This week:

Fast Five races away with the box office crown; Dwayne Johnson to become a country music star; Paul Walker decides to rent Vehicle 19; F. Javier Gutiérrez has The Greys; Universal sets a date for an American Reunion; big names lend their voices to Ice Age 4; and more!

Box Office

“What box office slump?” was the question Fast Five asked this weekend. The fifth installment in the Fast and the Furious franchise bested all of its predecessors, including 2009’s record-breaking Fast & Furious, by opening with an estimated $83.6 million gross in the U.S. That helped raise the overall American box office revenue for the weekend – which marked a 50% gain over this same period last year.

Fast Five also hit it off with casual moviegoers and even more finicky film critic types alike (read our review) – needless to say, those early plans for Fast and the Furious 6 weren’t so premature after all.

Rio dropped to second place this weekend, taking in around $14.4 million and upping its total cume to $103.6 million. Rest assured, Fox is already developing plans for Rio 2: Electric Boogaloo (I kid – sort of).

Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family suffered a (expected) large drop of 60% from last weekend, taking in another $10 million or so for a total of $41 million. Perry’s wacky cross-dressing days likely won’t be coming to an end anytime soon, either…

Water for Elephants was down around 45% from its opening weekend and took in an estimated $9.1 million for a $32.1 million total. Insert obligatory Robert Pattinson sparkling-in-the-sunlight joke here.

Disney’s Prom (a.k.a. High School Musical, minus the musical) opened in theaters with a gross of around $5 million, about half of what the Mouse House was hoping for.

Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil 3D only managed to open with an estimated $4.1 million, proving that moviegoers weren’t exactly quivering to see a followup to the Shrek knockoff 2005 original.

Soul Surfer continued to hold up well, taking in another $4.1 million or so for a total gross of $33.7 million.

Insidious scared up another $2.8 million, lifting its total cume to $48.4 million. The old-fashioned horrorfest cost less than $2 million to make and has turned a nice profit for FilmDistrict.

With the Easter holiday come and gone, Hop dropped to ninth place, taking in another $2.2 million for a total gross of around $104.9 million.

Scream 4 rounded out the top ten with an estimated take of $2.1 million, lifting its total to $35.4 million. While the sequel only cost some $40 million to make, it ought to be mentioned that Dimension Films/The Weinstein Company will only get half of that revenue. Sorry folks, but Scream 5 is looking dead right now.

Source: Deadline

Movie News

1. Dwayne Johnson will shift gears after this weekend’s fifth Fast and the Furious vehicle (excuse the puns) by producing and starring in a biopic about black country music legend Charley Pride. The project was originally going to mark the reunion of Hustle & Flow director Craig Brewer/star Terrence Howard – but, as the actual Charley Pride put it, “…then the ball got fumbled.”

Mr. Pride led quite the eventful life – he (briefly) played professional baseball, spent time in the Army, became a country music superstar, and struggled with depression throughout it all – so hopefully his biopic will be equally interesting. Johnson may not seem a obvious choice for the lead role, but “The Rock” arguably has enough charismatic screen presence to pull it off. Besides, at least he won’t be wearing a tutu in this one.

Source: Telegraph-Journal (via The Playlist)

2. Paul Walker isn’t going to stop driving cars really, really fast onscreen anytime soon. The Fast and The Furious franchise star has signed on to star in/executive produce Vehicle 19, an indie thriller from South African filmmaker Mukunda Michael Dewil.

Dewil’s well-regarded script spins a Hitchcockian yarn about a tourist (Walker) who ends up getting caught in a web of deceit involving the local police – after he inadvertently picks up the wrong rental car. Expect the film to feature numerous close-ups of Walker looking concerned while local authorities try and kill him for not booking a vacation package with AAA (I kid, I kid…).

Source: THR

3. Spanish filmmaker F. Javier Gutiérrez (Before the Fall) may have lost out on the chance to helm the upcoming reboot/remake/whatever of The Crow, but he’s since lined up a deal to helm The Greys – now that Dimension Films has gone ahead and purchased Adam Cohen’s spec script for the mysterious sci-fi thriller.

So, to recount: Bob and Harvey Weinstein have purchased the rights to a script that few people know anything about – written by a guy you’ve probably never heard of – and have hired a relatively obscure foreign filmmaker to direct it.

Source: The Weinstein Company

4. The original American Pie gang will reunite next year in… American Reunion. Universal Pictures has settled on a theatrical release date of April 6th, 2012 for the fourth installment in the franchise (just forget about all those direct-to-DVD spin-offs – you probably already have anyway).

Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, the minds behind the Harold and Kumar movies, are writing and directing American Reunion, which will hit theaters nine years after the third official entry in the series, American Wedding, was released.

Well, that strategy – waiting about ten years between the third and fourth chapter – worked wonders for the Scream franchise at the box office, right? Wait…

Source: Universal Pictures

5. Ice Age 4 (a.k.a. Ice Age: Continental Drift) is now set to feature the vocal talents of Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lopez, Wanda Sykes, Keke Palmer, Aziz Ansari, and hip hop talent Drake – along with franchise staples Ray Ramano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah, Seann Williams Scott, and Josh Peck (and you thought the voice cast for Toy Story 3 was packed).

The fourth Ice Age flick is scheduled to arrive in theaters on July 13th, 2012; that is very close to three years exactly after the release of the third installment, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. This series has grossed around $2 billion worldwide for Fox, and a Christmas TV special is in the works as well – so, for those of you with kids, I hope you’re not tired to death of Scrat’s acorn-chasing antics just yet…

Source: THR

Also:

  • Will Smith and Josh Brolin are groovin’ in the ’60s in the new photos from the Men in Black 3 set, which can be viewed HERE.
  • Kristen Stewart dons a bikini and Robert Pattinson finally gets to show Taylor Lautner up by taking HIS shirt off in the new photos from the set of Breaking Dawn. Check them out HERE.

That’s it for now. See you at the movies!