Canadian box-office stats — April 23

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.

Lucky Number Slevin — CDN $2,661,571 — N.AM $18,607,000 — 14.3%
Take the Lead — CDN $3,748,350 — N.AM $29,556,000 — 12.7%

Inside Man — CDN $8,478,784 — N.AM $81,233,000 — 10.4%
Scary Movie 4 — CDN $6,126,516 — N.AM $67,697,000 — 9.0%
American Dreamz — CDN $331,173 — N.AM $3,690,000 — 9.0%
Ice Age: The Meltdown — CDN $14,691,435 — N.AM $167,863,000 — 8.8%

The Wild — CDN $1,837,655 — N.AM $21,958,000 — 8.4%
The Benchwarmers — CDN $3,598,523 — N.AM $47,145,000 — 7.6%
Silent Hill — CDN $1,410,723 — N.AM $20,200,000 — 7.0%
The Sentinel — CDN $924,714 — N.AM $14,650,000 — 6.3%

A couple of discrepancies: Lucky Number Slevin was #9 on the Canadian chart (it was #12 in North America as a whole), while Friends with Money was #10 on the North American chart.

One more movie for the no-critics-allowed list

Pardon the delay in posting this item; it’s been a busy, hectic weekend, what with deadlines and baptisms and all.

Anyway, on Friday, Studio Briefing noted that yet another movie — i.e. Silent Hill — had been released without being screened in advance for critics, or at least without being screened for most of us.

Once again, in the United States, the studio behind this decision was Sony; however, in Canada, the film was released by Alliance-Atlantis, which, in my neck of the woods at least, did invite critics at the last minute to a screening on Thursday night at 9pm — in other words, so late that reviews would not appear in the newspapers until Saturday, or the day after the movie opened, at the earliest. (I couldn’t make it to that screening myself, because I was already catching another movie somewhere else.)

And now, like a number of other films that were withheld from critics, it seems Silent Hill has opened at #1. Sigh.

Star Trek XI — back on the drawing board?

I am enough of a Trekkie and a completist that I made a point of getting all ten Star Trek movies on DVD. The last three films all came out in the past year, after I started this blog, and I even posted some comments on First Contact (1996) and Insurrection (1998) when those discs came out. But Nemesis (2002) was such a lame disappointment that, even though I got the disc, I never felt motivated to write it up. I say let the franchise rest in peace.

With that in mind, I’m not sure how to react to this Variety item:

Paramount is breathing life into its “Star Trek” franchise by setting “Mission: Impossible III” helmer J.J. Abrams to produce and direct the 11th “Trek” feature, aiming for a 2008 release.

Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk, Abrams’ producing team from “Lost,” also will produce the yet-to-be-titled feature.

Project, to be penned by Abrams and “MI3” scribes Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, will center on the early days of seminal “Trek” characters James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock, including their first meeting at Starfleet Academy and first outer space mission. . . .

Decision to relaunch “Star Trek” comes less than a year after UPN pulled the plug on “Star Trek: Enterprise” amid dismal ratings following a four-season run and four years after “Star Trek: Nemesis” turned in the worst performance of the 10 films with $43 million domestic. . . .

Under Sherry Lansing’s tenure, Rick Berman had been teamed several years ago with Jordan Kerner and Kerry McCluggage to develop an 11th feature set in the early days of Starfleet Academy.

So does this mean Rick Berman is no longer involved? That alone could be promising. So would an emphasis on character development over battle scenes. And the fact that they would presumably have to hire brand-new actors to play younger versions of the original 1960s cast means they won’t have to tailor the story to suit the original actors’ vanities. But will anyone care about the characters if they are played by other people? And let’s not even think about the probable continuity errors, etc.

MAY 1 UPDATE: It won’t be Kirk and Spock, says Abrams.

Is that me on TV? Is that me in that video?

Has it really been 11 months since The Big V, the documentary in which I outed myself as an adult virgin, aired on Vision TV? (The interview took place several months before my wedding, but the documentary premiered a few months afterwards.) Hmmm, I guess it has. Anyway, if you missed it the first time and you’re curious to see it, the hour-long documentary will be re-run on CBC Newsworld on Tuesday, April 25 and on Saturday, April 29.

And speaking of video sightings of yours truly, I discovered the other day that the upcoming four-disc DVD for the expanded “director’s cut” of Kingdom of Heaven will include a “press junket walkthrough”. Hmmm, I was at that junket, and I do remember guys with cameras following us around as we walked from one display to another. I wonder if my face will pop up. I guess I will just have to check it out when the DVD comes out May 23.

Scott Derrickson to direct Paradise Lost!

Variety reports that Scott Derrickson, director and co-writer of The Exorcism of Emily Rose, is attached to direct (and co-write?) a big-screen adaptation of John Milton‘s Paradise Lost! The film is being developed by Legendary Pictures, the outfit behind Batman Begins and the upcoming Superman Returns. Variety also says:

“Paradise Lost,” published in 1667, tells the story of Lucifer’s failed rebellion in heaven and subsequent role in Adam and Eve’s fall from grace. . . .

Phil DiBlasi and Byron Willinger did the adaptation of “Paradise Lost.” Stuart Hazeldine (“Battle Chasers”) will work on the development process with Derrickson (who directed and co-wrote “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”) and take on additional writing duties. Derrickson studied theology as a college undergrad. . . .

[Legendary CEO Thomas] Tull told Daily Variety there’s no timetable set, adding, “Given the gravity of the source material, it’s really important to get it right. It will be ready when it’s ready.” . . .

Me, I can’t help thinking it would be really neat if this film came out around the same time as the movie version of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, since the ‘His Dark Materials‘ trilogy of which it is a part was, in some ways, a response to, or re-working of, Milton’s poem. Could be one of those nice coincidences.

APR 20 UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter says Legendary Pictures “is looking to make a live-action film epic with a budget north of $100 million,” and adds this great quote:

“This is the war that started all wars, and it will certainly have an epic feel to it,” Legendary chairman and CEO Thomas Tull said. “If you want to get biblical, when God needed something done, He sent in angels. And these can be pretty fierce creatures. So if you think about what that epic battle looked like and try to realize visually what it would have looked like, it can potentially be pretty incredible.”

Sounds like they’ve got the right approach, at least, so long as they stay true to the themes behind those visuals and don’t turn this into just another fantasy war movie. And while I’m not normally the sort of person to suggest that we should pray for filmmakers, I am inclined to do so here. There are so many aspects to this project that any relatively new director might find daunting — the massive budget, the deep theological themes, the responsibility of adapting such a classic work of literature, the fact that this will be the first major movie devoted entirely to the Creation and Fall, etc. — that I don’t think Scott would mind the support.

1 in 6 Canadians believe in The Da Vinci Code?

Roughly one out of six Canadians — and one out of eight Americans — believe that Jesus faked his death on the cross, got married, and had a family, according to a poll conducted last week for CanWest News Service. Curiously, the region with the highest rate of belief in this theory — a whopping 22% — is Alberta, which is often described as Canada’s version of Texas, because of its ranches, its oil industry, and its Bible-belt religiosity. The story that announced this poll appears in different forms in today’s National Post and yesterday’s Edmonton Journal. Here’s an excerpt:

Andrew Grenville, the polling firm’s senior vice-president, said he was shocked that many Canadians believe the death of Jesus was faked. He said the number was particularly surprising considering only 10 per cent of Canadians identify themselves as atheist or agnostic.

“The fact that so many people embrace this belief that has been popularized in The Da Vinci Code, I found shocking, frankly,” Grenville said.

“I would have expected a lot of people to say Jesus never existed, or Jesus was just some guy, but to say the death was faked and he had kids is a very firm position to take. It speaks to the power of storytelling.”

Grenville said he believes it is the first time the question has been asked in a poll, so there is no way of determining whether views have changed on the question. . . .

The poll revealed a clear division between Christians and non-Christians, with only eight per cent of Christians accepting the conspiracy compared to 31 per cent of non-Christians. . . .

FWIW, in fairness to Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown, while the notion that Jesus faked his death and raised a family does go back to Da Vinci Code source materials like the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Brown himself did indicate during a recent court case in London that he actually believes in the Crucifixion, and possibly even the Resurrection. He apparently just doesn’t think those things are incompatible with the notion that Jesus had a family.

So in other words, it may be that a big chunk of the North American public is even loopier than the novels of Dan Brown.

APR 18 UPDATE: I just remembered, I mentioned a similar item ten months ago, which reported that over 5 million Canadians have read the book, and of those, roughly 1.7 million believe its claims. That comes to only about 5% of the population. So why does the more recent poll have such higher figures? Presumably because it includes people who haven’t read the book, but have absorbed its ideas via friends who have and the media.

Most striking of all, a press release announcing the earlier poll indicated that Albertans were among the least likely to have read The Da Vinci Code; only 9% of Albertans had read the book, while 19% of Ontarians and 18% of Quebeckers and British Columbians had read it. Yet the new poll indicates that Albertans are more likely to believe the book’s outlandish claims! It almost gives one hope that the easiest way to debunk the book is to get people to actually read it and see it for the silly thing that it is. Almost.