Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle certainly lives up to its title. With eye-popping visuals and unbelievable stunts the sequel is far more action-packed than its predecessor. This time the fun-lovin' Angels--Natalie Cook (Cameron Diaz) Dylan Sanders (Drew Barrymore) and Alex Munday (Lucy Liu)--are assigned to retrieve two stolen titanium rings which contain valuable encrypted information revealing the new identities of every person in the Federal Witness Protection Program. Along with their trusted colleague Jimmy Bosley (Bernie Mac) the girls must find the rings before the thief sells the information to the top mob families around the world. The Angels eventually discover the main perpetrator is ex-Angel Madison Lee (Demi Moore) who believed "being part of the Angel family" was a load of crap; she can get it done a lot better on her own. Up to this point the story still has you interested even though there are more than enough tongue-in-cheek gags and general campiness to go around. Things begin to slide southward however as the film frantically tries to tie up the loose ends and the final climactic battle between the good and the fallen Angels drags out.
The true heart of Full Throttle is the unquestionable chemistry between its three lead actresses. Watching Diaz Barrymore and Liu you see how their friendship has deepened. In fact friendship is one of the main themes of the movie and in Dylan's case provides an interesting character arc--played nicely by the underrated Barrymore. Dylan worries that Natalie might leave the agency if she marries Pete (Luke Wilson) and then when forced to deal with a past secret Dylan makes a big sacrifice to save the lives of her best friends. It gives a little extra depth to the otherwise sorority-sister atmosphere. Larger than life is Bernie Mac as the new Bosley who takes on the job after his adopted brother John Bosley (Bill Murray) drops out (the reasoning behind this is really too lame to go into). Having Mac in the house brings the film to a whole new level of comedy as he infuses the silliness going on around him with his own skewed observations. Case in point: Charlie says to him "I hope the Angels aren't being too hard on you " to which Bosley replies "Man I date fat women whatcha talkin' about?" Unfortunately the only weak link is Moore as Madison. Her reasons for going bad just aren't good enough and frankly it seems all Moore is interested in is showing off her tight 40-plus body. Also keep an eye out for a number of well-placed cameos including the amazingly beautiful "former" Angel Jaclyn Smith.
Director McG uses his finely tuned skills as a music video director to milk this sucker for all its worth and turns in a film which is virtual MTV eye candy. Granted most of the action sequences are highly implausible but what James Bond film isn't? You go right along with it. Motorcross surfing burlesque dancing--there isn't anything these Angels can't do and darn it the film sort of makes you want to be an Angel yourself watching those three girls plummet off bridges fly on motorbikes and hang onto out of control cars. Still when does it become too much? The first Charlie's Angels was more grounded relying more on Matrix-esque martial arts fighting and less on wildly outrageous stunts; the story was also more cohesive. It seems this time around McG and star-producer Barrymore wanted to go way over the top and throw anything and everything up on the screen. Pounding soundtrack cameos galore numerous references to other movies such as Flashdance Sweet Charity Cape Fear AND The Sound of Music Full Throttle is just chock full--but although it works to a point the payoff ends up leaving you feeling less than satisfied.
James Bond won the weekend's box office duel, cutting short Harry Potter's days in first place.
Die Another Day arrived to a chart topping $47 million, the biggest opening ever for a Bond film. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets retreated to second place with a still powerful $42.4 million. It should be at $170 million going into Thanksgiving weekend.
Friday After Next kicked off in third place to a punchy $13.1 million. Santa Clause 2 held well, finishing fourth with $10.3 million.
8 Mile was a quiet fifth with $8.7 million, heading for a very profitable $125 million.
Driven by the Bond and Potter franchises, key films totaled $149.9 million, down about 10 percent from $167 million the previous weekend this year. Comparisons with 2001 don't apply because this weekend last year was the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
THE TOP TEN
MGM's Lion was roaring as United Artists' PG-13 rated action adventure thriller Die Another Day, the 20th of the studio's Bond epics, opened in first place to a to-die-for $47.0 million at 3,314 theaters ($14,183 per theater).
Die's average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
Directed by Lee Tamahori and produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, it stars Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry.
"Anything with a '4' in front of it, we would be happy (with), so being at the high end of that we're ecstatic," MGM senior vice president, publicity Eric Kops said Sunday morning. "The exit polls are great. They're pretty well divided -- male-female equally and young and old. So the exit polls are tremendous. They're way ahead of the exit polls for any other Bond movie we've had of the Pierce (Brosnan as 007) movies."
Asked how many screens the film's 3,314 theaters translates into, Kops replied, "It's 5,000 and change."
The last Bond film, The World Is Not Enough, opened, Kops said, "to $35.5 million, so we're 32 percent ahead of that."
World is Not Enough arrived the weekend of Nov. 19-21, 1999 to $35.52 million at 3,163 theaters ($11,230 per theater). It went on to gross $126.9 million in domestic theaters and $225.1 million in international theaters for a worldwide total of $352 million. With its stronger launch and the Thanksgiving holiday weekend looming as a strong second weekend for the film, Die already appears to be on track to out-perform World is Not Enough.
Besides the good news on the domestic front, MGM also had success this weekend on the international front with 007. "We also opened in four international territories and broke records there, as well," Kops said. "Between France, the U.K., French speaking Switzerland and Spain it's going to be about $23 million."
Warner Bros.' PG rated sequel Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets dropped one notch to second place in its second week with a still sizable ESTIMATED $42.37 million (-52%) at 3,682 theaters (theater count unchanged; $11,507 per theater). Its cume is approximately $148.5 million.
Directed by Chris Columbus, it stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson.
"That's really right where we want to be because we're going to pick up probably another $22 million between now and the end of the week with the holiday, so we'll end up about 39 or 40 percent for the week," Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning.
Comparisons between the second weekend drops for Chamber of Secrets and last year's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone aren't possible because of the way Thanksgiving fell last year. "You can't compare week to week because the day after Thanksgiving is the biggest day of the year," Fellman explained. "So all the kids are out (of school). We did $22 million on Friday and then we went down on Saturday. So you can't look at that (for comparison). You've got to go look at the week after to see what happens.
"What's important to look at is the second week. The reason we moved that (release) date up is because now we'll have this huge bump -- probably another $21-$22 million in between now and the end of the week -- so we'll finish the week down somewhere between 39 and 40 or 41 percent. Then we're coming into Thanksgiving weekend. In terms of drop off, the kids were back in school this Friday, so we did $11 million on Friday and we did almost $19 million last night (Saturday). What'll happen now is next Friday against the $11 million, we'll out-gross that by a huge amount. So our drop off for the third week is going to be minimal -- maybe 20 or 25 percent. So we'll have another huge week and at the end of three weeks we'll be right where the first one was."
Where is Chamber of Secrets heading? "After Thanksgiving, in a week, we'll we well over $200 million," Fellman replied. "We're going in the same direction (as Sorcerer's Stone, which did $317.6 million domestically). The question now is we have to see what happens over Thanksgiving against all the competition. The movie (according to many people) is a better movie than number one, so then we head for Christmas. The good news is that there's no big family Christmas movie out there after we pass Thanksgiving. It's just one of those movies everybody's going to see. So if they don't see it Thanksgiving, they'll see it over Christmas. We're on track."
New Line Cinema's R rated comedy sequel Friday After Next kicked off in third place to a lively ESTIMATED $13.06 million at 1,616 theaters ($8,084 per theater).
Directed by Marcus Raboy, it stars Ice Cube and Mike Epps.
"It's right about where we figured we'd be," New Line distribution president David Tuckerman said Sunday morning. "And we're happy."
Buena Vista/Disney's G rated comedy sequel Santa Clause 2 dropped one rung to fourth place in its fourth week, holding well with an ESTIMATED $10.3 million (-32%) at 3,251 theaters (-95 theaters; $3,161 per theater). Its cume is approximately $95.0 million, heading for $110 million.
Directed by Michael Lembeck, it stars Tim Allen.
Universal and Imagine Entertainment's R rated drama 8 Mile fell three pegs to fifth place in its third week with an unexciting ESTIMATED $8.72 million (-55%) at 2,585 theaters (+89 theaters; $3,375 per theater). Its cume is approximately $97.7 million, heading for $125 million.
Directed by Curtis Hanson and produced by Brian Grazer, it stars Eminem, Kim Basinger, Brittany Murphy and Mekhi Phifer.
DreamWorks' PG-13 rated horror thriller The Ring slipped two rungs to sixth place in its sixth week, still showing good legs with an ESTIMATED $7.6 million (-29%) at 2,628 theaters (-254 theaters; $2,883 per theater). Its cume is approximately $110.9 million, heading for $125 million.
Directed by Gore Verbinski, it stars Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson and Brian Cox.
Universal and Beacon Pictures PG-13 rated drama The Emperor's Club opened in seventh place to a hopeful ESTIMATED $4.07 million at 809 theaters ($5,025 per theater).
Directed by Michael Hoffman, it stars Kevin Kline.
"It's working exactly as we had planned," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said Sunday morning. "We always wanted to deal with this film on a slower basis. We chose this weekend because we believed it would act as a 'sneak weekend.' Instead of having national sneaks, we felt we would open it and let it work as a sneak weekend would so we would be in a position to get the word of mouth out for this incredible film.
"By the way, the CinemaScores and exit polls are really terrific. Everything seems to be going according to plan. We're very pleased with the results. We know that you really can't make an evaluation until after the following 10 days because the next 10 days are crucial days for a movie like this where adults will be able to choose to go to the movies. This is a picture that certainly will appeal to the over-30 crowd and I think the word of mouth is going to support what everybody has been telling us as we've gone along with this incredible grass roots campaign."
Asked about the studio's exit poll results, Rocco replied, "The exit polls were 90 percent in the Top Two Boxes (excellent and very good) across the board. And that's pretty good considering this movie really appeals to the over-30 crowd. The overall ratings were above average, specifically the excellent and very good scores were solidly above the norm. And the Definite Recommend scores were also very, very strong. 81 percent of the audience was 30 years and older. It was slightly skewed female -- 62 percent female versus 38 percent male."
IFC Films' release of Gold Circle Films and HBO's PG rated romantic comedy blockbuster My Big Fat Greek Wedding dropped two slots to eighth place in its 32nd week, still holding well with an ESTIMATED $3.81 million (-19%) at 1,585 theaters (-227 theaters; $2,402 per theater). Its cume is approximately $204.7 million, heading for $215 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Joel Zwick, it stars Nia Vardalos and John Corbett.
Sony's Screen Gems label's PG-13 thriller Half Past Dead fell four notches to ninth place in its second week with a dull ESTIMATED $3.3 million (-58%) at 2,113 theaters (theater count unchanged; $1,562 per theater). Its cume is approximately $12.7 million.
Written and directed by Don Michael Paul, it stars Steven Seagal and Morris Chestnut.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Miramax's R rated drama Frida, which continued to expand in its fifth week with a quiet ESTIMATED $2.4 million (-19%) at 794 theaters (+275 theaters; $3,023 per theater). Its cume is approximately $12.1 million.
Directed by Julie Taymor, it stars Salma Hayek.
This weekend also saw the arrival of Miramax and Intermedia Films' R rated drama The Quiet American to a promising ESTIMATED $0.11 million at 6 theaters in a two week Oscar qualifying run in New York, Los Angeles, Palm Springs and Santa Barbara ($18,500 per theater).
Directed by Phillip Noyce, it stars Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser.
United Artists' R rated drama Personal Velocity, released via MGM, opened to a very encouraging ESTIMATED $30,712 at 2 theaters in New York ($15,356 per theater).
Directed by Rebecca Miller, it stars Kyra Sedgwick, Parker Posey and Fairuza Balk.
Velocity, which won the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival, opens in Toronto and L.A. this coming weekend.
There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
On the expansion front this weekend Focus Features' PG-13 rated drama Far From Heaven went wider in its third week with a still promising ESTIMATED $1.6 million at 259 theaters (+205 theaters; $6,195 per theater). Its cume is approximately $3.2 million.
Directed by Todd Haynes, it stars Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid and Dennis Haysbert.
Samuel Goldwyn Films' R rated drama El Crimen del Padre Amaro expanded in is second week to an encouraging ESTIMATED $0.72 million at 89 theaters (+46 theaters; $8,070 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.5 million.
Directed by Carlos Carrera, it stars Gael Garcia Bernal and is the official Mexican entry in this year's best foreign language film Oscar race.
HBO Films and Newmarket Films' PG-13 rated comedy drama Real Women Have Curves added theaters in its sixth week with a slow ESTIMATED $0.44 million (-15%) at 165 theaters (+18 theaters; $2,682 per theater). Its cume is approximately $3.2 million.
Directed by Patricia Cardoso, it stars America Ferrera, Lupe Ontiveros and George Lopez.
Artisan Entertainment's PG rated documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown expanded in its second week with a still hopeful ESTIMATED $0.15 million at 36 theaters (+13 theaters; $4,195 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.3 million.
Directed by Paul Justman, it tells the story of the Funk Brothers, the legendary musicians who were Motown's back-up band on the tons of hit records the label produced in Detroit in the early '60s.
Miramax's R rated drama Ararat widened in its second week with a solid ESTIMATED $0.11 million at 29 theaters (+23 theaters; $16,000 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.4 million.
Written and directed by Atom Egoyan, it stars David Alpay, Charles Aznavour, Eric Bogosian, Brent Carver and Marie-Josee Croze.
Artisan Entertainment's R rated comedy Roger Dodger widened in its fifth week with a slow ESTIMATED $0.1 million at 54 theaters (+6 theaters; $1,920 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.8 million.
Written and directed by Dylan Kidd, it stars Jennifer Beals, Elizabeth Berkley, Jesse Eisenberg, Isabella Rossellini and Campbell Scott.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 -- took in approximately $149.93 million for the weekend, down about 10.23 percent from the previous weekend this year when they totaled $167.01 million. Comparisons to last year are not valid because this weekend in 2001 was the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Will Barbara Walters manage to make Tom Cruise cry? We'll see when the veteran newswoman airs her 21st annual pre-Academy Awards show on ABC March 24. She'll be talking to Cruise, Monster's Ball Best Actress nominee Halle Berry and Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker. The special will air at 7 p.m. EST and will play immediately after the Oscars on the west coast.
In more Cruise news, the charismatic star has signed on to play a colonel in The Last Samurai. In the story, his character assists 19th-century Japanese samurai in new fighting techniques. Edward Zwick (Legends of the Fall) will be directing.
In the season finale of NBC's Friends, Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) will give birth in a rather long and drawn-out labor--it's a guarantee, say show creators Kevin Bright and Marta Kaufmann. She won't die in childbirth, however, despite a recent tabloid report. Bright told Reuters, "This year, we know Rachel is going to have a baby," and Kaufmann quickly added, "And she's not dying in childbirth." Whew, that's a relief!
Musician Bob Dylan is making his way to the big screen for the first time in 15 years, starring in a film tentatively titled Masked and Anonymous for Intermedia Films. The 60-year-old will play Jack Fate, a "wandering troubadour who is brought out of prison by his former manager for one last concert," Variety reported. It'll be a stretch for him, but we have every confidence he can pull it off.
After the California Supreme Court overturned the "Son of Sam" law last week, allowing convicted criminals to sell their life stories to the media, Hollywood Reporter reported that Showtime was given the go-ahead to start production on Stealing Sinatra. The cable film, which will star David Arquette, William H. Macy and Thomas Ian Nicholas, is based on kidnapper Barry Keenan's account of the 1963 kidnapping of Frank Sinatra Jr. It may also get a theatrical release before it premieres on Showtime.
Late Night talk show host Conan O'Brien should be feeling the love now. His contract with NBC has been extended for four more years, which will give O'Brien nearly $8 million a year. O'Brien, who decided to stay with NBC after being approached by Fox, said in a statement, "I'm very excited to be staying at NBC. By my 13th year, we should really know if this thing works or not."
Cynthia Nixon, the winsome actress who plays cynical lawyer Miranda Hobbes on HBO's Sex and the City, is speaking up to get more funds allocated toward New York public schools. The New York Gov. George Pataki and his administration is appealing a landmark 2001 state court decision that ordered the state to spend more than $1 billion more on New York City schools, the Associated Press reported. "If Miranda were real, I would try to persuade her to send her son to a public school because I believe in them," Nixon told AP in Albany on Tuesday, as she lobbied state legislature.
NBC wins the gold with the Winter Olympics. The peacock network came in first place in both total viewers and the coveted 18-49 demographic, winning the Nielsen race for all 17 nights of the Olympics. Fox and CBS shared second place in the 18-49 demographic, and CBS also took second in total viewership.
Bond has a new TV home. TNN, CBS and UPN--all owned by Viacom, Inc.--have joined forces to buy the exclusive two-year television rights to the first 15 James Bond films from MGM. The approximately $30 million pact was made after the titles became available when both ABC and TBS declined to renew their deals for the Bond flicks.
Hip-hop star Lil' Romeo will star in the film Shorty, produced by his father, Master P, about a diminutive alien who lands on Earth and becomes a rapping, hip-hopping partner with a 12-year-old (Lil' Romeo). They try and enter a MTV talent contest. You watch, it'll probably make a lot of money at the box office.