is now being treated at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for undisclosed reasons, was to begin shooting a starring role in the Ben Stiller-helmed comedy "Tropic Thunder" in the coming weeks. Lensing for the DreamWorks film -- which also stars Bill Hader, Stiller and Jack Black-- is under way in Hawaii.

DreamWorks, which will release the pic next summer, issued a one-sentence statement that said, "Filming on 'Tropic Thunder' continues." The studio, however, would not elaborate on whether Wilson is expected on the set or if his role would instead be recast. Studio [president] Stacey Snider is on vacation this week.

Wilson, one of Hollywood's highest-earning funnymen, also is on board to film the 20th Century Fox comedy "Marley & Me," opposite Jennifer Aniston. That film was tentatively scheduled to begin production in January. When asked if production on "Marley & Me" would be affected, a Fox spokesman said, "It's a totally inappropriate question at this time when all of our thoughts and concerns are with his health and well being."

Marketing-wise, the actor next appears in Wes Anderson's "The Darjeeling Limited," which Fox Searchlight will release Sept. 28, creating a conundrum for the specialty label.

And Paramount, which will release the Wilson starrer "Drillbit Taylor" in March, faces an even bigger problem because of the Judd Apatow-produced film's young-male demographic.

In recent years, the "Wedding Crashers" star and Oscar-nominated writer has become one of the most in-demand comic actors. UTA, which reps Wilson, deflected queries to the actor's publicist, Ina Treciokas.

Wilson's camp declined comment on the status of the actor's upcoming projects. Treciokas, instead, issued the following statement from the actor, "I respectfully ask that the media allow me to receive care and heal in private during this difficult time."

What a sad situation...Rather than speculate and analyze what may or may not be going on with Wilson...All I can say is--I wish him well and hope that he gets the help he needs. Wilson's very talented...I hope he can find his way back.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Standing Still

Another Sci-fi film, a true benchmark of the genre is being remade...finding its star...

Michael Fleming of Variety:

Twentieth Century Fox has set Keanu Reeves to star in "The Day the Earth Stood Still," its re-imagining of the 1951 Robert Wise-directed sci-fi classic.

Reeves committed over the weekend to play Klaatu (pictured), a humanoid alien who arrives on Earth accompanied by an indestructible, heavily armed robot and a warning to world leaders that their continued aggression will lead to annihilation by species watching from afar.

Erwin Stoff is producing, with Scott Derrickson ("The Exorcism of Emily Rose") directing from a script by David Scarpa . Reeves' commitment puts the picture on track for a late fall or early 2008 production start. Studio sees it as a tentpole.

The Klaatu role was originated by Michael Rennie . The 1951 film's premise, a response to the rise of the Cold War after WWII, is being updated, and the film will use advances in visual effects.

...[Reeves] just completed the David Ayer-directed "The Night Watchman," for Fox Searchlight/Regency about police corruption based on a story by James Ellroy. Forest Whitaker, Chris Evans and Hugh Laurie also star.

The 51 version is a near-perfect piece of filmmaking and is going to be a hard act to follow...Fingers Crossed.

As for Reeves, he of course, has the Matrix Trilogy under his belt--and seems very comfy when working in the arena.

Bean Counter

The nerds of Superbad (pictured) held onto the top spot; Mr. Bean's Holiday surprises...

Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo:

Though it didn't hold well, Superbad led the box office again with an estimated $18 million, while five new wide releases were soft...

Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jonah Hill, And Michael Cera

Pamela McClintock of Variety:

Never mind its R-rating, Sony’s teen laffer “Superbad” enjoyed super hold at the weekend box office, easily taking No. 1, while Universal-Working Title’s Brit pic “Mr. Bean’s Holiday” showed surprise strength in opening ahead of other new entries.

Still, the final weekend of summer before kids begin returning to school on Monday belonged to holdovers as “Superbad” teamed up with Universal’s “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “Rush Hour 3” to claim the top three spots on the weekend box chart.

Among the new entries, “Mr. Bean” came in No. 4, unexpectedly pulling ahead of Lionsgate’s Jet Li-Jason Statham starrer “War” and the Weinstein Co.-MGM’s “The Nanny Diaries,” starring Scarlett Johansson and based on the book of the same name. “War” took No. 5, while “Diaries” took No. 6.

“Superbad” made an estimated $18 million from 2,948 locations in its second frame, a decline of 46%. In its first 10 days, film has grossed $68.5 million, the best showing for an R-rated pic this year after Warner Bros.’ “300” and the third-best perf for a comedy after “Wild Hogs” and “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.”

“Bourne” declined 38% in its fourth frame to an estimated $12.3 million from 2,679 locations for a cume of $185.1 million, coming in No. 2.

Taking No. 3 was New Line’s “Rush Hour 3,” which grossed an estimated $11.5 million from 3,408 runs for a cume of $109 million in its third frame, a decline of 43%.

Coming in next was “Mr. Bean,” starring Rowan Atkinson, came in No. 4, grossing an estimated $10.1 million from 1,714 locations in its debut.

“War” opened at $10 million from 2,277 runs, while “Diaries” opened at $7.8 million from 2,629 theaters.

In its fifth frame, 20th Century Fox’s “The Simpsons Move” took No. 7 and passed the $170 million mark, grossing an estimated $4.4 million from 1,692 theaters for a cume of $173.4 million, a decline of 36%.

Taking No. 8 was Paramount’s “Stardust,” which grossed an estimated $4 million in its third frame from 2,339 runs for a cume of $26.4, a decline of 30%.

New Line’s “Hairspray” took in an estimated $3.4 million from 2,016 locations in its sixth frame for a cume of $107.4 million, a decline of 25%. Warner Bros. “The Invasion” grossed an estimated $3.1 million in its second frame from 2,776 runs for a cume of $11.5 million, a decline of 47%...

The entire article can be found right here

Nicole Sperling of Entertainment Weekly:

For the first time ever, summer receipts cross $4 bil -- though the week's new releases don't add much to that figure...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bale "Crowe"s About Batman

Russell Crowe and Christian Bale are set to star in the updated version of the 1957 western classic 310 To Yuma (in theaters September 7th) It seems that the 2 talented actors enjoyed working together so much that they were willing to do it again right away.

Bale let the news slip in an interview to If Magazine saying, “Russell’s going to actually be in the new Batman movie.” How about that...!

Bale doesn’t drop any other info beyond that golden nugget--like about what part Crowe he’s landed in The Dark Knight or even how much screen time he’ll have.

I think it's a safe bet to assume that it’s a cameo, if the role had any meat to it, the net would have been buzzing about it long before now. Considering, the film is already overflowing with a lot of major characters...Of course, that's not to say that doesn’t mean his part might not be significant. Director Christopher Nolan could be laying the groundwork for him up to return in the next movie.

Crowe’s seemingly all over the place lately. He's been rumored as the front runner to play the villain in the Star Trek reboot...Heck, the star is even taking Trek possibilities to the media...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Singleton Involved in Fatal Car Accident

Talented Oscar nominated director John Singleton was involved in a fatal car crash...

The Associated Press:

...Singleton was driving a Lexus SUV when it struck and killed a jaywalker who stepped in front of the car, police said Friday.

Singleton, 39, immediately stopped his car and waited for police to arrive after the accident Thursday night in the city's Jefferson Park neighborhood, said Officer Jason Lee, a police spokesman.

"Mr. Singleton stopped and identified himself as required by law and was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol," Lee said. "He was questioned and released."

The woman was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead Friday morning, Lee said. She was identified as Constance Russell, 57, of Los Angeles.

Other details were not immediately released, and an after-hours call to Singleton's agent was not immediately returned.

Singleton, whose debut film, 1991's "Boyz n the Hood," earned him two Oscar nominations, has also directed "Poetic Justice," "Shaft" and "2 Fast 2 Furious". He was the producer of "Hustle & Flow ", "Black Snake Moan" and the just-released "Illegal Tender ."

How tragic for both the woman's friends and family--and for Singleton...An investigation is underway.

CNN has more of the story.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Combat Ready

The film based on GI Joe finds a "Commanding Officer":

Michael Fleming of Variety:

Paramount Pictures has set Stephen Sommers (pictured) to direct "G.I. Joe," the live-action feature based on Hasbro's line of action figures.

The studio is hiring a writer immediately, and has set a February production start for a summer 2009 release.

The accelerated production schedule began right after Sommers pitched his version of the film to [studio] chairman-CEO Brad Grey and production [president] Brad Weston on Wednesday evening. He was hired in the room.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura will produce with Hasbro chief operating officer Brian Goldner Sommers, and his Sommers Co. partner Bob Ducsay will also be involved as producers.

While "G.I. Joe" served several futile tours of duty as a movie property, its momentum has been helped by "Transformers," the movie transfer of another Hasbro brand. That di Bonaventura-produced film has grossed $667 million worldwide for studio partners DreamWorks and Paramount.

Hasbro's Goldner said that the mythology of G.I Joe was fleshed out during the 1980s through 155 issues of Marvel Comics, as well as an animated TV series. There are about 30 core characters, good and evil, that can be exploited in films.

"Marrying Steve's vision with 25 years of this brand mythology feels like a great way to go forward," Goldner said.

While some remember the character from its gung-ho fighting man '60s incarnation, he's evolved. G.I. Joe is now a Brussels-based outfit that stands for Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity, an international co-ed force of operatives who use hi-tech equipment to battle Cobra, an evil organization headed by a double-crossing Scottish arms dealer. The property is closer in tone to "X-Men" and James Bond than a war film.

"Our vision (for "The Mummy") was clear the time the first trailer played during the Super Bowl, and by the time this one plays a Super Bowl, you'll see the coolest characters and visuals you can imagine, and beyond-state-of-the-art equipment," Sommers said. "I wouldn't have jumped into this just because of the Hasbro-Transformers tie. Remember, 'Pirates of the Caribbean' was a big hit, but 'Haunted Mansion' not so much."

Di Bonaventura said the film has some of the elements that made "Transformers" work as a film.

"My experience with beloved properties is that characters, attitude and tone are even more important than plot," di Bonaventura said. "Paramount showed a great deal of confidence in Stephen's take, and our ability as producers to get this up and running for a February start. His passion for the characters and the world convinced the studio this was something they couldn't resist."

WMA plugged its client Sommers into Hasbro, which left CAA to become a WMA client earlier this summer. Sommers haunted Hasbro's Pawtucket headquarters to steep himself in the lore.

WMA is also helping Hasbro with possible movies based on such properties as the board games "Monopoly" and "Battleship".

Sommers is a talented guy and he seems like a good fit for the film...Now if only the filmmakers find some way to hire Mark Wahlberg to play Field Leader Duke in the film--then we'd be good to go--Joe.

Big Hats Big Hair And Big Oil

A film long thought dead has been resurrected...

Michael Fleming of Variety:

Regency and 20th Century Fox are overhauling the big screen adaptation of TV series "Dallas," about the oil-rich Ewing clan, and this time they're drilling for laughs.

Betty Thomas the director who mined two spoof movie hits from "The Brady Bunch" is in discussions to direct. Pam Brady, who most recently scripted "Hot Rod," is penning the script.

John Travolta remains attached to play slimy oil tycoon J.R. Ewing.

When the movie was derailed late last year, Gurinder Chadha ("Bend It Like Beckham") was directing. Luke Wilson was attached to play Bobby Ewing with Shirley MacLaine to play Miss Ellie, while producers were talking with Meg Ryan to play Sue Ellen after Jennifer Lopez dropped out.

The budget for the comic "Dallas" should be lower than the projected $65 million for the straight-faced version.

There is also hope that a comedy about the dysfunctional Ewings will appeal to a younger audience, which has become a Regency priority. Studio is eyeing a January start date.

While I never saw a full episode of the series--Who doesn't know who J.R. is? The characters, who seemed way over the top to begin with, are ripe for spoofing. When the flick was gonna be treated straight--I yawned. But now...

I enjoyed what Thomas did with the Brady movies. With the right script--this could really soar.

Here's hoping it's better than The Beverly Hillbillies movie directed by Penelope Spheeris...

Summer Squash

The penultimate weekend of the summer '07 season offers movie-goers a pot luck of new releases:

Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney, Alicia Keys, and Chris Evans peek into The Nanny Diaries (reviews)--bringing the book to life; Jet Li and Jason Statham go to WAR (reviews); Mr. Bean's Holiday (reviews) brings Rowan Atkinson's popular misfit back to the cineplex in a G-rated comedy; Things turn serious as Samuel L. Jackson and Josh Hartnett spend time Resurrecting The Champ (reviews); Christopher Cain's western September Dawn (reviews)takes aim...

The question is can any of these fresh flicks beat last week's number 1 Superbad?

Pamela McClintock and Dave McNary of Variety:

...Lionsgate unspools "War," toplining Li and Jason Statham, in 2,277 theaters. With actioner's male appeal and testosterone-charged storyline, Lionsgate hopes to edge out the Weinstein Co.'s "Diaries," based on the 2002 book by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus.

Toplining Scarlett Johansson, Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, "Diaries" debuts in 2,629 locations. TWC has moved the release of the film several times. It did so most recently when Lionsgate relocated "Good Luck Chuck," starring Dane Cook and Jessica Alba, off the Aug. 24 frame, leaving an opening for a female-skewing title.

Universal-Working Title's "Mr. Bean's Holiday," which returns Rowan Atkinson in the buffoonish role he popularized in the U.K. television series and later in a 1997 Brit feature, could prove a worthy opponent because of its G rating and kiddie appeal. Pic, which has grossed more than $188.9 million overseas, plays in 1,713 locations.

Heading into its second frame, Sony's R-rated raunchy teen laffer "Superbad" could beat them all if it maintains its opening strength and notable weekday hold. Judd Apatow-produced comedy, directed by Greg Mottola and starring Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, opened at $33 million and grossed an additional $14.1 million this week for a cume of $47.1 million. "Superbad" cost under $20 million to produce.

This weekend's other two new wide entrants, Yari Film Group's "Resurrecting the Champ," directed by Rod Lurie, and Slowhand's "September Dawn," don't have as much buzz.

"Champ," starring Samuel L. Jackson, Josh Hartnett and Alan Alda, is based on the real-life story of a journo who stumbles upon a homeless man who turned out to be boxing great Bob Satterfield. Drama bows in 1,602 locations.

"September Dawn," a searing indictment of religious extremism that plays 847 theaters, concerns the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre in Utah, when Mormons attacked a wagon train of settlers passing West. Film's cast includes Jon Voight and Terence Stamp, who plays Brigham Young. The Church of Latter-Day Saints has taken issue with the film for suggesting that Young secretly sanctioned the massacre...

Click here to read the entire article...

Nicole Sperling of Entertainment Weekly:

On a hodgepodge weekend of summer leftovers, the teen sex comedy will again gobble the most cash...

Next week brings the end of the summer '07 season--Marking the return of killer Michael Myers for Rob Zombie's version of Halloween

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Out For Justice

The "Justice League" movie presents a myriad of challenges... At the root of any of these issues is of course is the all important budget. And then there's casting--special effects.

IESB.Net claims those problem might be solved quite easily - by making the film using the CG motion capture technique

The site says that the Imageworks folks are in the running to provide services on the film, competing with effects houses Rhythm & Hues and Weta Digital Ltd for the project.

If this idea comes to pass--it allows the studio to proceed with filming on the project despite the potential industry strike since most of the hard work will be completed in post production. Forget those budgeting issues. The story options are practically limitless as well. Rumors of George Miller's (Happy Feet) involvement also make more sense now

It also allows Warner Bros solo superhero live action franchises to move forward without delay or confusion. - since its been confirmed that neither Christian Bale or Brandon Routh would've participated in a live-action JL flick.

In related news:

Actor Ryan Reynolds admitted that he's still interested in playing "The Flash," The question is will he be a part of JL or Shawn Levy's live-action "Flash" film or both?...

Rival Jive

A former member of the "boy band" 'N Sync-now solo artist-gets yet another movie gig

Pamela McClintock of Variety:

Justin Timberlake (pictured) has joined the cast of Mike Myers starrer "The Love Guru " for Paramount Pictures.

Cast also includes Jessica Alba, Romany Malco and Verne Troyer. Director Marco Schnabel begins shooting next month in Toronto from a script by Myers and Graham Gordy.

Spyglass Entertainment is co-financing the laffer, in which Myers plays his first original character since Austin Powers. Producers are Myers and Michael De Luca.

"Guru" reunites Myers and Timberlake, who worked together on "Shrek the Third".

Storyline revolves around an American (Myers) raised by gurus on an Ashram in India. Returning to the U.S. to make a fortune in the self-help biz, his unorthodox methods are put to the test when he provides marriage counseling to a hockey star. The wife of the hockey star retaliates by starting to date a rival player (Timberlake).

...Timberlake, who is on tour with his "Future Sex Love Show," which HBO will air on Labor Day, most recently appeared on the big screen in "Alpha Dog" and "Black Snake Moan."...

As far as I'm concerned, the jury's still out on Timberlake's acting skills...He was OK in Alpha Dog--nothing terrible--but nothing extraordinary either. I did not see the third Shrek or "Snake" yet...Will he be able to hone his "comedic timing" while on tour? Time will tell.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Eva Has Spirit

Another lovely lady joins a high profile film based on a comic book character...Marking her second movie in this ever expanding sub-genre...

Dave McNary of Variety:

Eva Mendes (pictured) will round out the cast for Frank Miller's "The Spirit," joining Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson and Gabriel Macht.

Pic, produced by Lionsgate and Odd Lot will begin lensing in October at New Mexico's Albuquerque Studios.

Miller wrote the script and will direct the movie, which marks the start of a multipic pact under which Lionsgate and Odd Lot Entertainment will co-finance and co-produce together. Story centers on a rookie cop who fakes his own death so he can fight crime from the shadows.

Lionsgate has domestic and U.K. rights and is scheduled to release the film in 2009...

Mendes was most recently in Columbia's "Ghost Rider" and will be seen next in Columbia Pictures's "We Own The Night." She's currently filming Picturehouse's "The Women."

Miller has assembled quite a cast for his first solo directing gig! Can't wait!

The Land Of Oz

The setting of a true classic of American cinema is about to come roaring back in an interesting way...

Michael Fleming of Variety:

Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures are teaming on "Oz," a revisionist take on the L. Frank Baum books that hatched "The Wizard of Oz".

Project was acquired based on an idea by Todd McFarlane that was fleshed out and pitched by Josh Olson ("A History of Violence"--Great Movie!!).

Olson will write and McFarlane will produce with Thunder Road’s Basil Iwanyk. Rick Benattar ("Shoot Em Up"-Due Sept 7/07) is exec producer.

Conversations with McFarlane and Olson make it clear that they are still working out the tone of the film. They have plenty to work with. WB has owned the rights to the original "The Wizard of Oz" since buying Ted Turner’s empire, whose assets included the film and other plum titles in the MGM library. There are also 15 novels in the Oz series written by Baum, most in the public domain.

McFarlane has a vision of Oz that is a dark, edgy and muscular PG-13, without a singing Munchkin in sight. That was clear with a toy line he launched several years ago that featured a buxom Dorothy and Toto reimagined as an oversized snarling warthog. Olson has something a little tamer, and PG, in mind.

"I saw those toys, and Dorothy as some bondage queen isn’t something I want to do," Olson told Daily Variety. "The appealing thing about the Baum books to me is how wildly imaginative they are. There are crazy characters from amazing places. I want this to be ‘Harry Potter’ dark, not ‘Seven’ dark."

Both McFarlane and Olson are on the same page when it comes to the promise of marrying the Baum story with benefits of visual effects advancements.

"My pitch was ‘How do we get people who went to ‘ Lord of the Rings’ to embrace this?’ " McFarlane said. "I want to create (an interpretation) that has a 2007 wow factor. You’ve still got Dorothy trapped in an odd place, but she’s much closer to the Ripley fromAlien than a helpless singing girl."

Olson was keeping plot specifics to himself but said the film will be closer to a sequel than a remake.

"We still want to take advantage of the first film, which might be the most beloved of all time, and rely on its place in your cultural memory to bubble beneath the surface," Olson said. "A lot of the plot is mine, but the characters are all Baum."

McFarlane, a former Marvel Comics animator who created "Spawn," is working on several producing projects, such as Paramount’s "Torso," which has David Fincher attached to direct. McFarlane is [co-] producing...

The '39 version of The Wizard Of Oz CANNOT be improved upon ever! I'm so so glad that this project isn't even gonna try to do so...Although, it wouldn't surprise me--if at some point down the road--some industry yahoo--tries to mount a new musical version... 1978's underrated adaptation of The Wiz notwithstanding...I digress.

I'm intrigued by the direction that Olson and McFarlane want to go in "Oz" Baum's original Oz books are certainly much darker in tone then the Judy Garland flick ever showcased. Therefore, even with the proposed story changes, the characters will probably be truer to Baum's original intent...Stay Tuned...

Bay Sees The HD Light

The following exchange from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home seems appropriate to kick off this post...

Dr. Gillian Taylor: Are you sure you won't change your mind?

Spock: Is there something wrong with the one I have?

Daniel Frankel of Variety:

The decision by Paramount and DreamWorks Animation to exclusively back HD DVD may have garnered the studios financial incentives valued at a reported $150 million, but it seems to have irked at least one high-profile filmmaker in the process.

"No 'Transformers 2' for me!" wrote helmer Michael Bay (pictured) in a post on his personal Web forum (headline: "Paramount pisses me off!") that was widely circulated Tuesday. "I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For them to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!"

By the end of the day, however, Bay had softened his stance after speaking to Par brass and taken down his original post, replacing it with the following:

"Last night at dinner I was having dinner with three Blu-Ray owners, they were pissed about no the "Transformers" Blu-ray and I drank the Kool-Aid hook, line and sinker. So at 1:30 in the morning I posted -- nothing good ever comes out of early a.m. posts mind you -- I overreacted. I heard where Paramount is coming from and the future of HD and players that will be close to the $200 mark which is the magic number. I like what I heard.

"As a director, I'm all about people seeing films in the best quality possible, and I saw and heard first-hand people upset about a corporate decision.

"So today I saw '300' on HD, it rocks!

"So I think I might be back on to do Transformers 2!"

Bay was unavailable for comment...

Bay has a reputation as a "react then retract" kind of guy..

Stax of IGN:

The webmaster for Bay's official site has posted the following on the site's message board:

"I spoke to Michael a few minutes ago. He said he just wants people to know that we should be able to view his movies in the format of our choice. Period. Nothing more, nothing less."

The webmaster later added, "Keep in mind he quit Pearl Harbor about 4x during pre-production"

Despite Bay's change of heart after talking with his (once and future) bosses--I still say his original assessment was correct. The decision sucks for the consumer. There's no clear victor in the current format war--and until the marketplace decides on a winner-titles available in both HD and Blu-Ray is the best way to go.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Up And Running

The Hollywood Reporter has news about that long delayed Logan's Run remake:

Commercial director Joseph Kosinski will step into the director's chair--making his feature film debut on the sci-fi thriller. Tim Sexton is writing the script and uber-industry guy Joel Silver is producing.

The new version is expected to follow William F. Nolan's 1967 novel more closely than the 1976 film did.

In the future--society demands the death of everyone upon reaching a certain age. Anyone who tries to circumvent from that destiny is branded a "runner" and is hunted by operatives known as Sandmen. Logan is a Sandman who is forced to go rogue

Bryan Singer had signed on to develop and direct the film in 2004 before he decided to do Superman Returns instead.

I love the '76 film and was very hopeful when Singer was attached to the update. The studio must be impressed by what Kosinski brings to the project--for them to take a risk with an untried individual in the way that they have...

I'm glad the flick is moving ahead nonetheless. The only difference now is--I have my fingers firmly crossed.

Staying True To Format

The format war between HD DVD and Blu-Ray has been out of the news of late...Until now...

Daniel Frankel and Ben Fritz of Variety:

...Paramount and DreamWorks Animation announced [Monday] that their future releases will be exclusively in HD DVD.

Move is the third by Par in the ongoing format war. In 2004, studio announced that it would release its movies in HD DVD. A year later, with HD DVD seemingly waning, it decided to release in Blu-ray as well.

DreamWorks Animation, for its part, hasn't released any movies in HD DVD, and company topper Jeffrey Katzenberg has been dismissive of the concept. "Blu-Ray and HD DVD are a niche business," he said in March on a conference call with Wall Street analysts. "They're not going to become the next platform. I think for the general consumer, there is not a big enough delta between the standard DVD in terms of where it is today and the next generation."

That's a far cry from the statement he put out on Monday: "We believe the combination of this year's low-priced HD DVD players and the commitment to release a significant number of hit titles in the fall makes HD DVD the best way to view movies at home."

Announcement is a tide-turner for the HD DVD camp, which had seen its titles outsold by Blu-ray in the U.S. and Europe by a ratio of about two to one.

But HD DVD backers say the two-to-one ratio shows that Blu-ray's huge advantage in players isn't translating into disc sales. Warren Lieberfarb, who consults for HD DVD backer Toshiba, noted that there are more than 1.5 million Blu-ray players in the U.S. -- most of them PlayStation 3s -- and fewer than 200,000 HD DVD players. "That ratio should be something like 8 to 1," he argued.

Blu-ray supporters, which include Sony, MGM, Disney, Fox and Lionsgate, along with dual-format backer Warner Bros., had touted the availability of more movies as the format's key selling point. Defection of Par weakens that argument.

U homevid topper Craig Kornblau -- who heads the HD DVD Promotions Group -- took the opportunity Monday to echo a refrain often heard from his rivals in recent months. "There are more of the top movies available on HD DVD than on Blu-ray now," he said.

Some were speculating that Universal, which was previously the only HD DVD-only distrib, would soon begin a dual-format approach, thus tipping the battle decidedly in Blu-ray's favor.

But the HD DVD format's backers, led by Toshiba, apparently reached a deal with Par, which distributes DreamWorks Animation films on homevideo, to switch back to their side. Just as with the Blu-ray-only studios, Par and DWA almost certainly will be receiving multimillion-dollar financial commitments to support one format over the other.

Some of the financial details may later be disclosed by DreamWorks Animation, which is a public company.

Given the strong sales advantage Blu-ray has enjoyed in the marketplace, most industryites said only a behind-the-scenes deal could have motivated the switch.

"Nothing seems to support this," said consumer electronics analyst Richard Doherty. "It seems to fly in the face of normal retail and consumer forces."

Par will make the switch starting with the Aug. 28 homevid bow of "Blades of Glory," followed by the "Transformers" release later this year. DreamWorks Animation, which has yet to release a title in either flavor, will tout the HD DVD debut of "Shrek the Third" in the fourth quarter. All three releases will be distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment and will be released day-and-date with their standard-def DVD counterparts.

All Par and DreamWorks pics will be released in the format in the future, with the notable exception of those directed by Steven Spielberg...

Complete details can be found here

I'm still waiting for the dual player to make it's mainstream move in the marketplace--This news just confirms that my decision to do so--is the correct one.

Exclusives are fine for some I suppose, but not the consumer who is being shut out. With no clear winner declared in the war, 2 years in, I prefer having the freedom to buy any disc I want...

Update: Weighing in on the Paramount HD-DVD exclusive arrangement..."Transformers" director Michael Bay is not happy-- saying on his site;

"For them to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks! They were progressive by having two formats....."

I agree. The studio is gonna regret this decision...