A dirty cop and a pair of nice-guy bank robbers set out to prove this weekend that crime does indeed pay.
The $22.5 million collared last weekend by Training Day represents Denzel Washington's biggest opening weekend to date. The highly charged tale of police corruption--featuring Washington in a rare villainous turn--continued to play well during the week, earning $28.6 million through Wednesday. Accordingly, Washington should have the muscle to stop his Siege co-star Bruce Willis from stealing off with the box office crown.
Directed by Barry Levinson, Bandits casts Willis and Billy Bob Thornton as affable crooks who gain celebrity for their unusually method of robbing banks. They hold hostage the bank manager the night before a heist, eat dinner with manager and his family, spend the night at his home, and then force him to let them into the bank in the morning.
Previously, Willis and Thornton's efforts to save the world resulted in 1998's Armageddon, which earned $201 million in the process.
Breaking into banks also should be a profitable venture for Willis and Thornton, though not much as Armageddon or Willis' The Sixth Sense, which made $293.5 million. Bandits' success will likely mirror that of Willis' recent hit comedies rather than his celebrated forays into science fiction and the supernatural. The Whole Nine Yards, with Willis as a hitman, claimed $13.7 million in 1999 and eventually made $57.2 million. Disney's The Kid opened in July 2000 with $12.6 million, with summer audiences pushing it to a $69.6 million gross.
At least one person needs Bandits to enjoy a long and sustained run, and that's Levinson. The Rain Man Oscar winner last tasted success with Wag the Dog, the Hollywood satire about a war concocted to conceal a presidential scandal. Wag the Dog, of course, had the good fortune to open wide in January 1998 just as Monicagate captured a nation's attention and President Clinton had launched military action against terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Sudan. The result: a $43 million hit. Since then, Levinson's directed possibly the worst adaptation of a Michael Crichton novel ever, the waterlogged Sphere, which earned a paltry $37.2 million. Liberty Heights, the fourth of Levinson's semi-autobiographical Baltimore-set comedy-dramas, made $3.7 million in early 2000. Levinson's barely released An Everlasting Piece resulted in a lawsuit by its producer, Jerome O'Connor, who claimed that DreamWorks buried the Irish comedy at the request of the British government because of its thorny politics.
Who is Corky Romano? So read the teaser posters for Chris Kattan's new comedy, posters that also prompt the question: Who cares about Corky Romano? Kattan is the latest Saturday Night Live jokester to try his luck as a movie star. It's taken a while for former SNLers Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider and David Spade to establish their silver-screen credentials, so Kattan isn't likely to enjoy instant success. Will Ferrell, the only current SNLer to enjoy a somewhat thriving Hollywood career, seems to have done so by virtue of appearing in anything and everything.
Ferrell and Kattan did dance with disaster with the awful SNL skit-inspired A Night at the Roxbury, which made $30.3 million in the fall of 1998. Kattan's track record also includes the ensemble horror yarn House on Haunted Hill, which made $40.8 million in the fall of 1999, and Monkeybone, whose $5.4 million gross qualifies it as this year's biggest flop.
With Corky Romano already earning dire reviews, and stiff competition in the form of Ben Stiller's still-thriving fashion industry satire Zoolander ($30.2 million through Wednesday), Kattan shouldn't hand that letter of resignation just yet to SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels.
The surprise martial arts smash Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon no doubt prompted Miramax to reissue 1993's Iron Monkey, directed by Crouching Tiger action choreographer Yuen Wo Ping. Such releases tend to fare poorly, as witnessed by Miramax's previous attempts to bring to America those annoyingly dubbed versions of Jackie Chan's Hong Kong classics. Last fall's The Legend of Drunken Master, for example, staggered to a pitiful $11.5 million. Iron Monkey does have the advantage of being subtitled--which certainly enhanced Crouching Tiger's statue with the arthouse crowd--but it does lack the presence of a Jackie Chan, Jet Li or Chow Yun-Fat.
Miramax must make do with the popularity of Serendipity, which should enjoy a long and lasting affair with audiences looking for a romantic getaway from the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan. Through Wednesday, John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale have wooed $16.5 million in sales. Beckinsale's Pearl Harbor may have made more on its opening day, but no one went to see the expensive World War II epic for its romantic interludes. Serendipity is outpacing Cusack's bittersweet High Fidelity, which opened in March 2000 with $6.4 million at almost 1,200 theaters and sung its way to $27.2 million. Serendipity does have the advantage of now being in 2,600 theaters.
Don't Say a Word should continue to lose its audience to Training Day and soon to Bandits. Michael Douglas enjoyed his biggest opening weekend gross with Don't Say a Word, but the white-collar thriller won't stand out as one of his most memorable in terms of box office. Having collected $34.3 million through Wednesday, Don't Say a Word looks set to surpass The Game ($48.2 million) but will fail to out do A Perfect Murder ($67.6 million). That's a far cry from Basic Instinct's $117.7 million or Disclosure's $83 million.
Leelee Sobieski certainly learned her lesson about starring in two very disposable and oft-delayed teen-targeted thrillers in a row. The Duel-like Joy Ride, costarring Paul Walker and Steve Zahn, spluttered its way to a $7.3 million opening and has just $9.3 million through Wednesday. That's somewhat better than Sobieski's The Glass House, which opened after last month's terrorist attacks to a very weak $5.7 million and has since collected $16.6 million. Sobieski returns this weekend--and clearly not soon enough--to the arthouse circuit with My First Mister costarring Albert Brooks, a generation-bending variation of The Odd Couple.
Seems the kids failed to take much notice of Max Keeble's Big Move. Keeble has pocketed $6.6 million to date, and will likely end up as filler on the Disney Channel much sooner than later.
Hearts in Atlantis will join The Shawshank Redemption as another underachiever based on one of Stephen King's more mature tales. Shawshank managed to make its unremarkable $28.2 million solely on the strength of its modest Oscar campaign. With its less-than-enthusiastic reviews and $17.6 million gross, the supernatural Anthony Hopkins vehicle will have a tough time climbing to the same lowly height.
Barring a last-minute rally, summer holdovers Rush Hour 2 and The Others could finally drop out of the Top 10 this weekend. Rush Hour 2 ranks as the year's second-highest grossing film, with $221.9 through Wednesday.
The Others remains one of the year's biggest surprises, having enjoyed a lengthy run thanks to its twists and turns. With $91.1 million through Wednesday, the modestly marketed ghost story swept past Nicole Kidman's other summer entry, the lavishly hyped, over-praised and commercially successful Moulin Rouge, with relatively ease. Divorce has obviously been good to Kidman, at least professionally.
Jennifer Love Hewitt joins the adult race today, reaching the ripe-old, legal-drinking age of 21.
Hewitt will, presumably, display some very adult-like maturity in the forthcoming ABC biopic "The Audrey Hepburn Story," in which she portrays the late actress-turned-humanitarian, a role that departs from Hewitt's usual angst-ridden (and stalker-pursued) TV and film roles.
The real Audrey Hepburn, by the way, was 25 when "Sabrina" was released, 28 when "Funny Face" came out, 32 when "Breakfast at Tiffany's" was released and 34 when "My Fair Lady" premiered.
Good to know Jennifer's doing her best to catch up.
MEA CULPA: Back on the job after a nasty illness sidelined him for more than a month, Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein has this to say: Blame me.
You can't hold a grudge against a guy who came down with a bacterial infection that laid him up for weeks and caused him to lose 40 pounds. But Harvey says he it's his fault that "The Talented Mr. Ripley" didn't get an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, as many people thought it should have.
"I was the captain of that ship and I was, unfortunately, convalescing in the hospital and at home when I should have been out there campaigning for it," Weinstein says in the Newsweek magazine hitting stores today. "I would have just made sure the right people saw the film. Even though the movie is a tremendous financial success, it is hard to motivate Academy people. ... I feel like Matt Damon and Anthony Minghella got robbed because I was away."
Weinstein, 47, became ill while vacationing on St. Barthelemy Island in the Caribbean over the holidays with his family. While he was rehabbing, he missed the Golden Globes and Sundance, two popular Miramax stomping grounds.
Still, Harvey doesn't feel all that bad. Although "Ripley" didn't get the Best Picture nod, another Miramax picture, "The Cider House Rules," did. That means Miramax has had nine Best Picture nominations over the past eight years, a not-too-shabby streak.
"We know that pundits wanted to see us get our ass kicked, and we're sorry to disappoint them. We will continue to disappoint them," Harvey tells the newsmag.
As it turns out, the Oscar scenario might be a better deal for Miramax anyway. Miramax co-distributed "Ripley" with Paramount, with the latter studio taking the domestic receipts and Miramax hauling in the foreign box office; therefore, any Oscar-related windfall for "Ripley" would have gone into Paramount's pocket. Meanwhile, the post-nomination pipeline for "The Cider House Rules" feeds right into Miramax's coffers.
Harvey never misses a trick.
NEUTERING "CATS": Say it ain't so, Old Deuteronomy. The Jellicle Cats are headed for the big litter box in the sky.
"Cats," that incomprehensible-yet-wildly-popular Broadway musical, is nearing the end of its nine lives. Actually, it's more like 7,397 lives -- that's the number of performances that will have been given by the time the show closes this summer.
The show's promoters have announced that "Cats," which opened in New York on Oct. 7, 1982, will close June 25. By the end of its run, those mangy alley cats will have sung their kitty hearts out to more than 10 million theater patrons in New York and sold an estimated $380 million-plus worth of Broadway tickets. The show has also toured across North America and Europe.
Ticket sales for Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical, based on stories by T.S. Eliot, have been slow of late, but they are sure to surge as fans rush to see it one more time before it ends. And that, for the promoters, is the cat's meow.
"When you look at it, we're running into our 18th year, and the houses have been slow," Marlene Danielle, who has played Bombalurina since the show's Big Apple debut, told The Associated Press. "It's a business, and they have to make their money."
NOTHING ODD HERE: Too bad Tom Hanks isn't nominated for Best Actor this year. It might make things easier for the Las Vegas oddsmakers.
Joe Lupo of the Stardust Hotel says Kevin Spacey is the favorite to win the Best Actor award, with 9-to-5 odds, followed by Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe.
In the Best Actress race, Lupo figures Hilary Swank is the favorite (3-1). And Best Picture? He's got that down for "American Beauty" (5-2), followed by "The Cider House Rules" (4-1).
If you wanna make a boat-load of money, bet on nominal Best Actress hopeful Meryl Streep (25-1) and pray for a freakin' miracle.
MIAMI VICE: Ah, to be mega-rich, to buy and sell multimillion-dollar homes on a whim. News flash: Madonna wants $9 million for her nine-bedroom home on Miami's Biscayne Bay. No word yet on whether she's simply bored with the drapes or she needs more space to unwind. According to Reuters, she bought the house for a mere $4.9 mil in 1992. Last year, she turned down a $6 million offer from Rosie O'Donnell to buy the place.