Monday, February 16, 2009

BUZZ: "Dollhouse" Ratings, "Lost in Austen" Film, Johansson vs. Blunt, and more

• I'm probably just as surprised as you are that the remake of Friday the 13th opened with $40 million this holiday weekend. I was hoping the two rom-coms He's Just Not That Into You and Confessions of a Shopaholic would take the top two spots for Valentine's Day weekend, but apparently the compromise film for most couples was a horror flick, leaving HJNTIY at #2 with $55 mil and Shopaholic to open at #4 with $15 mil. Another heart-pumping thriller, Taken, nabbed the #3 spot with $77 mil. Coraline, the highest-rated film in the top 10, was at #5 with $35 mil. Paul Blart took a step down to #6 with $110 mil after 5 weeks. The International debuted right behind it with a very dismal $8.5 mil, which is probably because no one's that interested in watching a film about crooked banks. I personally think its because Naomi Watts is sort of a bland costar. She'd probably be more interesting if she dyed her hair an eye-popping color, put some more makeup on, and maybe...emoted a little more. The Pink Panther 2 freefell from #4 to #8 with $22 mil after harsh reviews and hardly any loving for its new kid-friendly plot. I thought if anything that the addition of the most famous Bollywood star in the world, Aishwarya Rai, would attract Bollywood lovers to theaters. Rounding out the top 10 is the award-magnet Slumdog Millionaire with $87 mil after nearly four months, and Push, which dropped from #6 to #10 in its second week with $19 mil. Since Dakota Fanning also voices Coraline, she can rest easy that the failure of Push has nothing to do with her. However, the only time Chris Evans has ever been bankable is when he rocked a Fantastic Four suit, and Camilla Belle hasn't had a hit since she played the horror queen in 2006's When a Stranger Calls. Retiring from the top 10 are Gran Torino ($129 mil - 10 wks), Hotel for Dogs ($60 - 5 wks), and The Uninvited ($24 mil - 3 wks).

• Unfortunately, "Dollhouse" had the lowest-rated premiere this season besides NBC's "Crusoe," which tanked. Some are saying that it all has to do with its Friday timeslot, as though it would fare better if it were on Monday or Thursday, the best nights of the week. But "Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles," "My Own Worst Enemy," and "Journeyman" were on Monday and they've either been canceled or are on the verge of being canned. I don't know if it needs better marketing or better direction. Either way they better do something quick.

• While executives are cobbling together Paul Blart 2, Kevin James has already signed on for a film called The Zookeeper, which is a comedy about a "lonely zookeeper who decides to leave his job because he can't meet a girl, leading to intervention by the zoo's animals." So basically it's Paul Blart meets Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Hmm, I wonder if they'll make the animals talk.

• The BBC time-traveling Jane Austen drama "Lost in Austen" is being developed into a film. The story is about a woman named Amanda who discovers a door in her bathroom that leads to Jane Austen's world Narnia-style. There she meets one of Austen's most famous characters, Elizabeth, who decides she wants to try a new world and forces her to switch places. And so Amanda must continue Elizabeth's story so as not to destroy its continuity, which of course means wooing Mr. Darcy. Watch the first 3 minutes of the BBC series.

• Last October, it was announced that Amy Adams was in search of an Irish bloke to star opposite her in the rom-com Leap Year, which is about a girl who flies to Ireland to propose to her boyfriend on Feb. 29th because of the tradition that says he isn't allowed to say no. I was hoping for a real Irishman, but they got the second best thing, British actor Matthew Goode (Chasing Liberty, Brideshead Revisited, and The Lookout).

• In the vein of Journey to the Center of the Earth and even Land of the Lost, the comedy The Adventurer's Handbook is about a group of friends who decide to go on a global adventure similar to the ones described in their favorite novel. The good news is Jason Schwartzman (Darjeeling Limited and Marie Antoinette) and Jonah Hill (Superbad) have alread signed on, which only leaves two more guys to be cast. The bad news is Akiva Schaffer is directing, and he was the guy who filmed the abomination that was Hot Rod.

Emily Blunt was supposed to play Russian superspy Black Widow in Iron Man 2, but reports are saying that Scarlett Johansson is now linked to the role. It's rumored that Blunt's acceptance of a part in Gulliver's Travels with Jack Black and Jason Segel causes a shooting conflict. If her agents can't work the conflict out, they'll pursue Johansson. Wow! I bet she's never publicly played second fiddle to any actress.

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