Canadian box-office stats — October 26

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.

Passchendaele — CDN $1,950,000 — N.AM $1,950,000 — 100%
Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist — CDN $3,800,000 — N.AM $29,522,000 — 12.9%
Body of Lies — CDN $3,680,000 — N.AM $30,890,000 — 11.9%

Eagle Eye — CDN $8,310,000 — N.AM $87,987,000 — 9.4%
Max Payne — CDN $2,790,000 — N.AM $29,664,000 — 9.4%
High School Musical 3: Senior Year — CDN $3,740,000 — N.AM $42,000,000 — 8.9%

Pride and Glory — CDN $488,370 — N.AM $6,325,000 — 7.7%
W. — CDN $1,220,000 — N.AM $18,749,000 — 6.5%
Saw V — CDN $1,800,000 — N.AM $30,500,000 — 5.9%
Beverly Hills Chihuahua — CDN $4,490,000 — N.AM $78,142,000 — 5.7%

A couple of discrepancies: Passchendaele and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist were #4 and #10 on the Canadian chart, respectively (the former film wasn’t on the North American chart at all, though if it were, it would be #20, while the latter film was #12 on the North American chart), while The Secret Life of Bees and Quarantine were #6 and #10 on the North American chart, respectively (they were #12 and #13 in Canada).

Spartacus gets “reimagined” for TV.

The Hollywood Reporter says Sam Raimi and a few other people are developing a new TV series based on Spartacus, the slave who led an unsuccessful rebellion against the Romans less than a century before the birth of Christ:

Starz said the story will be “reimagined” it for what it calls a generation of TV viewers raised on graphic novels and cutting-edge production technology.

“This is not going to be at all like the 1960s Kirk Douglas film,” Shelanski said. “We didn’t want your typical sword-and-sandals. It’s going to be fun, fast-moving, full of action and interesting characters and have a little more depth to it than the 1960s film.”

Shelanski added that the show will be produced specifically for a premium cable audience, with “R-rated” action and storytelling. The goal is to accomplish the graphic-novel look and feel of such movies as “300” and “Sin City.” As with “300,” producers also will be looking to cast “Spartacus” with a group of fresh-faced, unknown actors.

Hamm added that “Spartacus” will be one of the first TV series to use an “almost 100% virtual environment,” using live-action actors against virtual sets in the style of “300” and “Sin City.”

The best-known version of this story is, of course, the 1960 film directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Kirk Douglas, based on a novel by Howard Fast. That novel was also turned into a 2004 mini-series starring Goran Visnjic, which I have not yet seen, but this new series doesn’t seem to be based on it in any way.

Sleeping Beauty in three aspect ratios.

I grumble all the time about Disney and Warner Brothers screwing up their classic cartoons by cropping them too tightly when they put them out on DVD — so I have to give credit where credit is due, when one of those studios loosens things up a bit.

Although the new Blu-Ray edition of Sleeping Beauty (1959) is reportedly the first version of that film, in any format, to show the full 2.55:1 aspect ratio, parts of it still seem a little tight to me.

To pick just one example at random, I can’t help thinking that the background artists who worked on the scene below would never have intended for the dishes to hover so close to the bottom edge of the frame, and I also can’t help thinking that the animators probably wouldn’t have wanted the cup that is raised by the one king to poke out of the top edge of the frame like that:

So I went back to the earlier DVD, which came out in 2003 and featured a 2.35:1 version of the film, to see how it compares to the new version — and I was shocked to find that the earlier DVD not only cropped the sides, as you would expect from a narrower aspect ratio, but it also cropped the top and bottom even more:

The colours look a little less vibrant in the old version, too. So, there can be no doubt: The current Blu-Ray edition (and the bonus DVD that comes with it) is far superior to the earlier DVD — even if I still wish the framing on the Blu-Ray weren’t quite so tight.

Incidentally, the earlier DVD included a 1.33:1 version of the film, in addition to the 2.35:1 version, presumably for those who avoid widescreen movies like the plague. Here is how it cropped the shots above for that aspect ratio — trimming just a hair more from the bottom, while admitting just a hair more at the top:

Newsbites: The sci-fi and adventure edition!

I’ve been stockpiling some of these for far, far too long.

1. Despite bad ratings and rumours of its imminent demise, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was renewed for the duration of the season a couple weeks ago — and it might have the struggling economy to thank for that. Apparently, at times like this, advertisers find a known quantity — even one with iffy ratings — more attractive than a brand-new show. Meanwhile, co-star Shirley Manson says she wants to see some “robot sex” on the show. — Variety, Hollywood Reporter (x2), MTV News

2. While the current economic climate may have been good for The Sarah Connor Chronicles, it might not be so good for certain other projects. Daniel Craig recently speculated that the credit crunch could prevent the making of another James Bond movie after Quantum of Solace. And now the crunch is being blamed for the fact that there will be no sequels to The Golden Compass (2007) — as if anyone had been talking seriously about making those sequels in the first place, lately. — Daily Mirror, WENN

3. IDW is planning a four-part comic-book prequel to the new Star Trek movie. — TrekMovie.com

4. Jeff Bridges says motion-capture technology will make Tr2n, the sequel to Tron (1982), “a far more successful version of the story.” — Guardian

5. Harrison Ford says George Lucas is in “think mode” and pondering another Indiana Jones movie. And Paramount has reportedly confirmed that making another installment in that franchise is “a very, very real possibility”. Eep. — Los Angeles Times, Nikki Finke

6. Transformers 2 just finished shooting some scenes in Egypt, near the Pyramids. — Sharon Waxman

7. Remember The Goonies (1985)? Its co-stars do, and they look back on it fondly. Oh, and apparently producer Steven Spielberg and director Richard Donner tried to make a sequel for years, but nothing ever came of their efforts. — Variety

8. ABC is developing a re-make of the alien-invasion mini-series V (1983). — Variety

9. Speaking of alien invasions, Columbia is developing Battle: Los Angeles, a movie about a platoon of marines who battle aliens in the streets of L.A. It is being described as “Black Hawk Down meets Independence Day.” — Hollywood Reporter

10. Speaking of Black Hawk Down, the director of that film — Ridley Scott — has bought the rights to Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War, which concerns “a soldier who battles an enemy in deep space for only a few months, only to return home to a planet he doesn’t recognize some 20 years later”. — Variety

Newsbites: The comics and heroes edition!

Always in development, these projects.

1. Sam Raimi says he may start directing Spider-Man 4 in March 2010 — and, as previously rumoured, he may do it back-to-back with Spider-Man 5. But first, he says, he needs a script. (You mean the last film had one?) So, there is no word yet on who the villain or girlfriend will be. — MTV Splash Page, MTV Movies Blog

2. Terrence Howard says he was as surprised as anyone to discover that he had been replaced by Don Cheadle for the part of Jim Rhodes in Iron Man 2. However, Samuel L. Jackson might be back as Nick Fury. — NPR, Associated Press, MTV Splash Page (x2)

3. Marvel Studios production president Kevin Feige is intrigued by the suggestion — made by various Marvel-related filmmakers — that the Hulk should be the villain in the upcoming Avengers movie. Regardless of which side of the hero-villain divide the Hulk falls in that film, producer Gale Anne Hurd hopes to follow it up with The Incredible Hulk 2. — MTV Splash Page (x2), IGN.com

4. Daniel Craig says he turned down an offer to play Thor. — IESB.net

5. After all these Avengers-related movies are taken care of, what big-screen franchise does Marvel plan to launch next? Doctor Strange, apparently. — MTV Splash Page

6. Charles Roven, producer of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, says there is currently “no momentum” on the film version of The Flash. — ShockTillYouDrop.com

7. Rumours abound that the film version of Watchmen might have made some changes to the ending of Alan Moore’s original story. However, there is some debate as to the reliability of these rumours. — Cinematical

8. Writer-actor Seth Rogen says the film version of Green Hornet — which will be directed by Stephen Chow, who will also play the sidekick Kato — will be an origin story, despite his previously stated wish that it not be an origin story, because not too many people are familiar with the character. — MTV Splash Page

Walden Media keeping busy without Fox.

Two weeks ago, I speculated on the possible demise of Walden Media. My speculation was based on two things:

One, in August 2006, Walden formed a partnership with Fox which, as I understood it, required Walden to release all future films through Fox. There have been a couple of non-Fox films produced by Walden since then — such as Sony’s The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep and New Line’s Journey to the Center of the Earth — but in all such cases that I know of, those films were well into production before Walden struck its deal with Fox.

Two, it was announced in recent weeks that Fox has shut down Walden as a standalone division and “absorbed” the marketing of Fox Walden films into its regular marketing apparatus, following a short, sparse string of box-office disappointments such as The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising and City of Ember. These developments led David Poland to assert that “the end of Fox Walden as a production entity is unannounced but inevitable.”

Subsequent reports, however, have suggested that Walden Media might not be quite dead yet.

First, the Hollywood Reporter noted that Walden has hired a new vice-president of marketing who will work not only with Fox on the two films that they still have in development together — at least one of which, Tooth Fairy, “originated” at Fox and not at Walden, according to a Fox press release — but also with Summit Entertainment on Bandslam, a high-school rock-band movie starring High School Musical‘s Vanessa Hudgens.

Bandslam was shot earlier this year, according to the IMDb, so it would seem that Walden has been free to make new non-Fox movies after all. Unless, of course, Walden and Summit were to partner with Fox on this film, as they apparently did on Nim’s Island and City of Ember. But so far there is no indication of that at the IMDb or at the Walden and Summit websites.

Second, Variety and the Hollywood Reporter both reported that Walden has bought a script about the Girl Scouts, called Tough Cookies, which it will produce with Kerner Entertainment — and they also reported that this is at least the second collaboration between Walden and Kerner, following a sports movie called The Miracle of St. Anthony, which is still in development.

So it would seem that Walden is staying busy without Fox after all.

It will be interesting to see how these newer films do. Walden’s output has been very uneven, and ironically, its top-grossing films — which are not necessarily its best films — were all released by studios other than Fox. So what was it that sank the Fox Walden venture: the movies themselves, or the marketing? Who knows, but it will be interesting to see if the pattern persists.