Ranking 'W.'

Add Comment on October 19, 2008 by Phil Contrino

Based on its opening weekend estimates, it looks as though Oliver Stone's W. is not going to be one of his most financially successful films. After all, it couldn't even beat a three-week-old Chihuahua. While the film's $10.5 million dollar opening weekend is not a disaster, it's certainly not as strong as it could have been. At this point, the film will need positive word of mouth and perhaps some more controversy in order to maintain solid staying power during a typically competitive fall season. Stone's most recent films performed better during their opening frames than W. has. In 2006, World Trade Center debuted with $18.

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Evaluating 'W.'

Add Comment on October 16, 2008 by Phil Contrino

In real life, George W. Bush's approval rating is dangerously low. This weekend, Lionsgate is hoping that moviegoing audiences will be a little more receptive to the 43rd president. Oliver Stone's W. is walking a very thin line between becoming a commercial success and becoming a joke. Its opening weekend will most likely be dissected by the film industry as much as political pundits are picking apart the current presidential debates. At this point controversy may be the film's best friend, and yet many critics have applauded the often controversial director for remaining relatively unbiased this time around. In all fairness, Stone may be heading into a less radical phase of his career.

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Adapting 'Twilight'

Add Comment on October 11, 2008 by Chad Greene

For Catherine Hardwicke, it wasn’t quite a case of love at first bite. More like second bite. While serving on the dramatic jury at the Sundance Film Festival in 2007, the critically acclaimed director of Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown and The Nativity Story was approached by Summit Entertainment about a script inspired by Twilight, Stephenie Meyer’s best-seller about a teen named Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) who falls in love with a gorgeous guy named Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson)—who turns out to be a vampire.

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109-Year-Old High School Student

Add Comment on October 10, 2008 by Chad Greene

When your casting in a potential fantasy film franchise is contingent on demonstrating that you have the requisite romantic chemistry with the actress playing the lead, it’s probably a good sign if you wind up making out with her on the director’s bed. "I turned up for the screen test with Kristen Stewart at Catherine Hardwicke’s house prepared to do two scenes,” recalled Robert Pattinson. “We did those, but then Catherine decided to try a scene where I try and kiss Bella for the first time and almost kill her. I had only just that day met Kristen, so trying to do that scene on the director’s bed was kind of a bizarre circumstance.”

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Spending Time in the 'City of Ember'

Add Comment on October 09, 2008 by Phil Contrino

After making a successful feature film debut in 2006 with Monster House, an animated flick that featured the voices of Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Jon Heder, director Gil Kenan decided to switch over to the world of live action for City of Ember. Even though the 31-year-old Kenan avoids watching other films while in production on his own, there is one classic that held an undeniable influence on Ember. “I did watch Metropolis right at the beginning of the project. Because, you know, it’s the original science fiction film so it’s sort of the one we all have to pay our respects to.

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Evaluating 'Body of Lies'

Add Comment on October 09, 2008 by Phil Contrino

With Body of Lies, director Ridley Scott will try to break the cinematic stigma that currently surrounds films that grapple with terrorism. Not surprisingly, the trailer for Lies, and even most of the other promotion material, comes across as almost apolitical. In one particular scene that is featured in the preview, Russell Crowe's character jokes with his wife that the reason he is still up at 6 a.m. is that he is, "Saving civilization, honey." As the saying goes, a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down. Still, as mainstream as Lies may seem, it's entering theatres at a time when films in its genre aren't performing too well at the box office.

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October Disappointments

Add Comment on October 06, 2008 by Phil Contrino

What a difference a month makes. Bangkok Dangerous and its mediocre haul of $7.8 million ruled the box office during the first weekend of September. After an extremely profitable summer, theatres that were booming just weeks before hit a dead end due to a lack of dynamic new content. The weekend ended up being the lowest grossing one since September 2003. Now, one month later, movie theatres just faced a totally opposite problem. There was too much content. The first weekend of October produced a rush of films, and only a handful made it out alive. The rest are already considered casualties.

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