Mean Girls, Mean Girls, whatcha gonna do?
In a crop of newcomers, it was a bunch of Mean Girls who connived their way to the top of the box office this weekend. The teen comedy, starring Freaky Friday's Lindsay Lohan and written by Saturday Night Live's Tina Fey, debuted at No. 1 with $25 million, knocking last week's champ Man on Fire down to No. 2 with $15.2 million.
"The teenage girl audience has a lot of clout and a lot of discretionary income from somewhere. They've got a lot of fun money and go to see movies in groups," Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations told The Associated Press.
Other openers the weekend included the romantic comedy Laws of Attraction starring Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan, which debuted in fourth place with $10 million, followed by the creepy Godsend starring Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Greg Kinnear and Robert De Niro, in fifth with $6.9 million and the balls-out comedy Envy, starring Ben Stiller and Jack Black, in sixth with $6.1 million.
The Passion of the Christ star Jim Caviezel's latest film Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius didn't manage to make the top 10 in its premiere weekend, taking in $1.3 million.
This week, the Top 12 films grossed an estimated $90.4 million, up 8.26 percent from last week's $83.5 million, but down 36.02 percent from last year's whopping $141.4 million.
Last year, 20th Century Fox's X2: X-Men United debuted huge at No. 1 with $85.5 million at 3,741 theaters with a $22,871 per theater average; Buena Vista's PG-rated The Lizzie McGuire Movie opened in second place with $17.3 million in 2,825 theaters with a $6,138 per theater average; and Sony Picture's R rated thriller Identity dropped to third place in its second week with $9.4 million at 2,733 theaters with a $3,448 per theater average.
BOX OFFICE TOP 10, ESTIMATES (Source: Exhibitor Relations, Inc.)
No. 1: Mean Girls (Paramount Pictures, PG-13)
Gross: $25 million
Weeks opened: NEW!
Per-theater average: $8,806
No. 2: Man on Fire (20th Century Fox, R)
Gross: $15.2 million (-33%)
Weeks opened: 2
Theaters: 2,986 (+7)
Per-theater average: $5,090
Cume to date: $44.4 million
No. 3: 13 Going on 30 (Sony Pictures, PG-13)
Gross: $10 million (-53%)
Weeks opened: 2
Theaters: 3,453 (+15)
Per-theater average: $2,896
Cume to date: $35.1 million
No. 4: Laws of Attraction (New Line Cinema, PG-13)
Gross: $7 million
Weeks opened: NEW!
Per-theater average: $2,858
No. 5: Godsend (Lions Gate, PG-13)
Gross: $6.9 million
Weeks opened: NEW!
Per-theater average: $2,970
No. 6: Envy (DreamWorks, PG-13)
Gross: $6.1 million
Weeks opened: NEW!
Per-theater average: $2,495
No. 7: Kill Bill Vol. 2 (Miramax, R)
Gross: $5.8 million (-44%)
Weeks opened: 3
Theaters: 2,742 (-331 theaters)
Per-theater average: $2,119
Cume to date: $52.6 million
No. 8: The Punisher (Lions Gate, R)
Gross: $29.6 million (-46%)
Weeks opened: 3
Theaters: 2,267 (-382)
Per-theater average: $1,500
Cume to date: $29.6 million
No. 9: Home on the Range (Buena Vista, PG)
Gross: $2.2 million (-38%)
Weeks opened: 5
Theaters: 2,010 (-471)
Per-theater average: $1,095
Cume to date: $45.5 million
No. 10: Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (Warner Bros., PG-13)
Gross: $2.1 million (-37%)
Weeks opened: 6
Theaters: 1,915 (-505)
Per-theater average: $1,125
Cume to date: $79.5 million
Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius (Film Foundry, PG)
Gross: $1.3 million
Weeks opened: NEW!
Per-theater average: $1,037
When retired U.S. Special Forces Soldier Chris Vaughn (Johnson) returns to Kipsat County Wash. it's only to find his hometown overrun with crime drugs and violence. The old mill where Chris's father (John Beasley) worked for most of his life is closed and the town's only thriving industry is the Wild Cherry casino. Even Chris' high school sweetie Deni (Ashley Scott) couldn't resist the Wild Cherry's lure; she's become a peepshow dancer to "pay the bills." But Chris really loses it when he discovers the casino's dealers are using loaded dice--and he starts a brawl that ends with the security team carving up his chest and abdomen with a rusty Exacto knife. Chris also learns that that his old high school rival the casino's owner Jay Hamilton (Neal McDonough) has transformed the mill into a crystal meth lab and is using the casino's menacing security staff to sell the drugs to innocent kids. Chris strikes back by running for sheriff firing the entire police department on his first day and with the help of a cedar two-by-four and his deputy and buddy Ray Templeton (Johnny Knoxville) restores peace to the Pacific Northwest.
Johnson looking buffer than ever is well cast in the role of Chris: He's a fearless and determined soldier with beyond-human fighting skills. But while the film takes advantage of Johnson's brawn it fails to take advantage of his brain. In last year's comedy The Rundown Johnson proved he was more than a muscle-bound action star; he oozed charm and was surprisingly witty. With Walking Tall he never gets a chance to flex his acting muscles; if anything they atrophy. The only skills Johnson gets to show off are his ability to swing a plank at someone's shins and his unique way of bashing skulls against slot machines. Johnson's sidekick Ray played by Knoxville of MTV's Jackass fame is an ex-junkie who after spending a couple of years in the slammer is content with living in a camper and doing odd jobs around town. With his scraggly appearance and klutzy demeanor Knoxville supplies the film with brief interludes of humor amid the slam fest including a scene in which he stabs a bad guy with a potato peeler. Johnson and Knoxville would have made a first-rate action team had they had more screen time together.
A WWE production with Vince McMahon serving as executive producer Walking Tall has none of the subtlety of director Kevin Bray's last film All About the Benjamins and all the elements of a wrestling match. As with wrestling the film begins by melodramatically establishing the story (Chris and his family's lives are devastated by the mill's closure) and just like rival pugilists who publicly taunt the favored wrestler Chris challenges Jay--not for the world title but at least for control of Kipsat County--in a never-ending battle between good and evil that mimics wrestling to a T. But what's entertaining in the ring doesn't translate to film especially when the good guy running the town is a maniacal meathead. Chris is supposed to be the protagonist who single-handedly saves the town but who's responding to the citizens' domestic violence calls for example when the sheriff fires the entire precinct and spends 24 hours a day casing the casino? Never mind the fact that he has sex with his girlfriend in his office while he's on the clock.
Hardened by years of brutal but loyal military service special ops officer Robert Scott (Val Kilmer) is assigned to find the president's apparently kidnapped daughter Laura Newton (Kristen Bell). Pairing up with his protégé Curtis (Derek Luke) Scott works diligently with a task force of presidential advisors the Secret Service the FBI and the CIA to find her and through their investigation they stumble upon a white slavery ring in the Middle East which may--or may not--have some connection to Laura's disappearance. The straightforward search-and-rescue mission is soon bogged down in political machinations and the girl's abduction starts to look even more suspicious than it did at first. In fact the mission comes to an abrupt halt altogether when the girl is supposedly found drowned from a boating accident. Scott returns to his quiet life until Curtis shows up and proves that Laura is still alive and most likely trapped in the white slavery ring. In a race against time Scott and Curtis embark on their own unofficial rescue mission--and put themselves at the center of a dangerous conspiracy that goes all the way to the top of the U.S. government.
Val Kilmer probably won't be joining Mamet's dedicated circle of players--which includes Joe Mantegna William H. Macy and Mamet's wife actress Rebecca Pidgeon--any time soon. While it's clear Kilmer took the role to work with the talented writer/director he isn't well suited to deliver "Mamet-speak"--the rapid fire delivery of terse dialogue the writer is known for--and Kilmer looks uncomfortable trying to do it. The gifted actor who can't help but bring in his own quirky sensibilities to the part still hits the nail on the head as steely resolute Scott. But the minute he starts dispensing sage advice--Mamet-style--Kilmer sticks out like a sore thumb. Same goes for Luke (Antwone Fisher) who is entirely miscast as Scott's sidekick. Others in the ensemble however handle the Mamet chores more adeptly including Macy and Ed O'Neill (yes the guy from TV's Married ... With Children) as presidential aides.
Spartan's real problem however is that it's a thriller without much thrill. Mamet's expertise is in creating scenarios within a microcosm whether it's a world of con artists (House of Games; The Spanish Prisoner) salesmen (Glengarry Glen Ross) or even showbiz (State and Main). These Mamet films are even-keeled--almost devoid of emotion. He sets up characters and actions relevant to that particular world so when characters spout lines in Mamet's distinctive style it comes off as perfectly natural. Yet with Spartan Mamet is tackling a bigger grander picture and when his style is applied to the world as a whole it doesn't work. Plus in the thriller genre the audience needs to feel invested in the characters and Mamet's distant unemotional style doesn't lend itself to sending the audience's collective hearts racing. The only poignant moment in the film belongs to Bell as the wounded daughter who just wants a little attention from Daddy and the only truly exciting moments are during her rescue. That said however Spartan proves Mamet still knows how to craft a story. Although the script is at times vague and convoluted it thankfully never falls into any of the genre's usual patterns and it throws in enough twists to keep you on your toes.
Although the film's title suggests there might be some deeply relevant British national allegory in the film post-colonialist comedy fans shouldn't get their hopes up. The plot of Johnny English such as it is goes something like this: The title character a bumbling junior-level spy (Rowan Atkinson) is suddenly thrust into active duty when every other agent in the British Secret Service is blown to smithereens during a bombing at a fellow agent's funeral. When the Crown Jewels are stolen it's up to English to discover the culprit and in the process he unearths a plot to replace the Queen of England with a French entrepreneur who has some pretty nasty real estate development plans for Merry Olde Blighty. It's a sorry excuse for a story sure but such paltry fare as plot character development and dialogue don't matter much when you connect the bits with U.K. fave Atkinson hamming it up in his trademark blundering way. And he really is funny in this movie--maybe not pee-your-pants funny but certainly hoot-out-loud funny. As with any spy spoof some of the shtick works and some doesn't but on the whole Atkinson and Co. do a good job in spite of the contrived script and pithy lines writers Neal Purvis Robert Wade and William Davies have pieced together for them.
If Cervantes' Don Quixote were a modern-day spy this would be his story. Atkinson tilts at Johnny English's windmills with the vigor and extravagance fans of the comedian's trademarked physical comedy have come to expect. Whether he's crashing a funeral pantomiming to ABBA in front of his bathroom mirror invading a hospital with guns blazing or getting his tie caught in a sushi bar conveyor belt Atkinson gives this movie's hackneyed scenes personality they probably wouldn't have had in any other actor's hands. Comedian and fellow Brit Ben Miller takes his first strokes across the pond as English's sidekick Bough playing Sancho Panza to Atkinson's Quixote to fairly good effect. The real "straight man" in this farce however is Natalie Imbruglia as love interest Lorna Campbell. The girl can't act her way out of a paper bag but when you look the way she does in leather pants and stilettos talent is beside the point. John Malkovich is underutilized as the villain Pascal Sauvage whose anti-English (that's the nation not the spy) sentiments have driven him to lay claim to the throne of England which he plans to use for nefarious purposes.
Based as it is on a character Atkinson created for a TV commercial for a major British credit card it's not surprising that the characters in Johnny English are far more entertaining when they're improvising 60-second physical comedy scenes than when they're attempting to further the so-called plot. What is surprising is that such pedigreed moviemakers as director Peter Howitt (Sliding Doors) production company Working Title Films (producers of Elizabeth Fargo and Billy Elliot) and producer Mark Huffam (The Hours) are attached to such a silly film. Then again everybody needs to let loose sometime; maybe this is their idea of a vacation.
After a long struggle to complete the editing on Swept Away, a remake of Lina Wertmuller's 1974 film starring wife Madonna, Guy Ritchie is going back to doing what he does best--the gangster flick. Between warding off rumors of Swept Away being threatened with straight-to-video purgatory and helming his crusader epic The Siege of Malta, the director has managed to squeeze a new film into his schedule. According to Productionweekly.com, Ritchie and producer Matthew Vaughn have signed on to take JJ Connolly's novel Layer Cake to the big screen. The story is about a young man's attempt to disengage himself from London's gangster underworld, but a last job threatens to spoil his plans. The book is riddled with the same type of rhyming slang used in Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, so expect plenty of subtitles. Swept Away is scheduled for release Oct. 11.
His own record label, a clothing line, two restaurants. If you thought Sean "P. Diddy" Combs had it all, think again. According to The Associated Press, the hip-hop entrepreneur has expanded into the polling business with his own market research company. Blue Mindset, a division of Combs' company Blue Flame Marketing and Advertising, will release a national survey each week on a different topic. Combs' enterprises do an estimated $300 million in annual business.
Steve-O, a regular on MTV's Jackass, turned himself in to police after returning to Louisiana, where he faced charges of obscenity and of staging a stunt that injured a teenager in a nightclub, the AP reports. Steve-O, whose real name is Stephen Glover, allegedly exposed himself on a stage in Houma, La., last month and took part in a stunt in which a bouncer slammed a 19-year-old on his head, knocking him unconscious. Glover, 28, was booked on counts of obscenity and accessory to second-degree battery, but was later released on bail.
MDP Worldwide has greenlighted 26-year-old filmmaker Greg Marcks' 11:14, a story of seemingly unrelated incidents recounted in reverse chronology, all converging in a car accident that occurs at that time, Variety reports. The ensemble cast boasts Hilary Swank, Colin Hanks and Rachael Leigh Cook, with Patrick Swayze and Barbara Hershey in final negotiations to star. Swank was so impressed by the script that she agreed to serve as an executive producer on the project.
Former James Bond star Timothy Dalton has signed on to play Brendan Fraser's father in Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Variety reports. The film, which blends live action with animation, also stars Jenna Elfman and Heather Locklear.
USA Cable Entertainment is developing a remake of the 1976 series The Bionic Woman. In the original series--a spin-off of The Six Million Dollar Man--Jaime Sommers (Lindsay Wagner) gets bionically reconstructed after a near-fatal skydiving accident, leaving her with superhuman powers. Sommers, you may recall, was the one-time fiancée of Steve Austin (played by Lee Majors). No word on whether the series will include her bionic German shepherd, Max.
Friends star Lisa Kudrow said in an interview for the season premiere of Oxygen's Conversations From The Edge with Carrie Fisher that she did not know if the upcoming ninth season would actually be the final season of the show. "You look around and you see that a lot of reasons shows finish is [that] the ratings are really bad. We were No. 1 for the first time ever in our eighth season."
Fans of the late legend Elvis Presley gathered Thursday to pay tribute on the 25th anniversary of his death, with thousands lighting candles in the nightlong procession past his grave, Reuters reports. The street in front of Presley's Graceland mansion was closed to traffic, with an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 fans assembled. Presley, who died Aug. 15, 1977 at the age of 42, is buried next to the mansion's swimming pool, along with his parents and paternal grandmother.