Another “love interest” signs up for Year One

Variety reports that Olivia Wilde is joining the cast of Year One, Judd Apatow and Harold Ramis’s so-called “biblical comedy”, to play “Princess Inanna, the love interest of Black’s character.” Interestingly, June Raphael was hired last month to play a woman named Maya who also becomes involved with the Jack Black character — but Variety says Princess Inanna will be the “female lead”. Incidentally, according to Wikipedia, “Inanna” was the name of “the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare. The Akkadians called her Ishtar.” A clue as to the movie’s setting?

More trivial box-office data.

At the rate things are going, it looks like Juno — which was #2 last weekend and #1 every day since! — will gross over $100 million during its entire theatrical run, while National Treasure: Book of Secrets and Alvin and the Chipmunks will gross over $200 million domestically. If that does, indeed, turn out to be the case, then …

… 28 films released in 2007 will have crossed the $100 million line. This is better than almost every year on record, with the single exception of 2003, when 29 films crossed that line. 2002 and 2004 are tied for third place, with 24 such films apiece.

… 11 films released in 2007 will have crossed the $200 million line. This easily beats the previous record of 8 such films, set in 2005. Third place goes to 2002, when there were 7 such films.

… 4 films released in 2007 will have crossed the $300 million line. This beats the record of 3 such films, set in 2002 and tied in 2003 and 2004.

… no films released in 2007 will have crossed the $400 million line. One film per year accomplished this in 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004 and 2006. Star Wars (1977) and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) also crossed that line on their 20th anniversaries.

In other news, No Country for Old Men had $45.3 million in the till as of Wednesday and is thus only a day or two away from passing O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000; my review) to become the top-grossing film ever directed by the Coen brothers. However, it would still be behind the $60.1 million earned by Bad Santa (2003), which the Coens produced but did not direct.

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 FoxFaithMovies.com, you are automatically redirected to FoxFaith.com, 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.


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