Weekend Movie News Wrap Up: August 7th, 2011

Here's our box office report for the weekend of August 5th 2011 – as well as various movie news tidbits we may have missed.

This week:

Apes rise to the top of the box office as Rise of the Planet of the Apes captures the top spot; Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon are in deep...Mud; Kenneth Branagh moves from Thor to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society; George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road faces even more problems; J.J. Abrams gives reasons for the delays on Star Trek 2; Ethan Hawke teams with the makers of Insidious and Paranormal Activity and there is news on the new futuristic and geographically inaccurate Robin Hood.

Box Office

It looks like 20th Century Fox’s risky reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise has paid-off. Rise of the Planet of the Apes surpassed studio expectations and should bank an estimated $54 million over the weekend, an impressive number considering that last film in the longstanding franchise was Tim Burton’s critically mauled “re-imagining” of the classic Planet of the Apes, released a decade ago. Burton’s film grossed $68 million on its debut, on its way to a final gross of $180 million, now Rise (which has also been known as Caesar and Rise of the Apes) may not make it to such a final score, but great critical response (read our review here) should mean that the franchise will have a new lease of life – much like Fox’s recently prequelized X-Men franchise.

planet of the apes prequel opens at number one

The Planet of the Apes franchise started way back in 1968, with Charlton Heston headlining. That film was also something of a risk considering that during that time science fiction was all but ignored by Hollywood, it went on to gross $32 million (unadjusted) and four sequels, a television series and cartoon followed. Years went by and James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Oliver Stone were all attached to a remake before Burton directed his ill-advised effort.

The Smurfs held-on to number two and grossed an additional $21 million, giving the little blue critters a total haul of $76 million. Meanwhile, last week’s champ Cowboys & Aliens dropped to third after grossing $15.7 million. The Daniel Craig/Harrison Ford team-up has now upped its cume to over $67 million. If the film holds up (that might be a big if) and it hits the century mark it’ll be Ford’s thirteenth $100 million plus grosser - and would also mean that Ford will have had a hit in every decade since the 1970s.

The Change-Up (read our review) concludes Ryan Reynold’s summer of underachievement. The body swap comedy opened to just $13.5 million – not good in a time when R-rated comedies have been rolling in cash at the box office. The lacklustre debut, coupled with Green Lantern’s disappointing gross again highlights that Reynolds isn't really connecting with audiences - be it in comedy or action.

Captain America: The First Avenger brought in another $13 million, for a total gross of just under $143 million, while the final Harry Potter film brought in an additional $12.1 million and upped its gross to almost $343 million. The last Potter adventure is now the highest grossing film in the decade old franchise.

Crazy, Stupid, Love scored a smidgen less than Potter for a $42 million total, while Friends With Benefits grossed $4.7 million for a cumulative gross of $48.5 million.

Another $4.6 million saw Horrible Bosses gross over $105 million, while $3 million helped Transformers: Dark of the Moon up its gross to $344 million. The Michael Bay directed film has now totalled over $1 billion at the worldwide box office - it's the third film this year to hit the billion dollar milestone.

Source: Box Office Mojo

Movie News

1. Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon are currently in negotiations to star in Mud for director Jeff Nichols.

Deadline reports:

Mud is a redemptive tale of a charismatic fugitive and his unlikely friendship with a 14-year-old kid who is determined to help Mud escape from the law and some tough bounty hunters so he can reunite with his soul mate Juniper (Witherspoon).”

Tree of Life's Tye Sheridan co-stars in the film which will be financed by Everest Entertainment and produced by Lisa Maria Falcone, Sarah Green and FilmNation Entertainment's Aaron Ryder.

Falcone is quoted as saying:

“Jeff Nichols has written a beautiful story with rich characters learning valuable lessons through life-changing circumstances. With Jeff’s vision, this will be a work of art. It’s an incredible script which Jeff, along with Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Tye Sheridan, will bring to life. We’ve been privileged to work with incredible filmmakers like Danny Boyle, Tom McCarthy and Rodrigo Garcia and are thankful to add Jeff Nichols to that list.”

I bet that you thought that a McConaughey/Witherspoon teaming would have been a romantic comedy!

Source: Deadline


2. Kenneth Branagh is hot-off directing the box office hit Thor, and while he won’t be helming Thor 2, it does appear that he is keen to step behind the camera for another directing effort.

Branagh is eyeing directing duties on The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a film based on the book of the same name by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer.

The plot of the book is as follows:

"London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she's never met, Dawsey Adams, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name in a book?

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of Dawsey and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—a book club born as a spur-of-the- moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts an outstanding cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable conversation in letters with the Society's members, learning about their lives, their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on all of them. Over time, and despite a demanding and dramatic life in London, she finds herself drawn to the self-contained Dawsey Adams, and to the story of Elizabeth, a young woman whose bright spirit and strength live on in the daughter she left behind when she was sent to a concentration camp. Juliet knows she has found the subject of her book, and possibly much more, and sets sail for Guernsey, changing the course of her life forever.”

It appears that Branagh is getting back to his artistic roots - following his flirtation with Hollywood blockbusters.

Source: Variety & Annie Barrows


3.  George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road can’t catch a break.

The film was stranded in development hell for a decade, and since it was given the green light, it has been beset by weather problems involving its Broken Hill shooting location. The bleak location was hit with heavy rain last year causing vegetation to grow – destroying the post-apocalyptic look that Miller wanted for the film. Miller decided to wait for the area to return to its normal appearance - but now it seems like he has decided not to shoot in the area at all.

mad max changes locations

Production company Kennedy Miller Mitchell (KMM) and studio Warner Bros. have already spent millions on pre-production, so it might make more sense to change locations than wait for the correct weather conditions – something that has already delayed the shooting by over a year, causing stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron to book other roles.

The Mayor of Broken Hill has spoken about the switch in filming locations by saying:

"This decision hasn't been taken lightly by KMM... but nature's caused it, nothing else has caused it apart from nature.

What we're saying is that... from a community's point of view, and from trying to take Broken Hill into the future, yeah it is disappointing.

Let's look at the long term future; if there's going to be a Mad Max 4, it's better to be made (so) then we possibly can get some input into Mad Max 5, or have Mad Max 5 (filmed) here."

No other filming location has been announced, so it is currently unknown if this decision to change will speed-up shooting on the film or delay it even further.

Oh – IMDB has Mel Gibson listed as rumoured to be starring in the film. Just saying!

Source: ABC


4. J.J. Abrams has (unsurprisingly) been questioned about the now delayed Star Trek 2, and the always busy writer/director/producer made it very clear that he’ll make the film on his terms and on his own time:

abrams talks star trek 2 delays

It's obvious that Abrams' has enough clout with Paramount to ensure that production on Star Trek 2 isn't rushed like a lot of budget studio films - a comment that should please fans.

Source: Collider


5. Ethan Hawke has signed-on to star in director Scott Derrickson’s (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) new untitled horror-thriller that will be produced by Jason Blum, the man behind Insidious and Paranormal Activity.

The film described as a “micro-budgeted horror-thriller” starts filming on September 19th.

No details are known about the movie, but you can bet your bottom dollar that if it banks enough dough there’ll be a sequel in the works. Probably.

Source: THR


6. A couple of years ago we brought you news that Warner Bros. and the producers of The Dark Knight and 300 were planning to bring a futuristic interpretation of Robin Hood to the big screen, with commercial director Nicolai Fuglsig wielding the megaphone. News on the project went cold – until now.

futuristic robin hood in the works

Deadline reports that Warner Bros. has hired Michael Ross to rewrite the script by Jason Dean Hall and that the film is “set in dystopian London, about the band whose brazen thievery restores hope in the beleaguered population.”

Nice – but the Robin Hood myth is based in Nottingham.

Source: Deadline

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

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