Sunday, April 30, 2006

Mission: Impossible III Promotion Confused with Bomb in L.A.

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) - A newspaper promotion for Tom Cruise's upcoming "Mission: Impossible III" got off to an explosive start when a county arson squad blew up a news rack, thinking it contained a bomb.

The confusion: the Los Angeles Times rack was fitted with a digital musical device designed to play the "Mission: Impossible" theme song when the door was opened. But in some cases, the red plastic boxes with protruding wires were jarred loose and dropped onto the stack of newspapers inside, alarming customers.
In an age where fears of Islamic terrorism are a common occurrence in our daily lives, who at either Paramount Pictures or the Los Angeles Times seriously thought this was a reasonable and sound idea? I’m still going to see the movie though. Not that I am a big Tom Cruise fan but it is J.J. Abrams’s (the creator of Alias and LOST) motion picture directorial debut.

One-Sheet Teaser Poster for Casino Royale

Superman Trailer to be Attached to Mission: Impossible III

As if you needed another reason to see J.J. Abram’s directorial debut, Mission: Impossible III, this coming Friday, it is confirmed that the trailer for Superman Returns will be attached to copies of film.

RV Rides Into Top Spot


Robin Williams road comedy RV took the top spot at the North American box office with an estimated $16.4 million from 3,639 theaters. The Columbia Pictures release averaged $4,506 per theaters.

If estimates hold, director Paul Greengrass' 9/11 drama United 93 opened in second place, earning $11.6 million from just 1,795 theaters. Distributed by Universal Pictures, the film averaged $6,465 per location and was made for about $15 million. The studio will donate 10 percent of the first weekend's grosses to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania.

Touchstone's gymnastics comedy Stick It landed in third with $11.3 million from 2,038 theaters. Written and directed by Jessica Bendinger, the film stars Jeff Bridges and Missy Peregrym.

TriStar Pictures' Silent Hill dropped about 54% in ticket sales its second weekend, adding $9.3 million for a total of $34.2 million so far. Sony paid $14 million for the rights to distribute the movie in North America.

Dimension's Scary Movie 4 rounded out the top five with $7.8 million. The fourth installment in the spoof comedy franchise has collected $78.2 million in three weeks and was made for $45 million.

Fox thriller The Sentinel, starring Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland, Eva Longoria and Kim Basinger, dropped 47% and made $7.6 million its second weekend for a total of $25.5 million.

In seventh place, Ice Age: The Meltdown earned another $7.1 million to bring its five-week domestic total to $177.7 million. The animated-comedy sequel was made for $80 million.

Lionsgate also released drama Akeelah and the Bee into 2,195 theaters, allowing the movie to make $6.3 million in eighth place.

All the King's Men Trailer Online

The trailer for All the King’s Men, a political thriller starring Sean Penn, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and Anthony Hopkins, is now available online.

Trailer for Monster House Online

The trailer for Monster House which opens this July in theatres nation-wide is now available online.

Teaser Trailer for Jesse James Film Online

The teaser trailer for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford starring Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck is now available online.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Another The Omen Remake One-Sheet

Lake House One-Sheet

Film Review - Psycho

Today Psycho stands as a testament to the artistic genius of director Alfred Hitchcock. As simple as Joseph Stefano’s screenplay may be, it has risen over the decades to become the quintessential horror film of all time. Few, if any, have matched it, even the ‘shot-by-shot’ remake in 1998. But as horrifying as Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological thriller is, Psycho, sadly, has some basis in fact. Robert Bloch’s novel, the primary source of the film, based the character of Norman Bates (with the exception of his physical stature) on Edward Gein, one of this country’s most notorious murderers. While investigating the disappearance of a convenience store clerk named Bernice Worden, police upon entering Gein’s residence were shocked to discover not only Bernice’s body decapitated, hung upside down by her ankles, and slit up-and-down the middle like a deer but skullcaps used as soup bowls, a necklace of human lips, a belt made of nipples, a human heart in a saucepan, dead-skin masks, and lampshades and an entire wardrobe fabricated from human skin. Gein’s murderous rampage (this is a topic of some dispute – while Gein could only be linked directly with the deaths of two people, at least six people were reported missing from the towns of Plainsville and La Crosse, Wisconsin, between 1947 and 1957) in the small Midwestern town of Plainsville, Wisconsin, inspired not only Robert Block’s gripping suspense novel and the now-famous Alfred Hitchcock horror picture which followed but also Deranged, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (and all its subsequent sequels and remakes), and Thomas Harris’s novel, The Silence of the Lambs, which in turn inspired the Academy Award-winning motion picture of the same name, starring Anthony Hopkins and Jodi Foster.

Film veteran Saul Bass produces yet another powerful title sequence (this time, gray horizontal lines moving back and forth across the screen, imitating the slashing motions of the psychotic killer soon to follow) accompanied by what is easily Bernard Herrmann’s most recognizable musical score. Rather then a typical ‘blow-by-blow’ account of the film, specific points of detail which enhance the motion picture experience of Psycho should be pointed out to audiences. They then can discover the rest on their own.

In a clever symbolic nod by director Alfred Hitchcock, Marion’s underwear and bra change from pure white which she was wearing after having an afternoon tryst with her boyfriend Sam to pitch black after she takes the forty-thousand dollars back to her apartment instead of the bank like her boss instructed. Signifying her descent into darkness, Marion intends on running away with the money to California and use it to live ‘happily ever after’ with Sam, free from their financial woes.

Marion’s shower is a baptismal-like cleansing of her soul. She is prepared to return to Phoenix, Arizona and face the consequences of her actions, in this case stealing the forty-thousand dollars, but not before she has a chance to ‘wash her sins away’. With this simple act she will have returned home with a clear conscience. It is therefore even more shocking when Marion is brutally stabbed to death in the shower moments later. She steps into the shower, turns on the warm water, and absorbs herself in her own ‘private island’ where her cares simply melt away, oblivious of the fate that is about to befall her. As Marion proceeds with her shower, a faint shadow in the background can be seen through the shower curtain moving toward us inside the shower itself where Marion is right now. The shower curtain is then pushed violently aside, piercing violins screeching as a mysterious figure (only her bun-like gray hair and flower dress appear visible) stabs at the audience with what appears to be a butcher knife. Only after audience members have screamed first, Marion turns around and screams a close-up of her wide-open mouth shown. Nothing is explicitly seen (whether censors wouldn’t permit it or this was Hitchcock’s intention all along is unclear) but our own imagination fills in the gaps of this forty-five second sequence with images of a violent rape, making this all the more excruciating. The figure then leaves. Marion, mortally wounded, falls back, slowly inching her way down the wall of the shower, her arm fully stretched as if pleading with her last breath for help from the audience. She grabs the shower curtain and tares it down, limping over as blood slowly flows down the drain symbolizing the end of her life. She is free of her cares but she is also dead so she is not able to enjoy her liberation. The close-up of the drain dissolves into Marion’s transfixed eye, lifelessly starring back at us as if to haunt us, though there was clearly nothing we could have done to stop it. This is all the more an example of cruel irony since earlier a police officer advised her that she would have been safer in a motel then sleeping in her car on the side of the roadway. Shows what he knows.

The eerie silence shortly after Marion’s death is shattered by Norman cries from the house. “Mother! Oh, God! Mother!” he shouts, “Blood! Blood!” He runs down the hill and into Marion’s motel room only to discover her lifeless body slumped over the side of the bathtub. He quickly turns and covers his mouth, either in shock or in efforts to stifle a scream. Once he regains his composure, he sets about covering up the crime scene – moping up the blood, turning off the water, wrapping Marion’s corpse in the shower curtain and then dumping it along with all her possessions into the trunk of her car. Normally the audience would frown upon such an action but at this point we still want to believe ‘mother’ was behind Marion’s death, not Norman, which makes his protection of his fragile mother all the more sympathetic in our eyes. If you’ll notice closely, Marion’s license plate reads ‘NFB 418’ which stands for Norman Francis (patron saint of birds) Bates. Norman then drives the car to a swamp near the motel, steps out, and proceeds to push the vehicle into the quicksand, all the while nervously scanning for any sign of witnesses. Both he and the audience who at this point are on his side breathe a collective sigh of relief when the last flitting images of the car sink beneath the swamp.

A detective (likely hired by Cassidy) investigating the disappearance of Marion Crane eventually winds up at the shady Bates Motel off the old highway. As he pulls in, Norman is standing in the doorway of the motel office eating candy from a small paper bag. He’s just about to change the linens on all the cabin beds even though, he claims, no one has slept in them for some time. He does so out of habit because he finds the smell of dampness ‘creepy’. Taken into the motel office, Arbogast begins to interrogate Bates about Marion’s disappearance. Bates of course denies seeing the girl. Arbogast’s choice of words to try and convince Bates to at least examine a photograph of her before responding is of course ironic. “Would you mind looking at the picture before ‘committing’ yourself,” he asks. Norman’s handing over of the guest registry leaves him cornered. Arbogast discovers the name ‘Marie Samuels’, an alias for Marion Crane which proves she stayed at the Bates Motel recently. The interrogation scene between the detective and Norman Bates is classic. Watch closely as Norman’s mannerisms become increasingly erratic, causing him to stutter and stammer substantially. As he is about to leave, Arbogast notices a light on in the house behind the Bates Motel. He asks Norman if he lived with anyone. He at first denies living with anyone but then when he admits he lives with his mother. His excuse for lying before was because his mother’s ‘condition’ makes it as though he is living alone. Norman however indicts himself even further when, responding to Arbogast’s accusation that he might have been ‘fooled’ by Marion into having him hide her, possibly for sex, he says, “Let's put it this way. She might have fooled me, but she didn't fool my mother”. And when Bates refuses to allow the detective to question the mother and advises him to leave, Arbogast’s suspicions are raised even further.

It isn’t long before Arbogast returns to the Bates Motel and, having searched the motel office for any sign of Norman, sneaks his way up to the house above the motel, all the while Norman is lingering in the shadows. Arbogast slowly climbs the stairs leading to mother’s room. What follows is one of the most brilliant and frightening scenes in the film. Violins screech as an overhead shot shows ‘mother’ slashing the detective’s face. Arbogast falls backward down the stairs, landing on his back at the bottom. ‘Mother’ quickly pursues him and makes several deep stabs into his chest, accompanied with his shrieks of terror.

And finally, there’s the lengthy conclusion which feels at times a bit too anticlimactic. While police psychiatrist Dr. Richmond insists he is giving the straight story concerning what took place at the Bates Motel (in regards to the deaths of Marion, the detective, and the other missing women), from a modern perspective of the justice system this feels awfully like an insanity plea. In what is arguably the most deeply disturbing scene in motion-picture history, ‘mother’ is conversing with herself inside Norman’s head. Norman Bates no longer exists, only his mother, Norma, does. A fly lands on his/her hand but to prove her innocence she chooses to spare its life. Not because he/she has turned over a new leaf but because the police are monitoring his/her every move and he/she wants to prove them wrong. “I'm not even gonna swat that fly” he/she says, “I hope they are watching. They'll see. They'll see and they'll know and they'll say, 'Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly.'” The film concludes with an excruciatingly chilling scene, a devilishly smiling Norman Bates with an image of mother’s grinning skull superimposed over him.

Sure, today Psycho is considered a revered classic, blasphemy upon anyone, whether it be Steven Spielberg or some unknown director, who so much as trifles with it. This is why the Gus Van Sant remake was dead upon arrival. The original however was loathed by film critics who now regard it as a cinematic masterpiece. Hypocritical on their part for sure but only over time do the ‘Hitchcockian’ charms of the famous director’s films grow on you as a viewer. True, John Gavin is a stiff as Marion’s boyfriend, Sam (Universal forced him upon Hitchcock’s picture because he was under contract with the studio), and Vera Miles could breathe more life into Marion’s sister Lila, but on the whole it has all the mannerisms and charm that made Hitchcock one of the greatest filmmakers in motion picture history. Nothing he does seems out of place or out of character with what audiences have been accustomed to expect from him.

My Rating: **** ½ out of 5 (Grade: A)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Film Review - North by Northwest

Starting with a pale-green Leo the Lion (the trademark of MGM), Saul Bass creates a vibrant title sequence, seamlessly transitioning from an animated crisscrossing of animated black lines to a real-life skyscraper reflecting the bustling traffic of New York City below, all accompanied by Bernard Herrmann’s most underrated musical score. This splendidly sets the stage for the fast-paced action of the film set to follow. It is here we meet Roger Thornhill, the protagonist of our story, played charismatically by Cary Grant, as he rushes to a business luncheon, dictating his memos to his secretary who is feverishly trying to keep up with him. Even from this brief encounter we can sense that Thornhill has an air of confidence about him (too much perhaps) and acts frivolously and boorish to anyone other then himself. To his loyal secretary he sums up the seemingly unethical life he leads, “Ah, Maggie, in the world of advertising, there's no such thing as a lie. There's only the expedient exaggeration. You ought to know that”. It is ironic therefore that he should later be so trusting of Eve who in turn deceives him through ‘false advertising’ and leaves him betrayed by her ‘expedient exaggerations’.

As Thornhill arrives for his business luncheon at the famous Plaza Hotel, he remembers that his mother is playing bridge at a friend’s house at that very moment and she can not be contacted at home as he has instructed his secretary to do (to reminder of a play they are attending that evening at the Winter Garden Theatre). Unfortunately he remembers this small detail just as the taxi carrying her pulls away. A little annoyed, he shrugs it off and goes inside. It is however this minor detail that will set off a chain of events which will ultimately lead him to a ledge on Mount Rushmore, far from his laidback world in New York City. Before he conducts business with his clients at lunch, he calls for a busboy the precise moment a page for a Mr. ‘George Kaplan’ is announced over the hotel’s PA system. Two henchmen laying in wait for this ‘Kaplan’ assume Thornhill is the man they are looking for and as soon as he walks away from his table to send a telegram to his mother, they grab him and take him off in a car to their boss’s headquarters.

Grant’s dry wit and acid humor is the driving force of this picture and it works expediently well. Upon hearing of a dinner party at the Townsend residence as he is dragged by the two henchmen to their boss’s office he exclaims, "By the way, what are we having for dessert?" And when he is confronted by a man who claims to be Lester Townsend (later we learn that he is actually a foreign spy named Philip Vandamm who has taken up residence at the UN diplomat’s home for the time being) about what he, or rather what Mr. Kaplan, knows he replies, “Not that I mind a slight case of abduction now and then, but I have tickets for the theatre this evening, to a show I was looking forward to and I get, well, kind of unreasonable about things like that”. A tall glass of bourbon is then forced upon, making him entirely bombed. The two henchmen then plan to place him in a car and have Mr. ‘Kaplan’ drive himself off a cliff. Things don’t go quite as planned and somehow Thornhill is able to grab control of the wheel and drive manically through oncoming traffic. This as well as the booking scene which soon follows are classic. Seeing Grant, an actor notorious for his serious demeanor, pretend he’s drunk is priceless.

Hitchcock manages to truly put himself into the mindset of his audience. Having just watched Thornhill weave intoxicated in and out of traffic, the precise moment we query to ourselves as to where a police officer is during all of this, a police car’s sirens blare as he is in pursuit of Thornhill.

Having been made a fool of by his abductors (when Thornhill returns to the Townsend residence with his lawyer, mother, and two police detectives in tow to investigate his claim, Mrs. Townsend – in reality Vandamm’s sister – greets Roger Thornhill as Mr. Kaplan and coyly insists that Kaplan became quite drunk at their little dinner party the other night), he returns to the Plaza Hotel and breaks into Mr. Kaplan’s hotel room to see who this man truly is. He is then chased by the same two henchmen who abducted him the night before from the hotel to the United Nations Assembly Building where Lester Townsend works. However the man he meets is not the same man who had him abducted at the Plaza Hotel. Suddenly, a knife is thrown into the back of Mr. Townsend (presumably aimed for Roger Thornhill but missed) and coincidently (wink-wink) a photographer is right there in the Assembly Building to ‘capture’ Thornhill holding the murder weapon in his hand and standing over the victim’s body. Not only does Thornhill have to track down this George Kaplan and figure out why these foreign spies want him disposed of, he must also clear his name of a murder he did not commit, all while avoiding the detection of either the police or the foreign assassins.After learning that Kaplan is headed for the Hotel Ambassador East in Chicago, Illinois, Thornhill decides to pursue this mysterious man and clear him name. In a quick call to his mother Thornhill tries to convince her that for a man on the run from the law traveling by train is safer then flying. “Well, because there's no place to hide on a plane if anyone should recognize me...oh, you want me to jump off a moving plane?” which is of course a foreshadowing of the famous crop-dusting sequence later on. Recognized by the sales clerk working at the ticket counter booth, he successfully sneaks aboard the train destined for Chicago and is concealed from detection by the police by a platinum blonde bombshell named Eve Kendell, played scintillatingly by Eva Marie Saint, who he bumps into on his way aboard the train.

The two meet again a few moments later at dinner (we later learn that Eve tipped the waiter five dollars to seat him with her if he entered the dining car). Roger and Eve, perceptibly attracted to one another, exchange sexual innuendos over dinner. She reveals to Thornhill that she knows exactly who he is and what he is accused of, but she doesn’t care. He asks her why. She responds, “It's going to be a long night” and that she doesn’t “particularly like the book” she’s started. Inquiring as to whether he has picked up on her sexual proposition, he replies, “Uh, let me think. Yes, I know exactly what you mean...” She then invites him to her drawing room in Car 3901 (a reference of course to Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps which this film is modeled after) where further double entendres are made by the two lovers to make the censors squirm. As they kiss passionately, she lets him know that she’s ‘a big girl’ to which he responds, “Yeah, and in all the right places too”. Wanting to know more about him, acknowledging his taste in clothes and food, he quickly retorts, “...and taste in women. I like your flavor”. However, Hitchcock bows to the censors and forces Thornhill to sleep on the floor.

Easily one of the most identifiable sequences not only of director Alfred Hitchcock’s career but in all of motion picture history, the crop-dusting scene in North-by-Northwest is magnificently choreographed to the hilt. Roger Thornhill, traveling by bus so as to ensure that he is alone, is led to a desolate cornfield in Illinois under the pretext that he will be Kaplan. In reality this is merely a bluff, a plot by the foreign spy organization to lure Thornhill into a false sense of security and eliminate him with the least amount of witnesses as possible. However, Hitchcock does not simply deliver the sequence to the audience, Heaven no. He builds us up with excitement and anticipation when the moment finally arrives. He does so by having Cary Grant stand alone on a deserted dirt road while cars pass by occasionally. Does Kaplan actually exist? If so, will he show? And then what? The tension builds. Suddenly a car drops a man off on the other side of the dirt road and takes off. Is this Kaplan? Hitchcock couldn’t make it that easy, could he? He must be an assassin then. But before we even have time to query our suspicions, the man points out to Thornhill that the crop-duster across the way is dusting a field with no crops. As soon as the man boards a bus and is out of sight, the crop-duster proceeds to terrorize Thornhill by running him down. He hides in the cornfield to no avail; the plane sprays the crops with poisonous pesticides, forcing Thornhill out into the open. Thornhill successfully flags down a gasoline truck just in the nick of time, causing the crop-duster to swerve out of control and crash head-on into the gasoline truck, creating a marvelous explosion.

After tracking down Eve at the Hotel Ambassador East, the same hotel George Kaplan was suppose to be staying at (‘Kaplan’ supposedly checked out a full two hours before Eve called his hotel room and claimed that she had arranged a meeting between him and Thornhill – the encounter with the crop-duster in the cornfield), he pursues her to an auction where he is confronted by Vandamm and his two henchmen. He provokes a fight and uses the police escort to escape Vandamm’s henchmen who were lying in wait for him. He is then taken to an airport where a kindly ol’ man referred to as the Professor brings him up-to-date on the situation (Eve, Vandamm’s lover, was recruited by the C.I.A. to spy on Vandamm who in reality is a foreign spy trafficking government secrets in and out of the country – ‘importer/exporter’ as the Professor refers to his occupation as which is a coy reference to The Man Who Knew Too Much). Realizing Eve may be exposed and presumably killed by Vandamm, he flies out to Rapid City, confront Eve, and pretends to be critically wounded by her (a gun loaded with blanks) so as to convince Vandamm Eve is still on his side.

Leonard, one of Vandamm’s henchmen, doesn’t trust Eve and for good reason. Vandamm on the other hand believes him to be jealous of his mistress, clearly a homosexual allusion. "You know what I think? I think you're jealous. No, I mean it. I'm very touched, very”. Leonard then exposes Eve for the fraud she is, firing her gun with blanks straight at Vandamm. He is of course left unharmed but stunned and (emotionally) hurt. He knows what he must do, choosing to throw her off the plane as soon as they are over water.

The crescendo of crescendos in North-by-Northwest is the chase scene on top of (what appears to be) Mount Rushmore (but because the government would not allow the famous director to shoot such a sequence on top of a national monument, gigantic busts created on a soundstage out in California and rear projections were used instead). The film ends with a scene in which Eve, dangling dangerously over the edge of Mount Rushmore, struggling to hold on to Thornhill’s hand transitions immediately to him pulling her up to their compartment bed aboard a train heading east after they are married. It properly sums up the entire atmosphere of the film – sadly and deliciously absurd (to quote the federal agent earlier in the film, “It's so horribly sad. How is it I feel like laughing?”).

My Rating: **** ½ out of 5 (Grade: A)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Silent Hill Draws in Moviegoers


TriStar Pictures' Silent Hill topped the box office with an estimated $20.2 million from 2,926 theaters. Directed by Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf) and written by Roger Avary, the film stars Radha Mitchell as a mother who has to search for her daughter in an eerie and deserted ghost town. Hill is based on the popular Konami video game. Sony's TriStar paid $14 million for the rights to distribute the movie in North America, and will break even in the mid-$20 million range.

Last week's champ, Dimension's Scary Movie 4, dropped 57.7% in ticket sales and to the second spot, adding $17 million for a two-week total of $67.7 million. The fourth installment in the spoof comedy franchise cost about $45 million to make.

Fox thriller The Sentinel, starring Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland, Eva Longoria and Kim Basinger, debuted in the third spot with $14.7 million from 2,819 theaters.

The studio's Ice Age: The Meltdown dipped two spots in its fourth weekend to fourth place, earning another $12.8 million for an impressive total of $167.9 million domestically so far. The animated-comedy sequel was made for $80 million.

Disney's less-successfull The Wild rounded out the top five with $8.1 million, dropping just 16.9% in sales. The animated film, also made for $80 million, has collected $21.9 million in two weeks.

Sony comedy The Benchwarmers earned $7.3 million in its third weekend and is up to $47.1 million total.

Another wide release, Universal's American Dreamz, didn't receive much interest from moviegoers as it opened in the eighth spot with just $3.7 million from 1,500 theaters.

One-Sheet for The Omen Remake

Sunday, April 23, 2006


Alright, things are a bit hectic right now but here’s the plan – the review for Vertigo should be up sometime this week. I may or may not do a review for North by Northwest, depending on how I feel. A review for Psycho should be coming some time next week. I am going to see United 93 this weekend and possibly American Dreamz, but I don’t have a clue as to when you can expect reviews for those.

Dennis Quaid Promotes Bush Satirization On TODAY

Don’t you just love how left-wing Hollywood snobs like to have their cake and eat it too, especially when they’re trying to promote a movie? They star in clearly politically motivated pictures and yet when questioned about the political nature of their project they immediately deny any political commentary apparent in the film. V for Vendetta and American Dreamz are just some of the latest examples of this. Mandy Moore, a singer turned actress who stars in American Dreamz, is one of those hypocrites. While promoting the release of Saved, the controversial independent film which blatantly mocks Christianity and promotes homosexuality, insisted that her project was politically motivated. While I have no reports that she is insisting the same thing with American Dreamz, co-star Dennis Quaid, who portrays [brace yourself] the dim-witted Texas-hick president (talk about a joke that’s five years too late), has.

On 'The Sopranos,' Mob Boss's Daughter Denounces Bush for Abusing Civil Rights

This isn’t exactly a sign of media-bias but rather an example of art imitating life, as sad as it may be. A fresh episode of the hit drama series The Sopranos (one of my favorite television programs of all time – sadly, I don’t get HBO) features Meadow Soprano, daughter of mob boss Tony, ranting about President Bush’s anti-terrorism policies.

This serves as an example to the age-old question conservative men have been asking for decades – why are the hot ones so gullible?

Pop Star Pink Attacks Bush in New Song ‘Dear Mr. President’

The ‘artist’ known as Pink has joined the lengthy laundry list of stuck-up Hollywood celebrities shooting their mouths off about President George W. Bush. A song off her new album ‘I’m Not Dead Yet’ (sadly) called ‘Dear Mr. President’ (her originality speaks volumes) attacks President George W. Bush for among other things ‘No Child Left Behind’ (something we surprisingly agree on but then again that is what happens when you let Ted Kennedy and compassionate conservatism run amok), his religious views on abortion and same-sex marriage [Here are the lyrics: “What kind of father would take his own daughter's rights away / And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay”] (Pink sees herself as ‘bisexual’ – in other words she wants to have her cake and eat it too without facing the consequences of actually making a mature choice), the war in Iraq (what kind of liberal rant would it be without it), and, hypocritically, his supposed past drug and alcohol abuse.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter Bunny Delivers 4th Scary Movie Hit


After earning nearly $19 million on Good Friday, Dimension Films' comedy Scary Movie 4, which spoofed movies like War of the Worlds and The Grudge, grossed an estimated $41 million over the Easter weekend. That was a smaller opening than Scary Movie 3 and not enough for it to top Adam Sandler's April opening record-holder Anger Management, but it is the highest opening movie ever to open over the Good Friday/Easter weekend, averaging more than $11 thousand per theatre in roughly 3,600 theatres nationwide.

20th Century Fox's animated hit Ice Age: The Meltdown, currently the #1 opening and grossing movie of 2006, dropped down to second place with an impressive third weekend of $20 million, bringing its total gross to $147 million.

Sony's madcap baseball comedy The Benchwarmers, starring Rob Schneider, David Spade and Jon Heder, dropped 49% in its second weekend, taking third place with $10 million. It has grossed almost $36 million in its first ten days.

Disney offered up their own computer animated family film, The Wild, to try to compete with "Ice Age," but it fell short, earning less than $9.6 million over the Easter weekend in 2,854 theatres, and opening in fourth place.

Dropping to fifth place in its second weekend, New Line's musical drama Take the Lead, starring Antonio Banderas, earned $6.7 million, bringing its total to $22.5 million.

The Spike Lee-directed crime drama Inside Man, starring Denzel Washington, Clive Owen and Jodie Foster, continued to do decent business, adding another $6.3 million over the Easter weekend for a total of just over $75 million in four weeks. It's currently the fifth-highest grossing film of the year and could try to make a play to get into the Top 3 before the summer.

At #7, another ensemble crime drama, Lucky Number Slevin, this one from MGM and The Weinstein Company, also held up well over Easter, adding another $4.6 million to its gross.

Jason Reitman's dark comedy, Thank You for Smoking, starring Aaron Eckhart, tripled its theatres on Friday, jumping from #10 to #8 with $4.4 million in a little over 1,000 theatres. The independent film, distributed by Fox Searchlight, has earned roughly $11.5 million since opening in early March.

The Mo'Nique comedy Phat Girlz and the Warner Bros. drama ATL both took plunges over Easter weekend, ending up just outside the Top 10 with $1.2 and $1.3 million, respectively.

Lionsgate released the Spanish drama La Mujer de Mi Hermano into 200 theatres in select cities where it earned just over $1 million, an average of $5,000 per theatre.

Lionsgate also released their psychological thriller Hard Candy into a single theatre each in New York and L.A., and it earned $60 thousand between them.

Mary "American Psycho" Haron's biodrama The Notorious Bettie Page, starring Gretchen Mol, grossed $145 thousand its opening weekend in 20 theatres, while the Miramax Brit-comedy Kinky Boots, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor in drag, grossed $81 thousand in 9 theatres.

The indie dramedy Friends with Money, starring Jennifer Aniston and Catherine Keener, added another $805 thousand in its second weekend after adding 14 more theatres. It has grossed $1.6 million in limited release, and will expand nationally on Friday.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Rush Limbaugh Talks with Creators of 24

Check video (courtesy of News Fly) of conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh talk with Joel Surnow and Howard Gordon the creators of the hit drama 24 starring Keither Sutherland.

Happy Endings Only for Jen

This is why actors and their relationships both on and off screen ruin films. It may turn out that this is a better ending then what the filmmakers had originally planned, but I say screw test audiences and their obsession with celebrities.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ice Age Dominates a Second Week


20th Century Fox's Ice Age: The Meltdown remained atop the box office for a second straight week, adding $34.5 million while dropping 49.3% in ticket sales. The animated-comedy sequel became the first movie released this year to cross the $100 mark and has reached $116.4 million in 10 days. The original Ice Age made $87.3 million after the same time and went on to earn $176 million domestically. The Meltdown cost about $80 million to make.

Sony Pictures comedy The Benchwarmers debuted in the second spot with $20.5 million from 3,274 theaters. Featuring Rob Schneider, David Spade and Jon Heder, the film averaged $6,261 per location.

Antonio Banderas dance drama Take the Lead took third place in its opening weekend, earning $12.8 million from 3,009 theaters. The New Line release averaged $4,245.

Universal Pictures' Inside Man dropped two spots to fourth in its third weekend. The crime-drama added $9.2 million for a total of $66.1 million. The movie was produced for $45 million.

Newcomer Lucky Number Slevin, starring Josh Hartnett, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, Lucy Liu, Stanley Tucci and Bruce Willis, rounded out the top five with $7.1 million. The MGM/The Weinstein Company film played in 1,984 theaters.

The other new wide release, Mo'Nique's comedy Phat Girlz, opened at #9 with $3.1 million from 1,056 locations.

While that wasn't that impressive for Fox Searchlight Pictures, the studio did score again with Thank You for Smoking, which earned an impressive $2.4 million from just 300 theaters, an average of $8,000. The dramedy has collected $6.3 million in four weeks of release.

Also impressive was the first weekend for Sony Pictures Classics' Friends with Money, starring Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand, Catherine Keener and Joan Cusack. The film opened in just 28 theaters but earned $637,000 for the three days.

72 More Hours for Jack Bauer


24 star Kiefer Sutherland has signed a deal to stay with the Fox show for three more years, through May 2009, reports Variety.

As part of the pact, Sutherland will establish a production company on the 20th Century Fox lot to produce series programming for both broadcast and cable networks.

The deal makes Sutherland one of the highest-paid drama actors on television.

Sutherland, currently co-executive producer on 24, will be bumped up to executive producer for the upcoming sixth and seven seasons of the show. He shares that title with creators Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran, as well as Howard Gordon and Evan Katz.

Finally, while the deal with Fox is for TV only, Sutherland said he and the show's producers continue to believe in the idea of bringing the 24 franchise to the big screen. The earliest the movie would begin shooting, however, is late spring 2007, Sutherland said.

Quality control is the chief reason a 24 feature couldn't shoot during the upcoming hiatus, Sutherland added.

"It was really Joel and Bob and Howard realizing that if we were going to squeeze it in during the break, we would have been rushing it," he said. "If we were going to do it, we would do it next summer. It's still a big 'if.' We would not go forward unless we thought we could do it right.

"The film likely would depart from the series by condensing an entire day into about two hours, rather than unfolding in real time.

Sutherland isn't shooting a feature this hiatus in anticipation of working on a 24 film next summer.

One-Sheet for Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Film Review - Rear Window (1954)

Based on the Cornell Woolrich short story ‘It Had to be Murder’ (penned under the name William Irish), director Alfred Hitchcock takes his long-time obsession with sexual voyeurism to an entirely new level. This time it revolves around a man left impotent, so-to-speak, from an accident (shown in the beginning in a photo from a car accident at a race track) which has left his leg broken and confines him to a wheelchair. The man’s sole source of amusement and pleasure during the day (and occasionally in the evening) is intruding on his neighbors’ privacy from the comfort of his apartment window and observing their daily lives. There are three frames in which the brilliant cinematography of the film is shaped. The first comes from the point-of-view of Mr. Hitchcock’s motion-picture camera. The second is from Stewart’s binoculars (only briefly) and his high-powered telephoto lens (meant of course to be sexually suggestive). And the third is straight from the window itself. Nearly every shot in Rear Window, with the exception of a few, are seen entirely from the point-of-view of James Stewart’s character, Jeff. While confined in this solitary apartment building, the audience sees exactly what he sees; nothing more and nothing less. The audience is placed in the same emotional element as Jefferies, whether it is frustration, excitement, or fear. We are craning our necks just as he is to get even the tiniest glimpse of what we assume is taking place inside Thorwald’s apartment – murder.

Yet at the same time we the audience struggle with ourselves. We are all fully aware that human beings are not infallible and therefore are easily susceptible to jumping to conclusion for whatever reasons or motives, whether it stems from prejudice, ignorance, or something else entirely. This makes Lars Thorwald a sympathetic villain in a way. Ironically, Jefferies who jumps to the conclusion that Thorwald is guilty of murdering his own wife without any circumstantial evidence to prove it cautions Detective Doyle “Careful, Tom”, as he glances at the contents of Lisa’s suitcase which contains pink lingerie as if to suggest that she will staying the night at his place. All the same however we are still left with a sense of uneasiness. The scene in which Lars confronts Lisa and physically assaults her in his apartment before the police arrive on the scene is the precise moment which proves his guilt to us. Some may suggest rather that it is the death of the ‘dog who knew too much’ but there was no direct proof he committed this violent crime, though audiences are meant to believe he did.

Alfred Hitchcock brings up through the course of the film the analytical topic of ‘rear window ethics’. Is it right for a man or woman to spy on one’s neighbor even if it turns out that the person is indeed guilt of murder? Jeff’s girlfriend, Lisa, brings up this exact argument just when it seems as though their little investigation into the mysterious disappearance of Mrs. Thorwald has hit a dead-end. Then, moments later, a woman’s scream is heard outside. The little dog which belonged to the couple living on the fire escape is found dead with its neck broken as if strangled. The distraught woman who owned the dog cries out, “Which one of you did it? Which one of you killed my dog? You don't know the meaning of the word 'neighbor.' Neighbors like each other, speak to each other, care if anybody lives or dies, but none of you do”, as if to directly counter Lisa’s argument a few minutes ago.

Nearly as entertaining and enthralling as the murder mystery which ultimately shapes the main course of the picture, the distinctive subplots of the assorted neighbors surrounding L.B. Jefferies’s apartment building stands as one of director Alfred Hitchcock’s finer touches in Rear Window. The set itself is simply breathtaking. An impressive feat of engineering and filmmaking, it was built entirely within the confines of a Paramount studio soundstage with several of the apartments themselves fully furnished. Georgine Darcy, for example, who plays the exquisitely sensual Miss Torso, used her apartment as if it were her real home, relaxing in between takes. Her character of course was the most blatant examples in Rear Window of Hitchcock willfully taunting the Production Code, although there were plenty more besides this one background character. The director nonetheless enjoyed nearly every minute of it. In order to get around the complication of filming a leering depiction of Miss Torso, Hitchcock shot her scenes in three ways – one topless, one with her wearing white undergarments, and the other with her wearing black undergarments. Playing all three versions off the Production Code, he was able to keep intact all the scenes he intended for her by making it appear as though one version was less sexually suggestive then the other two.

In addition to Miss Torso, there is one scene in particular in which Lisa proposes to Jeff that she be allowed to spend the night in his apartment is oozing with double entendres. While proving to him that she can live out a suitcase like he can she retorts, “I'll bet yours isn't this small?” And as she exposes the contents of her little suitcase, “Compact, but, uh, ample enough”, pink lingerie is revealed. The daunting eloquence of Grace Kelly makes this scene all the more erotically charged.

Two subplots which ultimately converge, to quote the insurance nurse Stella, like ‘two taxis on Broadway’ and shift from agonizing heartbreak to emotional euphoria are those of the Composer and Miss Lonelyheart. Miss Lonelyheart’s introduction is truly lamentable with her enacting a scene in which a gentlemen caller pays her a visit, complete with fine wine for toasting, while in the distance Jefferies raises a glass of wine toasting her as Lisa prepares an intimate dinner in the background. This of course is all perfectly ironic, demonstrating Jefferies’s emotional distance from Lisa and his inability to commit to her, choosing instead to immerse himself in his ‘rear window’ world as he has done for the past six weeks. Adding to the paradox, Bing Crosby’s ‘To See You Is To Love You’ plays in the distance as Miss Lonelyheart snaps back to reality, realizes she is alone, and buries her head in her arms and weeps.

The next we see of both the Composer and Miss Lonelyheart, alcohol is heavily involved (the Composer staggers into his apartment drunk and Miss Lonelyheart takes several stiff drinks before leaving her apartment searching for male company). In yet another slight tinge of irony, Lisa starring out the window of the apartment listening to a tune on the wind says, “Where does a man get inspiration to write a song like that?” The Composer is playing the tune called ‘Mona Lisa’ just as Miss Lonelyheart is sexually assaulted by a man who she proceeds to toss out of her apartment and then collapses on her couch weeping. The scene and tune itself can be interpreted two ways – for the Composer it is instantly identified with the famous painting by Leonardo Da Vinci (considered his muse) while for Miss Lonelyheart it is linked with the lyrics of the Nate King Cole song of the same name which references sexual assault.

Her suicide attempt (complete with suicide note, Bible, and an overdose of sleeping pills) at the precise moment Jefferies is calling Thorwald’s apartment to warn Lisa of his impending return make Jefferies next move (should he call the police in order to stop Miss Lonelyheart from killing herself or try and save the woman he supposedly loves by warning her of Lars Thornwald’s return to the apartment) all the more intense. It culminates with Miss Not-So-Lonelyheart paying the Composer a visit whose song he has been composing all this time and what ultimately stopped her from taking her own life.

Of course there is nothing humorous about a cute little dog having its neck broken but if one could find some amusement in this scene then it would have to be Lisa’s line upon realizing that the dog was digging up something in Thornwald’s garden, “Maybe he knew too much”. This of course is a jab at Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Much (Stewart in interviews referred to the little pup as ‘The Dog Who Knew Too Much), a remake of which he was currently working on to start James Stewart.

As Jefferies explains to Stella, his insurance nurse, he’s not ready for marriage and that Lisa, his girlfriend, is too ‘Park Avenue’ for his lifestyle, as he puts it a ‘camera bum who never has more than a week's salary in the bank’, he stares into an apartment where a newlywed couple has just moved. From this moment on until the end of the film, every time Jefferies looks toward their apartment window either the shades are closed or the husband in his underwear sticks his head outside to get a breath of fresh air only to be called back by his sexually unquenchable newlywed wife. The irony of this couple is that when the husband announces to his newlywed wife at the end of the film that he is quitting his job, the honeymoon is officially over, both literally and figuratively, leaving her to exclaim to him, “But if you'd told me you quit your job, we wouldn't have gotten married”. In contrast to the relationship between Jefferies and Lisa, it leaves their future together rather open ended, especially if these two lovebirds are already having marital troubles.

Whether or not Jefferies and Lisa wind up together and the rest of their neighbors find some sort of happiness is entirely irrelevant. Hitchcock believed (or so he said in interviews) that the characters and the story ended when the film ended. What is for certain however is the brilliance of this film. The performances are top-notch (easily the best in Grace Kelly’s sadly short-lived film career and one of the best in James Stewart’s lengthy career as an actor), the script is intricately woven with meaningful subplots and wrought with tension and excitement, and director Alfred Hitchcock is at the top of his game. You couldn’t ask for anything more. Rear Window is without a doubt Alfred Hitchcock’s best motion picture of his career, if not the best of the 1950s.

My Rating: ***** out of 5 (Grade: A+)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Film Review - Strangers on a Train

We have all had someone in our lives that we have wanted ‘disposed of’, right? Nearly every human being has experienced a moment in which their emotions have overrun their sense reason and logic and, in a fit of anger, claim that they want to ‘strangle’ or kill someone who has caused them some form of pain or anguish. It’s no big secret. But what if the opportunity to do just that and get away with it scot-free presented itself to you? Would you take it? That’s the idea behind Alfred Hitchcock’s rather sadistic (in a good way) drama Strangers on a Train. Celebrity tennis player Guy Haines and Bruno Anthony meet on a train coincidently, or so it would seem. Bruno, recognizing Guy, strikes up a conversion in which Guy reveals that he wants a divorce from his backstabbing wife, Miriam, so he can marry Anne Morton, the daughter of a respectable U.S. Senator. Over lunch Bruno confesses to Guy that he too wants a nuisance removed from his life, his over controlling step-father. He then suggests a perfect plan to remove the obstacles of each other’s lives barring their way from living a happy life. His scheme is that the two of them ‘exchange murders’, committing the murder of the other person so that person closest to the victim has an airtight alibi and the actual murderer can not be accused of the crime because he and the victim are complete strangers.

Seems simple enough, right? That is what Bruno thinks as well but it is this precise arrogance which will inexplicably lead to his downfall. Guy, upon hearing the devious proposal, jollies Bruno along and after leaving the train tries to put the whole affair behind him. Only he can’t, at least not for long. It appears as though Bruno was quite serious about his proposal, presenting Guy when he returns to his home in Baltimore with the eyeglasses of his dead wife Miriam. Guy however is extremely reluctant to follow through with his end of the bargain when he never committed to the plan in the first place, at least not seriously. And even if he were willing to do so, he wouldn’t be able to, not with the police watching him like a hawk. The police have privately named Guy as a prime suspect because of his public altercation with Miriam the day of the murder (with numerous eyewitnesses), his admittance to Anne that he wanted to ‘strangle’ Miriam, and no alibi for his exact whereabouts at the time of the murder (he does have a witness who was with him on the train to Baltimore at the time of the murder but unfortunately for Guy he was quite intoxicated and couldn’t remember him the next day). What follows is a series of events in which Bruno, coming to the conclusion that Guy will not fulfill his end of the bargain, tries to frame Guy for the murder of his wife (turning his cigarette lighter which was almost left at the scene of the crime over to the police, thus incriminating him) and Guy fighting to restore his good name while at the same time keeping the police who are tailing his every move off his trail.

In the conventional vein of Shadow of a Doubt, Hitchcock uses doubles or pairs in Strangers on a Train to figure in the balance of good and evil. The pairing of Guy Haines, the dashing all-American youth, and Bruno Anthony, the obsessive and malevolent outsider, is Hitchcock most glaring example of this recurrent theme. Two seemingly distinct personalities yet at the same time each complimentary to one another. Other pairs include the two drinks Bruno orders on the train during lunch, the two crisscrossing tennis rackets on Guy’s cigarette lighter, the double-vision of Miriam’s death through her eyeglasses, the startling resemblance Barbara Morton shares with Miriam, and, most discreetly, the words ‘two imposters’ (from the Rudyard Kipling poem ‘If’) on a beam above Guy’s head as he leaves the last tennis match of the film.

There are at least five scenes in particular found in this film in which the true cinematic genius of Alfred Hitchcock and his creative dramatic vision shines through brilliantly onto the screen. The first is the sequence in which Bruno follows Guy’s wife, Miriam, and her two ‘boyfriends’ into the Tunnel of Love. His shadow is projected onto the wall and from the viewpoint of the audience it appears as though he is overtaking them. A scream from Miriam, which later reveals to be out of excitement and pleasure, not terror and death, while the two boats are still inside the tunnel creates an image in our minds of what may be taking place. Instead it is a foreshadowing of what is yet to come.

The second scene takes place immediately after the Tunnel of Love sequence when the actual murder of Miriam occurs. Miriam and her two ‘boyfriends’ have just exited their boat in a secluded area not far off from the fair grounds when in their excitement they become separated. Bruno comes up from behind Miriam and asks if she who he believes her to be. He then grabs her neck and proceeds to strangle her to death, leaving her barely able to let out even a whisper in her pleas for help. Though Hitchcock does not show the actual murder directly, he goes one step further, from an artistic standpoint that is. He shows the strangulation of Miriam through her eyeglasses which have fallen to the ground. These eyeglasses are of particular importance as they will reappear on the face of another character (similar but not the exact same glasses as Miriam’s) later on in the film. This in turn will cause Bruno to flashback to the night of the murder and pass out.

The third is easily the most recognizable. In this scene Guy as he prepares for his tennis match pans the crowd of spectators sitting in the grandstands observing the tennis match in front of them, each one with his or her head swiveling back and forth as each volley is shot across the court. All, that is, with the exception of one, Bruno Anthony, whose gaze is set unwavering on Guy. This hair-raising moment demonstrates the merciless persistence of Bruno.

The fourth takes place in the midst of yet another tennis match, this one involving Guy who must win in three sets if he wishes to beat Bruno back to his hometown and retrieve his cigarette lighter before Bruno has the chance to plant it at the scene of Miriam’s murder and frame him for the crime. He must compete in the match and go on with his usual lifestyle to avoid further suspicion on the part of the police. Bruno arrives in Guy’s hometown aboard a train just as Guy’s tennis match is taking place. Suddenly, as he is pretentiously tosses it slightly in his right hand, Guy’s cigarette lighter, the solitary advantage he holds over Guy’s head, drops directly into a sewer drain. The tension of Guy’s pivotal tennis match and Bruno’s insufferable struggle to reach the cigarette lighter just barely out of his grasp adds further vigor to the film. Two different yet at the same time congruent personalities, both in actions and words.

And then of course there is the merry-go-round sequence, Hitchcock’s crescendo for Strangers on a Train. Here the operator of the classic carnival favorite is accidentally shot in the head by a police officer who is in hot pursuit of Guy Haines who races across the fair grounds having just spotted Bruno Anthony. The dead man’s last act is to pull on the lever controlling the amusement park ride causing it to careen out of control (to the delight of a five-year old boy who believes this to be part of the thrill of the ride). A carnival worker crawls on his belly under the gyrating carousel, reaches the control switch, and pulls it back which then causes the ride to short-circuit and collapse on the ground below. The scene itself is technologically marvelous, especially given the time period in which it was shot.

Guy escapes relatively unscathed. Bruno on the other hand is not so lucky. His body is pinned under the weight of a carousel horse and other debris. Guy pleads with Bruno in his last breathes to fess up and reveal who really strangled Miriam, but he refuses, resolute to the bitter end. However, even in death his bitter arrogance does him in, his right hand clutching Guy’s cigarette lighter. As soon as the police realize Bruno has Guy’s cigarette lighter, they clear him of murder charges against his wife.

While Patricia Highsmith, the lesbian author of the Tom Ripley book series, deserves credit for the basis for Strangers on the Train, true credit lies with Czenzi Ormonde who broke dramatically from the source material to fit the inspirational vision of director Alfred Hitchcock. It’s not perfect, by any means, and certainly far from the director’s best work, though arguably within the top ten of films made while he was in the United States. Strangers on a Train remains an engaging, first-rate thriller even by today’s standards.

My Rating: **** ½ out of 5 (Grade: A-)

Gene Shalit Can't Help But Reference Global Warming In Ice Age II Review

This is unbelievable. One can’t even go to the movies without there being some political insinuation. How is there a political message in Ice Age 2? This is a children’s film and not a very good one at that if recent reviews have anything to say about it (IA2 received a 55% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes) – nothing more, nothing less. Gene Shalit (how I despise that man) on the other hand interprets the film as a cautionary tale about global warming. And who pray tell caused the end of the first Ice Age, cavemen?!

Hollywood Elites Blame “Basic Instinct 2” Failure on Christianity and Conservatism

I’ve come to really despise Hollywood’s bitching and finger-pointing. First, they blamed illegal ‘pirating’ via the internet for the underperformance of big-budget projects like The Hulk a few years ago (maybe like the gay cowboys of Brokeback Mountain it just blew – zing!) and now they’re blaming a return to Christian and Conservative values for the box office failure of erotic thrillers like Basic Instinct 2. Come on, who didn’t see BI2 tanking this weekend? It’s been how long since the original? In addition to that, the only reason this sequel came about in the first place was because of a lawsuit filed by Sharon Stone after producers couldn’t come up with the money to film it. If a return to Christian and Conservative values is to blame for the demise of the erotic thriller genre, why was Brokeback Mountain a hit at the box office (sure, it didn’t win Best Picture or gross over one-hundred million dollars, but eighty-million on a independent film budget isn’t half-bad either)? What about Wedding Crashers this past summer? Nope, I see no flaw in that argument.

The Simpsons Movie Teaser Trailer

It's nothing much really (only twenty-five seconds in length with no film material at all), but at least now we know it is going to happen.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Ice Age: The Meltdown Scores $21.6 Million!


20th Century Fox's animated sequel, Ice Age: The Meltdown has defied almost all expectations with an opening day that is set to make it the highest opening movie of the year even without including its Sunday box office.

According to early Friday estimates, the animated film grossed over $21.6 million in its first day, its release into 3,963 theatres made it the fifth widest release in history, and it averaged over $5,400 per venue. That opening day puts it in line to make close to $73 million or slightly more over the weekend, based on comparisons with similar animated films.

Going by estimates, Ice Age: the Meltdown had a bigger opening day gross than both of Pixar's last two movies, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles, which each made just under $21 million their opening days. 2004's Shrek 2, currently the highest opening animated film of all time, opened quietly on a Wednesday with $11.7 million before grossing another $108 million over the three-day weekend and then becoming the third highest grossing movie of all time with $441 million in the U.S. alone.

Simpsons Teaser Revealed this Weekend


20th Century Fox surprised moviegoers on Friday as the studio included a short teaser for The Simpsons Movie with prints of the anticipated Ice Age: The Meltdown.

The 25-second clip opens with a giant superhero-sized letter "S" while an announcer declares, "Leaping his way onto the silver screen, the greatest hero in American history!" It then cuts to Homer Simpson sitting on his couch in his tighty whities. "I forgot what I was supposed to say," he says. The narrator continues, "'The Simpsons Movie,' coming to the screen, July 27, 2007." "Uh, oh," says Homer, "we better get started."

We're hearing that you'll be able to catch the teaser trailer on TV during this Sunday's episode titled "Million Dollar Abie".

Having debuted on Jan. 14, 1990, The Simpsons reigns as the longest-running animated series in history and the longest-running primetime series currently on television. It was created by Matt Groening and developed by James L. Brooks. The Simpsons started as a segment of Fox's The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987-88.