This weeks Weekend Movie News Wrap Up features:

The Box Office; Brad Pitt gets Lost; Pesce is Smokin’ Aces; we learn more details about Stallone’s The Expendables; Twilight really is Near Dark and Kenneth Brannagh talks Thor!

Box Office

Keanu Reeves barely justified his hefty salary for The Day The Earth Stood Still. The Sci-Fi remake mustered a disappointing $33 million over the weekend. Not great for a $100 million plus film. It might barely limp to the century mark and the box office, but word of mouth isn’t great. By the time next weekend is over it may be lucky to have earned $50MM in the U.S. – so this could be another financial disappointment for Fox.

Four Christmases should manage another $14 million bringing its total close to $90 million. Rival Christmas film Nothing Like The Holidays should muster about $3 million over the weekend. Looks like there wasn’t much festive cheer for that. Well a good turkey is always needed at Christmas.

Twilight should muster another $8 million bringing its total to $150 million. Not bad going for movie that only cost $37 million. James Bond film Quantum of Solace should bank another $4 million bringing its total gross to $160 million. It looks like it should become the highest grossing Bond in the franchise’s 46 year history.

Punisher War Zone will make about $1 million dollars this weekend, bringing its total to a pathetic $7 million. Not good, not good at all.

On a more cheerful note, Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino should bank about 250, 000 from six theaters. That’s pretty damn impressive!

Movie News

1. Brad Pitt will star as Percy Fawcett in The Lost City Of Z for director James Gray. The film is based on a true story. According to Variety:

“Fawcett left Victorian society to explore in the Amazon, and he became obsessed by the idea of an advanced civilization he called Z, which he believed existed in the depths of the jungle. Along with his son, Fawcett headed into the jungle in 1925 in search of Z and was never seen again.”

Sounds pretty interesting, and if done right it could clean up at the box office and during awards season.

Source: Variety

2. Joe Carnahan has announced that PJ Pesce will be directing the follow-up (it’s actually a prequel) to Smokin’ Aces.

It’s not the first direct to DVD sequel for Pesce, he directed the belated Lost Boys 2 last year.

I still haven’t seen Smokin’ Aces even though I’ve had it on DVD for the last year. Even if it’s a masterpiece I can’t imagine wanting to see Pesce’s film.

Source: Smokin’ Joe Carnahan

3. The main film on any true film fan’s calendar for 2009 has to be The Expendables. The Sylvester Stallone film co-starring Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren and Forrest Whitaker.

Harry Knowles at Ain’t It Cool News spoke with Sly who revealed that UFC Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture has joined the film’s line up. He also revealed that Lundgren and Li would indulge in some sort of fisticuffs.

Come on Sly – get Arnold and Bruce involved – even if only in a brief cameo capacity.

Source: AICN

5. It would appear that recent tween vampire film Twilight has put a stake through the heart of the propsed Near Dark remake. The reason? The films would be too similar! Producer Brad Fuller had this to say:

“I think that Twilight was the same type of thing we were going for although Near Dark was a much darker, sexier, rated R version of that. But I’m concerned that, conceptually, that Near Dark and Twilight are too similar in terms of a vampire movie. For now, that movie is on hold…with the success of that film, we would not measure up. It’s not the right time to make that.”

That has to a first for Hollywood – not making a film because the idea wasn’t original enough.

Brad – you do realize that your film as a remake? Just checking.

Source: Empire

5.  My fellow Irishman Kenneth Brannagh has been talking about his Thor movie to MTV. Brannagh said the following:

“I am directing Thor or The Mighty Thor as you might like to call it. I think it will (just) be Thor.”

When asked about the appeal of directing such a film he said:

“To work on a story about one of the immortals, Gods, extraordinary beings, inter-dimensional creatures. There’s science fiction and science fact and fantasy all woven into one. It’s based on Norse legends which Marvel sort of raided in a brilliant way.”

When casting came up Ken said:

“There’s been lots of talk – I sound like a politician – but we are too early at this stage. We’re getting the story and the visual effects together and all of that is very exciting. Someone sensational is going to play the part but it is early days.”

Fifteen years ago Brannagh would have been a great fit for the role, but alas- that’s not going to happen. The Shakespearean star has had a bit of career resurgence recently with his Sleuth remake, along with his starring role in Valkyrie as well as BBC television’s detective show Wallander.

Source: MTV

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