Paramount/DWA’s “Shrek Forever After” proves that families rule on Memorial Weekend.
As Memorial weekends go this was no record-breaker, but with two big newcomers and the continued success of “Shrek,” it showed that audinces still love to go to the movies over the extended holiday frame. With another $43.3 million and 7% of that from IMAX showings, “Shrek Forever After” dropped only 39% and crossed the $100 million mark. A very strong Saturday take of $16.975 million gave it the edge over the competition as families flocked to see the film with their kids as a Memorial treat.
At number two is Warner Bros.’ “Sex and the City 2” the follow up to the first installment which debuted almost exactly two years ago. After $3 million in midnights and a $14.2 million first day the film was off to a promising start. The weekend portion of the film for the F-S-S period is $32.1 million and a four-day (Thursday – Sunday) total of $46.3 million.
At number three is the other big newcomer from Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” starring Jake Gyllenhaal. With $30.2 million for the three-day portion of the holiday weekend, the film offered a counter-programming option for those seeking a more summer-style action adventure than the female oriented “Sex and the City 2” or “Shrek Forever After.”
At number four is Paramount’s “Iron Man 2” which adds another $16 million this weekend and brings its total to $274.6 million as it attempts to reach for the $300 million mark. A 39% drop in it its fourth weekend reflects strong interest by Memorial weekend theatre-goers.
Rounding out the Top Five is Universal’s “Robin Hood” starring Russell Crowe. The film directed by long-time collaborator Ridley Scott earned $10.3 million for the three days against a 45% drop. With $83 million and counting, the film will take aim at hitting the $100 million bull’s-eye in the coming weeks.
Outside of the Top Five but notable in its continued strength is Summit Entertainment’s “Letters to Juliet.” The unsung hero of the summer continues slowly and quietly to draw audiences week after week and adding $5.9 million to its total and approaching the $40 million mark.
Another “down” weekend as the summer of 2010 continues to struggle to live up to the strength of last year’s line-up and box-office performance. All that and a potential log jam next weekend with four new wide release openers including Universal’s “Get Him to the Greek,” Warner Bros.’ “Splice,” Fox’s “Marmaduke” and Lionsgate’s “Killers.”
A billionaire TV producer (Robert Mammone) has a great idea for a reality show that he wants to put on the Internet and his goal is to beat the 40 million Super Bowl audience. He has compiled a crack team of young hip and immoral tech geeks directed by Goldman (Rick Hoffman) and puts cameras throughout a remote island where former prisoners are going to kill each other while audiences watch after shelling out the pay-per-view fee. The location is done on a remote secret island and the death row prisoners are bought from prisons around the world with the promise that the survivor gets to walk free. Among the contestants are a rogue Aussie named McStarley (Vinnie Jones) a martial arts expert (Masa Yamaguchi) a husband-and-wife team (Manu Bennett and Dasi Ruz) a monstrous killer who doesn't do much more than grunt (Nathan Jones) and others known only as The Italian The German and other monikers quickly forgotten. Enter the sole American Jack Conrad (Steve Austin) who's in a South American prison for some obscure reason and is recognized on TV by his wife (Madeleine West) who tries to save him. However it looks like Conrad is pretty good at helping himself. Don't expect the acting to be much more evolved than what could be seen among the World Wrestling Entertainment superstars especially since many of them were plucked from the ring to star in this morality tale. But Austin (who had in a strong cameo in Adam Sandler's Longest Yard) proves he has a sense of humor as well as strength. Vinnie Jones is ridiculously over-the-top as the Aussie who's the hand-picked winner of this game shown setting up alliances Survivor style only to turn on them later. The supporting cast are refreshingly entertaining but one-note caricatures both in the contest and running the contest. It's obvious that they aren't going to be around long but the actors do milk their tiny roles for every bit of attention they can get. Rick Hoffman as the brilliant camera mastermind of the project is both whiny sniveling and mean-spirited so when he joins some of the rest of the crew and suddenly develops a backbone and a conscience he ends up stealing the movie with his acerbic humor. But it's the understated American hero Conrad who holds a mirror up to the people who like to watch this stuff. Director Scott Wiper who co-wrote this story has also acted in similar movies like this (A Better Way to Die). It’s obvious he knows what he’s doing with The Condemned and develops a sense of voyeuristic angst like those of us who can't keep our eyes off a train wreck. Like the darkly subversive Belgian film Man Bites Dog the camera crew remains safely distant and remote until the reality directly involves them. Then the crew wonders "What the hell are we doing?" while the audience might be thinking "What the hell are we watching?" Much like Series 7: The Contenders Rollerball and other movies which show a dark and bloody near future this kind of reality doesn't seem too far away and maybe proves that movies which provide this type of gladiator spectacle target a certain segment of the human population who need to blow off steam.
Tired of Oscar-worthy dramas? In the mood for (hey!) a teen flick? Your time is here (again).
"Down to You," a Generation Y romance starring Freddie Prinze Jr. and Julia Stiles, leads the pack of new releases this week, presumably to the delight of the nation's mall rats.
Elsewhere, a host of critically acclaimed (or in teenspeak: boring and long) films previously in limited engagements will add screens. That list includes: "Angela's Ashes," "A Map of the World" and "Titus".
Here's a complete list of films opening this week:
"Angela's Ashes" (Paramount) -- Adapted from Frank McCourt's Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, this film documents the author's childhood in Ireland during the 1930s and '40s. Emily Watson ("Hilary & Jackie") and Robert Carlyle ("Trainspotting") co-star as Frank's working-class parents. Directed by Alan Parker. (Expanded release)
"Diamonds" (Miramax) -- In an effort to bond with estranged son Dan Aykroyd, former prizefighter Kirk Douglas takes his son and grandson on a road trip to Reno in search of 13 stolen diamonds, stashed away years ago. Lauren Bacall co-stars. (Expanded release)
"Down to You" (Miramax) -- Freddie Prinze Jr. and Julia Stiles play a young college couple whose precarious romance is blighted by the pull and tug between true love and the temptation to wander astray from commitment. (Wide release)
"A Map of the World" (First Look) -- Based on the novel by Jane Hamilton, this drama casts Sigourney Weaver as a married woman whose tranquil life in rural Wisconsin is shattered after the accidental drowning of a friend's daughter. Julianne Moore, Chloe Sevigny and David Strathairn co-star. (Expanded release)
"Play It to the Bone" (Buena Vista) -- Out-of-work boxing rivals (and friends) Woody Harrelson and Antonio Banderas get the chance of their lifetimes to work together in Las Vegas. Directed by "Bull Durham's" Ron Shelton. (Expanded release)
"Rear Window" (USA) -- A restored version of the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock classic starring Jimmy Stewart as a housebound magazine photographer whose voyeuristic pastime unwittingly unravels a murder in the apartment facing his rear window. (Limited release)
"Titus" (Fox Searchlight) -- In Shakespeare's epic tale of revenge, Anthony Hopkins stars as Titus Andronicus, the Roman general who sows the seeds of vengeance when he executes the son of the enemy queen, played by Jessica Lange. Alan Cumming co-stars. (Expanded release)
"Topsy-Turvy" (USA) -- Acclaimed director Mike Leigh's tale of operetta composers Gilbert and Sullivan. The film traces the duo's bumpy collaboration. Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner co-star. (Expanded release)
Looks like the on-again, off-again "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" is finally ready to get it on.
Daily Variety reports that Johnny Depp is in final talks to star in the project, which is a biopic based on the autobiography of Chuck Barris, aka "The Gong Show" host, who says that he also worked for the CIA.
Adding more weight to the offbeat film would be George Clooney, who might join Depp in a co-starring role as a CIA recruiting agent.
The project will be directed by "X-Men's" Bryant Singer and is written by "Being John Malkovich" scribe Charlie Kaufman.
GETTING THE 'JOB' DONE: Kevin Costner will reunite with "Bull Durham" and "Tin Cup" helmer Ron Shelton in the action thriller "Two Guys on the Job," Variety says.
The story is about two San Francisco cops who begin as partners but eventually become bitter enemies.
Costner will play one of the cops, and another 40ish actor will soon be cast for the other part.
GOING RINGSIDE: The "Ali" biopic cast keeps on growing and growing and growing. The latest to get enlisted to the Michael Mann project is Jon Voight, who'll play the late boxing commentator Howard Cosell. The actor will join a group of talents that includes Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Mario Van Peebles, Mykelti Williamson and Ron Silver.
G MONEY: "Charlie's Angels" helmer McG is developing a new action flick called "Airshow," which follows two elite fighter pilots from the Persian Gulf War, Variety says.
Also in the works for McG, aka Joseph McGinty Nichol, will be the "Charlie's Angels" sequel and the military thriller "Dreadnaught."
Call him Al Pacino, indie filmmaker. The Hollywood Reporter says that "The Insider" thesp’s second directorial foray, "Chinese Coffee," has been picked up for distribution by Fox Searchlight.
The shoestring-budget flick, shot over the course of three years, was financed by Pacino himself. It cast Jerry Orbach opposites Pacino in a story that pivots on a conversation between a struggling New York writer and his mentor.
Before the feature project, Pacino had made his directorial debut in 1996 with "Looking for Richard," a doc about the Bard.
LET IT BURN: Variety says that Paramount Classics has paid more than $2 million for the domestic distribution rights to "Sidewalks of New York" -- a project penned and directed by and starring Edward Burns. The romantic comedy costars Heather Graham, Stanley Tucci and Rosario Dawson.
THE FOURTH MUSKETEER: The Reporter says that French legend Catherine Deneuve is in final negotiations to join the Gary Oldman and Mena Suvari in the indie project "D'Artagnan," a story about the fourth Musketeer.
COOL LIKE ICE: Rapper-actor Ice-T is joining the cast of NBC’s "Law & Order: Special Victim Unit," the Reporter says.
NO BULL: Actor Ryan O’Neal will play the recurring role of a father in the new TNT series "Bull." The drama debuts Aug. 15.