Audiences were in the mood for a "gutsy" Tarantino movie this weekend.Quentin Tarantino's kung fu chopping, samurai sword slashing, body part flying Kill Bill Vol. 1 filleted the competition this weekend, opening in the top spot with a respectable $22.6 million* and beating out last week's champ, School of Rock, which dropped to second place with $15.4 million.While far from a blockbuster debut, Kill Bill delivered solidly at the box office for a genre picture steeped in violence, Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Exhibitor Relations, told The Associated Press. "Kill Bill is a very specialized film. It appeals to an important segment of the audience, but kind of a limited audience," Dergarabedian said. "Grandma does not want to see Kill Bill."Making his way back into theaters after a six-year absence, Tarantino's blood-soaked tribute to grindhouse cinema now stands as his best opener ever, topping his last film, the 1997 Jackie Brown ($12.8 million) and the 1994 Pulp Fiction ($9.3 million). Kill Bill can also claim the fourth best October opener ever, besting School of Rock, which took the fifth best October slot last week at $19.6 million. Both films follow the likes of October champ Red Dragon, which debuted in 2002 with $36.5 million.Tarantino and Miramax chose to chop three-hour Kill Bill into two parts rather than dish it out to audiences in one big gulp, and exit polls indicated 90 percent of the audience looking forward to Kill Bill Vol. 2, Rick Sands, Miramax chief operating officer, told AP. "The gamble paid off," Sands said. "We think it was a smart decision to split the movie." Vol. 2 opens in February.Newcomers Intolerable Cruelty, the eccentric Coen brothers' stab at a classic battle of the sexes, debuted in third place with $13.1 million, while Good Boy!, a spirited dog tail, er tale, opened with $13 million. Last week's No. 2, the noirish Out of Time, rounded out the top five with $8.6 million.The other notable opener this week was Clint Eastwood's taut Oscar bait Mystic River, which premiered in limited theaters but managed to take in $591,390 over the weekend.THE TOP TENMiramax Films scores again. The studio's R rated Kill Bill Vol. 1 premiered at the top of the box office this week with an ESTIMATED $22.6 million in 3,102 theaters. The film took in $7,312 per theater, making it the highest average of any film playing wide this week.The revenge tale centers on the Bride, a highly trained former assassin looking for a little payback after being left for dead on her wedding day by those she once worked with. Directed by Tarantino, it stars Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah and David Carradine.Losing its No. 1 title, Paramount Pictures' PG-13 rated rock 'n' roll comedy School of Rock, still managed to jam in second place with an ESTIMATED $15.4 million (-22%) in 2,929 theaters (+315 theaters; $5,258 per theater). Starring Jack Black as a hell raising guitarist who impersonates a substitute teacher and turns a class of high achieving fifth graders into high-voltage rock 'n' rollers, the film's cume is approximately $39.5 million.Directed by Richard Linklater, it stars Black, Joan Cusack and Michael White. Universal Pictures' PG 13 rated offbeat romantic comedy Intolerable Cruelty opened in third place with an ESTIMATED $13.1 million in 2,564 theaters, averaging $5,109 per theater.The story follows a successful divorce attorney who meets his match when he runs into a professional divorcee.Produced by Ethan Coen and directed by Joel Coen, it stars George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones.*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.MGM's sweet-natured PG rated Good Boy! debuted at No. 4 with an ESTIMATED $13 million in 3,225 theaters, averaging $4,031 per theater.Owen, a 12-year-old who has been working as the neighborhood dog walker to earn the privilege of getting a dog of his own, finds the new dog of his dreams. Only this dog is different: for one, Owen can talk with him, and two, he isn't from Earth.Directed by John Hoffman, it stars Liam Aiken and the vocal talents of Matthew Broderick, Brittany Murphy, Carl Reiner and Vanessa Redgrave as the dog Hubble and his four-legged friends.MGM Pictures' R rated police thriller Out of Time fell several spots to the fifth spot in its second week with an ESTIMATED $8.6 million (-47%) at 3,076 theaters (unchanged; $2,796 per theater). Its cume is $28.7 million. Directed by Carl Franklin, it stars Washington, Eva Mendes, Sanaa Lathan and Dean Cain.Artisan's R rated horror flick House of the Dead debuted at No. 6 with an ESTIMATED $5.5 million in 1,520 theaters, averaging $3,618 per theater. The film follows a group of unsuspecting teens who stumble upon the living dead after one of them is killed during a rave at an abandoned house. The others band together to get revenge on the monsters responsible.Directed by Uwe Boll, it stars Michael Ecklund, Enuka Okuma, David Palffy and Jurgen Prochnow.Universal Pictures' PG-13 rated jungle actioner The Rundown, dropped to seventh place in its third weekend with an ESTIMATED $5.3 million (-45%) in 2,823 theaters (-331 theaters; $1,877 per theater). Its cume is approximately $40.3 million.Directed by Peter Berg, it stars The Rock, Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson and Christopher Walken.Buena Vista's PG-13 rated romantic comedy Under the Tuscan Sun fell four notches to No. 8 in its third week with an ESTIMATED $4.8 million (-38%) in 1,701 theaters (+4 theaters; $2,822 per theater). Its cume is approximately $28.2 million. Directed by Audrey Wells, it stars Diane Lane, Sandra Oh, Vincent Riotta and Raoul Bova. New Line's PG rated family drama Secondhand Lions also dropped four spots to take ninth place in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $3.2 million (-37%) in 2,563 theaters (-469 theaters; $1,278 per theater). Its cume is approximately $35.3 million.Directed by Tim McCanlies, it stars Haley Joel Osment, Robert Duvall and Michael Caine.Focus Features' R rated dramedy Lost In Translation slid three positions to round out the top 10 in its fifth week with an ESTIMATED $2.8 million (-31%) in 882 theaters (+18 theaters; $3,240 per theater average). Its cume is approximately $18.1 million.Directed by Sofia Coppola, it stars Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson.OTHER OPENINGSWarner Bros.' intensely dramatic R rated Mystic River debuted in 13 theaters on Wednesday and managed to take in $591,390 over the weekend, with a whopping average of $45,492 per theater. Its cume since Wednesday is $778,997.The film centers on three childhood friends who share a tragic event from the past and cross paths again 25 years later when one of the men's daughters is found brutally murdered.Directed by Clint Eastwood, it stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Laura Linney and Marcia Gay Harden. WEEKEND COMPARISON The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $98.7 million, up 22.48 percent from last weekend's $80.5 million. The Top 12 movies were also up 5.72 percent from this time last year when they took in $93.3 million.Last year, Universal's R rated thriller Red Dragon stayed at No. 1 in its second week with $17.6 million in 3,363 theaters ($5,250 per theater); Buena Vista's PG-13 rated comedy Sweet Home Alabama also stayed in second place in its third week with $14.2 million in 3,313 theaters ($4,305 per theater); and Fox Seachlight's PG-13 Brown Sugar opened in third place with $10.7 million in 1,372 theaters ($7,827 per theater).
Go to our Box Office section for recent weekend movie analysis.
Johnny Doyle (the enviably named Mars Callahan who also wrote and directed) is a pool-playing wunderkind who as his shady mentor Joe (Chazz Palminteri) puts it makes an art out of the hustle not just by conning his victims but making them like it. Johnny's getting tired of the sharking game and his law-student girlfriend Tara (Alison Eastwood) is putting the press on him to get legit--or get out. When he finds out double-crossing Joe screwed him out of a chance to join the professionals 15 years ago so they could remain hustling partners Johnny dumps Joe in a violent confrontation and tries (unsuccessfully as it turns out) to go straight despite his love of the game the respect he gets from his younger brother and his friends and of course the astounding amount of money he can win. Plus Tara's millionaire uncle Mike (Christopher Walken) can run the table pretty well himself and he's taken a liking to rebel Johnny. Meanwhile Joe vowing to settle the score has taken on top-ranked pro Brad (Rick Schroder) as his new protégé to help him do just that.
Callahan looks a lot like Walken by default or by design--his hair expressions mannerisms could make him Walken's son--but the similarity ends there. Callahan's no weighty actor but his easy delivery and quippy one-liners balance the heft brought in by Walken (who steals the entire shebang with a few choice scenes) and Palminteri (who with his malevolent scowl and loathsome behavior chews up and spits out the scenery as if tasting a spoiled bar burger). Wan and vapid token chick Eastwood has zero presence on-screen and even less chemistry with Callahan. The scenes involving Johnny's young wannabe-grifter brother Danny (Michael Rosenbaum) and his pals are a hoot but many are unnecessary. Schroder has maybe two lines and gives a good butt-whuppin' but he mostly just does a lot of lip mashing to show his frustration satisfaction confusion…
How newbie director Callahan convinced this exceptional group (in addition to Palminteri and Walken Rod Steiger appears in his final role as an aged streetwise poolhall owner with an old saw for every unfortunate situation) to sign on is anyone's guess--this ain't no Paul Newman pool movie and everyone knows it. Thankfully Callahan's cast is skilled enough to rise above its corny diatribes and some stiff dialogue and the script does have some very funny lines and scenes that give the cast something to work with. However at a breezy 90-some minutes the movie could done away with a few of the scenes in favor of more character development and back story. Way too much time is wasted on a long party scene in which one of Johnny's young buddies tries to get laid more still on his brother's band's performance at some club and even more on the parts with Tara's bitchy friend--yet we never really find out what drives Joe to be such a jerk or why Johnny is such a loser other than a few lines about his neglectful parents.
Rosie O'Donnell reveals in the August issue of her magazine Rosie that she has been depressed for years, according to Entertainment Tonight. She originally resisted taking medication, fearing it was a cowardly way to live, but has now been on antidepressants for two years. The talk show host said she was pushed over the edge by the Columbine shootings and a celebrity benefit she attended, where she found herself sobbing throughout the evening.
Singer Rick Springfield broke his arm during a performance at the MGM Grand hotel-casino in Las Vegas, The Associated Press reports. He treated and released Tuesday at University Medical Center. The singer fell from a 20-foot high beam that is used to lower him on to the stage in the show's last scene. In EFX Alive, Springfield takes the audience on a journey to the worlds of wizard Merlin, showman P.T. Barnum, illusionist Harry Houdini and sci-fi writer H.G. Wells.
A park honoring Theodor Seuss Geisel, a k a Dr.Seuss, will open in Springfield, Mass., on June 1, AP reports. The Seuss Heritage Park and National Memorial will feature 30 bronze statues of Geisel's literary characters including Horton, Thidwick the Moose and Cat in the Hat. Geisel's stepdaughter, Lark Diamod-Kates, designed the sculptures. Geisel died in 1991 at age 87.
To commemorate the comedienne's 90th birthday, the U.S. Postal Service will unveil a stamp honoring Lucille Ball, Reuters reports. The stamp will be the seventh in the Postal Service's Legend of Hollywood Series. Others have included Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, Alfred Hitchcock, James Cagney and Edward G Robinson. Ball, who was best known for her 1950's sitcom I Love Lucy, died in 1989 at the age of 78.
William Dail, the road manager for Insane Clown Posse, has pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for choking an Eminem fan, AP reports. The fan apparently held up an Eminem T-shirt and chucked some M&M candies at two clowned-faced band members following an Insane Clown Posse concert in Omaha, Neb., in May. The 24-year-old man was taken outside where Dail then choked him until he blacked out. Dail agreed to plead guilty of one count of disorderly conduct and pay a $100 fine.
The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin said in two magazine articles that his arrest in April was not due to a chronic drug habit but sporadic use, Reuters reports. Sorkin was arrested at a Burbank airport in April after airport employees found marijuana, crack and hallucinogenic mushrooms in his bag. Sorkin told TV Guide that he has broken his sobriety since 1997 by occasional drug use. He said he would smoke pot from time to time to relax, and likened it to having a martini at the end of a long day. Sorkin also said he used crack less than five times in the last two years. In a September issue of Talk magazine, Sorkin said he would used drugs after work to celebrate the pressure being off. "There's no way I could be writing high and not have people know it,"he said.
Robert Downey Jr. was back at work on Tuesday. Variety reports that the actor filmed a music video for the song I Want Love, the first single from Elton John's new CD Songs From the West Coast. Ed Limato, Downey's agent, said that the actor had received several important offers in film and TV roles.
A new biography of Natalie Wood claims the actress was raped as a teenager by an unnamed actor, the BBC reports. According to author Suzanne Finstad, Woods was 16 when she was raped by a "powerful, married movie star." Finstad chose not to name the actor so that people would focus on Wood's horror and trauma. She also added that Wood's mother conspired to keep the rape a secret. The book also details the events leading up to the actress' drowning in 1981 during a boat trip with actors Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken. Wagner has said there are many errors in the book and is upset that the inaccuracies have been published.
Director Steven Spielberg has decided to scale down his plans for a riding ring complex at his home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, Reuters reports. Neighbors initially objected to the plan, saying the 27,000-square-foot domed monstrosity would clash with the rustic style of the nearby homes. Spielberg reworked the plans and came up with a smaller dome-less version that has met with local approval. The stable will house four or five horses and be surrounded by a 6-foot high gate.
Mick Jagger will release his fourth solo album in November, Virgin Records has announced. According to Reuters, Jagger, 58, has been recording the album with Pete Townshend, Missy Elliott, Lenny Kravitz and Rob Thomas.
Michael Jackson's 30th anniversary all-star concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York sold out in less than five hours, AP reports. Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration, The Solo Years will be Jackson's first with his brothers since the 1994 Victory tour in 1984. Other artists scheduled to appear are Whitney Houston, Gladys Knight, Ray Charles, Britney Spears, Ricky Martin and N 'Sync. Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, William Shatner, Quincy Jones, Kobe Bryant, Willem Dafoe and Macaulay Culkin will also pay tribute to the pop star.