That big Hulk of a guy not only got mad, he got super green, making a heap of cash at the box office this weekend. The latest Marvel comic actioner raged its way to the No.1 spot, debuting with a smashing $62.6 million.*
The opening for the not-so-jolly green giant, however, didn't quite reach the same levels as Marvel Comics' flagship Spider-Man, which set a three-day opening record of $114.8 million last year. The Hulk also trails the most recent Marvel entry, X2: X-Men United, which opened with $85.6 million last month. Among all films to open so far this year, The Hulk weighs in at No. 5, Reuters reports.
Still, The Hulk's massive numbers make it the biggest June opener of all time, followed by Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me with opened in 1999 at $54.9 million and Scooby-Doo, which opened in 2002 at $54.1 million.
Last week's topper, the briny Finding Nemo, managed to keep afloat in the second spot with $20.5 million. The high octane 2 Fast 2 Furious crossed the finish line in third place with $10.3 million, while the comedy with a higher power Bruce Almighty commanded fourth with $10 million. Rounding out the top five was the heist thriller The Italian Job stealing $7.2 million.
Other newcomers this week included the romantic comedy Alex & Emma, which swooned its way into seventh place at $6.2 million, and the American Idol ultra-pop flick From Justin to Kelly, which boogied in at No. 11 with $2.8 million.
THE TOP TEN
Universal Pictures' PG-13 The Hulk crushed the competition to take the No. 1 spot with an ESTIMATED $62.6 million at 3,660 theaters. Its per theater average of $17,104 put it well above the other films on the top 10 list.
The story follows a brilliant genetic scientist working with cutting-edge technology who absorbs a normally deadly dose of gamma radiation. When combined with his own altered DNA, the radiation turns him into an impossibly strong, rampaging creature known as the Hulk.
Directed by Ang Lee, it stars Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott and Nick Nolte.
Buena Vista/Disney and Pixar Animation Studios' G rated computer-animated feature Finding Nemo fell a spot to second place this week with an ESTIMATED $20.5 million (-28%) at 3,404 theaters (-21 theaters; $6,022 per theater). Its cume is approximately $228 million.
Directed and co-written by Pixar veteran Andrew Stanton, it features the voices of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe and Brad Garrett.
Universal Pictures' PG-13-rated action-packed sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious slipped to No. 2 in its third week with an ESTIMATED $10.3 million (-45%) at 3,140 theaters (-278 theaters; $3,280 per theater). Its cume is approximately $102.1 million, making it the ninth film released in 2003 to cross the $100 million mark.
Directed by John Singleton, it stars Paul Walker, Tyrese, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser and Devon Aoki.
Universal Pictures' PG-13 Bruce Almighty dropped to fourth place in its fifth week with an ESTIMATED $10 million (-30%) at 3,074 theaters (-403 theaters; $3,253 per theater average). Crossing the huge $200 million mark, its cume is approximately $210.7 million.
Directed by Tom Shadyac, it stars Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston and Morgan Freeman.
Paramount Pictures' PG-13 rated actioner The Italian Job surprisingly climbed up the ladder this week from seventh to fifth in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $7.2 million (-25%) at 2,095 theaters (-602 theaters; $3,449 per theater). Its cume is approximately $67.6 million.
Directed by F. Gary Gray, it stars Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Seth Green, Mos Def and Edward Norton.
Paramount's PG rated animated feature Rugrats Go Wild fell two spots to No. 6 with an ESTIMATED $6.6 million (-42%), staying at 3,041 theaters ($2,190 per theater). In the film, Nickelodeon regulars the Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys team up to get off a deserted island. So far, it's accumulated approximately $23.5 million in two weeks.
Directed by Norton Virgien and John Eng, it features the voices of Michael Bell, Jodi Carlisle, Nancy Cartwright, Lacey Chabert, Melanie Chartoff, Cheryl Chase, Tim Curry, Elizabeth Daily and Bruce Willis.
Warner Bros.' PG-13 soppy romance Alex & Emma debuted in seventh place with an ESTIMATED $6.2 million at 2,310 theaters, averaging $2,701 per theater.
The film revolves around a novelist with a serious case of writer's block who hires a stenographer to help him finish his book, which he has 30 days to write or be killed by some nasty Cuban loan sharks.
Directed by Rob Reiner, it stars Luke Wilson, Kate Hudson and Sophie Marceau.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Sony Picture's PG-13 cop comedy Hollywood Homicide sank to eighth place in its second week with an ESTIMATED $5.8 million (-48%) at 2,840 theaters ($2,042 per theater). The film, about a veteran police detective and his fresh-faced partner who are more interested in their side jobs than in the high-profile gangland-style murder they are currently investigating, has taken in approximately $21.4 million thus far.
Directed by Ron Shelton, it stars Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett.
New Line's PG-13 comedy Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd dropped three notches to ninth place in its second week with a dismal ESTIMATED take of $4.2 million (-61%) at 2,609 theaters ($1,639 per theater). The prequel to the 1994 Dumb & Dumber reveals how mentally challenged best friends Harry and Lloyd became pals, and has accumulated approximately $19.9 million.
Directed by Troy Miller, it stars Eric Christian Olsen, Derek Richardson, Eugene Levy and Cheri Oteri.
Warner Bros.' R rated sci-fi sequel The Matrix Reloaded dropped to No. 10 in its sixth week with an ESTIMATED $4 million (-30%) at 1,850 theaters (-500 theaters; $2,189 per theater). Its cume is approximately $264.5 million.
Directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, it stars Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss and Hugo Weaving.
20th Century Fox's PG-rated musical romp From Justin to Kelly debuted with an ESTIMATED $2.8 million at 2,001 theaters, averaging $1,437 per theater.
The top two contenders from the first season of American Idol, winner Kelly Clarkson and runner-up Justin Guarini, team up in this Grease-like beach musical, playing a pair who sing, dance and fall in love during Spring Break on Miami Beach.
Directed by Robert Iscove, it also stars Katherine Bailess, Anika Noni Rose, Greg Siff and Brian Dietzen.
The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $141.9 million, up 22 percent from last week's take of $116.2 million.
The Top 12, however, were down 5 percent from last year's $150.2 million total.
Last year, Fox's PG-13 Minority Report premiered at the top of the box office with $35.6 million at 3,001 theaters ($11,888 per theater), while Buena Vista's PG-rated animated Lilo & Stitch debuted at a close second with $35.2 million at 3,191 theaters ($11,050 per theater); Warner Bros.' PG rated Scooby-Doo came in third place with $24.4 million at 3,447 theaters ($7,101 per theater).
With four days left before his execution notoriously reticent death row inmate David Gale (Kevin Spacey) decides at last to share his story with the press. He chooses as his vessel reporter Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet) who's just spent a week in the slammer for refusing to reveal her sources on a kiddie porn cover story. As Gale's story unfolds (and we see it in flashback) Bitsey becomes convinced he's innocent and she and her intern Zack (Gabriel Mann) begin a race against the clock to discover the truth that will save him. Sound like an overblown blurb from a movie studio's press files? Apologies for that but the best way to talk about this story's climactic points is to resort to hyperbolic clichés of this ilk--the movie's key moments are without exception melodramatic and overblown. Nonetheless most of the movie is suspenseful the story has several interesting (I wouldn't go so far as compelling) twists and there are plenty of reasons to root for Gale's cause especially if like him and admittedly like me you're a political liberal who fancies yourself at least somewhat intellectual.
If there's one thing that defines Kevin Spacey's acting style it's his unparalleled ability to discourse at length on philosophical minutiae a gift that undoubtedly contributed to his getting this role in the first place. But Spacey gets to stretch a bit more playing Gale--the professorial character in his pre-death row life was a loose cannon even by academia's standards: he partied with his students talked about fantasy and desire in class and belonged to Death Watch a liberal advocacy group opposed to the death penalty. Beyond that his personal life was a disaster. His wife was having an affair with a Spaniard Gale was a borderline alcoholic and his ego was the size of a generously proportioned watermelon. So there are plenty of challenges for Spacey in the part--both in the flashbacks and the death row sequences--and he obviously embraces them all; unfortunately sometimes he squeezes the life out of them in the process foregoing for example the tragic nuances of real alcoholism for the stumbling sobriquets of an overblown town-drunk philosopher. The equally gifted Laura Linney as Constance--Gale's stalwart friend fellow professor co-director of Death Watch and alleged murder victim--finds herself in less familiar territory. Her character is complex yet remarkably one-dimensional for most of the movie which leaves the talented actress turning--albeit reluctantly--to melodrama for support. Winslet too is on unfamiliar ground with an American accent (quite well done old chap-ette) a mission and a bitchiness that's too little seen from this pristine young girl.
It's truly unfortunate that director Alan Parker didn't keep a tighter handle on The Life of David Gale's more dramatic moments since had they come off better this would have been a more even and generally more watchable film. As it is each of the talented lead actors has a scene in which they really let loose on the hysterical wailing waterworks--Winslet lucky gal has two. They may not be bad enough to make you cringe necessarily but they're obviously overplayed. The film would have benefited from a wail-o-meter that would have allowed the bawling to go so far and only so far. All that aside though this film is ultimately less melodramatic than its equivalent TV movie version would have (and probably has) been--and that leads me to my final point. The Life of David Gale is about what TV pundits would call a hot-button issue and while the public is intelligent enough not to be emotionally swayed by the hue and cry of activists on either side of the argument we can--and by God we will--be entertained by it. So I just want to say thank you Hollywood for once again one-upping the 6 o'clock news and for showing that even discussions of the most important issues of our time can be squeezed into a two-hour movie and manipulated in the interests of suspense and drama.
Loosely based on the (rather lame) 1960 Rat Pack film dashing understated-but-cool thief Danny Ocean (George Clooney) orchestrates the most sophisticated elaborate casino heist in history less than 24 hours after being released from jail. In one night Danny's handpicked 11-man crew of specialists--including an ace card sharp (Brad Pitt) a young-but-masterful pickpocket (Matt Damon) and a demolition genius (Don Cheadle)--will attempt to steal over $150 million from three Las Vegas casinos owned by Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) the elegant ruthless entrepreneur who just happens to be dating Danny's ex-wife Tess (Julia Roberts). To score the cash Danny will have to risk his life and risk his chance of ever reconciling with Tess. But if all goes according to his intricate nearly impossible plan Danny won't have to choose between his stake in the heist and his high-stakes reunion with Tess. Or will he?
The star wattage in this movie could solve all of California's electricity problems in one fell swoop. George Clooney easily passes himself off as suave mastermind Danny Ocean playing the role with understated class and elegance. Brad Pitt takes a similar arc as Rusty though he's slightly more dispassionate and professional than Clooney's visionary Ocean. Matt Damon is convincing as the inexperienced-but-talented pickpocket who's essential to getting in the vault. And Julia is simply Julia--glamorous and charming a smart cookie who is being wooed by the evil ruthless (and anal-retentive) casino mogul so elegantly portrayed by Andy Garcia. Affecting a Cockney accent and attitude Don Cheadle's portrayal of the demolition expert is a tour de force. Carl Reiner is absolutely hilarious as Saul Bloom an aging old-timer who comes out of retirement to infiltrate the casino as a debonair arms dealer. Elliott Gould Bernie Mac Scott Caan and Casey Affleck round out the cast nicely with inspired performances especially Gould's and Mac's.
Soderbergh cemented his reputation last year as a director of serious weight when both Traffic and Erin Brockovich were nominated for the Best Film Academy Award and garnered him two Best Director nominations---an unprecedented feat. Ocean's Eleven marks Soderbergh's departure from the serious to the seriously fun. This is one of the most stylish most elegantly filmed movies I have ever seen. Not only are all the actors beautiful but so are the locations clothes and shot selections. The speed and pacing of the flick belie the movie's length; Soderbergh clearly had fun making this movie. He shot this film very intimately often allowing the camera to stay close on the actors a tad longer than expected which lets their personas shine through--thus their personalities draw you into the movie as much as the caper itself. It's not often you see a movie where the direction has as much wit and cleverness as the plot itself. Ocean's Eleven makes no pretense to be something other than a jaunty cheeky exhilarating heist movie. So while the plot's not too deep all is forgiven considering the level of acting and direction.
October 19, 2001 5:57am EST
The film opens with prison warden Colonel Winter (Robert Redford) greeting the highly respected General Irwin (James Gandolfini) at the start of his 10-year sentence for disobeying a presidential order. When they meet Irwin makes a snide remark about Winter--a non combatant--proudly showcasing military trinkets and memorabilia in his office. The comment instantly touches off a power war between the two which ends with Irwin threatening to take over the prison and flying the American flag upside down--a symbol that the castle has fallen. Winter rises to the challenge and the two begin their strategic plotting. Irwin wins the respect of his fellow inmates in an overly drawn scene where he is forced to carry large stones from one pile to another in the prison courtyard and forms an army of inmates using clichéd chess tactics to demonstrate his assault plans. Winter meanwhile watches from his cozy office overlooking the courtyard as if he was watching a reality series on a big-screen TV.
The highly regarded General Irwin is a simple solemn type which unfortunately is what is fundamentally wrong with the film. While Redford does the brooding thing quite well the script never calls for him to do anything more than that. James Gandolfini takes on the role of prison warden Colonel Winter with fitting simplicity. He accentuates Winter's dumb-thug persona by over-enunciating his words and speaking in an unnaturally slow manner. Redford and Gandolfini both churn out great performances but it would have been more rewarding had the script called for their characters to be more well-rounded. Steve Burton plays Winter's right hand man Captain Peretz convincingly considering what few lines he has. His body language facial expressions and dialogue manage to convey his character's thoughts even when his lines don't.
Directed by Rod Lurie (The Contender) The Last Castle is a well-paced story without a dull moment. It concludes with a dramatic and exciting climax but the problem is it's just too simple. While it's easy to get caught up in the story it's hard to buy how easily the inmates are able to take control of such a heavily guarded maximum-security prison. Using cafeteria trays as shields is one thing but hurling stones using a giant catapult that somehow went unnoticed by prison security is hard to swallow. So is the fact that these inmates a group of hardened criminals cooperate so easily with hardly any friction. While it could have been a very emotional story it fails because the characters are one-dimensional and never really explored including the two main characters played by Redford and Gandolfini. One is a great strategist and the other draconian but viewers are left to guess why and how they got that way.