New Line Cinema's epic fantasy The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring made a noble debut at the box office this weekend, taking in $45.2 million in its opening weekend, bringing its four day domestic theatrical release total to $73.1 million. Hitting 3,359 theaters, The Fellowship of the Ring averaged $13,471 per theater.
While the PG-13-rated The Fellowship of the Ring did not surpass last month's $90.3 million take for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, it did eclipse the $60 million mark predicted by the studio.
The Fellowship of the Ring pulled in $18.2 million at the domestic box office on its first day, the biggest take ever for a single day in December, and the third biggest Wednesday opening for any film in North America. It did not, however, surpass records set by Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, which grossed $28.5 million on May 19, 1999, and Jurassic Park III, which made $19 million on July 18, 2001.
Directed by Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring stars Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd and Liv Tyler.
Warner Bros.' PG-13 crime remake Ocean's Eleven kept its runner-up title for the second week in a row, earning $14.5 million in 3,075 theaters ($4,745 per theater). Its cume is approximately $95.2 million.
The film, directed by Steven Soderbergh, stars George Clooney, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, and Don Cheadle.
Armed and ready, Paramount's G-rated animated feature Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius comfortably slid into third place with an estimated $14 million in 3,139 theaters ($4,460 per theater), easily beating out Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
Last week's box office topper, Paramount's Vanilla Sky, dropped to fourth place this weekend. The romantic thriller earned $12.1 million, a 52 percent drop from last week, at 2,744 theaters ($4,410 per theater). Sky has a cume of approximately $45.1 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Cameron Crowe, Vanilla Sky star Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz.
Universal's R-rated pot comedy How High smoked its way to a fifth place with an estimated $7.6 million at 1,266 theaters (an impressive $6,003 per theater).
It's directed by Jesse Dylan and stars rappers Method Man and Redman.
Slowly losing steam, Warner Bros.' Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone dropped two spots to finish sixth, making $6.7 million-a 38 percent drop from last week, at 3,311 theaters (-111 theaters; $1,863 per theater). Its cume is approximately $236.1 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Chris Columbus, it stars Daniel Radcliffe in its title role.
Sony's R-rated youth flick Not Another Teen Movie fell four notches to place seventh with an estimated $5.5 million (-56%) at 2,365 theaters ($2,326 per theater). Its cume is approximately $21.6 million.
Directed by Joel Gallen, the film stars Jaime Pressly, Mia Kirshner, Chyler Leigh, Chris Evans and Cody McMains.
Warner Bros.' The Majestic made a weak debut in eighth place with a dull estimated $5 million at 2,361 theaters, with an average of $2,128 per theater.
The PG-rated drama directed by Frank Darabont stars a subdued Jim Carrey.
Fox's Joe Somebody eked by in ninth spot. The PG-rated comedy opened with an estimated $3.6 million at 2,503 theaters ($1,458per theater).
Directed by John Pasquin, the film stars Tim Allen, Julie Brown, Hayden Panettiere and Greg Germann.
Rounding out the top ten was Buena Vista's Monsters, Inc., down four rungs in its eighth week with an estimated $3.5 million at 2,097 theaters (-585 with an average of $2,530 per theater). Its cume is approximately $224.1 million.
It's a very light week in role call land. What a shame--there's not one sexy star I can talk about (trust me, this is a problem here at Hollywood.com). But I do have the freakish pop singer/superstar category covered. Honestly, what is wrong with Michael Jackson? Boy, I'd really like to go into it, but there's too much to talk about and I just don't have time. Let's focus on the casting choices he's made for his new video "You Rock My World" for now. He's snagged Marlon Brando (who replaces Robert De Niro), some of the cast from The Sopranos, Benicio Del Toro and Chris Tucker to play some parts, and I just have one question--what do you think Jackson did to entice talent like that? Maybe he's paying them buckets of money. Maybe they feel sorry for him. Nevertheless, Jackson, whose career is really taking a turn for the worse with spiraling record sales and little public interest, has decided to return to his glory days by producing this $30 million video, jam-packed with big names--basically making up for a pretty average pop tune none of the radio stations want to play. It's sad, really.
Director and special-effects aficionado James Cameron has decided to concentrate on comic books--and once again, water--for his next project. He will be developing a live-action version of the comic book Fathom, which follows a beautiful young girl named Aspen Matthews. Aspen is found on an abandoned yacht with no memory of her past. Don't you just hate that? You're on a yacht, you're having fun and then--wham! You forget everything. But I digress... The girl grows up, becomes an Olympic swimmer and a marine biologist. During her research she discovers not only a mysterious underwater race but her own water-based powers. This is right up Cameron's alley; he simply loves the water, doesn't he? With his films The Abyss and Titanic, he's getting a name for himself filming epic water adventures. He's even doing a series of underwater specials for ABC with the late Jacques Cousteau's son, Jean-Michel. Someday, I'll have to ask him what his fascination with the deep blue sea is.
Sammy Davis Jr. only wished he could have starred in the latest unbelievable script coming out of Hollywood. Take a gander at this: apparently, talent/literary house The Endeavor Agency has decided to get a little rat-happy. They are hawking a remake of the 1971 rodent-infested Willard written by Glen Morgan and writer-director James Wong. You remember Willard, don't you? That happy story about a socially persecuted young man who gets back at his co-workers with a blood-thirsty rat, starring Bruce Davison. Right. On Tuesday, the agency created a stir by sending the reworked spec script around town, in a cage--with rats. Now, tell me what studio executive is going to pass something like that up? DreamWorks principals Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg and Miramax co-chairmen Harvey and Bob Weinstein were among some of the recipients of the lovely "package." Where's the rat poison?
Michael Cimino is returning to the director's chair with a new project, Man's Fate, a drama set in Shanghai against the backdrop of the Chinese revolution. Based on French author Andre Malraux's novel La condition humaine (The Human Condition), the film follows several Europeans living in Shanghai and the emotional bonds they develop during the tragic turmoil of the onset of China's Communist regime. Cimino is looking at several A-list actors, including Johnny Depp, Daniel Day-Lewis, John Malkovich, Uma Thurman and French actor Alain Delon. Poor Cimino. His career started so big with the Academy Award-winning The Deer Hunter, but has been forever stamped with the ugly label of directing the classic textbook-case flop Heaven's Gate. He'll never be able to shrug this off, unless he directs another Oscar winner. Maybe Fate will be his ticket out of the Gate.
And in television...
Usually I stick with the movies, but this television role call caught my eye. Actress Juliette Lewis is going to make a guest appearance on ABC's Dharma & Greg, playing Jenna Elfman's childhood friend. Now, what the heck happened to Juliette Lewis? It used to be that when a movie actress started doing television, it meant their careers were going downhill. This isn't the case anymore, with the advent of cable and the quality of material being put on television. However, in Lewis' case, we may be looking at old times. If it were Friends or Fraiser, that would be one thing but Dharma & Greg? She came out like gangbusters when she started her career with Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives and Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers, and especially in her heart-wrenching performance in Martin Scorsese's Cape Fear. But then came The Evening Star and The Other Sister, and, well, you see where I'm going. Lewis on Dharma & Greg is just an interesting step on what still could be a promising career--if she got a better agent.
Snagging new TV gigs this week:
Molly Ringwald hits the Big Time
Molly Ringwald, America's sweetheart during the late '80s, is back -- this time on the small screen. The actress will be starring in Big Time, a show that centers on a fledging TV network in the early days of the industry.
In the show, which will air on TNT, the setting will be 1948 Manhattan, and Ringwald will play the network head's new bride, who discovers a unique opportunity for herself in the burgeoning landscape of television.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, executive producers John Wells and Carol Flint have also hired actor Dylan Baker of Happiness fame, who will play a tirelessly devoted producer and VP of programming committed to making the young network a success.
The show will be directed and co-executive produced by Paris Barclay and marks Ringwald's return to her television series roots. The actress started her screen career on the NBC comedy The Facts of Life, and moved on to bigger roles on the big screen in '80s flicks such as Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink.
Shaun Cassidy Signs TV deal
Former teen idol-turned-TV producer Shaun Cassidy has signed on as producer of The Agency, a CBS drama about the men and women of the CIA, Variety reports.
The former Hardy Boy has also signed on to produce a drama pilot at USA Network titled Wilder, a show which he originally created for the WB for the 2000-01 TV season.
Wilder is about a former teen idol who teams up with his younger cop brother to work as detectives. Corin Nemec (Parker Lewis Can't Lose) and Ashley Howard (Bring It On) have been cast as the leads in the pilot.
Jim Miller, USA Network's executive VP of original programming, believes the show contains the kind of subject matter that people often try to tackle, but seldom pull off successfully.
"Because [Cassidy] was there, because he understands that mind set -- the good and the bad -- the authenticity, the veracity of it all is just unmatchable,'' he tells Variety.
Culp, DuVall Make a Monster
Steven Culp (Thirteen Days) and Clea DuVall (Girl, Interrupted) will star in HBO/Cinemax's "How to Make a Monster" for writer-director George Huang (Swimming With Sharks). Production is slated to begin this week.
Monster is about a company man (Culp) who hires three ex-cons-turned-computer programmers to create a computer game, Evilution, which centers on an evil being. Whoever builds the scariest monster will win $1 million.
In their attempt to create the scariest monster, causing the computer to overload with everything that is evil, the monster comes to life.
The Hollywood Reporter adds that Tyler Mane, Jason Marsden and Karim Prince will also be featured in the project.
Tucci Tackles Groucho for CBS
Stanley Tucci, the actor-producer who won an Emmy for his portrayal of the 1950s columnist Walter Winchell, will star as Groucho Marx in Love, Groucho, a two-hour telepic for CBS produced by Alliance Atlantis.
The film is based on the book Love, Groucho: Letters From Groucho Marx to His Daughter Miriam by Miriam Marx Allen. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the movie will trace highlights of the actor's life, including the breakup of his marriage and the eventual breakup of his career.
Screenwriter Jennifer Miller has penned the script for the project, which is executive produced by Tucci, Peter Sussman, Ed Gernon, Greg Gugliotta and Sandy Gartin.