WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Pixar makes it ten gems in a row with this enchanting animated story of 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen a recent widower who decides to fulfill his (plus his late wife’s) lifelong dream of tying thousands of balloons to their house and floating off to a mountaintop in South America. But he soon discovers a stowaway in the form of Russell a precocious eight-year-old “Wilderness Explorer” who he reluctantly allows to accompany him on his journey. Together the unlikely pair embark on the adventure of a lifetime encountering Kevin a rare 13-foot tall-flightless bird; Dug an overly-friendly talking pooch; and Charles Muntz a once-famous adventurer who now lives alone in a massive airship surrounded by a pack of attack dogs.
WHO’S IN IT?
Sticking to their general custom of casting actors not big stars in key voice roles Pixar assembled a superb cast for Up led by veteran TV star Ed Asner (The Mary Tyler Moore Show) as the aged Carl who takes flight in his house and finds there is a lot to learn about life even as you near death. Asner’s grumpy delivery provides the perfect counterpoint to nine-year-old Jordan Nagai’s Russell a bright and optimistic kid who proves an invaluable assistant to Carl throughout their journey. Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music) is authoritative and intriguing as the obsessed Muntz and John Ratzenberger (Cheers) extends his streak of Pixar films to 10 as a construction engineer who tries to convince Carl to sell his house. Bob Peterson does delightful double duty as two of the key dog voices lovable Dug and the menacing Alpha head of the pack.
Like Pixar’s previous Oscar-winning masterpiece Wall-E Up is a ‘toon that is not content to explore the same places we’ve seen in previous animated blockbusters. Centering an action comedy around a 78-year-old man isn’t a strategy you’ll find in the youth-obsessed Hollywood recipe book but it pays great dividends here with a moral that life’s greatest adventure is the one you share with someone you love. The non-humans — particularly Kevin and Dug — are hilarious and unique and a silent sequence detailing the courtship and marriage of the Fredricksens is a sweet touch that could have come straight out of a Charlie Chaplin movie.
With a string of critically-acclaimed hits that includes Toy Story Finding Nemo The Incredibles Ratatouille Wall-E and now Up Pixar is ruining it for everyone else. There is simply no way they can be topped when it comes to pushing the boundaries of animated movies. Bad for other studios. Good for us.
Could Up which just became the first animated film to open the Cannes Film Festival also become the first to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar since Beauty and the Beast in 1991 (before the Animation category was even established)? At this point in the year it’s actually a good bet. Whatever the case expect Up to earn several nominations come Oscar time.
A swashbuckling swordfight across the skies between two near-octogenarians? It’s the best action scene in a summer full of ‘em.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
Oh pleeeeeease! Get to a theater fast. Up is also available in 3-D at select locations. Either way it’s a must-see.
January 12, 2004 1:25pm EST
After a heated battle, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King sank Big Fish and reclaimed the No. 1 spot at the box office this weekend by a very slim margin--just $400,000.
In fact, the race was so close that it was impossible to call until Monday, when final weekend figures were released. The final tally shows that Return of the King came in first with $14.2 million* while Big Fish crossed the line second with $13.8 million.
But estimates made Sunday--when studios make projections on how big an audience their films will pull in on the last day of the weekend--painted a different picture. Sony Pictures yesterday estimated that Big Fish had taken in $14.5 million, which would have been enough to dethrone Return of the King, which had posted a $14.1 million take.
The paltry $400,000 separating the top films had many pundits predicting that the rankings would flip once the final figures were released--and that's precisely what happened.
If any film was going to challenge Return of the King's reign this weekend, Big Fish was the only one of the three wide releases with a chance in Mordor to do it.
Big Fish, which debuted in only six theaters Dec. 10, expanded to 125 theaters Christmas day and took in a $2.5 million last weekend alone, averaged a monstrous $20,355 per theater. This weekend saw Big Fish's first wide expansion as the film played across 2,406 screens.
But Return of the King's take was enough to keep it at the No. 1 position for a fourth straight week and enough to push it passed the $300 million mark.
Meanwhile, Cheaper by the Dozen, which claimed third place with a still strong $12 million, became the 26th 2003 film to cross $100 million.
The comedy Something's Gotta Give also continued strongly, coming in fourth with $8.2 million, followed by the Civil War drama Cold Mountain, which rounded out the Top Five with $7.9 million.
This week's two other wide releases, the romantic comedy Chasing Liberty and the urban comedy My Baby's Daddy failed to make the Top Five. My Baby's Daddy, which opened in only 1,447 theaters, came in sixth with an expected $7.8 million, while Chasing Liberty debuted at No. 7 with a rather constrained $6 million.
THE TOP TEN
New Line Cinema's PG-13 rated fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King retained its No.1 title in its fourth week of release with an ESTIMATED $14.1 million (-50%) at 3,532 theaters (-171 theaters; $3,706 per theater). Its cume is approximately $312.2 million.
Directed by Peter Jackson, it stars Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, Ian McKellen, Sean Astin, Liv Tyler, Miranda Otto, Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan.
Sony's PG-13 rated drama Big Fish expanded to 2,406 theaters in its fifth week of release to take second place with an ESTIMATED $13.8 million with a $6,027 per theater average. Its cume is approximately $24 million.
In the film, a son comes to understand his father through the older man's fantastic stories.
Directed by Tim Burton, it stars Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange, Helena Bonham Carter and Alison Lohman.
Twentieth Century Fox's PG rated family comedy Cheaper by the Dozen dropped one notch to third place in its second week of release with an ESTIMATED $12 million (-45%) in 3,238 theaters (-171 theaters; $3,706 per theater). Its cume is approximately $101.3 million.
Directed by Shawn Levy, it stars Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Hilary Duff and Tom Welling.
Sony Pictures' PG-13 rated romantic comedy Something's Gotta Give followed the trend and dropped one spot to fourth in its fifth week of release with an ESTIMATED $8.2 million (-30%) at 2,876 theaters (+68 theaters; $2,851 per theater). Its cume is approximately $92.8 million.
Directed by Nancy Meyers, it stars Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves, Amanda Peet and Frances McDormand.
Miramax Films' R rated Civil War drama Cold Mountain fell a notch to fifth place in its third week of release with an ESTIMATED $7.9 million (-32%) at 2,302 theaters (+68 theaters, $3,438 per theater average). Its cume is approximately $55.3 million.
Directed by Anthony Minghella, it stars Jude Law, Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger.
Miramax's R rated comedy My Baby's Daddy kicked off in sixth place with an ESTIMATED $7.8 million in 1,447 theaters with an impressive $5,417 per theater average.
In the film, three bachelor buddies are in for a rude awakening when their girlfriends all get pregnant at the same time.
Directed by Cheryl Dunye, it stars Eddie Griffin, Anthony Anderson and Michael Imperioli.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Warner Bros.' PG-13 rated romantic comedy Chasing Liberty debuted in seventh place with an ESTIMATED $7.8 million at 2,400 theaters with a $2,506 per theater average.
In the film, the 18-year-old daughter of the president of the United States runs off on a romantic adventure during the family's European getaway.
Directed by Andrew Cadiff, it stars Mandy Moore, Matthew Goode, Jeremy Piven, Annabella Sciorra and Mark Harmon.
Paramount Pictures' PG-13 rated sci-fi thriller Paycheck fell three positions to No. 8 in its third week of release with an ESTIMATED $5.2 million (-47%) in 2,762 theaters (unchanged; $1,883 per theater). Its cume is approximately $46.4 million.
Directed by John Woo, it stars Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman.
Warner Bros.' R rated period actioner The Last Samurai fell one rung to ninth place in its sixth week of release with an ESTIMATED $4.5 million (-46%) in 1,901 theaters (-500 theaters; $2,838 per theater). Its cume is approximately $97.1 million.
Directed by Edward Zwick, it stars Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, Tony Goldwyn and Timothy Spall.
Sony Pictures' PG-13 rated drama Mona Lisa Smile dropped three notches to round out the Top Ten in its fourth week of release with an ESTIMATED $4.5 million (-46%) in 2,500 theaters (-214 theaters; $1,800 per theater). Its cume is approximately $57 million.
Directed by Mike Newell, it stars Julia Roberts, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kirsten Dunst and Julia Stiles.
This week, the Top 12 films grossed an estimated $92.4 million, down about 23 percent from last week's $120.1 million, but up 4.9 percent from last year's $88.1 million.
Last year, 20th Century Fox's PG-13 rated comedy Just Married opened at No. 1 with $17.5 million in 2,766 theaters, a $6,345 per theater average; New Line's PG-13 rated The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers dropped to No. 2 in its fourth week with $14.7 million in 3,477 theaters (-145 theaters; $4,244 per theater); and DreamWorks' biopic Catch Me If You Can held on to third place in its third week with $14.6 million in 3,225 theaters (+55 theaters; $$4,537 per theater).