Canadian box-office stats — July 1

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.

Nitro — CDN $648,138 — N.AM $648,138 — 100%
Sicko — CDN $451,726 — N.AM $4,615,000 — 9.8%
Knocked Up — CDN $11,060,000 — N.AM $122,407,000 — 9.0%
Ocean’s Thirteen — CDN $9,220,000 — N.AM $102,085,000 — 9.0%

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End — CDN $25,000,000 — N.AM $295,758,000 — 8.5%
Live Free or Die Hard — CDN $3,450,000 — N.AM $48,178,000 — 7.2%
1408 — CDN $2,810,000 — N.AM $40,389,000 — 7.0%
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer — CDN $7,470,000 — N.AM $114,800,000 — 6.5%
Evan Almighty — CDN $3,240,000 — N.AM $60,625,000 — 5.3%
Ratatouille — CDN $2,180,000 — N.AM $47,227,000 — 4.6%

A couple of discrepancies: Nitro was #7 on the Canadian chart (it isn’t on the North American chart at all), while Evening was #10 on the North American chart.

Review: A Man Called Peter (dir. Henry Koster, 1955); End of the Spear (dir. Jim Hanon, 2005); Saint Peter (dir. Giulio Base, 2005)

HOLLYWOOD studios are increasingly aware there is a market for religious films.

So lately, they have been making a point of creating special video labels, such as Fox Faith, and reissuing classic religious films – in addition to newer efforts. Here are a few such films.

A Man Called Peter, Fox, 1955

There is a big, big problem with the cover of this DVD: it shows Peter Marshall (Richard Todd) wearing a suspiciously large clerical collar, even though the film makes a big, big deal of the fact that Marshall – a popular Scottish Presbyterian minister who became chaplain to the United States Senate – was a spirited nonconformist who refused to wear such things.

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Faith & film

The unexpected success of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ proved that it’s no longer taboo to make faith-based entertainment and that there’s a huge Christian market just waiting to be explored. So it was only a matter of time before major corporations, who already own some of the biggest Christian book and music labels, turned their attention to film.

Sony Pictures – the studio that made The Da Vinci Code – also promotes Christian movies through its Provident Films label. They had a huge success last year with the low-budget sports movie Facing the Giants, which was produced by a church in Georgia for only $100,000 and went on to gross more than $10 million.

[Read more...]

“What parent desires their kid to hug a plush toy rat?”

That’s the question Nikki Finke asks today, in a post at Deadline Hollywood Daily on the disadvantages that Disney has had to deal with as it markets and merchandizes Ratatouille, the only Pixar film that ever went into production without Disney’s approval.

And to that, I can only answer: My kids have been playing with a plush toy rat ever since their Auntie M gave them one months ago! Here it is, in a picture with my daughter Elizabeth, who is especially fond of sucking on the tails of her stuffed animals:

As for Ratatouille itself, I liked it, but I’m not as ga-ga for it as a lot of critics seem to be. (Do they like it so much because the film, in its own way, celebrates the power and discernment of critics?)

It’s a definite improvement over Cars (2006), though. I’ve got all of Pixar’s films on DVD, and all through Cars, I kept asking if I really wanted to get it on disc; however, for much of Ratatouille, I found myself looking forward to buying the disc some day.

The first act and the third act are both delightful — but the story sags in the middle, as plot mechanics threaten to take the place of character dynamics, so it ends up being a merely good film overall, rather than a great one. But good is still, y’know, good.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age — the trailer!

Yes, even historical costume dramas have sequels — so behold the trailer for Elizabeth: The Golden Age, which premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

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Click here if the video file above doesn’t play properly.

The film is a sequel to Elizabeth (1998; my review), which was one of two Oscar-nominated Elizabethan period pieces co-starring Joseph Fiennes and Geoffrey Rush that year — the other being the ultimate Best Picture winner Shakespeare in Love (1998).

More fun trivia: The actresses who played Elizabeth in both films were both nominated for Oscars; Shakespeare‘s Judi Dench won in the supporting-actress category for her eight minutes of screen time, while Elizabeth‘s Cate Blanchett lost the lead-actress award to Shakespeare‘s Gwyneth Paltrow. Blanchett went on to win a supporting-actress award for The Aviator (2004) and to co-star with both Paltrow, in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), and Dench, in The Shipping News (2001) and Notes on a Scandal (2006).

Prince Caspian: “Battles all the way through.”

Narnia fans — especially those who quibbled with the recent film’s emphasis on pseudo-Spielbergian and pseudo-Jacksonian battle scenes and other gratuitous action setpieces at the expense of character, tone, and thematic significance — might want to note the last paragraph in this story from Variety the other day:

Also given a big push was “The Chronicles of Narnia” sequel. Helmer Andrew Adamson delivered a taped message saying that, unlike the original, “Prince Caspian” will feature “battles all the way through.”

Oh joy. Add this to the list of what are sure to be lame revisions.

(Hat tip to Jeffrey Overstreet at the Looking Closer Journal.)