Canadian box-office stats — April 29

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.

Hot Fuzz — CDN $1,620,000 — N.AM $12,447,000 — 13.0%
Fracture — CDN $2,490,000 — N.AM $21,336,000 — 11.7%
The Condemned — CDN $442,099 — N.AM $4,000,000 — 11.0%

Blades of Glory — CDN $9,720,000 — N.AM $108,086,000 — 9.0%
Next — CDN $643,057 — N.AM $7,200,000 — 8.9%
Vacancy — CDN $1,210,000 — N.AM $13,868,000 — 8.7%

Disturbia — CDN $4,180,000 — N.AM $52,186,000 — 8.0%
Are We Done Yet? — CDN $3,470,000 — N.AM $43,818,000 — 7.9%
The Invisible — CDN $524,537 — N.AM $7,606,000 — 6.9%
Meet the Robinsons — CDN $5,060,000 — N.AM $88,356,000 — 5.7%

Put it on a double-bill with Apocalypto!!

Variety covers the re-release of The Other Conquest (1998):

Though most studios have cleared far out of the path of “Spider-Man 3,” there will be a bit of counterprogramming available for non-Spidey fans.

Warner Bros. is releasing “Lucky You,” a romancer with Drew Barrymore and Eric Bana. And, reflecting the growing demand for Spanish-language pics, Union Station Media will re-release Mexican epic “The Other Conquest” on 50 prints in the U.S. on Cinco de Mayo weekend — seven years after its initial release. . . .

Pic, which follows the struggle of an Aztec emperor’s son to preserve his people’s religious and cultural identity in the wake of the invasion by Spanish conquerors and clergymen, generated $1 million in Southern California and another $2 million in Mexico during its original release. It’s never been released on DVD.

For the theatrical reissue, Union Station — a joint distribution venture between Canada’s Alliance Atlantis and Australia’s Arclight Films — has set initial runs in Northern California, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas and launched a grassroots marketing effort aiming for the arthouse set and churchgoers. . . .

There’s no plan to re-release the pic in Southern California, where it played at 75 venues at its widest release in 2000.

I would be curious to know more about the marketing pitch that is being made to “churchgoers”, since the reviews would seem to indicate that this film takes a skeptical or, at best, a syncretistic view of Catholicism and its relationship to the Aztec religion.

More revisionist medievalism from Ridley Scott!

Variety reports that Ridley Scott, having directed Russell Crowe in Gladiator (2000; my review), A Good Year (2006) and the upcoming American Gangster, has signed up to steer the actor through his latest project, a movie called Nottingham:

Crowe stars as the Sheriff of Nottingham in a revisionist take on the Robin Hood tale, with Nottingham as a noble and brave lawman who labors for a corrupt king and engages in a love triangle with Maid Marion and Robin Hood.

A corrupt king? Is that a reference to Richard I, who was played by Iain Glen in Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven (2005)? Or does this film take place after Prince John ascended to the throne?

Aronofsky goes from The Fountain to the Deluge

Remember that biblical epic that Darren Aronofsky — director of Pi (1998; my review), Requiem for a Dream (2000; my review) and The Fountain (2006) — said he wanted to make? He recently spilled a few more details about it to The Guardian:

In the Romanian mountain resort of Sinaia, two hours north-west of Bucharest, the film-maker Darren Aronofsky is contemplating the extinction of mankind. An extreme response, you might think, to a few uncomprehending reviews of his last movie, the ecological science-fiction fantasy The Fountain. After all, it has as many passionate fans as it does sniggering detractors; it’s that sort of film. But the 38-year-old Aronofsky isn’t in Romania to escape anything. He is accompanying his fiancee, the actress Rachel Weisz, who is here shooting a movie. And his thoughts have turned to the demise of civilisation because he is several drafts into a screenplay about Noah. I hear the narrative has an impressive arc.

Aronofsky and Noah go way back. When the writer-director was 13, he won a United Nations competition at his school in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn; it was for his first poem, a little effort about the end of the world as seen through Noah’s eyes. “That story has interested me ever since,” he says, squinting through his yellow-tinted shades and pulling a striped woolly hat on to his head. We are on the decking in front of his hotel, with the snow-dusted mountains spread out before us. Henry, Aronofsky and Weisz’s 10-month-old son has just been whisked off on a sightseeing trip with his nanny, and all is tranquil.

The script, Aronofsky tells me, is no conventional biblical epic. “Noah was the first person to plant vineyards and drink wine and get drunk,” he says admiringly. “It’s there in the Bible – it was one of the first things he did when he reached land. There was some real survivor’s guilt going on there. He’s a dark, complicated character.” . . .

Sounds like it could be very interesting — and I am curious to see how this film’s mix of intimate and epic scales compares to The Fountain. I just hope Aronofsky doesn’t have to deal with all the problems and delays here that he did with that other film.

Why can’t Vancouver just be itself for once?

Are movies shot in Vancouver because they are set in Seattle? Or are they set in Seattle because they are shot in Vancouver?

Lots of movies are filmed here, but a lot of them — like Night at the Museum, which takes place in a New York museum and was shot mostly on a soundstage, and Pathfinder, which takes place over a thousand years ago — are set in other times and places, so there’s no point in expecting Vancouver to reveal itself in those films.

But sometimes a movie makes extensive use of the cityscapes and scenery here, and on many of those occasions, we are asked to believe that the story is actually taking place in Seattle.

Now, sure, Seattle is only three hours’ drive from Vancouver, give or take, depending on the border traffic; and sure, because both cities are in the Pacific Northwest (as people south of the border call this region), they do have a very similar look and feel.

And sometimes, for story reasons, it is important that a film be set on the American side of the border. Case in point: The Last Mimzy, in which American national-security issues are a key part of the plot. As I mentioned in my review of that film, it is a little absurd how the buildings — filmed in Vancouver, but made to look like Seattle — “all have names like Seattle Elementary School and Seattle Research Facility, as though a city the size of Seattle would have room for only one each of these things.” But I can certainly understand the need to set that story in a particular place.

But then you get a film like The Invisible, which opened yesterday. It’s a remake of a Swedish movie about a high school student who is left for dead, and whose spirit begins tracking the murderers. I have never seen the original film, but to judge from the remake, this story could take place anywhere. So why not just say it happens in Vancouver, the city where it happened to be shot?

The question comes to mind with regard to this film in particular because it has several shots of the Vancouver skyline and cutaway shots of local things like the SkyTrain, and much of the film takes place at Burnaby Mountain Secondary School, which doesn’t even bother to hide its name on the “Graduation 2006″ banners. (Yeah, the film was shot in late 2005 and was presumably intended for release the following summer… but instead it was dumped into theatres on a slow weekend in spring 2007, without any preview screenings. Now what does that tell you?) I don’t think we ever see the Space Needle, but we do see the Harbour Centre a few times. And yet the cars all have Washington license plates, and the cops pass out business cards with Washington addresses and so on.

Was that always in the script? Or did they decide on those details after they decided to make the movie here? If the latter, then why not just decide to set the movie in the city where it was shot?

Would it really have impacted the film’s box-office chances if the story had been set in Vancouver? If stories like these can be set in Anywhere, U.S.A., then why not just Anywhere, period?

Next — the review’s up!

My review of Next is now up at CT Movies.