Last year director Garry Marshall hit upon a devilishly canny approach to the romantic comedy. A more polished refinement of Hal Needham’s experimental Cannonball Run method it called for assembling a gaggle of famous faces from across the demographic spectrum and pairing them with a shallow day-in-the-life narrative packed with gobs of gooey sentiment. A cynical strategy to be sure but one that paid handsome dividends: Valentine’s Day earned over $56 million in its opening weekend surpassing even the rosiest of forecasts. Buoyed by the success Marshall and his screenwriter Katherine Fugate hastily retreated to the bowels of Hades to apply their lucrative formula to another holiday historically steeped in romantic significance and New Year’s Eve was born.
Set in Manhattan on the last day of the year New Year’s Eve crams together a dozen or so canned scenarios into one bloated barely coherent mass of cliches. As before Marshall’s recruited an impressive ensemble of minions to do his unholy bidding including Oscar winners Hilary Swank Halle Berry and Robert De Niro the latter luxuriating in a role that didn’t require him to get out of bed. High School Musical’s Zac Efron is paired up with ‘80s icon Michelle Pfeiffer – giving teenage girls and their fathers something to bond over – while Glee’s Lea Michele meets cute with a pajama-clad Ashton Kutcher. There’s Katherine Heigl in a familiar jilted-fiance role Sarah Jessica Parker as a fretful single mom and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as the most laid-back cop in New York. Sofia Vergara and Hector Elizondo mine for cheap laughs with thick accents – his fake and hers real – and Jessica Biel and Josh Duhamel deftly mix beauty with blandness. Fans of awful music will delight in the sounds of Jon Bon Jovi straining against type to play a relevant pop musician.
The task of interweaving the various storylines is too great for Marshall and New Year’s Eve bears the distinct scent and stain of an editing-room bloodbath with plot holes so gaping that not even the brightest of celebrity smiles can obscure them. But that’s not the point – it never was. You should know better than to expect logic from a film that portrays 24-year-old Efron and 46-year-old Parker as brother-and-sister without bothering to explain how such an apparent scientific miracle might have come to pass. Marshall wagers that by the time the ball drops and the film’s last melodramatic sequence has ended prior transgressions will be absolved and moviegoers will be content to bask in New Year's Eve's artificial glow. The gambit worked for Valentine's Day; this time he may not be so fortunate.
Moviegoers were still feeling angry this Easter Weekend, keeping Anger Management at the top of the box office with a passionate $25.6 million.*
Holes dug into second place with a surprisingly solid $17.1 million, while Malibu's Most Wanted was third with $14.3 million.
Bulletproof Monk barely made its way into fourth place with a small take of $8.6 million; Phone Booth phoned into fifth place with $5.6 million.
Despite Anger Management's impressive take, the Top 12 films this week totaled $90.2 million--down more than three percent from last year's $93 million. Business, meanwhile, was up over 7 percent from the previous weekend's $84.2 million.
THE TOP TEN
Sony Pictures' PG-13 rated comedy Anger Management, which became the best April opener of all time when it debuted last week, held onto the No. 1 spot for the second week in a row. The laffer, which stars Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson managed a still strong ESTIMATED $25.6 million (-39%) box office take at 3,570 theaters (+19 theaters, $7,171 per theater average). Its cume is approximately $80.2 million, headed for the $100 million mark.
Directed by Peter Segal, it also stars Marisa Tomei and John Turturro.
Buena Vista's PG rated teen comedy Holes debuted in second place with an impressive ESTIMATED $17.1 million at 2,331 theaters. Holes' $7,336 average per theater was the highest for any film playing this weekend.
The pic, based on Louis Sachar's award-winning children's novel, focuses on the adventures of troubled teens forced to dig holes in a dry lakebed.
Directed by Andrew Davis, it stars Rick Fox, Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Tim Blake Nelson and Shia LeBeouf.
"Holes was sort of off the radar," Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations told The Associated Press. "But kids know this book, and there's really no movies out there for kids right now. Almost every time when there's a void in the marketplace for family films, all of a sudden one pops up, and families rush out."
Warner Bros.' PG-13 rated comedy Malibu's Most Wanted debuted in third place with a "rizz-eal" ESTIMATED $13.1 million at 2,503 theaters with a high $5,250 per theater average.
The film revolves around a white wannabe rapper named B-Rad who thinks he is the dopest thing Malibu has to offer.
Directed by John P. Whitesell, it stars Jamie Kennedy, Taye Diggs and Anthony Anderson.
MGM's PG-13 rated martial arts pic Bulletproof Monk debuted at No. 4 despite a head start on the competition. Bulletproof Monk, which opened Wednesday, took in a disappointing ESTIMATED $8.6 million at 2,955 theaters with a $2,910 per theater average.
The film revolves around a Tibetan monk charged with protecting a sacred scroll.
Directed by Paul Hunter, it stars Chow Yun-Fat and Seann William Scott.
Twentieth Century Fox's R rated sniper thriller Phone Booth fell three rungs to fifth place in its third week with an ESTIMATED $5.6 million (-26%) at 2,448 theaters (-41 theaters, $2,318 per theater). Its cume is approximately $35.1 million.
Directed by Joel Schumacher, it stars Colin Farrell, Kiefer Sutherland and Forest Whitaker.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Warner Brother's PG rated What a Girl Wants dropped three places to third in its third week with an ESTIMATED $4.8 million (-24%) at 2,930 theaters (-34 theaters, $1,640 per theater). Its cume is approximately $27.5 million.
Directed by Dennie Gordon, it stars Amanda Bynes, Kelly Preston and Colin Firth.
Buena Vista's PG-13 rated comedy Bringing Down the House continued to show strong legs although it dropped from fourth to seventh place in its seventh week of release with an ESTIMATED $3.3 million (-27%) at 2,284 theaters (-546 theaters, $1,445 per theater). Its cume is approximately $122.7 million.
Directed by Adam Shankman, it stars Steve Martin and Queen Latifah.
New Line Cinema's R rated cop drama A Man Apart fell from fifth to eighth place in its third week with an ESTIMATED $2.6 million (-42%) at 2,174 theaters (-321 theaters, $1,196 per theater). Its cume is approximately $22.5 million.
Directed by F. Gary Gray, it stars Vin Diesel and Larenz Tate.
In its 17th week of release, Miramax's PG-13 rated musical Chicago continued its run in the Top Ten at ninth place with an ESTIMATED $2.4 million (-23%) at 21,711 theaters (-403 theaters, $1,452 per theater). Its cume is approximately $160.7 million.
Directed by Rob Marshall, it stars Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere.
Rounding out the Top Ten is Lions Gate's R rated House of 1,000 Corpses. The horror thriller fell from seventh to tenth in its second week with an ESTIMATED $2.4 million (-31%) at 847 theaters (+252 theaters, $2,834 per theater). Its cume is approximately $6.9 million.
Directed by Rob Zombie, it stars Karen Black, Sid Haig and Jeanne Carmen.
This weekend also saw the arrival of two limited-release films, A Mighty Wind and Chasing Papi.
Warner Bros.' PG-13 rated "mockumentary" A Mighty Wind opened with an ESTIMATED $2.2 in 133 theaters, with a whopping $16,541 per theater average.
The film is a spoof about a reunion concert of '60s folk groups.
Directed by Christopher Guest, it stars Bob Balaban, Ed Begley, Jr, Jennifer Coolidge, Paul Dooley and Eugene Levy.
Warner plans to expand A Mighty Wind to over 500 theaters by early May.
Twentieth Century Fox's PG rated romantic comedy Chasing Papi opened with an ESTIMATED $2.2 million at 585 theaters with a $3,778 per theater average.
The film revolves around three young women who discover they are in love with the same man.
Directed by Linda Mendoza, it stars Jaci Velasquez, Roselyn Sanchez, Sofia Vergara and Eduardo Verastequi.
The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $90.2 million, up 7.07 percent from last week when they totaled $84.2 million.
The Top 12 were down only 3.08 percent from last year when they totaled $93 million.
Last year, Universal's PG-13 rated The Scorpion King premiered at the top of the box office with $36 million at 3,444 theaters ($10,475 per theater); Paramount's R rated Changing Lanes came in second in its second week of release with $11 million at 2,642 theaters ($4,189 per theater); and Warner Brother's R rated Murder by Numbers debuted in third with $9.3 million at 2,663 theaters ($3,495 per theater).
The Writers Guild of America has announced its nominations for outstanding achievement in screen in 2002.
Antwone Fisher, Bowling for Columbine, Far From Heaven, Gangs of New York and My Big Fat Greek Wedding have been nominated for the WGA's best original screenplay award.
About a Boy, About Schmidt, Adaptation, Chicago and
The Hours meanwhile will contend for best adapted screenplay.
Antwone Fisher, Written by Antwone Fisher; Fox Searchlight
Bowling for Columbine, Written by Michael Moore; United Artists/Alliance Atlantis/Salter Street Films/Dog Eat Dog Films
Far From Heaven, Written by Todd Haynes; Focus Features
Gangs of New York, Screenplay by Jay Cocks and Steven Zaillian and Kenneth Lonergan, story by Jay Cocks; Miramax Films
My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Written by Nia Vardalos; Gold Circle Films/HBO/MPH Entertainment/Playtone
About a Boy, Screenplay by Peter Hedges and Chris Weitz & Paul Weitz, based on the novel by Nick Hornby; Universal Pictures/Studio Canal/Working Title Films/Tribeca Productions
About Schmidt, Screenplay by Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor, based on the novel by Louis Begley; New Line Cinema
Adaptation, Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman, based on the book The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean; Columbia Pictures
Chicago, Screenplay by Bill Condon, based on the musical play, book by Bob Fosse and Fred Ebb and the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins; Miramax Films
The Hours, Screenplay by David Hare, based on the novel by Michael Cunningham; Paramount Pictures/Miramax Films
Animation--any length--one airing time (new category)
"The Bart Wants What It Wants" (The Simpsons), Written by John Frink & Don Payne; Gracie Films in association with 20th Century Fox Television; Fox
"Blame It on Lisa" (The Simpsons), Written by Bob Bendetson; Gracie Films in association with 20th Century Fox Television; Fox
"Godfellas" (Futurama), Written by Ken Keeler; 20th Century Fox Television; Fox
"Jaws Wired Shut" (The Simpsons), Written by Matt Selman; Gracie Films in association with 20th Century Fox Television; Fox
"My Own Private Rodeo" (King of the Hill), Written by Alex Gregory & Peter Huyck; 20th Century Fox Television Productions in association with Deedle-Dee Productions, Judgmental Films and 3 Arts Entertainment; Fox
Santa Baby! Written by Peter Bakalian & Suzanne Collins; Rankin/Bass; Fox
Original Long Form--over one hour--one or two parts, one or two airing times
Dor to Door, Written by William H. Macy & Steven Schachter; Turner Pages, Inc.; TNT
The Gathering Storm, Teleplay by Hugh Whitemore, Story by Larry Ramin and Hugh Whitemore; a Scott Free Production in association with HBO Films; HBO
Sins of the Father Written by John Pielmeier, based on the magazine article that appeared in Texas Monthly by Pamela Colloff; Artisan; FX
Strange Relations, Written by Tim Kazurinsky; Showtime; Granada Entertainment; Showtime
Adapted Long Form--over one hour--one or two parts, one or two airing times
"Batogne" (Band of Brothers), Written by Bruce C. McKenna, based on the book by Stephen E. Ambrose; DreamWorks/Playtone/HBO; HBO
Hysterical Blindness, Teleplay by Laura Cahill, based on the play by Laura Cahill; Hysterical Films, Inc.; HBO
Last Call, Screenplay by Henry Bromell, based on the memoir Against the Current: As I Remember F. Scott Fitzgerald by Frances Kroll Ring; Room 520/Barnstorm Films; Showtime
Mark Twain's Roughing It, Teleplay by Steven H. Berman, based on the book Roughing It by Mark Twain; Larry Levinson Productions; Hallmark Channel
Episodic Drama--any length, one airing time
"Game On" (The West Wing), Written by Aaron Sorkin & Paul Redford; John Wells Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television; NBC
"In Place of Anger" (Six Feet Under), Written by Christian Taylor; Six Feet Productions; HBO
"Nino Del Polvo" (Resurrection Boulevard), Written by Robert Eisele; Showtime; Viacom Productions, Inc.; Patagonia House; Showtime
"On the Beach" (ER), Written by John Wells; Constant C Productions; Amblin Television; Warner Bros. Television; NBC
Pilot (The Education of Max Bickford), Written by Dawn Prestwich & Nicole Yorkin; 20th Century Fox Television; CBS
"Whoever Did This" (The Sopranos), Written by Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess; Soprano Productions, Inc.; HBO
Episodic Comedy--any length, one airing time
"Change of Address" (Sex and the City), Written by Julie Rottenberg & Elisa Zuritsky; Darren Star Productions in association with HBO Original Programming; HBO
"I Heart NY" (Sex and the City), Written by Michael Patrick King; Darren Star Productions in association with HBO Original Programming; HBO
Pilot (The Bernie Mac Show), Written by Larry Wilmore; Regency Television in association with 20th Century Fox Television; FOX
"My First Day", (pilot, Scrubs), Written by Bill Lawrence; Touchstone Television Productions; NBC
"Plus One is the Loneliest Number" (Sex and the City), Written by Cindy Chupack; Darren Star Productions in association with HBO Original Programming; HBO
"Rooms With a View" (Frasier), Written by Dan O' Shannon & Lori Kirkland & Bob Daily; Grub Street Productions in association with Paramount Pictures; NBC
"The Wedding" (Ed), Written by Rob Burnett & Jon Beckerman; Viacom Productions in association with Worldwide Pants, Inc. and NBC Studios; NBC
Comedy/Variety---Music, Awards, Tributes--Specials--any length
The Kennedy Center Honors Written by Don Baer and George Stevens, Jr., Film Sequences Written by Sara Lukinson; A George Stevens Jr. Presentation - Kennedy Center Television Productions, Inc.; CBS
NBC 75th Anniversary Special, Written by Doug Abeles, James Anderson, Robert Carlock, Tina Fey, Charlie Grandy, Steve Higgins, Lorne Michaels, Paula Pell, Herb Sargent, Michael Schur, Michael Shoemaker; Broadway Video in association with NBC Studios; NBC
Comedy/Variety--(including talk) Series
Dennis Miller Live, Written by Eddie Feldmann, Jose Arroyo, Richard Dahm, David Feldman, Jim Hanna, Rob Z. Kutner, Kirsten McFarland, Dennis Miller, Jacob Sager Weinstein; Happy Family Productions; HBO
Late Night With Conan O'Brien, Written by Mike Sweeney, Chris Albers, Andy Blitz, Kevin Dorff, Jonathan Glaser, Michael Gordon, Brian Kiley, Michael Koman, Brian McCann, Guy Nicolucci, Conan O'Brien, Andrew Secunda, Allison Silverman, Robert Smigel, Brian Stack, Andrew Weinberg; Broadway Video; NBC
Mad TV, Writing Supervised by Scott King, Written by Dick Blasucci, Garry Campbell, Lauren Dombrowski, Bryan Adams, Bruce McCoy, Michael Hitchcock, Steven Cragg, Chris Cluess, John Crane, Jennifer Joyce, Tami Sagher, Devon Shepard, Rich Talarico, Jim Wise, Kal Clarke, Sultan Pepper, Bill Kelley, Maiya Williams, Dino Stamatopoulos; QDE/Girl Group; FOX
Saturday Night Live, Written by Tina Fey, Doug Abeles, Leo Allen, James Anderson, Max Brooks, James Downey, James Eagan, Hugh Fink, Charlie Grandy, Jack Handey, Steve Higgins, Erik Kenward, Dennis McNicholas, Lorne Michaels, Corwin Moore, Matt Murray, Paula Pell, Matt Piedmont, Ken Scarborough, Michael Schur, Frank Sebastiano, T. Sean Shannon, Eric Slovin, Robert Smigel, Emily Spivey, Andrew Steele, Scott Wainio, Jerry Collins, Tom David; Broadway Video in association with SNL Studios; NBC
Guiding Light, Written by Millee Taggart, Lucky Gold, Christopher Dunn, Tita Bell, Jill Lorie Hurst, Penelope Koechl, David Kreizman, Eleanor Labine, Alan Madison, Danielle Paige, A.J. Pierce, Janet Reed Ahearn, Susan Rice, David Rupel, Melissa Salmons, Eddie Sanchez, Lisa Seidman, David Smilow; Procter & Gamble; CBS
The Young and the Restless, Written by Kay Alden, Trent Jones, John F. Smith, Jerry Birn, Jim Houghton, Natalie Minardi, Janice Ferri, Eric Freiwald, Joshua McCaffrey, Michael Minnis, Rex M. Best; Columbia TriStar; CBS
Elmo's World: Happy Holidays!, Written by Christine Ferraro; Sesame Workshop; PBS
Off Season, Written by Glenn Gers; Showtime Networks, Inc.; Showtime
Our America, Teleplay by Gordon Rayfield, Based on the book "Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago" by Lealan Jones, Lloyd Newman and David Isay; Joseph Stern Productions; All Media, Inc.; Showtime
The Red Sneakers, Teleplay by Mark Saltzman, Story by Jeffrey Rubin; Lynch Entertainment, Tom Lynch Company, RS Productions, Ltd., Showtime Networks, Inc.; Showtime
Bioterror (Nova), Written by Matthew Collins; A Nova Production by the New York Times/ Granada Factuals USA and Lone Wolf Pictures, Inc., for WGBH/ Boston in association with Channel 4 Television; PBS
The Man Who Knew (Frontline), Written by Michael J. Kirk, Kirk Documentary Group; PBS
9/11, Written by Tom Forman & Greg Kandra; Goldfish Pictures, Inc.; CBS
Rollover: The Hidden Story of the SUV (Frontline), Written by Marc Shaffer & Barak Goodman; 10/20 Productions; PBS
Documentary--Other Than Current Events
America's First River, Part One, Written by Tom Spain; WNET/Educational Broadcasting Corp.; Public Affairs Television; PBS
Empire State Building Ironworker (A Day in their Lives), Written by Peter Hankoff; Termite Art Productions; History Channel; History Channel
Evolution of a Revolution (Founding Brothers), Written by Kelly McPherson and Melissa Jo Peltier & Allison MacEwan; MPH Entertainment Inc.; History Channel; History Channel
Monkey Trial (American Experience), Written by Christine Lesiak; WGBH Educational Foundation; PBS
News--Regularly Scheduled, Bulletin or Breaking Report
Attack on America Written by Jerry Cipriano, Paul Fischer, Thomas Harris, Hugh Heckman, Bruce Meyer; CBS Evening News; CBS
September 11th Controllers, Written by Jonathan W. Kaplan; CBS