While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
Tamyra Gray may not have earned the title of American Idol after her shocking exit from the series last week, but she has become the very first contender to sign a music biz deal. MTV.com reports that 19 Entertainment, founded by show producer Simon Fuller--who has guided the careers of the Spice Girls and Annie Lennox--has picked up an option to manage the 23-year-old singer, once considered by both fans and the judges to be a shoo-in for one of the final slots. Gray's debut won't hit shelves until next year; finalists are barred from releasing any music until three months after the winner's CD is released, likely in September. The show's producers have three months after the Sept. 4 finale to pick up contracts on any of the 10 finalists, who will mount a U.S. tour in October and sing tunes from the show on a compilation album due later this year. Gray told MTV.com leaving Idol was "like stepping out of a bubble and not knowing what to do with yourself."
Country legend Johnny Cash was hospitalized Monday after suffering an allergic reaction to either food or medicine, The Associated Press reports. The Grammy-winning singer's manager, Lou Robin, said the 70-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer may remain at Nashville's Baptist Hospital overnight, but that his doctors didn't think the problem was anything serious. "They're always cautious with any trouble he might have," Robin said. Cash suffers from autonomic neuropathy, a disease of the nervous system that makes him susceptible to pneumonia. He was hospitalized twice last fall for treatment of bronchitis.
American Pie actress Natasha Lyonne pleaded guilty Monday to a DUI charge, the AP reports. The 23-year-old actress will have her driver's license suspended and her car impounded for 10 days, has been fined $255, was sentenced to six months probation plus 50 hours of community service, and must take part in a Mothers Against Drunk Driving panel. Police arrested Lyonne around 2 a.m. on Aug. 28, 2001, after she crashed her rental car. The actress, who was driving with passenger Adam Goldberg (A Beautiful Mind), spent eight hours in the county jail before being released on $2,000 bond, charged with careless driving, leaving the scene of an accident and DUI.
Variety reports commercial and television director Matthew Penn, who's directed everything from Shaquille O'Neal hawking Radio Shack to Tony Soprano's therapy sessions, will make his feature directing debut early next year with The Root, a low-budget, Faustian drama about a chop shop operator whose relationship with a crooked police detective prompts him to try to get out of the stolen parts biz. The Emmy-nominated Penn, who directed the regional theater production of The Root, will direct David Strathairn, Gregory Hines, Karen Allen and Eli Wallach in the film.
Boot Camp returns this fall, but this time celebs will take on the mental and physical challenges set by the show's two former Marine Corps drill instructors. In a two-hour Fox special, Celebrity Boot Camp, the recruits--including rapper Coolio, onetime pop idol Tiffany, Married...With Children's David Faustino, ex-Milli Vanilli member Fabrice Morvan; Baywatch babe Traci Bingham, singer Vitamin C; Lorenzo Lamas; Kato Kaelin, Brady Bunch star Barry Williams and Price Is Right spokesmodel Nikki Schieler Ziering will be eliminated one by one until two are left to compete in a series of eight competitions called the "Gauntlet." Taped at the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, the show will air on Sept. 30, according to Variety.
Grab your peroxide: ABC has greenlit a two-hour TV movie prequel to the 1997 feature film Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, Variety reports. The project, tentatively titled Romy and Michele: Behind the Velvet Rope, takes place in the early 1990s. The TV movie will recast the titular blondes, played in the film by Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow, and follow them as they head to Hollywood after graduating high school. The teleflick, which is likely to air this coming season, may lead to a series.
A charred guitar set alight onstage by rock legend Jimi Hendrix could become the most expensive guitar ever sold when it goes up for auction in London on Sept. 24, Reuters reports. Hendrix's 1963 Fender Stratocaster is being offered for sale by Dweezil Zappa, son of rock guitarist Frank Zappa, who used it on his own 1976 album "Zoot Allures." London auction house Cooper Owen said the instrument was expected to fetch between $534,000 and $610,000. The Zappas had restored the guitar, which still bears the scars of flames, so it would play. Dweezil, who is selling the guitar to help fund the refurbishment of his father's recording studio, told the Cooper Owen Web site: "Just by looking at the guitar you can sense the history behind the music. It's very inspiring."
The Musketeer stormed this weekend's box office, capturing first place with nearly $11 million.
The independently made PG-13 rated action adventure, whose acquisition costs were shared by Universal and Miramax, is being distributed in North America by Universal and in the U.K. by Miramax. The Universal and Miramax presentation is a production from D'Artagnan Productions Ltd., Apollomedia, Q&Q Media and Carousel Picture Company.
Musketeer topped the chart with an ESTIMATED $10.7 million at 2,438 theaters ($4,390 per theater), an energetic showing for the traditionally quiet first weekend after Labor Day and the end of summer.
Directed by Peter Hyams, it stars Catherine Deneuve, Mena Suvari, Stephen Rea, Tim Roth and Justin Chambers. The film was produced by Moshe Diamant and executive produced by Mark Damon, Steven Paul, Rudy Cohen, Frank Hubner and Romain Schroeder.
Driven by Musketeer, ticket sales for key films--those grossing $500,000 or more for the weekend--were approximately $69.8 million, up nearly 29 percent from last year's post-Labor Day weekend total of $54.1 million.
"We're pleased," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said Sunday morning. "Strategically, when we made the deal with Miramax as a partner on Musketeer--they're going to release it in the U.K. and we have North American rights--knowing that we were successful with The Watcher last year on the same weekend we saw an opportunity here believing that Rock Star and Two Can Play That Game were (aimed) at different targets.
"We had a magnificent trailer on Musketeer that made it look very different from all the (other movies about the Musketeers). Taking the opportunity to play this incredible trailer with American Pie 2 gave it a lot of visibility. This is the end result. American Pie 2 has done over $131 million worth of business."
Focusing on the acquisition of Musketeer, Rocco pointed out, "Universal's share was $3.75 million. It's a very profitable thing for us. We were very strategic about how we did it. We wanted to be away from all of the high profile (summer) films. This is the weekend last year that we opened another acquisition, The Watcher, to $9.1 million. It was the number one film and made money for us, grossing (about) $29 million (in domestic theaters)."
Sony's Screen Gems label opened its R rated urban appeal romantic comedy Two Can Play That Game to a sexy ESTIMATED $8.3 million at 1,297 theaters ($6,400 per theater).
Game's average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
Written and directed by Mark Brown, it stars Vivica Fox and Anthony Anderson.
"It's a $6 million negative (in terms of Sony's cost) and we certainly hope we're headed to at least the mid-$20 millions," Sony Pictures Entertainment worldwide marketing & distribution president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning.
"A very profitable Screen Gems release. Another low cost, highly focused entertaining release that I think really was handled very nicely by the team at Screen Gems--similar to The Brothers, which came out earlier this year and opened to $10.3 million (the weekend of Mar. 23-25 at 1,378 theaters, averaging $7,477 per theater), but was in a tougher period and dropped off pretty dramatically. This one in the fall, hopefully, will hold on a little bit and end up with similar results. Brothers ended up with about $28 million."
Blake added that he feels Screen Gems is "doing a very nice job with highly focused pictures that have great appeal to a segment of the audience. And they're doing a nice job getting the word out to them at a pretty reasonable price."
Bel-Air Entertainment's R rated drama Rock Star opened quietly via Warner Bros. in a tie for third place to an ESTIMATED $6.18 million at 2,525 theaters ($2,446 per theater). The film was financed by Bel-Air and is being released by Warners.
Directed by Stephen Herek, it stars Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston.
"It's a little disappointing, obviously, but our exits were pretty good," Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. "It was about 50-50 male-female and primarily 18-35. The one thing that stood out in the exits was that everybody liked a href="/celebrities/197412/Mark_Wahlberg" >Mark Wahlberg's performance in the movie. The best markets we had, not surprisingly, were college towns--like Boston was big. We're hoping to just hang in there through the fall and maybe we won't take these big drops that everybody's been taking in the summer."
MGM's Jeepers Creepers, the R rated horror film from the studio's United Artists label, which was first last week, tied for third place in its second week with a less scary ESTIMATED $6.17 million (-53%) at 2,944 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,095 per theater). Its cume is approximately $24.3 million.
Written and directed by Victor Salva, it stars Gina Phillips, Justin Long, Jonathan Breck and Eileen Brennan.
(NOTE: Percentage comparisons indicated today are against the Friday through Sunday portion of the previous weekend, the four day Labor Day weekend.)
Dimension Films' PG-13 thriller The Others fell one rung to fifth in its fifth week, still showing good legs with an ESTIMATED $6.1 million (-25%) at 2,737 theaters (+21 theaters; $2,228 per theater). The Others, which cost only $17 million to make, has a cume of approximately $67.6 million, heading for $75-80 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Alejandro Amenabar, it stars Nicole Kidman.
New Line Cinema's PG-13 rated action comedy blockbuster sequel Rush Hour 2 dropped four notches in its sixth week with an okay ESTIMATED $5.85 million (-37%) at 2,546 theaters (-279 theaters; $2,298 per theater). Its cume is approximately $206.1 million, heading for $210-215 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Brett Ratner, it stars Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker.
"It's the highest grossing film in New Line history," New Line distribution president David Tuckerman said Sunday morning. "It's the number two picture of the year and of the summer. The little movie that could!"
Asked why the film worked so well, Tuckerman replied, "It's basically give the public what they want to see and they will come. That's the bottom line. The movie was funnier than the first. It delivered. And the public wanted to see more of what the first one was--and they got it."
Universal's R rated youth appeal comedy hit sequel American Pie 2 slid three pegs to seventh place in its fifth week with a less tempting ESTIMATED $4.74 million (-47%) at 2,777 theaters (-337 theaters; $1,705 per theater). Pie 2, which cost about $30 million to make, has a cume of approximately $131.2 million, heading for $140 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by J.B. Rogers, it stars Jason Biggs, Shannon Elizabeth, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Natasha Lyonne, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Seann William Scott, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas and Eugene Levy.
Paramount's PG-13 comedy Rat Race fell three rungs to eighth place in its fourth week with an unexciting ESTIMATED $4.4 million (-39%) at 2,551 theaters (theater count unchanged; $1,725 per theater). Its cume is approximately $43.2 million.
Directed by Jerry Zucker, it stars Rowan Atkinson, John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Seth Green, Jon Lovitz, Breckin Meyer and Amy Smart.
Buena Vista/Disney's G rated family comedy hit The Princess Diaries dropped three notches to ninth place in its sixth week with a less royal ESTIMATED $3.4 million (-40%) at 2,410 theaters (-280 theaters; $1,420 per theater). Its cume is approximately $97.1 million, heading for $100 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Garry Marshall, it stars Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Lions Gate Films' controversial R rated high school set violent drama O, down three pegs with a soft ESTIMATED $2.7 million (-53%) at 1,445 theaters (+11 theaters; $1,869 per theater). Its cume is approximately $10.8 million.
Directed by Tim Blake Nelson, it stars Mekhi Phifer, Josh Hartnett and Julia Stiles.
This weekend also saw the arrival of Artisan Entertainment's PG-13 rated youth appeal thriller Soul Survivors to a deadly ESTIMATED $1.1 million at 601 theaters ($1,765 per theater).
Written and directed by Steve Carpenter, it stars Casey Affleck and Wes Bentley.
Paramount Classics' R rated drama Our Lady of the Assassins kicked off to a hopeful ESTIMATED $0.056 million at 4 theaters ($13,886 per theater).
Directed by Barbet Schroeder, it stars German Jaramillo and Anderson Ballesteros.
This weekend saw Paramount hold sneak previews Saturday night of its PG-13 rated baseball drama Hardball.
Directed by Brian Robbins, it stars Keanu Reeves and Diane Lane.
"Hardball went very well," Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning. "It played to 59 percent capacity. The reactions were 59 percent excellent and 37 percent good and very good and 4 percent fair (in Paramount's exit polls). 96 percent in the Top Two boxes. The audience was a little older, primarily 20-plus with families. So there's a mix of older-with-families."
Hardball opens Friday (Sept. 14) at about 2,100 theaters.
On the expansion front, this weekend saw Fox Searchlight Pictures R rated hit thriller The Deep End go wider in its fifth week with a still encouraging ESTIMATED $0.9 million (-35%) at 401 theaters (+75 theaters; $2,254 per theater). Its cume is approximately $5.8 million.
Written produced and directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel, it stars Tilda Swinton, Goran Visnjic and Jonathan Tucker.
MGM's release of United Artists' R rated youth appeal comedy Ghost World continued to widen in its eighth week with an okay ESTIMATED $0.39 million (-12%) at 91 theaters (+10 theaters; $4,246 per theater). Its cume is approximately $3.7 million.
Directed by Terry Swigoff, it stars Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Brad Renfro, Illeana Douglas and Steve Buscemi.
Miramax's R rated Apocalypse Now Redux widened in its sixth week with a still promising ESTIMATED $0.29 million (-35%) at 92 theaters (+11 theaters; $3,097 per theater). Its cume is approximately $3.2 million.
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, it stars Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper and Harrison Ford.
On the international front, Universal reported that its domestic blockbuster The Fast and the Furious had its first major international release this weekend in Mexico with a strong ESTIMATED $0.75 million at 237 theaters, putting it number one in the market. Over the next three months Fast will open around the world, including this Friday (Sept. 14) in the U.K. and Sept. 20 in Australia.
Domestically, Fast is winding down its theatrical run after 12 weeks with a cume of $142.5 million.
Universal also said Sunday morning that its international release of Jurassic Park III has now hit $160 million with eight countries yet to open. Domestically, JP III has a cume of $177 million, giving it a worldwide cume to date of about $337 million.
Bridget Jones's Diary, which Universal and Miramax co-financed, has done about $122 million in its international release via Universal and still has 12 countries to open.
Universal said that in its third weekend in Germany Bridget moved up to first place with a $2.1 million gross that was up 1 percent from the previous weekend and up 43 percent from its opening weekend. Its cume in Germany is now $8.2 million.
In its third weekend in Austria, Bridget moved back to first place, grossing $265,000 at 65 theaters with a cume of $1.3 million.
Bridget opened in Hong Kong this weekend to very strong ticket sales of $238,000 at 24 theaters. Universal said its gross was 155 percent bigger than the opening for Billy Elliot, 55 percent ahead of Shakespeare in Love and 20 percent better than Liar, Liar.
Final top ten list for summer of 2001
Based on their actual cumes through Labor Day (Sept. 3), this summer's top ten grossing films were:
(1) Shrek (DreamWorks)- $262,908,727
(2) The Mummy Returns (Universal) - $201,707,090
(3) Rush Hour 2 (New Line) - $198,892,734
(4) Pearl Harbor (BV/Touchstone) - $196,656,492
(5) Jurassic Park III (Universal) - $175,832,085
(6) Planet of the Apes (Fox) - $173,069,748
(7) The Fast and the Furious (Universal) - $142,028,935
(8) Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (Paramount) - $130,722,949
(9) American Pie 2 (Universal) - $124,928,149
(10) Dr. Dolittle 2 (Fox) - $111,484,392
Key films--those grossing more than $500,000--took in approximately $69.77 million, up about 28.97 per cent from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $54.1 million.
This weekend's key film gross cannot be compared to last weekend of this year, which was a four day holiday weekend.
Last year, Universal's opening week of The Watcher was first with $9.06 million at 2,742 theaters ($3,305 per theater); and USA Films' opening week of Nurse Betty was second with $7.15 million at 1,459 theaters ($4,898 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $16.2 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $19.0 million.
What's the price of fame?
On Tuesday, Sotheby's discovered the answer as Hollywood memorabilia was auctioned off with all proceeds benefiting UNICEF. The charity event, organized by Liam Neeson, has already raised over $400,000 and concludes today.
The highest-ticket item was Mel Gibson's sword from the Oscar-winning "Braveheart" which sold for $170,000. Harrison Ford's bullwhip used in the "Indiana Jones" trilogy was donated by Steven Spielberg and brought in $74,000. A light saber from "Star Wars: Episode I--The Phantom Menace" collected $54,000, and a wedding gown worn by Oscar-nominee Julia Roberts in "Runaway Bride" fetched $16,000.
"I am genuinely stunned and humbled by the generosity of my colleagues in the business," Neeson said. "Many have donated items they intended to keep forever. These really are pieces that money can't buy, and I'm delighted that everyone has rallied round for such a good cause."
Neeson spent more than a year sending letters and making phone calls to thousands of Hollywood stars for donations from their famous films. Neeson's wife, Natasha Richardson, played a major role in organizing the event, called "Movie Action for Children." All proceeds will be used to supply drugs that prevent mother-to-fetus transmission of AIDS in African countries.
At Tuesday's auction, Neeson discussed the enormous rates of infection and explained that the necessary treatment to stop the prenatal transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, costs only $4 per case. "We cannot take for granted the health of our children, " he added.
Other memorable sales included a deck chair from "Titanic" that collected $7,000, and a Faberge-framed Cecil Beaton photograph of the late Audrey Hepburn, a former fellow UNICEF champion, that brought in $50,000. The lowest draw of the day was $1,000 for a birthday phone call from Michael Jackson.
The online sale continues today and features dresses from Courtney Cox-Arquette's role on "Friends" and Oscar-winner Meryl Streep's performance in "The Bridges of Madison County," costumes from "Meet the Parents" autographed by stars Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller, and boxing gloves from "Rocky" signed by Sylvester Stallone.