September 12, 2010

Day 3 of John Foote's Toronto Film Festival Diary!

A few years ago a film entitled Stranger Than Fiction (2006) was here at TIFF which displayed an entirely different side to Will Ferrell, best known as a comedic actor, here tackling a dramatic role for the first time. Ferrell was very good in the film, and impressed more than a few film critics (myself included) with his acting chops. Of course his recent performance as President George W. Bush on HBO makes it clear that when he puts his mind to it, he is a gifted actor capable of doing great comedic work. One of the joys of TIFF is finding out something new about an actor or a director, when they tackle something outside their comfort zone, and incredibly, make it work. Just a few days ago Chris Cooper said to me that the industry often pigeon holes actors into doing the same sort of performance and film over and over and over, and that since winning his Oscar for Adaptation (2002) has never been offered anything remotely like that part again. Ferrell is often in danger of getting stuck in that rut, doing the same sort of character over and over, when clearly there is a character actor waiting to break out.
Ferrell has done it again, in a film not as good as Stranger Than Fiction, though his performance may be better, darker, and more complex than that one.
In his new film film, Everything Must Go, directed by Dan Rush, comedian Will Ferrell gives a strong performance as an alcoholic, fired from his job, kicked out of his home by his wife, and left with only his possessions scattered on his front lawn. The entire premise of the film is how he deals with this, how he comes to recognize that his life is not over and he has the strength to carry on. Ferrell handles the angry man portrayal quite well, proving that his work in Stranger Than Fiction (2006) was no fluke. In fact, I dare say this is his best work onscreen...period. This is Ferrell's first foray into the independent filmmaking scene, the actor offered a role that goes against the grain of just about everything he has done.
His character could be a dislikable sort, and indeed Ferrell goes in that direction, capturing the anger of a man who has allowed, through drink and foolish acts, his life to spiral out of control. I cannot remember Ferrell ever portraying such self loathing so brilliantly before, as deep down he knows he is his own worst enemy, but lacks the courage to do anything about it, perhaps because it is his very own misery. People on such a downward dive often have nothing more than their misery, and they covet and protect it, because they somehow understand it is the one thing they do control. Their anger grows, they lash out at anyone around them, and are cruel because they feel they do not deserve any decent treatment or kindness. However there is something so inherently likable within Ferrell it is impossible to completely dislike the character. We see him do some very stupid things, we see him at his very worst, but we also know what he is going through and what he is up against. He's not a bad guy, not at all, he's just in a bad way.
The film itself suffers from being rather one note, though. Once his character is established on the front lawn, the other characters are introduced, it all becomes a tad redundant, despite some strong performances from Ferrell and Rebecca Hall. She brings a lovely winsome presence to the film as a pregnant neighbor, having just moved in, getting a rather shocking introduction to Ferrell. He hits the nail right on the head when he states that she could be looking at her future, but she sees something more in him, and will not let his defeatist attitude get to her. In the moment of the darkest despair of his life, betrayed by someone he truly admired and trusted, he manages to find hope and go on.
Based on a short story by Raymond Chandler, "Why Don't You Dance?", the director-writer Rush knew at once upon reading the story that this would be his first feature. Knowing he needed a strong actor for the part of Nick, who is in virtually every scene in the film, Rush thought of no one else but Ferrell. Knowing that the character had some irredeemable qualities about him, he believed that Ferrell's likability would help with the impact of the film and allow the audience to care about the character.
Rush was right in his casting, no question. Where he fails, I think is in the execution of the story, which lacks urgency and desperation. This guy is out of his home, fired, his car taken away...he is at rock bottom, and yet the film moves casually along. Rush is very fortunate to have Ferrell in the film, an actor interesting enough to keep the audience watching and caring about the character.
The one piece of casting I struggled with was Christopher "CJ" Wallace, who is a thirteen year old kid who becomes over a few days Ferrell's best friend and business partner. There is a lack of chemistry between the pair, and though it does not impact the performance of Ferrell, it does cause the scenes with the youngster to lack a degree of realism. There is just something inauthentic about his work that stands out among the other actors, who live and breathe the characters.
The press audience enjoyed the film, though they seemed to enjoy Ferrell much more. He is the driving force of the film.

The American remake of the brilliant Danish horror film Let the Right One in (2007) is Let Me In, directed by Matt Reeves who gave us the horror flick Cloverfield (2009). With strong buzz floating around this picture, many in the audience were openly discussing the original, wondering if the director of the remake could match that first one. Suffice to say he does, though I cannot say I agree with other critics stating that this new film surpasses the original. Certainly more money was spent in the making, and the production values are stronger, but that first picture had a stark and cold horror that this new one does not have. It's very scary, don't get me wrong, but there is an under current of sadness to this one that I did not find in the first.
Almost a shot for shot remake of the film, the picture is an unsettling, chilling tale of a young American boy and the twelve (more or less she says) year old vampire girl he befriends when she moves into his apartment complex. He is struggling with the nasty divorce of his parents, seeking to belong in a school where he is the target of a relentless bully, and looking for something to happen in his life that might interest him. The girl, Abby, tells him from the beginning, "we can't be friends" yet their friendship nonetheless evolves, slowly, as a trust builds between the two of them. We see glimpses into each of their lives and, in their own very different way, each is an outsider. She for her need for human blood, he because he is different than the other kids and targeted by a particular group of boys who openly despise him.
When her protector dies she is forced to reveal more and more of herself to the boy, who though initially horrified, still understands Abby is the girl underneath it all, and cannot help what she is any more than his mother can help what she is. As a police detective, nicely portrayed by Elias Koteas gets closer and closer to discovering Abby's secret, the boy learns just how far he will go to protect his friend, monster or not.
In the original film, there were no glowing eyes, no changes to the girl throughout the film, which I admired. I have always admired Stephen King's book Salem's Lot in which the vampires' facial features never change, they remain the same and their eyes of pools of darkness. Sadly, the director Reeves has chosen to allow Abby's features to become more and more monster like as she feeds, which to me lessened the impact of the horror. How much more terrifying would it be to see that sweet faced girl feasting on blood, than the green eyed beast we see? It is the wrong move from a director who obviously has great regard for the original and does virtually everything right until that moment. Not that it ruins the film, the picture is too strong for that to happen, and the performances far too outstanding.
Richard Jenkins is the child's protector, her father she calls him, and her connection to food. He kills people and drains their blood so the girl may feed. When one of his killings goes terribly wrong, he pours acid over his face so he is unrecognizable and will not be caught. Abby comes to him in the hospital, and he offers her his blood, before he falls to the ground dead. Without a protector, she is left to find blood for herself, and when the boy tries to make them blood "friends" she goes berserk, lapping up his blood from the ground, before attacking a woman in the apartment complex. This brings the police, and Abby is forced to move on. Or so the boy believes. She is watching him from afar, and is finally his protector from the bullies who terrorize him, leaving a swimming pool awash in blood and body parts. Knowing they cannot escape this series of murders, the boy makes a life altering decision that will impact them both, but keep them together.
When a film is placed on the shoulders of actors so young it is a huge risk for the director, and must weigh on his mind during the making of the film. However when the child actors are as strong as they are in this film, the director has no worries. Initially when I heard Kodi Smit-McPhee of The Road (2009) was going to portray the boy in the film I was concerned as I did not care for his work in that apocalyptic work, believing it to be forced and immature. Yet he has grown as an actor, and grounds this film with a fine and strong piece of acting. His beautiful liquid eyes are so utterly soulful, and his feelings for Abby worn on his sleeve.
As Abby, young Chloe Grace Mortez, is otherworldly. His wise eyes seems ancient, and yet there is a childlike quality to her, "I like puzzles", she tells his friend, not realizing, (or perhaps knowing) he is trying to solve the puzzle that is Abby. She knows what she is, she knows she could kill the boy in a heartbeat, but does not, because despite her belief she cannot have a friend, she knows he is hers.
The attacks are quite startling, as she suddenly moves with extraordinary speed, leaping around like a vicious lynx attacking her prey, and there is no shortage of blood. Yet this is also a film about an evolving friendship, and a deep love between two children.
Though many doubted Matt Reeves, he more than pulled this off, giving us a film that will do very well at the box office and provide audiences with some genuine thrills this fall. Hopefully, the success of this new picture will not cause audiences to forget the original, because it remains a chilling exercise in terror, and that young girls' face haunts the landscape of my mind.

-Thoughts?

September 11, 2010

Day 2 of John Foote's Toronto Film Festival Diary!

Here you go:

Oscar buzz swept through TIFF today.
Several writers have already gone on the record as stating that “The King’s Speech” will win the Academy Award as Best Picture, and after seeing this mesmerizing work from Emmy Award winner (“John Adams”) director Tom Hooper, I am inclined to agree with them that the film will dominate the race with multiple nominations. Further I suspect Colin Firth will be this years Best Actor winner for his superb performance as King George VI, who suffered a speech impediment for much of his early, finally seeking help from Lionel Logue shortly before he became King. Logue, portrayed by the great Geoffrey Rush, understood that with impediments there are usually emotional issues at the core of the issue, but finds the monarch reluctant to let him into his personal life. Only when a bond is forged, trust develops and the King finds that this subject is very much his friend is the monarch at ease. Hooper creates a marvelous film brimming with energy and urgency, plunging his audience into the years leading up to Great Britain’s declaration of war against Germany and Hitler. It is not a perfect film, though. I struggled throughout with Timothy Spall as WInston Churchill, especially after the two superb performances by Albert Finney and Bredan Gleason on HBO in separate films about Churchill. Perhaps Spall is simply too identifiable an actor for the role…I know I could not get by it, though that is a minor quibble.

On the city streets, in the line ups around the festival and in the press office, all they are talking about is “The King’s Speech“.

Oscar awaits.

The last time Darren Aronofsky was here was for The Wrestler (2008) which landed Mickey Rourke in the Oscar race for Best Actor, along with changing the course of his career, and I suspect the star of his new film, “Black Swan“, will end up a Best Actress nominee. Natalie Portman, long considered a gifted actress, finally has a role that seizes upon her substantial talents as an actress, and a director willing to push her to the limit. Portman is excellent in this thriller set in the cut throat world of ballet, where young women leave behind their childhoods in search of a career in the spotlight of the worlds great ballets. The actress has rarely been tested like this by her director, “Closer” (2004), perhaps the only exception, and she rises to the occasion with a mesmerizing performance, matched by the dark Mila Kunis, as a rival ballerina with a dark side. Cross Aronofksy’s “Requeim for a Dream” (2000) with this, and you get the picture; a visual knockout, with superb performances throughout, and one of the films everyone is talking about.

David Schwimmer spent a long time on television as Ross on Friends. While on the show, did anyone ever believe he would become a formidable filmmaker? HIs new film “Trust“, is as dark a film as one can get, and the director handles it beautifully, creating an intimate family drama in which a family goes through every parents nightmare. Annie (Liana LIberato) is given a new laptop for her fourteenth birthday and at once connects with a fifteen year old boy, who she later learns is twenty, and who it turns out is much older than that. He suggests they meet, and takes her to a hotel where he assults her. Only Annie does not believe it was rape, she believes they are in love. She cannot understand her father’s rage, her mother’s emtional devastation or the involvement of the FBI. As events sprial more and more out of control, Annie is placed in the very adult worl of having to discover realities she is not ready to deal with.

Schwimmer directs his actors with the assuredness of a long time veteran, and never makes a false step as a director. The film is alarming in its intensity and realism, frightening in what it is saying, and terrifying in its realism. Clive Owen is excellent as a father who believes he failed to protect his child, while Catherine Keener is equally good as a mother who needs to nurture and heal her child, but has no idea how. The revelation in the film is Liberato, just astounding as Annie, the child who gets into a world she is simply not prepared to inhabit. A cautionary tale that is also a character study that is also a brilliant thriller, with a moment over the end credits that will chill you to your very soul. The film will be a tough one to market, but deserves an audience for its topical subject matter, and the powerful manner in which the director and his cast deliver their message.

Another actor behind the camera, Ben Affleck proved that he is the real deal with “The Town“, an excellent film with powerhouse performances from the ensemble cast, and I must highlight it again. When a bank robbery goes very wrong and a hostage is taken and then released, the robbers find their worlds being torn apart. One of them, portrayed with ferocious intensity by Jeremy Renner believes he can end it all with violence, while his good friend, portrayed by Affleck, sees a chance to get out of the life of crime and have a real life with love and family. That alarms Renner because he wonders how far his friend will go to be honest and who he will take down along the way. Affleck is brilliant at times behind the camera, and damned good in front of it this time as well, but the movie belongs to Renner, superb as a dangerous criminal threatened with everything he knows coming to an end. I mentioned the film once already, but it’s worth mentioning again…

Chris Cooper turns up in a single scene and all but steals the film. Affleck obviously loves his actors and they revere him equally as a director, doing tremendous work for him. ”The Town” will do boffo business when released, though I doubt it will have an impact come awards season.

-Thoughts?

Day 1 of John Foote's Toronto Film Festival Diary!

Here's John's report:

What a busy day to start off the Toronto Film Festival!!! Having covered the fest for fifteen years I have a set pattern, but damned if they haven’t moved everything on me and screwed me up!!! More on that later.

Three films got me started with the TIFF, including the goofy night Opening Night Gala, Score: A Hockey Musical, which left me all but giddy. That said, I am not sure who else will want to see the movie, as it does not appeal to hockey purists and musical lovers may be put off by the manner of dance and song. However, merging some of what is going on with TV’s Glee, with some Busby Berkley, and singing and dancing, the filmmaker did an excellent job of making an entertaining film that likely has little reach beyond these borders. Hockey remains our passion up here, and we still wait for that great dramatic film about out sport, or a biography of one of the greats. The excellent Quebec film The Rocket (2006) accomplished at least a part of that a few years ago.

Despite a powerful performance from Edward Norton, Stone goes nowhere fast, taking on every cliche used or seen in a prison film. The plot contains a development so incredibly ludicrous, irresponsible and unprofessional by Robert De Niro’s character (who has given no indication he would fall for such nonsense) that we wanted to scream at the movie screen for him to stop!!! It just does not work for the story, and yet despite that the performances in the film are very good. Norton gets off to a great start as his character goes through a sort of spiritual rebirth, losing none of his menace by the end. His tale to De Niro (who portrays a parole counselor) of how he felt about his crime is chilling, and it is our first peek behind his mask. De Niro is a strange bird, as we see through flashbacks the bizarre control he exerts over his wife. We know his daughter will not talk to him (we see it) and that the marriage is a terrible mess, but he seems like a religious man, a decent man behind the drink that is constantly in his hand at home. I just did not buy that the De Niro character would get trapped in the manner he did, or that he would allow himself to go so off protocol to help someone…anyone. God, the entire film paints him as a selfish brute…why help anyone???

The Town is quite good, another solid directorial effort from Ben Affleck, who is growing into a fine filmmaker. This time there are echoes of early Friedkin in his work, gritty and authentic, displaying a deft touch with his actors, who clearly trust their director. Jeremy Renner is superb as a trigger happy hot head member of the bank robbing gang, who blows a gasket during the robbery and takes a hostage, releasing her almost at once, but not before the event has traumatized her. Hoping to get it all out of mind, Affleck follows her, befriends and then falls in love with her, seeing for the first time a chance at an honest life. This enrages the dangerous Renner. In order to keep her safe, Affleck must betray the gang, and in doing so they will both become targets. The performances are terrific, especially Renner and the great Chris Cooper as Affleck’s father, settled and truthful in his work. Affleck, often mocked as an actor, does an excellent job here on screen as well as behind the camera. This is a solid movie, one that with the right sort of push from the studio could be heard from come Oscar time.
Very hectic day overall as it seems the entire festival has moved south in the city closer to the new festival home the Bell Lightbox. We no longer frequent the lovely Varisty Theatre for our screenings, as the Scotia Bank Theatre is much closer so there was some fumbling to get around a bit. I found that the Richmond/John area is not as taxi cab friendly as the rest of the city, so there was some walking involved (remember I walk with a cane and constant pain) and I paid dearly for the extra walking last night. My friends and allies in pain management (Oxycontin and Percoset) took away the pain for the night but it is back this morning and I can take a bit to take the edge off. Worth it for the movies man…so worth it.

-Thoughts?

June 17, 2010

Greetings from the Los Angeles Film Festival!


To all readers and fans of the Awards Circuit,

As Clay mentioned earlier in the week, this is now the Festival Blog, and for the remainder of the month will be our blog for the Los Angeles Film Festival, which is produced every year by Film Independent (yes the same group that hands out the Independent Spirit Awards before the Oscars). This section of the site will be updated constantly during the next couple of weeks, with everything from capsule reviews of films, previews of up-coming events, film recommendations, coverage of events, filmmaker interviews, and much more!

Please check back here for information if you’re in LA and looking for things to do at the festival, or if you’re one of our readers from the world over who wants to follow the films and the artists who may soon be hitting the Oscar trail. From the gala screening of Fox Searchlight’s summer release “Cyrus” to independent documentaries such as “Vlast (Power)” and every coffee talk and pool conversation I can fit into my schedule, please check back here early and often to read all about it. Also, if there are any specific events you’d like to see covered, please let me know in comments section and I’ll see what I can arrange. The link to the official Los Angeles Film Festival site is here.

Thanks for checking out this wonderful festival and supporting independent film. I hope to see you there.

June 13, 2010

Here's the poster for Sofia Coppola's new film 'Somewhere'!

Thoughts?

Jack-in-the-Box Office for the weekend of June 11th-13th


After a series of films underperformed at the box office throughout the past month, shockingly it was “The Karate Kid” that shattered all expectations by taking in $56 million at the domestic box office this weekend. While global numbers were unavailable at this time, “The Karate Kid” had a $40 million production budget, and is looking at a profit margin that could be far higher than any other film released this summer. Even Sony who released “The Karate Kid” had predicted an opening of about half this scale, and to possibly be neck-and-neck for the top spot with the re-make of “The A-Team”. Ultimately, with kids getting out of school for the summer and families wanting to return to the movies, “The Karate Kid” filled a need in the marketplace that was open as many families had already seen “Shrek Forever After” in the last three weeks.

If “The Karate Kid” signaled a shift at the box office to better summer seasons gone by, “The A-Team”, fit right in to this summer’s series of opening weekends that fall somewhere in between disappointing and tragic. Although it may be more the former than the latter, “The A-Team” opened in second place with $26 million domestically and $41 million worldwide, only a fraction of its $110 million budget. While many have been quick to point fingers at “Hollywood” for rehashing ideas for sequels, video game adaptations, and re-imaginings that people didn’t want to see, it’s hard to place blame on the studio system for lack of original ideas leading to a weak marketplace the same weekend when a series re-boot took the top spot. While everyone underestimated the power of the branding of “The Karate Kid” (and it’s Justin Bieber tie-in which was likely game-changing), the brand recognition/loyalty for “The A-Team” didn’t seem to be in the marketplace in the way Fox may have expected or hoped.

As far as “Shrek Forever After” goes, the song remains the same with that film as it took third place at the box office this weekend making another $15 million, bringing its domestic total to $210 million and its worldwide total to $277. Again, while the numbers on the film remain profitable for Dreamworks (the film reportedly cost $165 million), it continues to fall short of the previous sequels in the franchise. This would continue to prove the “rule” that many filmgoers and bloggers have suggested , that audiences are growing weary of paying for expensive tickets to see franchise films that may have overstayed their welcome, and are growing even more weary of paying even more to see them in 3-D.

“Get Him to the Greek” took fourth place this week, adding another $10 million to its total to bring its domestic total to $36 million. This puts the film ahead of the two week gross of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and guarantees that the film should turn a profit in the coming days.

Though many films have underperformed at the box office this summer, the season has produced very few bona fide flops. Still, one of those flops could end up being “Killers”, which took in another $8 million this weekend to come in at fifth place. With the worldwide total being $31 million and production budget being reported as having been $75 million, its hard to say if the film will turn a profit in its theatrical run, but at this point it seems unlikely.

Three films opened this weekend in limited release, and they just so happen to be the three films with the highest per-screen averages. The top spot in this race went to the Sundance breakout hit “Winter’s Bone” which opened with $85,400, or $21,350 per-screen. With the film’s low-budget, positive reviews, and awards buzz, the film should easily turn a nice profit in the coming weeks and months.

“The Lottery”, the documentary on the education system in America, opened on one screen with $17,200, a success for a documentary with such little publicity.

“Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky” had it’s American debut in three theaters where it make $48,800, or $16,267 per-screen. Though no budget for the film was available, the film has made over $3.5 million worldwide.

As always, we at the Awards Circuit are intrigued to find out what you saw this weekend and what you make of this rollercoaster summer at the box office. Is the multiplex offering to few original ideas for your taste? Are the sequels not entertaining enough? Have you been shunning them for indie fare? Or have ticket prices kept you out of the theaters all together? As always, all of us at the Awards Circuit would love to hear what awards potential you saw (if any) and wish you a wonderful summer at the movies.

Less than 24 hours until the new Awards Circuit debuts...

...so stay tuned and sit tight!

June 11, 2010

The actors vying to play Spider-Man continues to grow...

...with two excellent new options being added, according to The Los Angeles Times:

Since it was announced back in the winter, some have hoped/worried that Marc Webb's Spider-Man reboot will go in a "Kick-Ass" direction, a not unreasonable thought given multiple parallels between the two stories as well as the warm reception (if not exactly hot box office) that greeted "Kick-Ass."

Could it now go that way literally?

You can add two names to the growing list of (very early) candidates for the young Peter Parker, and one of them is Aaron Johnson, who played the titular nerd-hero in "Kick-Ass," sources say.

Johnson, who for months has been the subject of relentless online speculation about his suitability for the part, would indeed in many ways make an appropriate choice. His role in "Kick-Ass" saw him as a seemingly ordinary teenager transformed into a superhero, much in the way of Parker's Spider-Man. Of course, the analogy is also off in several key ways: Johnson was a fake superhero, not a real one, and his star in the film was eclipsed by Chloe Moretz's Hit-Girl.

The second actor to make his way on to the shortlist of the Sony film, according to sources, is Anton Yelchin, who has been coming on strong since his 2009 double-whammy of "Star Trek" and "Terminator Salvation".

Yelchin would have his champions too. His supporting role as Chekov in "Star Trek" didn't leave a deep impression, but he did steal the show as Kyle Reese in "Terminator Salvation."

Both of the new names are a bit more prominent than the actors who have previously surfaced. That list includes "Billy Elliot" star Jamie Bell, "Harry Potter" actor Frank Dillane, "The Kids Are All Right" costar Josh Hutcherson and up-and-comers Alden Ehrenreich and Andrew Garfield.

Of course, just the fact that these actors are being considered means little in practice. Over the last few months, director Marc Webb has canvassed a wide group of young actors with the aim of seeing which one he and and the studio should anoint to take the role previously filled by Tobey Maguire. Screen testing is expected to start shortly. And the hue and cry over whether the right choice was made will follow shortly after that.

-I'm a big Yelchin fan, but Johnson would be a very solid pick too...thoughts?

Which movie characters could clean up the oil spill?

Well, Cinematical has an article here, but this is the 10 they came up with for the purposes of saving the world:

1. Virgil from 'The Abyss'
2. The survivors from 'Sphere'
3. Mulder and Scully from 'The X-Files'
4. Harry from 'Armageddon'
5. Neo from 'The Matrix'
6. The Wolf from 'Pulp Fiction'
7. Daniel from 'There Will Be Blood'
8. MacGruber from 'MacGruber'
9. Spongebob from 'Spongebob Squarepants'
10. Superman from 'Superman'

-Any characters you would add to this list?

Prepare for a sequel to 'Clash of the Titans'...

...in the near future too, according to The Los Angeles Times:

"Clash of the Titans 2" is seemingly turning into a bigger priority by the day.

Producers, along with executives at Warner Bros. and producer Legendary Pictures, have been busily meeting with directors, with an eye to shooting the sequel as early as January.

A number of filmmakers are in contention for the job, but one name that's risen to the top of the list is Jonathan Liebesman. Originally a horror director -- he made "Darkness Falls" and the 2006 "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" prequel -- Liebesman has re-fashioned himself as an action director. The filmmaker has a movie called "Battle: Los Angeles" -- about an alien invasion in this fair city -- coming next year. He's also onboard for another classic action tale (or an action tale set in a classic period) at Warner Bros: a re-imagining of "Odysseus" with the producers of "300," which Liebesman helped conceive and then sold to the studio.

The new director on "Clash 2" would of course replace Louis Leterrier, who opted not to direct the follow-up to his recent film.

Warners and Legendary have reason to move quickly on "Clash 2." The original (that is, the 2010 remake) pocketed a nice chunk of change -- $162 million domestically and a solid $325 million overseas, on a budget of only about $125 million. And this one will be shot in 3-D -- none of the conversion stuff. That means the movie could be more expensive, but at least it won't get hammered for its look.

Early 2011 is also a priority because the studio needs to make sure star Sam Worthington, who is committed to shoot "Avatar 2" (likely later in the year), is free and clear. Look for this one to continue to come together quickly.

-Well, it won't have to do much to be better than the first one, which was atrocious to me...thoughts?

Jennifer Garner and Nick Nolte to join the cast of the 'Arthur' remake?

Well, The Hollywood Reporter says that they're in talks:

Jennifer Garner and Nick Nolte are in talks to join the cast of "Arthur," Warner Bros.' remake of the 1981 comedy.

Russell Brand and Helen Mirren are starring in the pic, which Jason Winer is directing.

Closely hewing to the original, the new "Arthur" follows a very rich, happy drunk who is told by his mother that he must marry the wealthy girl of her choosing or else lose his inheritance, just as he meets a poor girl (Greta Gerwig) and falls in love.

Garner is playing an heiress who carries her own secrets and whom Brand must marry. Nolte is her deeply religious father.

Larry Brezner is producing with Kevin McCormick and Chris Bender.

Garner, repped by WME and Management 360, took part in New Line's ensemble rom-com "Valentine's Day" and recently wrapped "Butter," an indie dramedy set in the small-town world of competitive butter-sculpting. "Butter" is serving as her debut as a film producer.

CAA-repped Nolte last appeared in "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" and has "Warrior," an action movie directed by Gavin O'Connor and starring Tom Hardy, in the can. Lionsgate opens "Warrior" on Sept. 17.

-This project is shaping up nicely, in terms of cast...thoughts?

Disney's 'Tangled' gets a Trailer!

Take a gander:

-Do a dragon trainer and a bunch of toys have some competition for a gold statue?

June 10, 2010

Did Steven Spielberg settle on his leading man for 'War Horse'?

According to Collider, yes he did:

Steven Spielberg finally decided on his next project last month, an adaptation of the Michael Morpungo children’s novel War Horse. In a sign of forward motion, Eddie Redmayne (The Yellow Handkerchief) is reportedly “locked” for the lead role of Albert. The book tells the story of a boy, Albert, and his horse, Joey; the pair are separated when Joey is sold to the army, though not even World War I can keep them apart.

Redmayne has been acting steadily since 2006, though this should thrust him onto a much more public stage. The Playlist compares it to Spielberg trusting a young Christian Bale to anchor 1988’s Empire in the Sun — a good omen, indeed. 2011 will be a big year for Spielberg: he just wrapped production on The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, which is set for release on December 23, 2011, while War Horse will hit theaters a few months earlier on August 10, 2011. Check out the book synopsis after the jump.

-Spielberg has had an eye for young talent in the past, so this sounds good to me...thoughts?

'Green Lantern' may in fact be a year away, but 'Green Lantern 2' already has a writer!

Here's the story from The Hollywood Reporter:

“Green Lantern” is a year away from release, but Warner Bros. already is starting development on a sequel.

The studio has hired Greg Berlanti, Michael Green and Marc Guggenheim, all of whom worked on the “Lantern” screenplay, to write a treatment for the second installment.

The trio has also been tapped to pen the treatment for the silver-screen incarnation of “The Flash.”

Under the deal, they would then go on to write the screenplay for one of the two projects, though which one has not been determined.

“Lantern” is shooting in New Orleans under the direction of Martin Campbell with Ryan Reynolds starring as the emerald ring-wielding DC Comics superhero who is part of an intergalactic police force known as the Green Lantern Corps.

Development on a second installment this far out from a movie’s release date is rare, signaling the studio’s confidence in what it sees so far.

It also appears to be the first moves the studio is making under its newly configured relationship with DC.

In September, DC was reorganized to bring it closer to Warners, with Diane Nelson named president of newly created DC Entertainment. In February, artist Jim Lee and executive editor Dan DiDio were named publishers of DC Comics. Star writer Geoff Johns was appointed chief creative officer of DCE, with the aim of bridging the comics and filmed entertainment sides.

With new Batman and Superman films in the writing stages and “Lantern” filming, the team thought “Flash” was the next logical hero to tackle.

Development on a feature version of the scarlet speedster has gone through several false starts over the years, but the character is close to Johns’ heart. The writer recently brought back to prominence one version of the character not seen since the mid-1980s and is working on a relaunch of the series.

The “Flash” film will take inspiration from Johns’ recent work and will feature the Barry Allen incarnation of the character. (In comics lore, several names have wielded the Flash mantle, though Allen, created in 1956, remains by far the most popular.)

Berlanti, creator of “Everwood,” recently directed the feature “Life as We Know it,” starring Katherine Heigl, and is an exec producer on ABC’s “Brothers and Sisters.” He co-created “Eli Stone” with Guggenheim, who is exec producing ABC’s upcoming superhero drama “No Ordinary Family.” Berlanti co-created "Family," which stars Michael Chiklis.

Green worked with Berlanti on “Everwood” and created NBC’s “Kings.”

The trio is repped by WME.

-One would hope this means that there's a kick-ass flick coming our way next year...thoughts?

Another film in the Bourne franchise appears to be on the horizon...

...according to this in Deadline:

Well, I'm excited by this breaking news. Universal is bringing back what it's calling "the key screenwriter" behind the Bourne franchise to write the treatment for the fourquel, whose working title is the The Bourne Legacy. And he's also writing what studio insiders are calling the "Bourne Bible". Tony Gilroy, of course, was the key writer on The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. Frank Marshall and Pat Crowley are back to produce alongside Captivate Entertainment which is the Robert Ludlum estate production company led by Jeffrey Weiner and Ben Smith. (The pic won't be based on the book The Bourne Legacy written by Eric Lustabader in Ludlum’s series.) Bourne 4 will have a 2012 release. No word yet on whether Matt Damon or Paul Greengrass will be back. (Matt has said he won't do Bourne 4 unless Paul does. And Paul has said he's not.) But I bet Gilroy's involvement might lure at least Damon, who'd be an idiot not to continue the best role of his life -- not to mention the best payday.

-This doesn't seem especially necessary, but there are worse projects these people could be involved in...thoughts?

'Secretariat' gets a Poster

Going by the poster, one of those actors is playing the horse...

June 9, 2010

Zooey Deschanel joins the cast of the new Paul Rudd movie...

...and she's not alone, according to The Hollywood Reporter:

Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer and Rashida Jones will star opposite Paul Rudd in "My Idiot Brother," a comedy being directed Jesse Peretz and produced by Anthony Bregman's Likely Story and Big Beach's Peter Saraf and Marc Turtletaub.

"Brother" centers on an idealist (Rudd) dealing with his over¬bearing mother who crashes at the homes of his three ambitious sisters and brings truth, happiness and a sunny disposition into their lives while also wreaking havoc.

Banks, Deschanel and Mortimer will play the sisters.

Banks is a career-driven single about to get her big break in journalism after spending years writing about accessories at a fashion magazine; Deschanel is a bisexual whose flakiness and lies are getting in the way of moving forward with her caring, responsible girlfriend (Jones); and Mortimer plays a Park Slope mom too worried about having the perfect life and children to notice that her marriage is falling apart.

Evgenia Peretz and David Schisgall wrote the screenplay for the pic, which is slated to go before cameras next month in New York.

Banks, repped by UTA and Untitled Entertainment, next appears opposite Russell Crowe in "The Next Three Days," directed by Paul Haggis. She also will appear in "The Details" opposite Tobey Maguire and Laura Linney.

Deschanel, repped by CAA and Seven Summits Pictures and Management, most recently starred in "(500) Days of Summer" and next appears this year in "Your Highness," starring James Franco and Natalie Portman.

Mortimer, repped by ICM, Brillstein Entertainment Partners and Independent Talent Group, most recently appeared in "Shutter Island."

Jones, repped by UTA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners, co-stars on NBC's "Parks and Recreation" and recently wrapped David Fincher's "The Social Network."

-It's certainly got a great cast...let's cross our fingers and hope the script is up to snuff.

Behold some banner Posters for 'Inception'!




Pretty cool, as usual...

The next film from James L. Brooks changes its title as well today!

Must be something in the water...here's the story from The Playlist:

James L. Brooks' romantic comedy starring Paul Rudd and Reese Witherspoon previously untitled and then known as "How Do You Know?" has once again undergone a name change.

Brooks has revealed to Vulture the film is now going by the title "Everything You've Got" though quickly added that the revolving door hadn't stopped yet and "there might actually be a third title coming soon... Titles make me nuts. I have a terrible time with titles.”

The latest iteration derives from a line by Witherspoon as she confesses to Rudd that "I mean, if you can't give everything you've got to whatever your doing right now, then you'll never be able to give everything to anything," a line that evidently resonates with Rudd.

"Two people meet on the worst nights of their lives," Brooks adds of the story. "And they’re being tested by adversity. I think the thing about life is, most of us reach that point where life can't be the same when this thing happens. It's just then when you have to give everything you've got and pray that it’s enough.”


The film also stars the likes of Owen Wilson and Jack Nicholson and is currently in post-production and is set for release on December 17th.


-This is definitely a film I'm looking forward to...thoughts?

Here's the 'Red Dead Redemption' short "film" that John Hillcoat directed...

...for your viewing pleasure:

-Thoughts?

'Betty Anne Waters' changes its title to 'Conviction' and gets a certified release date!


Rope of Silicon has the story:

I'd heard Fox Searchlight was searching for title changes for their upcoming Hilary Swank feature Betty Anne Waters and today it was announced a change had been made along with a release date. Betty Anne Waters will now be known as Conviction and will be released on Friday, October 15 on a limited platform.

The film is directed by Tony Goldwyn (The Last Kiss) and is based on the true story of Betty Anne Waters (Swank) a high school dropout who spent nearly two decades working as a single mother while putting herself through law school, tirelessly trying to beat the system and overturn her brother's (Rockwell) unjust murder conviction. Conviction is described as an exploration of the profound bond between a brother and sister – a love so deep, so unequivocal, so complete that it becomes a force that will not be denied or defeated.

This will certainly serve as Swank's Oscar vehicle of 2010 after the unfortunate end result of Amelia last year. However, with Sam Rockwell in tow and the rise in attention he has received from all corners thanks to last year's Moon this may be an opportunity to receive his first Oscar nomination. Don't get me started listing all the films he should have been nominated for in the past, but it would be nice to finally see him get rewarded with a nom at the very least.

-It's not a great title, but I'm still hoping it might be a great movie...thoughts?

Today's Posters: 2 for Love Ranch, The Lottery, and The Expendables




Thoughts?

June 8, 2010

Martin Scorsese's latest hits DVD this week...

...but will it be my pick of the week, given how I was slightly more reserved in my praise for it than most (though I'd argue I gave it a very nice 3.5 star review)? (The review can be found here, along with everyone else's take on the flick) Well, it's not an especially strong week otherwise, which has been the trend as of late (though most summer DVD seasons are like this), so it has a good chance. Without further ado, my PICK OF THE WEEK. It's:
Shutter Island
A very good piece of genre fare that functions best when thought of in that regard, Martin Scorsese is obviously having a great time with every frame of film. Leonardo DiCaprio is his reliably excellent self, and the supporting cast is very strong in this flick. It's not a masterpiece, but it's a very strong psychological thriller that's easy for me to recommend.
-Also out this week is the stupid action flick From Paris with Love, the documentary 180 South, and the ridiculously titled direct to DVD comedy The 41 Year Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It. I've only seen the first one, and didn't care for it, but if something here appeals to you, pick it up and enjoy.
-My Vintage pick, in honor of this week's release of Winter's Bone, is a handful of other Grand Jury Prize winning films from the Sundance Film Festival. They are The Believer, Frozen River, Primer, and You Can Count on Me. All of these films are very different, but all are of high quality. They all deserve to be seen, so definitely check them out.
-What will you be watching on DVD this week?

The Weinstein Company picks up Julian Schnabel's latest film 'Miral'!

Via Variety:

The Weinstein Co. has snagged North American rights to "Miral," the Julian Schnabel film toplined by Freida Pinto.

TWC aims to release the pic -- which some had expected to bow at Cannes, but now is tipped for an end-of-summer bow at Venice -- later this year, but has not set an exact date. Timing seems to suggest an awards push, given the high profile of its creatives and its politically charged subject matter.

Movie revolves around a real-life orphanage established in Jerusalem by Palestinian woman Hind Husseini (played by Hiam Abbass) following the 1948 creation of Israel. In the fictional storyline, the title character (Pinto) is sent to the orphanage in 1978. Later in life, she goes to teach at a refugee camp and falls for an activist.

Movie, which also stars Willem Dafoe and Vanessa Redgrave, is based on the novel by Rula Jebreal, who also penned the screenplay. Palestinian-born scribe is also a well-known broadcast news personality in Italy.

Produced by longtime Schnabel producer Jon Kilik, "Miral" reunites the helmer with the Weinstein brothers, who worked with the helmer on his first film, "Basquiat," when the duo topped Miramax. "Miral" is the first pickup for TWC in the wake of the company's reportedly stalled talks to acquire Miramax from Disney.

Pathe, which holds worldwide rights to the pic, has sold the movie in several other international territories.

Harvey Weinstein made the acquisition, in a deal brokered by TWC's Peter Lawson and Laine Kline and Pathe's Cameron McCracken and Pierre du Plessis.

"It is the first film I am involved in that shows the 'other side' of the Israel-Palestine conflict," Harvey Weinstein said. "As a staunch supporter of Israel, I thought this would be a movie I would have a hard time wrapping my head around. However, meeting Rula moved me to open my heart and mind and I hope we can do that same with audiences worldwide."

-The Brothers Weinstein are certainly gunning for an Oscar this year...thoughts?

Has Jamie Bell landed the role of Spider-Man?

Well, that seems to be the hot rumor (though there's a competing rumor that it's Josh Hutcherson with the inside track to the gig), according to Cinematical:

There's been a lot of heated discussion lately as to who should don the webby red and blue. Not surprisingly, Sony wasn't really paying attention to any of it, and stuck with their final five candidates. While Drew McWeeny at HitFix heard Josh Hutcherson was very, very close to becoming the new Peter Parker, Bleeding Cool reports that Sony and Marc Webb have settled on Jamie Bell. We're trying to get an official confirmation from Sony, so stay tuned.

I think Bell is a surprising choice. He's certainly the biggest name of the bunch, and a very good actor, but his performances tend to lean towards the intense and angry. Even when he's playing a quiet secondary character, Bell is just burning up with something. It's his gift as an actor. Perhaps that's the right attitude for great power and responsibility, but Parker is supposed to be awkward, nerdy, and an unlikely hero.

It's also strange to see Sony go for one of their older picks. Remember, this Spider-Man is supposed to be set entirely in high school, and Bell is 24. He certainly looks young for his age now, but so did Tobey Maguire (who still doesn't look his age.) If Sony is aiming for another trilogy, won't they run into the same problem they did with Maguire, and have an actor who is far too mature to be believable as a teenager? He's likely to be 30 by the end of the story, or close to it.

As I said, without official confirmation all protests feel a bit too much. But what do you think of Bell as Spider-Man? Are you up in arms he's not even American? (That's sarcasm.)

UPDATE: Sony has told us that they are officially not commenting on this, which means they did not deny it, so ...

-Between Hutcherson and Bell, who would you choose?

Gus Van Sant actually chased the 'Breaking Dawn' gig...

...according to The Playlist:

An interview with writer Bret Easton Ellis touching on his collaboration with Gus Van Sant on "The Golden Suicides" has seemingly revealed that Van Sant was not only targeted by 'Twilight' producers for the concluding installment of the franchise but that he was in fact actively chasing the gig.

"Van Sant, meanwhile, was trying to get the gig to direct 'Twilight,'" NY Mag reports with Ellis adding that "you can make a lot of money doing that."

We originally noted out of producers original dream trio —
Sofia Coppola, Bill Condon and Van Sant — that the "Milk" helmer's sensibilities was probably the most qualified for the job. That was, of course, before Condon sidelined his work on the adaptation of "Salmon Fishing In Yemen" and the Richard Pryor biopic "Is It Something I Said?" for the uber-popular series. While we joked about the producers' targets at the time, it seems like the position was eventually fought over by at least two of the aforementioned three.

Ellis' comment about money suggests the paycheck might have been an enticing prospect for Van Sant with the director also a personal favorite for the franchise's breakout star, Robert Pattinson. It all seems perfectly lined up but why then didn't it happen then? Was Van Sant's vision far too "out there" for Summit to risk their golden calf? We guess it'll remain to be seen what transpired leading up to Condon's recruitment.

Van Sant is a busy man nevertheless but currently finishing of his own tale of young love in "Restless" due for release this fall. He also his long-gestating adaptation of the Dustin Lance Black-scribed "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" and, as we mentioned, the Ellis-scribed "The Golden Suicides"
about the two artists Jeremy Blake and Theresa Duncan who mysteriously committed suicide, which is reportedly traveling well despite being an understandably tough sell.

“You can imagine what trying to sell a movie about two people killing themselves was like," Ellis explained. "It was a highly comic movie in its own right. And everyone said, ‘Oh, we’d love to see this movie, we just don’t want to pay any money to see it through."

Condon, on the other hand, he is preparing to direct the two-part conclusion to the 'Twilight' franchise with all key talent now on board.

-Thoughts?

Will Tom Cruise be giving his character from 'Tropic Thunder' his own movie?

Well, according to Cinematical, it's a possibility:

Tom Cruise as Les Grossman was easily the best part of Tropic Thunder. And that’s saying a lot. Tom Cruise as Les Grossman was easily the best part of last night’s MTV Movie Awards. Which isn’t saying much.

So, is the world ready for even more Les Grossman? Tom Cruise may be working on bringing everyone’s favorite foul-mouthed studio honcho back to the big screen in his very own movie. Fresh off the high from his performance with Jennifer Lopez at the MTV Movie Awards, Cruise told E! “We’re working on it. Yup, we’re working on it.”

Whether he was being completely serious or not has yet to be determined, but we’ll keep you posted if we hear any more news in regards to the project.

-I'm not convinced it'd be a good movie, but I'd love to see it for the lunacy that would no doubt occur...thoughts?

June 7, 2010

'Knight & Day' gets its release date pushed up by two days...

...perhaps signaling that there's a fun flick to be seen this month. Here's the story from The Hollywood Reporter:

Fox will unspool the action comedy "Knight & Day" on June 30, two days earlier than planned.

That has "Knight" -- starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz -- set to hit multiplexes on the same date that Summit Entertainment will bow vampire three-quel "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" and two days ahead of Paramount's July 2 opening of family adventure "The Last Airbender." The situation should make for a mega-competive Independence Day weekend this year, with the holiday frame often the most lucrative session on the theatrical calendar.

"It gives us a little bit of a jump on the weekend and the opportunity to get word-of-mouth going," Fox domestic distribution president Bruce Snyder said Monday. "We want to let people know how wonderful this picture is."

-Fingers crossed that it's going to be one of the surprises of the summer...thoughts?

'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' gets a Trailer!

Proving the MTV Movie Awards aren't completely useless:

-Thoughts?

John Carpenter to direct another vampire flick, this time one with Hilary Swank?

Yes, via Variety:

John Carpenter has signed on to direct "Fangland," an updated version of Bram Stoker's Dracula set up with DAS Films and Blumhouse Prods.

Sriram Das and Jason Blum are producing. Tracy Underwood is also involved in a producing capacity.

"Fangland" is based on the 2007 novel by former "60 Minutes" producer John Marks. It's centered on a New York-based producer who travels to Romania for an interview with a notorious European arms dealer, who turns out to be a modern-day Dracula.

Mark Wheaton ("Friday the 13th") penned the adaptation.

Carpenter is in post-production on ghost story "The Ward" for indie Echo Lake, with Amber Heard starring as a haunted woman in a mental institution. Danielle Panabaker, Mamie Gummer and Lyndsy Fonseca also star.

"The Ward" is Carpenter's first directing gig since 2001's "Ghosts of Mars." Other credits include "Escape From New York," "Escape from L.A.," "Christine" and "Starman."

-Coming Soon adds the Swank casting news here, and I think it sounds very interesting, if slightly lowbrow for her...thoughts?

Here are the winners from the 2010 MTV Movie Awards...

...in case you cared:

BEST FIGHT
Beyonce Knowles vs. Ali Larter - Obsessed
Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber vs. Ryan Reynolds - X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Logan Lerman vs. Jake Abel - Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Robert Downey Jr. vs. Mark Strong - Sherlock Holmes
Sam Worthington vs. Stephen Lang - Avatar

Winner: Beyonce Knowles vs. Ali Larter - Obsessed

BEST FEMALE PERFORMANCE
Amanda Seyfried - Dear John
Emma Watson - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Kristen Stewart - The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Sandra Bullock - The Blind Side
Zoe Saldana - Avatar

Winner: Kristen Stewart - The Twilight Saga: New Moon

BEST BREAKOUT STAR
Anna Kendrick - Up in the Air
Chris Pine - Star Trek
Gabourey Sidibe - Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Logan Lerman - Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Quinton Aaron - The Blind Side
Zach Galifianakis - The Hangover

Winner: Anna Kendrick - Up in the Air

BEST SCARED-AS-SH**T PERFORMANCE (New Category)
Alison Lohman - Drag Me To Hell
Amanda Seyfried - Jennifer's Body
Jesse Eisenberg - Zombieland
Katie Featherston - Paranormal Activity
Sharlto Copley - District 9

Winner: Amanda Seyfried - Jennifer's Body

BEST KISS
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson - The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning - The Runaways
Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds - The Proposal
Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner - Valentine's Day
Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington - Avatar

Winner: Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson - The Twilight Saga: New Moon

BEST WTF MOMENT
Betty White - The Proposal, Cops a Feel
Bill Murray - Zombieland, Bill Murray?! A Zombie?!
Isabel Lucas - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Unexpected Transformation
Ken Jeong - The Hangover, Naked Trunk Surprise
Megan Fox - Jennifer's Body, Vomits a Mysterious Black Ooze

Winner: Ken Jeong - The Hangover, Naked Trunk Surprise

BEST VILLAIN
Christoph Waltz - Inglourious Basterds
Helena Bonham Carter - Alice In Wonderland
Ken Jeong - The Hangover
Stephen Lang - Avatar
Tom Felton - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Winner: Tom Felton - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

BIGGEST BADASS STAR (New Category)
Rain
Angelina Jolie
Channing Tatum
Sam Worthington
Chris Pine

Winner: Rain

BEST MALE PERFORMANCE
Channing Tatum - Dear John
Daniel Radcliffe - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Robert Pattinson - The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Taylor Lautner - The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Zac Efron - 17 Again

Winner: Robert Pattinson - The Twilight Saga: New Moon

GLOBAL SUPERSTAR (New Category)
Robert Pattinson
Kristen Stewart
Taylor Lautner
Johnny Depp
Daniel Radcliffe

Winner: Robert Pattinson

BEST COMEDIC PERFORMANCE
Ben Stiller - Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Bradley Cooper - The Hangover
Ryan Reynolds - The Proposal
Sandra Bullock - The Proposal
Zach Galifianakis - The Hangover

Winner: Zach Galifianakis - The Hangover

BEST MOVIE
Alice In Wonderland
Avatar
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Hangover
The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Winner: The Twilight Saga: New Moon

-Well, at least Anna Kendrick won...thoughts?

June 6, 2010

Today's Trailers: Gulliver's Travels, Lebanon, and Flipped

First up is the trailer for the fantasy flick 'Gulliver's Travels':

Next is a look at the foreign war drama 'Lebanon':

Finally, we have the latest Rob Reiner flick, called 'Flipped':

-Thoughts?

Jack-in-the-Box Office for the weekend of June 4th-6th


Following a disappointing May at the Box Office, June got off to a slow start as the total weekend was down about 19% from last year, and several new releases fell short of their expectations. “Shrek Forever After” took the top spot for the third week in a row, taking in another $25 million. This brings its domestic total to $183 million and its global total to $251 million. As the production budget is reported as having been $165 million, the film has still proven profitable for Dreamworks, but has grossed far less than either of the last two films in the franchise at this point in their respective runs.

“Get Him to the Greek” came in second, with a respectable opening weekend of $17 million, an almost identical figure to the opening weekend of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” in the spring of 2008. The rock n’ roll themed comedy cost Universal $40 million to produce, and should easily turn a profit in the coming weeks.

“Killers” had a terrible opening weekend, taking in $16 million, a four-year-low for a film starring either Katherine Heigl or Ashton Kutcher. Lionsgate produced the film for $75 million. Depending on the drop-off in the coming week and the worldwide grosses (which are unavailable at this time) the film may have to wait until its DVD release to turn a profit, but as of now it’s hard to see the film ultimately not making money.

“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” fell over 53% in its second week, taking in another $13 million to bring its domestic total to $59 million. Though the film has continued to under-perform stateside, its worldwide gross currently sits at $215 million, a figure slightly higher than its $200 million budget.

The biggest nose-dive at the Box Office this weekend was “Sex and the City 2”, which fell almost 60%, taking in another $12 million to bring its domestic total to $73 million. This is another film that has made up for a less-than-stellar domestic showing by creating a higher profit margin overseas. The worldwide total currently sits at $163 million, and as the budget was $100 million, the film could not make another dime theatrically and still be considered a banner success.

In other opening weekend news, the greatest failure of the week may have been “Marmaduke” which opened in seventh place with $11 million domestically, and a worldwide total of $16 million. With a production budget of $50 million, its currently easy to see the film not turning a profit during its theatrical run, yet it should do well on DVD, making it very likely a good investment for FOX.

“Splice” opened in eight place with $7 million, with worldwide figures unavailable at this time. As the film reportedly cost $30 million to produce, it would be easy to consider the opening weekend a failure. Still, the film was independently financed with no original intention of a wide release, so Warner Brothers which distributed the film will likely be happy with the opening weekend to a certain degree, and the film could easily recoup its budget on the worldwide scale and on DVD.

“Raajneeti” opened in a limited release but took eleventh place with $917,000. Although no production budget or worldwide gross was available at this time, the film appeared to have a successful weekend due to a large Indian-American audience creating one of the weekend’s higher per-theater-average.

The only other film opening this weekend was the horror/documentary “Cropsey” which took in $6,500 on one screen.

The film that took in the highest per-theater-average this weekend was “Agora”, written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Alejandro Amenabar (“The Sea Inside”) and starring Academy Award-winner Rachel Weisz (“The Constant Gardener”). The film took in $43,500 on four screens for a $10,875 per-screen-average and a $97,500 domestic total.

What drew you to the theater this weekend? Whether you were catching up with this summer’s blockbusters or this weekend’s genre fare, as always, we at the Awards Circuit would love to hear what you saw, and as always, and awards potential you see. On behalf of all of us at the Circuit, thank you so much for reading and we hope you’re enjoying your summer at the movies.