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Raphael may be the one for Black, 'Year'

17 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

NEW YORK -- Actress-screenwriter June Diane Raphael is in final negotiations to play Jack Black's love interest in Harold Ramis' biblical comedy Year One for producer Judd Apatow and Columbia.

Raphael will play Maya, a woman who becomes romantically involved with Zed (Black) and another man in her village. Superbad leads Michael Cera and Christopher Mintz-Plasse also star in the ensemble comedy.

Oliver Platt, David Cross, Vinnie Jones and Juno Temple also are in final negotiations for the film, written by Ramis, Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg. Principal photography is set to begin in January for the project, which Matt Tolmach and Jonathan Kadin are overseeing for the studio.

Raphael (Zodiac) co-wrote the screenplay for Gary Winick's Bride Wars, starring Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway, for New Regency Pictures and Firm Films.

After attracting Apatow's attention from some of her writing projects, she landed small roles in two Apatow Prods. comedies: Nicholas Stoller's Forgetting Sarah Marshall for Universal and Adam McKay's Step Brothers for Columbia. »

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Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

17 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

After a barrage of downer movies filled with gore, war and other bleak subject matter, finally there's a holiday release that's all about making spirits bright.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is a pitch-perfect musical comedy that at long last moves the talented John C. Reilly up the billing ladder from second banana to top banana.

Sprinting through the decades like Forrest Gump with a gee-tar, Reilly's blissfully oblivious Dewey Cox and the Jake Kasdan film (co-written with some guy called Judd Apatow) is just plain, undemanding fun.

Along the way it takes playful jabs at familiar music biopics, especially Walk the Line, against a soundtrack of terrific original tunes that channel everyone from Johnny and June, Roy Orbison and Dylan to the Beatles and beyond.

The unmistakably adult-oriented results -- this is one comedy that really earns its R rating -- will nevertheless play to a wide-reaching demographic from the younger-skewing fans of Apatow's summer treats Knocked Up and Superbad to boomers who will get a kick out of all those '60s and '70s pop culture references.

Audiences should find themselves laughing hard well into the new year.

Utilizing that familiar screen bio bookend device of starting just before the end and then flashing all the way back to the central character's earliest memories, Walk Hard dutifully traces Dewey's formative years as a young boy (Conner Rayburn) growing up poor in '40s-era Springberry, Ala.

The fateful die is cast one day when Dewey accidentally cuts his older brother, Nate (Chip Hormess), in half real bad while play-dueling with their dad's collectible machetes.

With the family physician unable to save Nate, declaring it "a particularly bad case of somebody being cut in half," the already guilt-ridden Dewey will forever be reminded by his father (Raymond J. Barry) that the wrong son died.

Determined to make something of himself, Dewey, who discovers an aptitude for playing a mean blues guitar, later puts a band together along with drug-dabbling drummer Sam (never funnier Saturday Night Live alum Tim Meadows), bass player Theo (Chris Parnell) and guitarist Dave Matt Besser), ultimately impressing the suits at Planet Record studios (a trio of Hasidic Jews, played by Harold Ramis, Phil Rosenthal and Martin Starr) with their signature song, Walk Hard.

Soon Dewey and the boys are cranking out hit records as fast as his wife, Edith (Kirsten Wiig), is popping out babies, but life yields its share of temptations, most notably in the form of the lovely Darlene (Jenna Fischer of The Office), his virtuous new backup singer.

Along the way, Dewey gets swept up in the protest movement (taking up the cause of women and midgets), '60s psychedelia (meeting up with the Beatles in India, with an unbilled Paul Rudd and Jack Black respectively playing a bickering Lennon and McCartney), Brian Wilson-style excess and, ultimately, redemption.

While this type of parody can be hard to sustain, director and co-writer Kasdan, who demonstrated a nice satiric touch with The TV Set, keeps things humming along quite efficiently.

Granted, there's a bit of a lull in the middle -- one too many rehab sequences -- but Walk Hard quickly gets back up to speed, propelled by Reilly's fearless, tour-de-farce performance, not to mention those wacky cameos: Frankie Muniz as Buddy Holly? Jack White as Elvis? Lyle Lovett, Jackson Browne, Jewel, Ghostface Killah and Eddie Vedder as themselves?

Add in those Christopher Guest-worthy song parodies contributed by composer Mike Andrews, Dan Bern, Mike Viola ("That Thing You Do!") and even the legendary Van Dyke Parks, and you've got yourself a holiday Walk that's refreshingly on the wild side.

WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY

Columbia Pictures

Columbia presents in association with Relativity Media

a Nominated Films production

Credits:

Director: Jake Kasdan

Screenwriters: Judd Apatow, Jake Kasdan

Producers: Judd Apatow, Jake Kasdan, Clayton Townsend

Executive producer: Lew Morton

Director of photography: Uta Briesewitz

Production designer: Jefferson D. Sage

Music: Michael Andrews

Music supervisors: Manish Raval, Tom Wolfe

Costume designer: Debra McGuire

Editors: Tara Timpone, Steve Welch

Cast:

Dewey Cox: John C. Reilly

Darlene Madison Cox: Jenna Fischer

Sam: Tim Meadows

Edith Cox: Kirsten Wiig

Pa Cox: Raymond J. Barry

L'Chai'm: Harold Ramis

Ma Cox: Margo Martindale

Theo: Chris Parnell

Dave: Matt Besser

Schwartzberg: David Krumholtz

Running time -- 96 minutes

MPAA rating: R

»

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'Atonement' leads Golden Globe noms

14 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Complete coverage:

List of nominees

Nominees react

'Massive sweep' for Focus

'Damages' leads TV pack

Strike curbs enthusiasm

"Atonement", the tony British drama of love, lies and war, led the pack with seven nominations -- including best drama and acting noms for its two leads, Keira Knightley and James McAvoy -- as the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. on Thursday morning announced its nominations for the 65th annual Golden Globes.

"Charlie Wilson's War", a comic look at the roots of the U.S.' involvement in Afghanistan, followed with five nominations, including best comedy or musical.

On the TV side, the top contenders with four nominations apiece are the FX dramatic series "Damages", which revolves around a lethal legal case, and the HBO telefilm "Longford", which looked at a crime and its punishment in Great Britain. NBC's comedy "30 Rock", HBO's "Entourage" and ABC's freshman entry "Pushing Daisies" both scored three noms, as did the HBO telefilm "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee".

But this year's wide-open film awards season didn't get much narrower as a result of the Globe nominations as the HFPA chose to include a whopping seven films in its best drama category. In addition to "Atonement", the crowded list includes several looks at criminal behavior, "American Gangster", "Eastern Promises" and "No Country for Old Men"; two very different takes on American business, the oil-struck "There Will Be Blood" and "Michael Clayton", with its corporate intrigue; and the inspirational college drama "The Great Debaters". According to the HFPA, the expanded category came about because three films tied for fifth place.

That should make the competition for prime tables even tougher when the Globes ceremony, broadcast live by NBC, is held Jan. 13 at the Beverly Hilton.

In the case of the best comedy or musical category, the HFPA was a little more selective, nominating three musicals -- the Beatles-inspired "Across the Universe", the '60s-inflected "Hairspray" and the bloody "Sweeney Todd" -- along with two comedy-dramas, "Charlie Wilson's War" and "Juno", a wry look at an unexpected teen pregnancy.

With just five nominations in the best directing category, the contest suddenly got fiercer. On the dramatic side, brother filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen were nominated for "No Country" along with Ridley Scott for "Gangster" and Joe Wright for "Atonement". The only director with a film from the musical category is "Sweeney Todd"'s Tim Burton. The fifth nominee is Julian Schnabel for "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," which also was nominated for best screenplay and best foreign-language film.

Cate Blanchett scored a double-header, picking up a best dramatic actress nom for her regal turn in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" and supporting actress recognition for her Dylanesque performance in "I'm Not There". With best dramatic actor and supporting actor noms for, respectively, "The Savages" and "Charlie Wilson's War", Philip Seymour Hoffman was much in evidence. Clint Eastwood, though he didn't appear on film this year, also earned two nominations for his score and song for "Grace Is Gone", the study of an Iraq War widower.

Still, for all their largesse, the 82 voting members of the HFPA ignored several possible nominees. Sean Penn's "Into the Wild" was left out in the cold, save for score and song nominations. "Knocked Up" and "Superbad", which were both critical and commercial hits, also got the cold shoulder. Laura Linney, who stars with Hoffman in "Savages", wasn't awarded a nomination like her co-star. Tommy Lee Jones, lauded by critics for performances in both "In the Valley of Elah" and "No Country" wasn't mentioned. And the 3-D "Beowulf" didn't make an appearance in the Globe's new animated feature category, which encompasses just "Bee Movie", "Ratatouille" and "The Simpsons Movie".

With co-productions figuring prominently on both the studio and indie fronts, there were plenty of bragging rights to go around. »

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'Into the Wild' leads Broadcast Critics' noms

12 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

With seven nominations, Sean Penn's Into the Wild, the account of a young man who leaves society behind, led the pack as the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. announced its nominees for its 13th annual Critics' Choice Awards Tuesday morning in New York.

Wild figured in the categories of best picture, best actor for Emile Hirsch, best supporting actor for Hal Holbrook, best supporting actress for Catherine Keener and best song for Eddie Vedder's "Guaranteed" and picked up a double nomination for Penn as both writer and director.

The pregnant comedy Juno followed with six noms, followed by a clutch of films -- Atonement, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men, Sweeney Todd and Hairspray -- that scored five noms each.

Several actors received dual recogntion. Newcomer Michael Cera appeared twice among the nominees for best young actor for his performances as a horny teen in Superbad and an unexpected father in Juno. Cate Blanchett was hailed with a best actress nom for Elizabeth: The Golden Age and a supporting actress nom for her Dylanesque appearance in I'm Not There. Amy Adams, who plays a Disneyesque princess in Enchanted was nominated for best actress and made an appearance in the best song category for "That's How I Know" -- in the song category, the group recognizes the performer who performs a song on film.

Made up of nearly 200 TV, radio and online critics from the United States and Canada, the BFCA prides itself on its ability to foreshadow eventual Oscar noms and awards.

However, the BFCA does load up some of its categories with six nominations each to cover its bases. And for best picture, the group nominated ten films that encompassed American Gangster, Atonement, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Into the Wild, Juno, The Kite Runner, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men, Sweeney Todd and There Will Be Blood.

In addition to Hirsch, the best actor heat includes George Clooney (Michael Clayton), Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood), Johnny Depp (Sweeny Todd), Ryan Gosling (Lars and the Real Girl) and Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises).

For best actress, Adams and Blanchett will face off against Julie Christie (Away from Her), Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose), Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart) and Ellen Page (Juno).

Nominated for best supporting actor are Holbrook, Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), Javier Bardem (Country), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson's War) and Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton).

Seven directors appeared among the BFCA's six nominations for best director, thanks to a shared nomination for brothers Joel and Ethan Coen for Country. Their competition embraces Penn, Tim Burton (Sweeney Todd), Sidney Lumet ("Before the Devil Knows Your Dead"), Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell) and Joe Wright (Atonement).

In the best writer category, the nominees are Penn, Diablo Cody (Juno), the Coens (Country), Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton), Nancy Oliver (Lars) and Aaron Sorkin (Charlie Wilson's War).

Bee Movie, Beowulf, Persepolis, Ratatouille and The Simpsons Movie will all compete as best animated movie. »

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Five primed for 'Year One'

6 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Christopher Mintz-Plasse, known as McLovin in the summer hit Superbad, will reunite with producer Judd Apatow for Columbia's Year One, a comedy set in biblical times.

Oliver Platt, David Cross, Vinnie Jones and Juno Temple are also in final negotiations for the film.

The movie stars Jack Black and Michael Cera and is being directed by Harold Ramis. Filming is set to begin in January in Louisiana and New Mexico.

Mintz-Plasse made his acting debut in Superbad. Year One is his second movie role. He is represented by UTA.

Platt is in talks to play a platform-shoe-wearing high priest in the comedy, while Jones is on board to play a head palace guard named Sargon. Cross and Temple's roles are not known.

The studio is keeping mum on the story line, which is based on a story by Ramis who, along with Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, penned the screenplay.

Columbia's Matt Tolmach and Jonathan Kadin are overseeing for the studio.

Platt recently wrapped Frost/Nixon. He is represented by Endeavor and attorney Bill Sobel. »

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Publicists to honor Apatow with award

5 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Director-writer-producer Judd Apatow will be honored with the ICG Publicists' motion picture showmanship award, officials said Tuesday.

Apatow, whose recent films include Knocked Up and Superbad, will be feted Feb. 5 at the ICG Publicists Awards luncheon gala at the Beverly Hilton.

"Judd Apatow is one of the most sought-after comedy minds in the business," said Henri Bollinger, awards committee chairman. "He has been closely associated with many of the biggest comedy films as well as among the most critically acclaimed films in recent years."

Apatow's next film is Sony's John C. Reilly comedy Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.

»

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Dgg's smoking 'Pineapple Express' clip

3 December 2007 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- I've been a huge David Gordon Green ever since I was introduced to his introductory film George Washington and 08' is going to be a treat for Dgg fans alike. Snow Angels (already one of my favorites for 2008 which received its only premiere at Sundnace in 07) is getting a March release but thanks to Joblo, we've got something to make the August 8th date wait for his second 08 film a little more bearable. Note: Judd Apatow's Superbad received a similar re;ease date earlier this year. To few the 4-minute clip of Columbia Pictures' The Pineapple Express below. Scripted by Rogen and Evan Goldberg, on their way to becoming self-actualized adults, a duo of delinquent dudes find themselves stymied by unfortunate habits. But when stuck-in-neutral process server Dale Denton (Rogen) inadvertently witnesses a drug-related murder, he and his bug Saul (Franco) find that sometimes the motivation you »

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'SNL,' '30 Rock' unplugged this weekend

16 November 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

NEW YORK -- Two New York-based shows, 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live, will get one-time-only performances this weekend in Manhattan.

The casts of both shows will perform at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater on West 26th Street, with Saturday Night Live performing a show at 11:30 p.m. Saturday and 30 Rock going on at 8 p.m. Monday. Superbad and Arrested Development star Michael Cera will be the guest host of SNL, and the musical guest is Hoboken, N.J., alternative rockers Yo La Tengo.

"SNL" cast member Amy Poehler said in a statement late Thursday that the theater is a "second home" to many of the performers and writers.

"We are doing this to raise spirits, raise awareness and raise money for our hardworking production crews who will be having a hard holiday season if this strike continues," Poehler said.

Both shows' productions have stopped since the writers strike. At least two stars of the shows, 30 Rock multihyphenate Tina Fey and "SNL" co-star Seth Meyers, have been fixtures on the picket line. »

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Partner Apatow enlivens FunnyOrDie

17 October 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

FunnyOrDie.com is adding writer-director Judd Apatow as a partner.

Fresh off his hit summer films Superbad and Knocked Up, Apatow will join Will Ferrell and Adam McKay as a contributor and investor to the Web site. The trio is at work on Sony's Step Brothers.

FunnyOrDie has worked with Apatow onscreen; he played himself in clips purporting to feature behind-the-scenes conflicts on the set of Knocked Up, in which Apatow berates a series of uncooperative actors.

The injection of new comedic energy makes good on FunnyOrDie's stated intention to expand the site's creative contributors. Since exploding onto the scene in April with the viral video The Landlord, FunnyOrDie has seen its traffic steadily taper off in the ensuing months. In September, the site attracted 1.4 million unique visitors, according to ComScore Media Metrix, up from nearly 900,000 the previous month.

In a video posted Tuesday to FunnyOrDie to introduce the partnership (posted below), the trio joke about introducing porn to the site. »

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Kadin upped to sr. vp at Columbia

10 October 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Columbia has upped Jonathan Kadin to senior vp production at the studio.

Kadin, who joined Columbia as a creative executive in 2000, recently worked on the development and production of the summer comedy hit Superbad.

Kadin will continue to report to Columbia presidents of production Doug Belgrad and Matt Tolmach.

"Not only does Jonathan have one of the best ears for comedy in the business, but he is respected across the board by filmmakers, talent, agents, writers and his colleagues at the studios," the co-presidents said.

During his tenure at Columbia, Kadin has contributed to several comedy hits, including Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, RV, Hitch and Fun With Dick and Jane.

Kadin is overseeing development of Stepbrothers, reuniting Talladega stars Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly; Pineapple Express, starring Seth Rogan and James Franco; Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, starring Reilly; and Year One, with Jack Black and Michael Cera.

Kadin started his career as a finance associate at Walt Disney Studios in 1996 and later as an assistant to Jimmy Miller at the now-defunct management-production company Gold/Miller. »

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Nussbaum now 'B.F.F.' with Rogue

25 September 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Joe Nussbaum has signed on to direct the comedy B.F.F. for Rogue Pictures. Beau Bauman and Jesse Israel are producing.

B.F.F., a term used commonly by the teen and tween set that stands for "best friends forever," traces the story of two friends, a guy and a girl, over four years of high school, four proms and one funeral as they become unlikely best friends and eventually fall in love. Chad and Dara Resnik Creasey, whose credits include Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Pushing Daisies, wrote the script.

The intent is to make an R-rated comedy along the lines of American Pie and Superbad. A winter start date is being eyed.

Nussbaum is coming off Sydney White, which opened this weekend. He also directed the straight-to-DVD American Pie: The Naked Mile and the MGM comedy Sleepover. He broke into the business with the short-film spoof George Lucas in Love.

Nussbaum is repped by Endeavor, Principato-Young and attorney Karl Austen. »

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Boxoffice uses Screen Gems 'Evil' for good

24 September 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

The third time was charming indeed for Sony Screen Gems' threequel Resident Evil: Extinction, which took up residence atop the domestic boxoffice for the weekend with a franchise-record $24 million in estimated opening grosses.

Other wide openers marked more mundane outings. Lionsgate's Good Luck Chuck, an R-rated date comedy starring Dane Cook and Jessica Alba, performed roughly in line with expectations with $14 million in second place. The Universal-distributed Amanda Bynes starrer Sydney White grossed just $5.3 million to bow in sixth.

The latest frame also featured more daring feats by platforming pics. Those included David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises, a London-set thriller about the Russian mob, which Focus expanded to 1,404 theaters in its sophomore outing. It grossed $5.7 million in fifth place.

Notable limited bows included Paramount Vantage's Sean Penn-helmed Into the Wild in four theaters in Los Angeles and New York, where it rang up $206,596 -- a wild $51,649 per playdate. Wild, which stars Emile Hirsch, expands Friday to 35-40 runs in the top 12 markets.

Warner Bros. unspooled the highly anticipated Brad Pitt starrer The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford -- an early object of attention among awards handicappers -- with an estimated $144,000 from five engagements in Los Angeles, New York and Toronto for an impressive $28,717 per location. Jesse will tread water for another frame before riding into 25-30 locations Oct. 5.

Industrywide, the weekend's estimated grosses ran roughly on par with the $98.2 million rung up during the same frame last year, according to data tracker Nielsen EDI. Year-to-date, 2007 is up almost 8% compared with last year at $7.21 billion in industry boxoffice, EDI estimates.

Sony's weekend performances helped the studio cross the $1 billion domestic boxoffice threshold for a sixth consecutive year. The studio has opened six films at No. 1 this year, tops among domestic distributors.

Sony's Superbad finished eighth in the latest frame with another $3.1 million in its fourth weekend, shaping $116.2 million in cumulative boxoffice. »

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'Brave One,' 'Yuma' make boxoffice beg

18 September 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

R-rated pics had guns a-blazing last weekend, as Warner Bros. opened Jodie Foster's avenging-woman thriller The Brave One at No. 1 with $13.5 million, followed by Lionsgate's Western 3:10 to Yuma with $8.9 million.

Brave -- directed by Neil Jordan, produced by Joel Silver and co-financed by Warners and Village Roadshow -- did particularly well with older women despite its violent content. Yuma, starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, used a modest 35% drop in its second frame to forge a 10-day domestic cume of $28.3 million.

New Line's Billy Bob Thornton-toplined comedy Mr. Woodcock debuted with $8.8 million in third place, while Sony's Superbad finished fourth with $5.1 million in its fifth weekend for a $111.2 million cume. Freestyle/Younggu-Art's action fantasy Dragon Wars saw $5 million to open in fifth.

Industrywide, the weekend's top 10 films rung up $59.7 million in domestic boxoffice, according to Nielsen EDI. That represents a 6% uptick from top performers compared with the same weekend a year ago.

Among limited openings, David Cronenberg's well-reviewed Eastern Promises rung up a promising $547,092 from just 15 screens. Focus Features will use the film's buzz-building performance of $36,473 per screen to expand the thriller about the Russian mob in London to at least 1,350 runs Friday. »

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'Bourne' leader once again at int'l boxoffice

17 September 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

The last of the summer tentpoles almost single-handedly kept the international boxoffice momentum going over the weekend as The Bourne Ultimatum finished No. 1 by raking in an estimated $20.8 million from 4,333 screens in 46 markets.

The otherwise undistinguished early fall stanza was notable for debut action in the U.K., the largest foreign market for American films. Sony's Superbad, which has grossed $111.3 million domestically, opened to an estimated $2.9 million from 425 screens, placing either second or third in the territory. (Superbad also opened in New Zealand with about $155,000 from 53 locations.)

Lionsgate's 3:10 to Yuma, the Western co-starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale that has generated about $28.6 million in two Stateside frames, also made its U.K. bow with an estimated $750,000 from 303 screens. And New Line's actioner Shoot 'Em Up, with Clive Owen, gunned down an estimated $780,000 from 294 locations.

Topping the U.K. market for the second consecutive weekend was New Line/Entertainment Film Distributors' Run, Fat Boy, Run. Director David Schwimmer's comedy nabbed an estimated $3.6 million from 411 screens for a market cume of about $9 million.

Working Title Films/Universal International's Atonement starring Keira Knightley was second or third in the U.K. with an estimated $2.9 million from 412 locations, a mere 9% drop from its opening stanza. The 10-day market cume for the film adaptation of Ian McEwan's romance novel stands is $8.9 million.

DreamWorks/Paramount Pictures International's Disturbia also made its U.K. debut and grossed an estimated $1.4 million from 405 screens. Overall, the serial killer thriller took in about $3.1 million from 1,321 locations in 51 markets for an overseas cume of $28.3 million.

PPI also introduced A Mighty Heart in Germany, Spain and four other smaller European markets. »

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'Brave One' stands at top of weekend boxoffice

17 September 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Jodie Foster braved a distracted marketplace to throttle all domestic boxoffice competition this weekend, as Warner Bros. opened her avenging-woman thriller The Brave One at No. 1 with an estimated $14 million.

Directed by Neil Jordan, the R-rated pic produced by Silver Pictures and co-financed by Warners and Village Roadshow Pictures fended off a pair of rival wide openers and a couple leggy holdovers.

Lionsgate's Russell Crowe-starring Western 3:10 to Yuma finished second in its sophomore outing, sliding only 35% from opening grosses to notch another $9.2 million. That yielded a 10-day cume of $28.6 million for Relativity-funded Yuma.

New Line's Bill Bob Thornton-toplined comedy Mr. Woodcock debuted with $9.1 million in third place, while the Freestyle/Younggu-Art action fantasy Dragon Wars whipped up $5.4 million to bow in fourth place. And Sony's Superbad laugher finished No. 5 in its fifth frame, with $5.2 million and a $111.3 million cume.

Industrywide, distribs rung up an estimated $79 million in collective boxoffice, according to data tracker Nielsen EDI. That represents a 2% uptick from the same weekend a year ago.

Though some will note the frame's underwhelming aggregate, many will see the industry's glass half full, as the marketplace notches a 10th consecutive weekend uptick in boxoffice if the estimates hold up. The latest three-day performance comes despite non-theatrical competition including recently resumed football telecasts, back-to-school activities for kids and parents, and even Sunday's Emmys programming.

Reviews for Brave One noted the film's violent content, but its opening audience still skewed heavily female. Some 70% of patrons were over 30, with 55% of those female.

"That's where we were, tracking-wise, going in," Warners distribution president Dan Felman noted. "So what we have is a film that is extremely well done (but) which works a little bit against the core audience."

Still, exit ratings in moviegoer surveys showed strong positive reactions especially among older females which bodes well for word of mouth down the road, Fellman said.

Indeed, the strong soph frame for Yuma demonstrates once again the solid playability of many older-skewing pics. »

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'Yuma' remake O.K. at boxoffice corral

10 September 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Lionsgate's 3:10 to Yuma, a polished Western gunning to give remakes a good name, staked claim to an estimated $14.1 million in weekend grosses to open atop the domestic boxoffice.

But New Line Cinema's aptly titled Shoot 'Em Up, targeting a similar male-skewing audience, fired blanks with just $5.5 million in opening grosses, landing the Clive Owen starrer in sixth place for the weekend. Sony's male-oriented comedy The Brothers Solomon opened outside the top 10 with an anemic $525,000 from a modestly wide run of 700 theaters.

The Weinstein Co./Dimension horror remake Halloween grabbed second place for the weekend, turning in a $10 million performance for distributor MGM despite dropping 62% in its sophomore outing for a $44.2 million cume. Sony Pictures' Superbad finished third in its fourth frame with an estimated $8 million and a $103.7 million cume.

So where were all the gals this weekend? Fortunately for Yuma, more than a few padded audiences of James Mangold's well-reviewed updating of Delmer Daves' 1957 classic.

"The film played equally well to all demographics," Lionsgate Films Releasing president Tom Ortenberg said. "So while the opening weekend skewed a little bit male and a little bit older, we're hoping as the film plays out over the next few weeks we'll get more under-25 moviegoers."

The Russell Crowe-Christian Bale starrer was fully financed by Ryan Kavanaugh's Relativity Media at a cost of about $55 million.

Yuma should pull audiences almost evenly split between males and females by the weekend, Ortenberg said. He added the belief that Yuma will show sturdy legs over the coming frames.

"It's not the kind of film where its core audiences flock out the first weekend to see it," Ortenberg said. "We feel (the) opening really validates our strategy to choose this week, so we could be the first Western into the marketplace and the first prestige film in the fall."

Indeed, Warner Bros.' Sept. »

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'Halloween' scares up quick boxoffice pace Friday

2 September 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

It will be Halloween in September at the North American boxoffice this weekend. Director Rob Zombie's R-rated remake of John Carpenter's 1978 horror classic, from Dimension Films and released through MGM, easily claimed the top spot Friday, the first day of the four-day holiday weekend, taking in an estimate of nearly $11 million in 3,472 theaters.

With that momentum, it should easily set a new Labor Day weekend record, racing ahead of the current record-holder, Transporter 2, which bowed to $20.1 million over four days in 2005.

The PG-13 comedy Balls of Fury, the Rogue Pictures release from Focus Features which debuted nationwide on Wednesday, took in an estimated $3.4 million on Friday for a third place showing.

20th Century Fox's R-rated revenge tale Death Sentence, directed by James Wan and starring Kevin Bacon, didn't establish much traction. Its Friday bow returned an estimated $1.4 million, which left it in eighth place for the day.

Rounding out the top five, Sony Pictures' Superbad, at the start of its third weekend, scored $3.4 million to secure a second-place slot. »

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Summer boxoffice tops 2004 mark

28 August 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Hollywood attempted to squeeze a few more dollars out of a record summer by launching a handful of midrange movies that mostly came up short at the North American boxoffice during the weekend. But the strength of the holdovers kept the ticket-takers busy, especially Sony Pictures' raunchy, R-rated Superbad, which held down the top spot for the second weekend in a row.

Summer-to-date, The Hollywood Reporter estimates that total boxoffice has reached an estimated $4.11 billion, surpassing the record of $4.009 billion set during summer 2004.

Following in the footsteps of Spider-Man 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Superbad -- from producer Judd Apatow -- became only the third film in this competitive summer to reign as leader of the pack for two weekends in a row. Falling off just 45% from its first weekend, the comedy took in $18 million, raising its domestic cume to $68.6 million.

In its fourth weekend of release, Universal Pictures' spy chase The Bourne Ultimatum demonstrated an even stronger hold, declining just 37% from the previous weekend. Bourne collected an additional $12.5 million, enough to earn it the second slot and a new cume of $185.3 million. »

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'Superbad' a rare repeat champ in $4 bil season

27 August 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Related story: 'Bourne' snatches o'seas crown from 'Simpsons'

A bunch of horny teens managed to vanquish a batch of new releases at the North American boxoffice this weekend as the blistering summer moviegoing season slowed down en route to its Labor Day weekend close. Crossing the $4 billion mark, summer 2007 passed summer 2004 to set a record for the season a week before it officially ends.

Sony Pictures' R-rated "Superbad" collected an estimated $18 million to top the chart for the second weekend in a row. It's only the third film this summer to claim the No. 1 spot for two consecutive frames, following the $300 million-plus sequels "Spider-Man 3" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End."

Three of the weekend's new arrivals were clustered around the $10 million mark, with Universal Pictures' comedy "Mr. Bean's Holiday" the most buoyant, finishing in fourth place with an estimated $10.1 million, followed by Lionsgate's "War" at $10 million and MGM's release of the Weinstein Co.'s "The Nanny Diaries" at $7.8 million. Finishing well outside of the top 10 were the Yari Film Group's dramatic "Resurrecting the Champ", Universal's Latino-flavored "Illegal Tender" and Slowhand Releasing's history-based Western "September Dawn".

Even so, the boxoffice registered an improvement over the comparable frame last year for the seventh weekend in a row. According to Nielsen EDI, the top 10's haul of an estimated $85.5 million was up 12% over the comparable frame in 2006, when Buena Vista's football tale "Invincible" topped the list with a $17 million opening.

"Bean" was something of a wild card heading into the weekend. While awareness of the G-rated comedy starring Rowan Atkinson as a pratfall-prone Englishman on holiday was high, it appeared to be the weekend's underdog because definite interest appeared low. But the film, directed by Steve Bendelack, surprised by grossing an estimated $10.1 million from 1,714 theaters, a per-theater average of $5,904. Given that the movie has already collected nearly $190 million internationally, it's all gravy.

"War", video-maker-turned-director Philip G. Atwell's R-rated actioner that pits Jet Li against Jason Statham, ranked third on Friday but shifted to fifth place over the course of the weekend. »

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Balls of Fury

24 August 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

The pingpong balls fly fast and furious -- and for a while, so do the laughs -- in this willfully dumb sports-underdog sendup from the creators/stars of Comedy Central's Reno! 911.

The good news is that Christopher Walken, resplendent in purple silk, isn't the film's sole redeeming element. The bad news is that even his arch-villain can't save Balls of Fury from losing bounce as the story proceeds. But as business for boxoffice superstar Superbad fades, young viewers, especially males, will flock to this martial arts action take on table tennis.

Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, whose writing credits include The Pacifier and Night at the Museum, have concocted a boilerplate setup for their hero, a fallen-from-grace Olympic contender who gets a chance to redeem himself as a secret agent. It seems there's more to table tennis than suburban basements; the movie takes us into the sport's seamy underworld, traveling from Chinatown alleys to "somewhere in Central America." Plot and character development are minimal, while short pants and groin-injury jokes are plentiful in the story of Randy Daytona (the affable and comically agile Dan Fogler).

In a nice touch, we see that even the White House-occupying Reagans were rapt as 12-year-old Randy (Brett DelBuono) faced East Germany's maniacal Karl Wolfschtagg (Lennon). Nineteen years after his humiliating defeat in Seoul, Randy still has game -- and his 1988-issue Def Leppard paddle -- but he's reduced to performing a pingpong lounge act for early bird diners in Reno. (David Koechner's lead-in act, complete with cockatoo, might set a new standard for showbiz delusions.)

Rescuing Randy from has-been ennui is FBI agent Ernie Rodriguez (a well-cast, gray-suited George Lopez), frustrated with desk work and eager for a Bondian adventure. He enlists the pudgy headband wearer to infiltrate a high-stakes private tourney organized by evil mastermind Feng (Walken), a former pingpong student who also happens to be responsible for Randy's father's murder.

Director Garant draws committed performances of varying loopiness from his cast, providing able comic foils for Fogler's ultra-likable protagonist and his mega-sideburns. James Hong's winningly deadpan blind pingpong master, Wong, offers adages of little practical or philosophical value. As Wong's niece, Maggie Q sweetly falls for Randy and displays lean, mean chopsocky moves. And the presence in small roles of martial arts movie actors Jason Scott Lee and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa ups the ante in the film's kung-fu-ization of pingpong.

The rapid-fire, absurd yet precise volleys are a blast to watch, whether Maggie Q is taking on four opponents at once or Walken and Fogler are going paddle-to-paddle across a suspension bridge -- one of the more striking elements of Jeff Knipp's flavorful production design. Walken's priceless line delivery is a fine, disorienting mismatch for his long braid and Elvis-meets-Madame Butterfly getups (the most deliriously over-the-top costumes in MaryAnn Bozek's impressive arsenal).

But even the sight of the dastardly Feng sipping fancy drinks between lethal commands to his statuesque henchwoman (Aisha Tyler) can't disguise the fact that the film loses steam as it proceeds. Abetted by their fine troupe, Garant and Lennon know how to emphasize self-serious foolishness, but as the story line grows more ridiculous, it mines fewer laughs and slips dangerously close to formula schmaltz. It's the killer pingpong action that ultimately keeps Balls afloat.

BALLS OF FURY

Rogue Pictures

A Rogue Pictures, Intrepid Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment presentation

Credits:

Director: Robert Ben Garant

Screenwriters: Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant

Producers: Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, Jonathan Glickman, Thomas Lennon

Executive producers: Ron Schmidt, Derek Evans

Director of photography: Thomas E. Ackerman

Production designer: Jeff Knipp

Music: Randy Edelman

Costume designer: MaryAnn Bozek

Editor: John Refoua

Cast:

Randy Daytona: Dan Fogler

Feng: Christopher Walken

Ernie Rodriguez: George Lopez

Maggie: Maggie Q

Wong: James Hong

Freddy: Terry Crews

Sgt. Pete Daytona: Robert Patrick

Gary: Diedrich Bader

Mahogany: Aisha Tyler

Karl Wolfschtagg: Thomas Lennon

Siu-Foo: Jason Scott Lee

Mysterious Asian Man: Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

Young Randy: Brett DelBuono

Rick the Birdmaster: David Koechner

Running time -- 90 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

»

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