Keanu sighting.

Not that it means anything, but I happened to see Keanu Reeves in the lobby of the Scotiabank Theatre in downtown Vancouver tonight, before and after he took in a screening of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Keanu has been in town for the past month or so playing Klaatu in Scott Derrickson‘s remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951; my comments), and for some reason the first thing I paid attention to was his hair. You never know, with sci-fi movies, whether the actor is going to have to shave his head or grow a goatee or whatever. But Keanu looked like Keanu, and that was that.

I have met and interviewed lots of actors, on film sets and press junkets and whatnot, so the mere presence of celebrity, per se, is not such a big deal to me any more. But those events are usually very controlled and very predictable, so it’s still fun when an accidental sighting like this one comes along.

JAN 10 UPDATE: Click here for a follow-up, with some apparently exclusive news about Keanu’s young co-star, Jaden Smith.

Newsbites: Del Toro! Mary! Rambo! Childhood!

Time for a few more quick news links.

1. Guillermo Del Toro once said that he had declined the opportunity to direct The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) because, as a lapsed Catholic, he did not want to make a movie in which Aslan died and came back to life. But now, he tells the MTV Movies Blog he would like to direct the film version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows … and while I won’t get into any spoilers, let’s just say that there are many Christian fans of the book who might find this a tad ironic.

2. Scarlett Johansson can’t get enough of the Tudors. Her turn as one of Henry VIII’s mistresses in The Other Boleyn Girl won’t hit theatres until the end of February, but already, Variety reports that she has signed on for the lead role in Philip Noyce’s Mary Queen of Scots. The character was played by Samantha Morton just a few months ago in Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

3. A suite of themes from Rambo IV is now up at composer Brian Tyler’s MySpace page. They sound decent enough.

4. MTV Movies Blog says Kimberly Peirce, director of Boys Don’t Cry (1999) and the upcoming Stop Loss, wants to make a film version of Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End.

First published in 1953, Childhood’s End is partly about the appearance on Earth of benevolent aliens who happen to resemble the traditional folkloric depictions of devils. The idea that we should not be prejudiced against good aliens who happen to look like demons was later picked up by Star Trek (1966-1969), where Mister Spock was occasionally compared to Satan; an entire episode of the animated series (1973-1974) even posited that Lucifer himself was just a misunderstood extra-terrestrial.

Childhood’s End is also one of Clarke’s earlier explorations of the idea that humanity needs to evolve to the next phase of its existence, and that this might be done with help from outer space; the best-known articulation of this theme is, of course, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968; my comments), which Clarke co-wrote with Stanley Kubrick. It has been years since I read Childhood’s End, but as I recall, this theme is handled quite poignantly there.

5. Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood Daily is reporting that there has been a major shake-up at Walden Media:

Sources are telling me that Walden Media let go many many staff. I’m told among those exiting are head of production Alex Schwartz and Executive VP Jackie Levine as well as the physical production department, public relations staff, music staff, legal staff, etc. Cary Granat will retain his CEO title but his reign is over and he’s now marginalized to just overseeing Narnia and other Walden franchises and some already “go” movies. CFO David Weil stays and oversees. The speculation is that Walden is bringing in a new head of production to develop a new slate and a new team.

You may recall that, three months ago, Variety ran a story asserting that Walden was poised to challenge Disney’s dominance in the family-movie field. But since then, Disney has had great success with The Game Plan ($89.5 million), Enchanted ($119.8 million so far) and National Treasure: Book of Secrets ($170.9 million so far), while Walden has stalled with The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising ($8.8 million), Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium ($31.4 million) and The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep ($31.2 million so far) — though admittedly, within the next week, The Water Horse should pass Because of Winn-Dixie (2005, $32.6 million) to become Walden’s fifth-highest-grossing film ever.

At any rate, you can’t help wondering if the current “shake-up” at Walden is related to the company’s disappointing performance since that Variety article was published a few months ago.

The Final Inquiry — now going straight to DVD

It looks like Fox Faith Movies, the theatrical distribution arm of Fox Faith, has come to an end. If you enter the URL for their website at, you are automatically redirected to, which is the website for their DVD distribution. And there, you will see that The Final Inquiry — the remake of the early-church drama The Inquiry (1986) that was originally going to come out last April, and was then said to be tentatively scheduled for a theatrical release this month — is now going straight to DVD on February 19.

Canadian box-office stats — January 6

Here are the figures for the past weekend, arranged from those that owe the highest percentage of their take to the Canadian box office to those that owe the lowest.

The Golden Compass — CDN $9,730,000 — N.AM $65,521,000 — 14.9%
P.S. I Love You — CDN $4,050,000 — N.AM $39,378,000 — 10.3%
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street — CDN $3,440,000 — N.AM $38,472,000 — 8.9%

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep — CDN $2,680,000 — N.AM $30,893,000 — 8.7%
Charlie Wilson’s War — CDN $4,090,000 — N.AM $52,630,000 — 7.8%
I Am Legend — CDN $17,220,000 — N.AM $228,638,000 — 7.5%
Juno — CDN $3,450,000 — N.AM $52,032,000 — 6.6%
National Treasure: Book of Secrets — CDN $10,450,000 — N.AM $171,033,000 — 6.1%
Alvin and the Chipmunks — CDN $9,180,000 — N.AM $176,738,000 — 5.2%
One Missed Call — CDN $701,656 — N.AM $13,525,000 — 5.2%

A couple of discrepancies: The Golden Compass was #7 on the Canadian chart (it was #14 in North America as a whole), while Atonement was #10 on the North American chart.

Yet another movie not screened for critics?

Lou Lumenick of the New York Post says Uwe Boll‘s In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, which opens across North America this Friday, “is not being screened in advance for critics.” That might be true in the United States, but the film — shot in Vancouver and produced by local company Brightlight Pictures — had a daytime press screening here back in December, and will have another preview screening tomorrow night.

For what it’s worth, I skipped the press screening because, if I learned anything from the awfully pathetic and pathetically awful Alone in the Dark (2005; my comments), it is that Uwe Boll films need to be seen in a packed theatre, with a full complement of potential hecklers, to be fully … I almost said enjoyed, but that’s not quite the right word. Appreciated, maybe? Experienced?

At any rate, I’m not sure I’ll attend tomorrow night’s screening either. It clashes with another preview of There Will Be Blood, which I am definitely interested in seeing a second time. And there is always the possibility that the missus might go into labour. The due dates I’ve heard over the last few months all range between January 7 and January 19, so it should be Any Day Now …

BC Christian News — January 2008

The newest issue of BC Christian News is now online, and with it, my film column, which looks mainly at I Am Legend but also includes brief notes on The Golden Compass and Year One.