Warner Bros.' highly anticipated sci-fi sequel The Matrix Reloaded crushed the competition at the box office with a mind-bending five-day take of $135.7 million*, making it the second best weekend opening of all time. The megahyped actioner also set a new record for the biggest consecutive four-day domestic box office gross in cinema history with $134.3 million, became the highest grossing R-rated film ever and broke the one-day box office record on its formal opening day, with $42.5 million. Reloaded premiered on about 2,750 screens across the country Wednesday night--two hours before its nationwide release Thursday in some 3,603 theaters with a record 8,517 prints. But its early release could also be why it failed to beat Sony Picture's Spider-Man's still-standing record as the best weekend opener of all time.Reloaded went on to gross $93.2 million Friday through Sunday, which was not enough to defeat Spider-Man's record three-day haul of $114.8 million. The previous No. 2 spot was held by Warner's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone with $90.3 million.Still, Reloaded managed to sell out most evening showtimes despite its restrictive rating, which many industry insiders believed would lessen its chance to reach a broad audience. With the highest playdate count of any R-rated film, Reloaded blew away the previous record for the best opening for an R rated pic, held by Universal's horror sequel Hannibal, which raked in $58 million in its opening weekend in February 2001."This just shows that ratings matter to a point, but if people want to see the movie, they're going to see the movie," Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Exhibitor Relations Co. told The Associated Press Sunday. "It was review proof and it was ratings proof." "You had a whole legion of fans under 17 whose parents were obviously willing to take them to see this movie," he added. "You can almost call this an R-rated family film."Other R-rated blockbusters opening this summer, including Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Bad Boys II and American Wedding--the third installment in the American Pie trilogy--will no doubt see Reloaded's weighty box office take as a positive sign. THE TOP TENWarner Bros.' R rated sci-fi sequel The Matrix Reloaded easily debuted at the top of the box office with an ESTIMATED three-day take $93.2 million at 3,603 theaters. The film's $25,884 per theater average was the highest of any film playing this weekend. Its cume is approximately $135.7 million.In the trilogy's second installment, Neo, Trinity and Morpheus continue their battle against the Machines both in and out of the Matrix as mankind has just 72 hours before the destruction of the human city of Zion. Directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, it stars Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss and Hugo Weaving.Sony Pictures' PG-rated Daddy Day Care remained in the No. 2 spot in its second week with an ESTIMATED $19.2 million (-30%) at 3,408 theaters (+38 theaters, $5,634 per theater). Its cume is approximately $51.3 million.Directed by Steve Carr, it stars Eddie Murphy, Jeff Garlin, Steve Zahn, Regina King and Anjelica Huston. Lats week's box office topper, 20th Century Fox's comic book sequel X2: X-Men United skipped second place and went straight to No. 3 in its third week of release with an ESTIMATED $17.1 million (-57%) at 3,489 theaters (-260 theaters, $4,910 per theater average). Its cume is approximately $174 million, heading towards the $200 million mark.Directed by Bryan Singer, it stars Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.In fourth place is 20th Century Fox's PG-13 romantic comedy Down With Love, which debuted in one New York theater last week and expanded into 2,123 theaters this week with an ESTIMATED $ 7.5 million, with a $3,573 per theater average. Its cume is approximately $7.6 million.The film, an homage to Doris Day/Rock Hudson movies, follows a feminist writer who knocks heads with a playboy journalist. Directed by Peyton Reed, it stars Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor and David Hyde Pierce.Buena Vista's PG rated The Lizzie McGuire Movie fell two notches to fifth place in its third week with an ESTIMATED $4.5 million (-38%) at 2,825 theaters (-167 theaters, $1,693 per theater). Its cume is approximately $32.1 million.Directed by Jim Fall, it stars Hilary Duff, Adam Lamberg and Yani Gellman.*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.Sony Pictures' PG-13 rated comedy Anger Management fell one rung to No. 6 in its sixth week with an ESTIMATED $3.6 million (-37%) at 2,476 theaters (-343 theaters, $1,454 per theater). Its cume is approximately $128.3million.Directed by Peter Segal, it stars Adam Sandler, Jack Nicholson, Marisa Tomei and John Turturro.Sony Pictures' R-rated psychological thriller Identity dropped three places in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $3.4 million (-48%) at 2,196 theaters (-422, $1,548 per theater). Its cume is approximately $44.8 million.Directed by James Mangold, it stars John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, Rebecca DeMornay and Alfred Molina. Buena Vista's PG rated teen comedy Holes fell from sixth to eighth place in its fifth week with an ESTIMATED $3 million (-38%) at 2,232 theaters (-220 theaters, $1,344 per theater). Its cume is approximately $45 million.Directed by Andrew Davis, it stars Rick Fox, Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Tim Blake Nelson and Shia LeBeouf. Warner Bros. PG-13 A Mighty Wind, dropped from seventh to No. 9 in its fifth week with an ESTIMATED $1.7 million (-42%) at 770 theaters (+5 theaters; $2,253 per theater). Its cume is approximately $12.1 million. Directed by and starring Christopher Guest, it also stars Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, Bob Balaban, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara and more. Rounding out the Top Ten is Fox Searchlight's PG-13 rated Bend It Like Beckham. The soccer comedy fell one notch in its tenth week of release stateside with an ESTIMATED $1.5 million (-13%) at 553 theaters (-2 theaters, $2,731 per theater). Its cume is approximately 15.1 million.Directed Gurinder Chadha, it stars Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.OTHERSMiramax Film's G rated animated sequel Pokémon Heroes opened with an ESTIMATED $225,000 at 196 theaters ($1,148 per theater).This is the fifth in the series of Japanese anime films including: Pokemon The First Movie (1999), Pokemon The Movie 2000 (2000), Pokemon 3 The Movie: Spell of the Unknown (2001) and Pokemon 4Ever (2002). Lion Gate's R rated prison drama Sweet Sixteen, meanwhile, debuted in three theaters with an ESTIMATED $30,000, with an impressive $10,000 per theater average.The film revolves around a young teen struggling to realize his dream in the gritty streets of Glasgow while waiting for his mother's release from prison.Directed by Ken Loach, it stars Martin Compston, William Ruane, Annmarie Fulton and Michelle Abercromby.WEEKEND COMPARISONThe Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $156 million, up a whopping 52.3 percent from last week when they totaled $102.4 million.The Top 12 were down about 4 percent from last year when they totaled $162.6 million.Last year, Fox's PG rated Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones premiered at the top of the box office with $80 million at 3,161 theaters ($25,317 per theater); Sony's PG-13 rated Spider-Man came in second in its third week with with $45 million at 3,615 theaters ($12,458 per theater); and Fox's R rated Unfaithful came in third in its second week with $10 million at 2,624 theaters ($3,816 per theater).
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Bo (Seann William Scott) and Luke (Johnny Knoxville) Duke are cousins--two hell-raisers who drive fast sell moonshine and bed sexy farm girls all across Georgia's Hazzard County. They've got another cousin Daisy Duke (Jessica Simpson) a drop-dead hottie who waits tables at the local watering hole. If someone gets a little too friendly with the gal she's knocks 'em on their ass--and if her cousins get into trouble she shakes hers to get them out of it. Then there's Uncle Jesse Duke (Willie Nelson) who makes the moonshine on his farm tells bad jokes and sings country-western songs. I can't quit thinking about how the Duke family dynamics work. They're all tight-knit cousins right? But Uncle Jesse isn't the father to any of them. So like where's the rest of the Dukes? There's gotta be other siblings parents maybe. It perplexes me. But I digress. Suffice to say the Dukes are always outrunning--and out-jumping--the local law enforcement in their souped-up Dodge Charger the General Lee. The boys are also constantly doing battle with the crooked county commissioner Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds) who cooks up one nefarious plan after another to make Hazzard County his own personal cash cow only to be thwarted by those darn Dukes. Dagnabbit.
Although some diehard fans of the TV show may disagree the casting for this feature film redo is pretty spot on. Knoxville and Scott do just fine as the rip-roarin' Duke cousins bantering about one upping each other--you know boys stuff. Nelson's still got the whole pigtail thing going for him but he looks like he's having a good time. Reynolds does too but he's definitely a lot slicker--and a lot better looking--than the show's original Boss Hogg Sorrell Booke. As the bumbling police veteran character actor M.C. Gainey who always plays bad guys at least gets to show off some comedy chops as Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane. Michael Weston (Garden State) as the wimpy Deputy Enos Strate is sufficiently reduced to a puddle whenever Daisy is around. And then there's Simpson. My my my. It's obvious the camera (and whose ever behind it) loves every inch of her and she tends to light up the screen whenever she's on it. Of course playing Daisy in her acting debut isn't much of a stretch but Simpson still shows a comic flair. The singer-turned-actress could actually become a fairly serviceable comedic actress if she plays her cards right.
This is what director Jay Chandrasekhar (Super Troopers) had to say about making The Dukes of Hazzard: "I had a poster of Daisy Duke [played in the original show by Catherine Bach] on my wall when I was nine that was very inspiring and when you combine the prospect of a new Daisy Duke with the opportunity to send the General Lee flying through the air again it was impossible for me to say no." Well Jay actually you could have said no and maybe the whole Hazzard as a feature idea would have gone away. It's perfectly suitable to have a television show be about nothing but cars flying through the air hot women in skimpy clothes and idiotic behavior. We'll always accept brain-friendly crap on TV. But to be subjected to an entire feature-length film of mindless stupidity is just too much at least in Hazzard's case. Sure watching the General Lee perform seemingly impossible stunts is fun. Apparently 28 Dodge Chargers had to be converted into the multiple General Lees needed for the film and the parts had to be hunted down on the Internet in junkyards or by word of mouth. Still after about the 100th time the car jumps over something you've had quite enough.
Talk about pressure. When LAPD hostage negotiator extraordinaire Jeff Talley (Bruce Willis) has a bad day lives are lost--and it is after one particularly bad day that Talley decides he's had it with the job. Plagued by guilt he relocates his family and becomes the police chief of a sleepy northern California town. But it's about to be woken up. Corrupt accountant Walter Smith (Kevin Pollak) and his two kids--teenager Jennifer (Michelle Horn) and grade schooler Tommy (Jimmy Bennett)--are taken hostage in their house after a carjacking attempt by a trio of young punks goes awry. Talley is forced to step in once again as the hostage negotiator. Why you may ask since he is now just a lowly police man? Because it turns out Talley's family is being held captive by Walter's superiors who need to get something very important out of the house. They demand the seasoned Talley take control of the situation before things get really ugly. And they do get ugly.
I'm sure Willis would say he agreed to play yet another reluctant hero whose family is in danger because the concept was intriguing. But we all know he probably made Hostage for the money. However Willis is still an appealing actor and a tried and true action star. He infuses Talley with his usual quiet strong demeanor which inevitably turns tortured--and then revengeful--when things go badly. Another standout includes Ben Foster (HBO's Six Feet Under) who does a nice job as Mars the most demented and brutal of the three kidnappers. Not only is the cold-blooded Mars on the edge but he's also some kind of a super delinquent who's able to knock out police cars professional hit men and the like with ease. Scary what they teach kids these days. Willis' daughter Rumer also gets some screen time as Talley's sullen daughter--but since she doesn't get to say much the jury is still out on whether she's inherited any of her parents' acting skills.
Hostage unfortunately takes a good idea and ruins it. To his credit French director Florent Siri who is best known in his native country for crime thrillers seems to understand about building the tension. The Smiths' isolated fortress situated in the hills is a perfect place to piece together the action-thriller ingredients: the shell-shocked cop trying not to repeat his past mistakes; the novice in-over-their-heads kidnappers lead by a trigger-happy psychopath; the resourceful and brave young hostages on the inside; and the menacingly ominous outside influences. But Hostage ends up taking these well-placed elements and running them into the ground. The film starts to drag in its logistical inconsistencies. Why don't the corporate baddies just come in and blow everyone away from the beginning? They obviously have the means to do so. But no. We are instead subjected to Willis running around trying to outsmart everyone natch while having heartbreaking conversations with the precocious little boy inside the house. When things finally do come to a head we are left with a severely over-the-top overtly bloody climax.
After surviving a devastating car accident following her first college party freshman Cassie (Melissa Sagemiller) falls into a coma and steps into a nightmare of otherworldly visitations. Haunted by a grim reaper of a far different kind her only hope is to cling to chance encounters with her lost love Sean (Casey Affleck) and the aid of a mysterious young priest named Father Jude (Luke Wilson). Cassie's malicious friends Matt (Wes Bentley) Annabel (Eliza Dushku) and the morose Raven (Angela Featherstone) seem intent on drawing her to the dark side but the spirit of her soul mate Sean guides her back to the world of the living.
Sagemiller (Get Over It) may be a fine actress but this film--her second full-length feature--isn't the one to prove it. Not that Sagemiller does a poor job but like most dull and stale horror movies the female lead isn't asked to do much other than look frightened and scream--a lot. Affleck (Good Will Hunting) Bentley (American Beauty) and Dushku (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) are among the more talented actors of their generation but are completely wasted especially Affleck in his one-dimensional role. Wilson as Father Jude is the only character with an interesting part but unfortunately the good Father's development is stunted and incomplete leaving Wilson little to work with.
Steve Carpenter's first turn as a director leaves much to be desired. Of course Carpenter wrote the formulaic script so why shouldn't he be the one to helm it? One major flaw (and there are plenty to choose from) is that nearly half the movie is shot tight on the characters giving the audience a very myopic view. Even if that was intentional it certainly did nothing to heighten the tension (what little of it there was) in the movie. The flick's tagline "The World of the Dead and the World of the Living... are About to Collide" conveys the message of an epic struggle between the forces of evil and the forces of good--a struggle that never materializes. And the film's final message that love conquers all is the boring hackneyed truism that breaks the cliché camel's back.