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Another Week at the Top for Avatar

After another stellar weekend, Avatar managed to come up on top for the fifth weekend in a row.  Avatar managed to beat the new upstart, Denzel Washington's Book of Eli, to come out on top once again.  Total Avatar grosses for the weekend were approximately $41.3 Million, while Eli came in second at $31.6 Million.

The Book of Eli managed to beat Avatar on Friday night, but a large bump in Avatar's Saturday grosses allowed it to accelerate and maintain the lead through the rest of the weekend.  James Cameron's latest film is set to pass The Dark Knight as the second highest grossing film domestically sometime in the next week.  It's also now only $240 Million shy of topping Titanic as the highest grossing film worldwide of all time, a feat that seemed unimaginable only six weeks ago.

Avatar's grosses will only be helped by two major Golden Globe wins on Sunday night, including Best Picture (Drama) and Best Director (James Cameron).  The Globes typically act as a good predictor for Academy Award nominations, so when Avatar's inevtiable Best Picture nomination comes in, its already spectacular run will get another little boost.

Oh, and, as appears to be the norm for Avatar thus far, its fifth weekend out was also the highest grossing fifth weekend of all time, topping Titanics $30 Million gross from 12 years ago.  Avatar's pace has now outstripped The Dark Knight, as well.  The last Batman film had grossed (a mere) $471 Million domestically by the end of its fifth weekend, as compared to Avatar's $491 Million gross to date.

It'll be interesting to see where this thing tops out.


New Review Up

The Brothers Bloom (Blu-ray) review


Rob Zombie to Direct Episode of CSI: Miami

Rob Zombie has taken on the task of directing an episode of CSI: Miami.  Production on the episode was set to start today, with an air date of March 1st.  Some details from the press release below:

Filmmaker and musician Rob Zombie will bring his unique style of filmmaking to the streets of Miami on an episode of CSI: MIAMI, to be broadcast Monday, March 1 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.   The episode begins production today and is Zombie's television directorial debut.

In the episode, the CSI team discovers that a listening device has been covertly planted at a crime scene, capturing a terrifying soundtrack of the murder and, possibly, the voice of the killer.  However, when it’s revealed the bug was planted by the team’s own Jesse Cardoza, the State’s Attorney tosses the taped evidence and uncovers accusations of evidence tampering by Jesse on a murder case in Los Angeles.  With the integrity of his team at stake, Horatio Caine and Eric Delko travel to Los Angeles to dig into that murder and clear Jesse’s name.   While in Los Angeles, Horatio find himself face to face with secrets from Jesse’s past and a dangerous element within the LAPD.

"As writers, we were really pushing to create an interesting backdrop that could lend to Rob Zombie's visual style," says Marc Dube, co-executive producer.  "We thought opening the episode at a macabre party, with Miami attendees all wearing stylized masks (a la "Eyes Wide Shut") would be a fun kick-off point for Rob do to what he does best -- conveying the cruel and creepy underbelly of humanity."

"I am very excited to be working on a show that has such an intense and unique visual angle on the classic crime drama formula and look forward to putting my own bizarre stamp on the world of CSI: Miami," says Zombie.

CSI: Miami and Rob Zombie is certainly an odd fit, but I will say this - the stunt directing job will get me to tune in at least once.  If for no other reason than to see if it feels like something directed by Rob Zombie.  Should be interesting.



Conan Kicks NBC Right Where It Hurts

Conan O'Brien made the best possible move he could make with the current late night debacle at NBC.  First, he released this statement:

People of Earth:

In the last few days, I’ve been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I’ve been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I’ve been absurdly lucky. That said, I’ve been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35. For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t the Tonight Show. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn’t matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it’s always been that way.


Conan then applied an even more brilliant strategy.  On Tuesday night's Tonight Show, he went into full "David Letterman" mode, taking NBC to task with a series of sharply barbed jokes in his monologue, and constant references to NBC throughout the show.  He also had guests who expressed their solidarity openly, even though they are NBC employees.  He created the strongest episode of The Tonight Show in years, and if he can keep that up over the coming weeks, he'll build an audience that will put NBC in an even more awkward position should they opt to can him.

The fact is, that Conan has managed to swing the public behind him (just search Twitter for "Conan", and you'll see what I mean), has got the entertainment community behind him, and has left the NBC executives twisting in the wind.

I can hardly wait to see where this goes next.


What About Spider-Man?

Sony Pictures Entertainment announced today that Sam Raimi, Toby Maguire and Kirsten Dunst are no longer attached to the fourth Spider-Man film.  Instead, they will "reboot" the franchise by taking Peter Parker back to high school.  The plan is to release the fourth film in the series some time in 2011.

While Raimi's statement indicates that the split has come on amicable terms, it seems that Maguire was taken by surprise, as he was expressing confidence as late as last week that the film would still happen with Raimi.

Had Spider-Man 3 been a commercial failure, this direction might seem wise for Sony, but with all three films in the series generating huge profits, it seems like a massive risk to mess with the formula.  Having said that, Spider-Man 3 wasn't really all the pleasant for anyone, so maybe a new vision is exactly what's needed.

It seems a little too soon for a "reboot", but if they're starting with a good script, and it leads into a good film, it could work.  It's just going to take some serious convincing to get audiences to believe that someone besides Toby Maguire is Peter Parker/Spider-Man.