Bryan Singer's big budget fairy tale adaptation Jack the Giant Slayer makes its debut in IMAX and 3-D this weekend and will easily top the chart with a debut in the $25 to $28 million range. Taking on a darker tone in an attempt to shed its fairy tale roots, the PG-13 film is hoping to draw a male/fanboy type audience. However, with a reported budget of around $200 million, the expected success of the film overseas will be a necessity to bolster the profit margin. Up and coming star Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies) and Ewan McGregor co-star along with a great cast that includes Stanley Tucci and Ian McShane.
Also opening is 21 & Over. The R-rated raunchy comedy from the writers of The Hangover follows the misadventures of a college kid and his buddies on the eve of his medical school exams. Older teens and college-age kids should eat this up and bring about $12 million to $15 million to the box office party this weekend.
The third wide release debut to hit theaters is The Last Exorcism Part II, the follow up to 2010's The Last Exorcism which earned a profit generating $41 million in North America against a mere $2 million budget. Ashley Bell reprises her role as Nell Sweetzer, but in this follow up the use of "found footage" is jettisoned in favor of a more traditional narrative. Eli Roth produces and Ed Gass-Donnelly directs this PG-13-rated horror entry.
Certainly no weekend would be complete without Melissa McCarthy. Her R-rated comedy Identity Thief (which enters its fourth weekend) is on the cusp of becoming the first film released in 2013 to cross the $100 million mark and should continue to steal box office dollars in the realm of $8 million.
RELATED: Box Office: 2013 Off to a Slow Start
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson will also factor in with the second weekend of his action drama Snitch poised to earn in the $6 million range and boost its overall total to over $20 million by Sunday night.
Our final wide release newcomer is Phantom. The R-rated submarine thriller stars Ed Harris and David Duchovny but is only expected to earn around $2 million to $3 million this weekend.
Osacr nominees may see a boost this weekend after all the exposure generated by last Sunday night's telecast. Silver Linings Playbook currently ranks the highest of the nine nominees for Best Picture in the mid-week derby.
RELATED: Oscars Box Office: Best Picture Nominees Get a Nice Boost
[Photo Credit: Warner Bros]
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David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.
A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.
Top Story: Beyonce, 50 Cent Get the Vibe
Rapper 50 Cent and singer Beyonce Knowles were multiple winners at the inaugural Vibe Awards Thursday night in Santa Monica, Calif., Reuters reports. 50 Cent picked up statuettes for artist of the year, "dopest album" and "hottest hook" for his single "In Da Club," while Beyonce was named most stylish and won "coolest collaboration" with rapper Jay-Z for their song "Crazy in Love." Among the performers at the ceremony were OutKast, Mary J. Blige with Eve, Alicia Keys, 50 Cent and G-Unit, and R. Kelly. According to Reuters, the Vibe magazine editorial staff determined nominations; a panel of music journalists and entertainment executives selected the winners for every category except the "next" award, which was chosen via online voting. The show, hosted by Queen Latifah, will air Friday on UPN.
Time Warner Sells Off Music Unit
In an effort to streamline its debts, Reuters reports Time Warner Inc. has sold its Warner Music business including its music publishing division for a cool $2.6 billion to a group led by media mogul and former Seagram chairman Edgar Bronfman, who beat out EMI's $1 billion bid. Had Time Warner combined with EMI, the media giant would have saved some $250-300 million in costs; however, in taking the Bronfman bid, it will receive more cash up front and have less difficulty getting regulatory approval from European and U.S. regulators, who typically don't approve of consolidation within the music industry.
French Filmmakers Disregard Screener Ban
Two French filmmakers of the film Monsieur Ibrahim, which stars veteran actor Omar Sharif, have decided to bypass the screener ban and send VHS cassettes of their film to other awards organizations themselves, Reuters reports. Husband-and-wife team Laurent Petin and Michele Halberstadt Petin have already sent copies of the film, about a young Jewish boy in 1960s Paris who befriends an older Arab shopkeeper (Sharif), to members of the Screen Actors Guild Awards nominating committee. The film is being released by Sony Pictures Classics Dec. 5, which has been told to abide by the ban restrictions and send screeners only to Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members. "We asked (Sony Classics) if it could distribute (the screeners), and they said no," Halberstadt Petin told Reuters. "They knew (that we would be sending out the screeners) but didn't do anything. This was our doing. They understood our position, but we own the copyright to this film, and we are entitled to (send out screeners ourselves)."
Lennon's Paintings on Display
More than 100 painting, doodles and drawings from the late John Lennon were on display for a three-day show over the weekend in Connecticut, The Associated Press reports. "It's an intimate look at John's love for life," art show organizer Larry Schwartz told AP. "It's music for the eyes." On display were handwritten lyrics and framed words to songs such as "Imagine," which is listed at $2,350, and "Grow Old With Me," with an asking price of $2,900.
Opus is Back
Bloom County creator Berkeley Breathed has decided to bring back one of his beloved characters-- Opus, that outspoken penguin with a heart of gold--in a new weekly strip because he feels the lovable water fowl has more to say. "Unfinished characters make me as unsettled as a messy hallway will keep my wife from sleeping soundly," Breathed said in an e-mail interview with cartoonist Phil Frank published Sunday in The San Francisco Chronicle. Opus debuted Sunday in large format in major newspapers.
Actress Kellie Waymire Dies
Character actress Kellie Waymire, best known for making frequent TV appearances in shows such as Six Feet Under, Friends and Ally McBeal, died Nov. 13 in her Los Angeles home from an undisclosed, previously undetected medical condition, AP reports. She was 36.
College Upset By Hefner Ad
Thomas Aquinas College, a small Catholic school in Santa Paula, Calif., has a beef with a commercial for the fast-food chain Carl's Jr. that features Playboy chairman Hugh Hefner. So much so, AP reports, the college's officials asked Andrew Puzder, chief executive of Carl's Jr. operator CKE Restaurants Inc., to resign from the college's board of governors. "It's common knowledge that Hugh Hefner and Playboy stand for hedonism and unbridled pleasure seeking, and that is impossible to reconcile with what we stand for," Ann Forsyth, spokeswoman for the college, told AP.
Role Call: Allen is Skipping Christmas, Changes in the Weather
Actor Tim Allen is expected to join director Joe Roth in bringing Skipping Christmas to life for Revolutions Studios. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the comedy, written by director/writer Chris Columbus, is based on the John Grisham novel about a man who decides to skip Christmas and all the trappings and go on a vacation with his wife instead. But when his daughter decides at the last minute to come home for the holidays, he is forced to put Christmas back together…Nicolas Cage's next project, The Weather Man, is sailing some stormy seas. According to the Reporter, the film's producers had to quickly find another studio when they weren't able to agree with Columbia Pictures on a budget. The drama, now set up at Paramount Pictures, is said to be in the same vein as About Schmidt and American Beauty and centers on a divorced Chicago weatherman who is up for a new job on a network morning show in New York. As he is preparing to leave for the Big Apple, he must make peace with his ex-wife and kids.