I wrote a couple of days ago that I’m nursing doubts about Emilio Estevez‘s Bobby (Weinstein Co., 11.17), but in fairness I should acknowledge that a bigwig from the electronic side of entertainment journalism has flipped over it, or at least is telling people that. This person is also saying that the two standouts are Sharon Stone and — hold onto your hats — Lindsay Lohan. The Weinsteiners are showing it to a select few before the big Bobby unveilings at the Venice and Toronto film festivals as a “work in progress” (i.e., a euphemism for “Harvey doesn’t think it’s quite there yet”).
In the third graph of this profile of Rufus Sewell by N.Y. Times writer Sarah Lyall, the 38 year-old actor is described by Neil Burger, the director-writer of The Illusionist, as “more of a leading man” than a character actor who could villains or oddballs. Only in softball profiles like this do you find such delusion. Sewell isn’t a leading man type in the slightest. He never has been. He’s vaguely villainous, obsessive, creepy, churned-up- inside, glaring. There’s a reason — hello? — he’s played almost nothing but villains these last few years. Sewell is an intense and accomplished actor, yes, and I’d love to see him in “Rock ‘n’ Roll”, the Tom Stoppard play that’s currently performing in London, but…
If you haven’t read my early-bird piece about Mike Binder‘s Reign O’er Me, please do so now. It’ll prepare you more fully for the disappointing but not altogether surprising news that Reign won’t be opening on 12.1 after all. Columbia is going for a March or April ’07 opening, and here’s why:
(1) Columbia has a heavy fall/Xmas slate anyway (four films) and they didn’t want to add another film to that list in the first place, although jazzed reactions to early screenings of Reign told them they have something that works in a big way, and not just with journos like myself;
(2) There’s no question that Adam Sandler‘s performance (he plays a Manhattan dentist caught in an emotional shut-down mode over his wife and daughters having been killed on 9.11) would have stirred talk about this or that acting honor, but Columbia already has two funny guys giving dramatic performances in a pair of high-profile Oscar bait movies — Will Ferrell in Stranger Than Fiction and Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness — so do the math;
(3) This weekend’s low-key response to World Trade Center suggests that resistance to 9/11-themed movies is persisting wthin certain demos, and it may be the better part of wisdom to ease up on any more films in this vein and try again in the spring (even though Reign O’er Me uses the World Trade Center backdrop very sparingly);
(4) Reign‘s test screening numbers have been very good, but Columbia has picked up indications that some critics might not be inclined to give a drama with Sandler (who’s despised in elite critical circles) a fair shake; and…
(5) Columbia would release it on 12.1 anyway if Sandler, a very big Sony gorilla, had stood up, planted his feet and said he really wanted it released this year — but he didn’t quite do that. But he did say no print interviews when it does come out, which will make selling the film a bit of an uphill effort;
(6) Columbia feels it can give Reign O’er Me a more enthusiastic, great-guns launch in March/April than early December. It’s a less crazy time and there’s not as much stuff pulling everyone’s attention every which way.
Box Office Mojo is reporting that Alfonso Cuaron‘s Children of Men has been pushed back to 12.25.06 from the previous 9.29 date. It’ll still show at the Venice Film festival, though, and will be released internationally in the fall, starting with the U.K. on 9.22.
The delay is about “giving things more time to accumulate and gather momentum [in the States],” a Universal rep says. “Critical and popular acclaim, word-of-mouth, understanding, exposure, etc. Alfonso has rendered this film with real virtuosity and passion, and we just [decided to wait] to give it some more time for a meaningful campaign.”
A lot of people I know were hoping to see Children of Men soon. Hearing that it has Kubrick-like chops with long sustained shots had me revved. “You should remain revved,” the Uni guy says. “It’s an incredible, startling film.”
This 8.11 posting from Britain’s Film Ick says Terry Gilliam told a London crowd last Thursday night that a deal for him to direct Paul Giamatti in The Owl in Daylight, an adaptation of Philip K. Dick‘s final unfinished work, is “going ahead.” (My mind is melting & the plaster walls are cracking — I know I wrote a four or five-graph story about the Giamatti-Dick project three or four days ago, and now I can’t find it on the site.) If Gilliam directs Owl it will definitely have a mood and a sense of visual drive and togetherness, but it’s also be off to the races in a non-linear, weird-for-weird’s-sake, impressionistic sense, if you follow my drift. For a lot of people, that’ll be a fine and cherishable thing, but I’ve nearly had it with Gilliam. His movies are always about his brushstrokes first, acting second, story third and intelligibility fourth.
Another noteworthy Film Ick/Terry Gilliam item: Tideland, the Gilliam film that people were calling “unwatchable” at last year’s Toronto Film Festival & which inspired seven or eight critics to walk out of during a screening I happened to attend, “is now playing with a filmed introduction in which Gilliam helps the audience get into ‘the right mindset’. Gently amusing though possibly rather redundant, the film is a single shot of Gilliam addressing the camera, and offers nothing as elaborate, funny or pointed as ‘The Dress Pattern’ — Gilliam’s introduction to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which you can see on the Criterion [DVD].”
When all is said and done Talladega Nights (Columbia) is expected to be the #1 film on Sunday night with $22,871,000. It was down 52% from last weekend(indicated by that B CinemaScore), but the cume will be roughly at $90,800,000so it’s going good . Step Up was #1 Friday but will come in second with $21,241,000, or so the experts are saying. World Trade Center will end up with about $25,700,000. Barnyard will be #4 with $9,509,000, Pulse (#5) with $8,818,000…nobody cares about the lesser numbers. Miami Vice, whipped, will come in ninth with $4,427,000…a real shame. Little Miss Sunshine added 90 theatres and looking at a $2.5 million weekend haul, for an average of $16,7000.
The surprise-heat movie of the weekend is Disney’s Step Up, a teen dance-romancer that got a failing grade on Metacritic (50%) and a much worse number on Rotten Tomatoes (19%). But it was the #1 movie yesterday, doing $8,499,000 and beating out the #2 Talladega Nights and #3 World Trade Center . The final weekend tally for Will Ferrell’s NASCAR flick is expected to nudge it into first place, although Step Up is expected to finish with a higher-than-projected $21,240,000.
Step Up‘s Channing Tatum
The Step Up surprise was mainly about ace-in-the-hole Channing Tatum, the 26 year-old hunky male lead from Alabama who’s very hot now with teenage girls. (His previous punch-throughs happened in Coach Carter and She’s The Man — he had an uncredited bit part in War of the Worlds.) My son Jett, 18, said “the girls in the audience were gasping” whenever Tatum was on-screen during a She’s The Man show he went to last March in Boston.
I can smell piece-of-shit teen flicks like this a mile off, which is why I didn’t catch the press screening. But magnetism that works is always worth checking out, which is why I’ll probably pay $11 bucks plus parking , popcorn and a coke to sit through this thing (well, part of it) sometime later today or tonight. $20 bucks to watch Channing Tatum! Maybe I’ll learn something.
My favorite review blurb is from Chicago Reader‘s J.R. Jones, who wrote that “this teen chick flick is so perfectly calculated I wouldn’t be surprised if every i in the screenplay were dotted with a little heart. Any guy who sits through this date movie deserves to get to third base at least.”
If you go by MCN’s predictions chart, everybody was way, way off on this one. Coming Soon foresaw Step Up earning $11.1 million this weekend, Box-Office Guru said $8 million, Hollywood Reporter $13, Poland predicted $9, EW $11 and Box Office Mojo said $10.5. Thursday’s tracking indicated a late surge and a figure between $12 and $15 million, but that was still a short call. Nobody saw this one coming. Those tracking-survey guys had better figure some way to get to younger types on their cell phones and not just depend on land-line surveys.