WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
All About Steve centers on the antics of nutty Mary Horowitz (Sandra Bullock) a thirtysomething spinster who isn’t like most women her age. A cruciverbalist (crossword puzzle writer) by trade she possesses a brain crammed to the hilt with obscure facts arcane trivia and SAT words all of which she happily dispenses — at breakneck speed — on any unfortunate soul who happens to stumble into a conversation with her. And while such a quality may prove useful in her professional life it’s terrible for her romantic one. Which is why she lives alone with her parents and her closest confidante is a hamster.
Mary’s fortunes abruptly change — in her mind at least — when she’s set up on a blind date with Steve (Bradley Cooper) a charming surprisingly handsome cable-news cameraman to whom she feels an immediate intense attraction. So intense in fact that she dedicates an entire crossword puzzle to him confusing readers and angering her boss who immediately fires her. (Apparently there are no copy editors — or editors of any kind for that matter — at the newspaper where Mary works.)
Mary deliberately misinterprets her dismissal as a sign that she is meant to be with Steve who just recently left town on assignment. Determined to follow her “destiny ” she packs her bags and embarks on a road trip pursuing her would-be soulmate as he travels to various towns to cover breaking news stories. Understandably freaked-out by the antics of his oddball stalker Steve does his best to give Mary the heave-ho to little avail.
Bullock has amped up the wackiness factor in the latter half of her career riding the “clumsy hot chick” routine to box office success in the blockbuster comedies Miss Congeniality and Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous. In All About Steve Bullock effectively carries the film for what it’s worth as the neurotic hyperactive Mary.
Thomas Haden Church (Sideways Spider-Man 3) issues a fine performance in a supporting role as a comically self-absorbed chronically insecure TV newsman.
Methinks there’s supposed to be a point in All About Steve when Mary’s neurotic mannerisms and creepy stalker antics transition from irritating and strange to charming and quirky — making her a sort of cougar Napoleon Dynamite — but that transition never really occurs. Like Steve we just want Mary to go away. Forever.
Normally the film’s core message about being true to yourself is a virtuous one but when “yourself” is quite literally THE MOST ANNOYING PERSON IN THE WORLD the exact opposite is true. My greatest fear regarding All About Steve is that dozens of pushy delusional people will see it and feel validated in their behavior.
Sandra Bullock's face is virtually unrecognizable from her Speed days.
What no "giant sea pods" this time? Instead The Invasion skews the Body Snatchers scenario by making the alien invasion a virus rather than plant life. Said virus which comes to Earth via a mysterious crash of a space shuttle is transmitted by some form of bodily fluid-to-bodily fluid connection. For example throwing up into people's faces or coffee cups is a fun way to spread the disease. The end result however is the same: Once the infected person falls asleep they undergo a transformation and wake up looking the same but are unfeeling and inhuman—and ready to organize. As the infection spreads and more and more people are altered there are a few humans left fighting for their lives including psychiatrist Carol Bennell (Nicole Kidman) and her doctor friend Ben Driscoll (Daniel Craig). Carol’s only hope is to stay awake long enough to find her young son who may hold the key to stopping the devastating invasion. But we won’t tell you how. OK it has something to do with an immunity but that’s all we are going to say. Nicole Kidman has had a string of bad luck since winning that damn Oscar for The Hours. One wonders if maybe the golden statuette might actually be a curse (Cuba Gooding Jr. anyone?). Still regardless of the movie--be it Bewitched The Stepford Wives or Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus--Kidman manages to turn in a decent performance. The same goes for The Invasion. Her mother bear act is quite believable as she races to find her son (played with spunk by Jackson Bond) while trying to stay awake and pretending to be cold and unemotional among the pod people--oh excuse me the virally infected people. You root for her all the way. Craig doesn’t have as much to do but still delivers when it counts. In a supporting role Jeremy Northam does a nice job as Carol’s ex-husband a CDC doctor who is one of the first to get infected. As does the always good Jeffrey Wright as a very clever genetic scientist. Even Veronica Cartwright one of the survivors in the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers makes a cameo as one of Carol’s patients who tells her “My husband isn’t my husband!” Famous last words. Body snatching must be a popular water-cooler topic at the movie studios. Starting with the 1956 sci-fi classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers in which Kevin McCarthy barely escapes his small town with his life running into highway traffic screaming “They're here already! You're next! You're next You're next...” there have been at least two other versions including the above-mentioned 1978 film and the 1993 film Body Snatchers. To its credit The Invasion switches things up a bit nixing the pods and making it more relevant to our current socio-political climate. It even begs the question: Could we be better off if we didn’t have emotions? But the movie is still mired by its derivativeness and too-pat ending—and it also apparently had problems getting off the shelf. Originally wrapped in early 2006 rumor has it the studio didn’t like German director Oliver Hirschbiegel’s original cut and brought in Matrix’s Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski for rewrites and James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) to direct the new scenes. Again to its credit The Invasion surprisingly feels cohesive despite all the different influences. Let’s just say whoever came up with the tense car chase in which Carol tries to throw off the pod people (it's just more effective calling them that) draped all over the car kudos to them.
As Love Actually begins we are told that perhaps the world isn't such a dire and hateful place that "love actually is all around." Around London anyway. The film explores no less than seven different romantic scenarios within the bustling British capital--all of which interconnect and eventually resolve on Christmas Eve. There's the newly elected dashing Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) who is smitten with his secretary the earthy Natalie (Martine McCutcheon); Karen (Emma Thompson) whose husband Harry (Alan Rickman) has strayed with his seductive secretary Mia (Heike Makatsch); Sarah (Laura Linney) the American wallflower who has a crush on her colleague Carl (Rodrigo Santoro); Jamie (Colin Firth) who falls for his pretty Portuguese housekeeper Aurelia (Lucia Moniz)…there are lots more but you get the gist. As love goes things may not get tied up neatly in brightly colored packages for everyone but there's still enough good cheer to spread around.
Showcasing some of Britain's finest actors Love Actually doesn't have a bad banana in the bunch. Floppy-haired Hugh Grant turns in an endearing performance and proves there isn't a romantic comedy he can't handle. He has an uncanny knack for connecting with any actress he happens to be romancing; in this case it's the adorable McCutcheon best known for the hit British TV drama EastEnders. Rickman and Thompson are quite good as the couple whose long-term marriage is beginning to crack; Thompson especially does a nice job trying to hide her pain while being a happy mom. Linney too shines as Sarah who glows with excitement when she finally gets what she so ardently wished for. Veteran stage and film actor Bill Nighy (Underworld) however steals the show as a carefree aging rock star desperate for a comeback. His Billy Mack smacks of Mick Jagger Keith Richards and Rod Stewart all rolled into one.
"I'm worried that we don't have the word 'massacre' in the title " writer/director Richard Curtis fretted to Entertainment Weekly referring to how horror-loving American audiences might not take to his new romantic comedy that is already a huge hit in Britain. True perhaps a romantic comedy starring a multitude of A-list British actors might not bring in the required masses. But who cares about the money (did I just say that)? Curtis who has written some of the best romantic comedies of the last decade including Four Weddings and a Funeral Notting Hill and Bridget Jones' Diary steps behind the camera for the first time here and is able to give each story a unique point of view from the lovesick to the wacky. There actually may be too many stories in Love Actually but it's a small gaffe. Love Actually is a refreshing good old fashioned warm and gushy movie that takes your mind off the bad things for the holiday season and Curtis should feel confident about his directing debut.
"Charlie's Angels" kicked off to a divine, butt-kicking $40.5 million, sending weekend ticket sales soaring about 37% over last year.
Columbia's PG-13 action adventure comedy had been a high flyer on Hollywood's advance radar screen with insiders anticipating a $25-30 million opening. Instead, "Angels" arrived to a spectacular, record-setting ESTIMATED $40.5 million at 3,037 theaters ($13,335 per theater).
"Angels" had the highest per-theater average for any film playing in wide or limited release last weekend.
"It's the biggest non-summer opening ever -- period," Sony Pictures Entertainment worldwide marketing & distribution president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning. Noting that "Angels" helped push weekend ticket sales by all key films in the marketplace to nearly $101 million, he added, "It's the first $100 million weekend since Labor Day."
"Non-summer" excludes comparisons to films opening from May through July. Also excluded are comparisons to films that opened, as some have done for Thanksgiving in the past, on a platform basis and then went wide in their second weekend.
"It's also the biggest opening for a first time director," Blake pointed out, applauding McG, the award-winning commercial and music video director who makes his feature film directorial debut with "Angels." "The over-$40 million (openings before this) all were directed by somebody who had done (a feature) before."
The film's audience, Blake said, was "men and women and a mix of all ages 13 to 40. That was the key. It was slightly more female than male, but only 55%-45% and men responded as much as women. On our CinemaScores, we got an A- overall and an A from both young males and young females. The mix of ages was, I think, the real key to (its success). Sixty-five percent were over 21, which speaks to some of the nostalgia, but it really had entertainment value for a wide mix of ages.
"Clearly, we had more than one audience. As we've all seen, sometimes you get that spectacular Friday (from the young audience) and you don't get the expansion you hope from Saturday (from the adult audience). This was up 21% from an amazing Friday of $13.5 million to a more amazing $16.5 million."
Asked where "Angels" is likely to wind up in domestic theaters, Blake replied, "The average performance off a $40 million opening usually is about three and a half times. 'Water Boy' even did a little better than that. They opened to $39.4 million in 1998 and ended up doing $161 million."
So is $150 million possible for "Angels?" in domestic theaters? "We will keep our fingers crossed," he said. "It may not be out of reach certainly with the good mix of ages and the different kinds of audiences we've got going and responding well."
"Angels" is clearly a shot in the arm for what has been a lackluster box office this fall. "There's no question, there's a lot of great films this November that I think everybody's been looking forward to," Blake noted. "It's certainly been 'Meet the Parents' and 'Remember the Titans' carrying the load for the last month. Now, I think, this has proven to be a film for everybody. I think (when you look at) the product coming up, it's maybe not for everybody, but certainly there is something for everybody."
With "Angels" leading the way, indications are that Columbia should have a very strong fourth quarter in theaters. "We hope to keep our winning streak going with (Phoenix Pictures') 'The 6th Day,' which is really an exciting action film from Arnold Schwarzenegger (and directed by Roger Spottiswoode)," Blake said. "It's been received very well so far. It's opening Nov. 17 and we're going to be in probably 2,700 or 2,800 runs."
Columbia's mountain climbing action adventure "Vertical Limit" opens Dec. 8, Blake said, in 2,400 to 2,500 theaters. Directed by Martin Campbell, it stars Chris O'Donnell and Scott Glenn.
"If we can get the mix of ages and interest we got in 'Charlie's Angels,' we're going to be in great shape," Blake added. "I think that's the key."
Directed by McG, "Angels" stars Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu and Bill Murray.
Universal's PG-13-rated blockbuster comedy "Meet the Parents" gave up first place to "Angels," but fell only to second place, not to third as Hollywood handicappers had anticipated.
"Parents" was still showing great legs in its fifth week, down one peg to second place with a still impressive ESTIMATED $13.07 million (-13%) at 2,672 theaters (+25 theaters; $4,890 per theater). Its cume is approximately $116.9 million, heading for a domestic theatrical gross of $150 million-plus.
"Parents'" international release is through DreamWorks Pictures, which co-financed the film and will share equally in its success.
"'Meet the Parents' is a film that's continuing to prove its strength week after week after week," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said Sunday morning. "It's a film that I don't think anyone would have thought would be a Thanksgiving holiday contender and now it is."
Asked where "Parents" is likely to wind up in its domestic theatrical run, Rocco replied, "$150 million-plus. Every week, I keep on saying, 'Let's see what happens next week.' The fact is that 'Meet the Parents' is a bonafide blockbuster and it stands on its own."
Directed by Jay Roach (director of both "Austin Powers" hits), "Parents" stars Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller.
Rocco also pointed to the continuing success of the critically-acclaimed, R-rated drama "Billy Elliot" from the studio's specialized film arm Universal Focus. "Billy," a likely contender for Golden Globe and Oscar nominations, went wider in its fourth week, placing 13th with a very encouraging ESTIMATED $1.06 million at 119 theaters (+82 theaters; $8,890 per theater). Its cume is approximately $2.9 million.
"We're moving along with 'Billy Elliot' as we planned," Rocco said. "The expansion in the many markets we're open in proved to be very successful. "'Billy Elliot' next weekend is between 400-500 playdates. It's certainly a picture that the word of mouth has continued to spark audiences to see in the theaters that have already been open. The head-to-heads (comparisons) are virtually flat (showing virtually no decline from the previous weekend)."
Directed by Stephen Daldry, "Billy" stars Julie Walters, Gary Lewis, Jamie Bell, Jamie Draven and Adam Cooper.
DreamWorks' PG-13 period piece drama "The Legend of Bagger Vance" opened in third place with a solid ESTIMATED $12.0 million at 2,061 theaters ($5,843 per theater).
Directed by Robert Redford, "Bagger" stars Will Smith, Matt Damon and Charlize Theron.
Buena Vista/Disney's PG-rated football drama "Remember the Titans" fell one notch to fourth place in its sixth week, still holding incredibly well with an ESTIMATED $7.00 million (-12%) at 2,737 theaters (-66 theaters; $2,612 per theater). Its cume is approximately $96.8 million, heading for $110 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Boaz Yakin and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Chad Oman, "Titans" stars Denzel Washington.
Artisan Entertainment's R-rated sequel "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2" fell four rungs to fifth place in its second week with a quiet ESTIMATED $5.3 million (-60%) at 3,320 theaters (+3 theaters; $1,596 per theater). Its cume is approximately $22.1 million.
Directed by Joe Berlinger, "Blair Witch 2" stars Kim Director, Jeffrey Donovan, Erica Leerhsen, Tristen Skylar and Stephen Barker-Turner.
20th Century Fox's PG-13-rated comedy "Bedazzled" fell two pegs to sixth place in its third week with a slow ESTIMATED $4.67 million (-40%) at 2,500 theaters (-71 theaters; $1,870 per theater). Its cume is approximately $30.8 million.
Directed by Harold Ramis, "Bedazzled" stars Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley.
Warner Bros.' PG-13-rated drama "Pay It Forward" dropped two rungs to seventh place in its third week with a less rewarding ESTIMATED $4.39 million (-36%) at 2,130 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,059 per theater). Its cume is approximately $25.2 million.
Directed by Mimi Leder, "Pay It Forward" stars Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment.
New Line Cinema's PG-rated family film "The Little Vampire," a very low cost pick up, fell two notches to eighth place in its second week with an anemic ESTIMATED $3.55 million (-38%) at 2,009 theaters ($1,767 per theater). Its cume is approximately $9.3 million.
Directed by Uli Edel, "Vampire" stars Jonathan Lipnicki.
Paramount's R-rated romantic comedy "Lucky Numbers" dropped two digits to ninth place in its second week with an unhappy ESTIMATED $2.18 million (-53%) at 2,528 theaters (+31 theaters; $860 per theater). Its cume is approximately $7.9 million.
Directed by Nora Ephron, "Numbers" stars John Travolta and Lisa Kudrow.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Dimension Films' R-rated action adventure "The Legend of Drunken Master," down one notch in its third week with a calm ESTIMATED $1.6 million (-35%) at 1,183 theaters (-162 theaters; $1,352 per theater). Its cume is approximately $9.8 million.
Directed by Lau Ka Leung, it stars Jackie Chan.
This weekend also saw the arrival of Providence Entertainment's PG-13-rated drama "Mercy Streets," placing 24th with a soft ESTIMATED $0.085 million at 175 theaters ($485 per theater).
Directed by Jon Gunn, it stars Eric Roberts.
There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
On the expansion front, Universal's critically-acclaimed, R-rated drama "Billy Elliot" from the studio's specialized film arm Universal Focus, went wider in its fourth week, placing 13th with a very encouraging ESTIMATED $1.06 million at 119 theaters (+82 theaters; $8,890 per theater). Its cume is approximately $2.9 million.
Directed by Stephen Daldry, "Billy" stars Julie Walters, Gary Lewis, Jamie Bell, Jamie Draven and Adam Cooper.
Artisan Entertainment's controversial unrated drama "Requiem For A Dream" expanded in its fifth week, placing 21st with a sexy ESTIMATED $0.26 million at 25 theaters (+21 theaters; $10,400 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.9 million.
Directed by Darren Arnonofsky, "Requiem" stars Jared Leto and Ellen Burstyn.
"We took it to the top 15 cities, and we're the number one specialized film out there," Artisan distribution head Steve Rothenberg said Sunday morning. "Our plan is to add five, 10, 15 cities every week through the holidays. We're making a concerted effort to see if we can garner an Academy Award nomination for Ellen Burstyn. She's gotten great reviews and her performance is great. And we think we have a shot, so that's what our plan is -- to build slowly through the holidays."
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 for the weekend -- took in approximately $100.92 million, up about 37.07% from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $73.63 million.
This weekend's key film gross was up about 34.71% from this year's previous weekend when key films grossed $74.92 million.
Last year, Universal's opening week of "The Bone Collector" was first with $16.71 million at 2,587 theaters ($6,460 per theater); and Warner Bros.' second week of "House on Haunted Hill" was second with $7.71 million at 2,710 theaters ($2,846 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $24.4 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $53.6 million.
STUDIO MARKET SHARES
Based on business by key films (those grossing $500,000 or more), last weekend's top six distributors were:
Sony Pictures Entertainment was first with one film ("Charlie's Angels"), grossing an ESTIMATED $40.5 million or 40.1% of the market.
Universal was second with two films ("Meet the Parents" and "Billy Elliot"), grossing an ESTIMATED $14.12 million or 14.0% of the market.
DreamWorks was third with two films ("The Legend of Bagger Vance" and "The Contender"), grossing an ESTIMATED $13.4 million or 13.3% of the market.
Buena Vista (Disney and Touchstone) was fourth with one film ("Remember the Titans"), grossing an ESTIMATED $7.0 million or 6.9% of the market.
Warner Bros. was fifth with three films ("The Exorcist," "Pay It Forward" and "Best in Show"), grossing an ESTIMATED $6.76 million or 6.7% of the market.
Artisan Entertainment was sixth with two films ("Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2" and "Dr. T & the Women"), grossing an ESTIMATED $5.86 million or 5.8% of the market.
(11)Best in Show/Warner Bros.: Theaters: 497 (0) Gross: $1.54 million (-16%) Average per theater: $3,089 Cume: $11.3 million
(12)The Contender/DreamWorks: Theaters: 1,309 (-330) Gross: $1.4 million (-43%) Average per theater: $1,067 Cume: $16.2 million
(13)Billy Elliot/Universal Focus: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(14)The Exorcist/Warner Bros.: Theaters: 950 (-451) Gross: $0.84 million (-47%) Average per theater: $884 Cume: $38.7 million
(15)Lost Souls/New Line: Theaters: 947 (-761) Gross: $0.64 million (-53%) (tie) Average per theater: $675 Cume: $16.4 million
(15)Ladies Man/Paramount: Theaters: 1,340 (-483) Gross: $0.64 million (-58%) (tie) Average per theater: $475 Cume: $13.0 million
(17)Dr. T & the Women/Artisan Ent.: Theaters: 602 (-402) Gross: $0.56 million (-56%) Average per theater: $700 Cume: $12.1 million
(18)Almost Famous/DreamWorks: Theaters: 417 (-290) Gross: $0.49 million (-30%) Average per theater: $1,170 Cume: $30.5 million
(19)Bring It On/Universal: Theaters: 475 (-382) Gross: $0.26 million (-36%) Average per theater: $540 Cume: $67.0 million
(20)Bamboozled/New Line: Theaters: 186 (-57) Gross: $0.24 million (-34%) Average per theater: $1,285 Cume: $1.9 million
(21)Requiem For A Dream/Artisan: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(22)Nutty Professor II: The Klumps/Universal: Theaters: 262 (-86) Gross: $0.18 million (-10%) Average per theater: $685 Cume: $122.6 million
(23)The Yards/Miramax: Theaters: 144 (-2) Gross: $0.17 million (-46%) Average per theater: $1,175 Cume: $0.7 million
(24)MERCY STREETS/Providence Entertainment: (see OTHER OPENINGS above)
(25)Loving Jezebel/Fox Searchlight: Theaters: 25 (-49) Gross: $0.006 million (-87%) Average per theater: $235 Cume: $0.070 million