Winona Ryder Joins "Black Swan" Cast for Director Darren Aronofsky 


I'm getting really excited about this supernatural project called "Black Swan." First, I respect Darren Aronofsky as a director. He made Mickey Rourke ("The Wrestler") cool again!

Second, the paranormal angle is intriguing. The film is set in the world of New York City ballet about a ballerina (Natalie Portman) who's competing with a rival dancer. But is the rival a ghost or is Portman's character just having a mental breakdown? Mila Kunis is set to star as Lilly, the mysterious rival dancer.

Now, Winona Ryder is joining the cast as a rival dancer. Barbara Hershey and Vincent Cassel complete the cast.

Fox Searchlight is very close into co-financing and distributing the film which was written by Mark Heyman based on an original screenplay by Andres Heinz.

Production is set to start in New York before the end of the year, and the budget is reported to be between $10 million - $12 million.

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"Sgt. Rock" Moving Into the Future for Director Francis Lawrence 


"Sgt. Rock" based on the DC Comics World War II hero is finally being adapted for the big screen by director Francis Lawrence and scriptwriter Chad St. John.

The caveat? It's now set in the future.

The Hollywood Reporter tells us that producer Joel Silver has been trying to get this film made for nearly 20 years. And now, it seems, the project is moving forward.

Sgt. Rock, a leader of his infantry unit, Easy Company, first appeared in a 1959 issue of "Our Army at War." Then in 1977, the comic was renamed "Sgt. Rock" and ran until 1988.

Warner Bros. is hoping that by setting the film into the future, the project will become marketable.

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More Problems for "The Wolfman!" Composer Danny Elfman Has Left Production! 


What's going on with Universal's "The Wolfman?" First, it was the problematic release date. First, the Benicio Del Toro-starrer was supposed to be released Feb. 13 of this year, then was moved to April 3, and then Nov. 6. Finally, the film is supposed to howl into theaters Feb. 12 of next year. (See "What? "The Wolfman" Moved Again? See What Else Universal is Changing")

Now, we're learning that composer Danny Elfman has exited the project! Cinemusic is reporting that, "There were rumblings deep in the Elfman fan community… And it looks like those rumblings are now mumblings — Danny Elfman has left The Wolf Man, apparently due to scheduling conflicts. But if you believe rumors, it’s due to problems with the film."

I'm tired of this film already and it's not even out yet!

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"Disney's A Christmas Carol" Receives Christmas Present at Box Office! See Complete Top 10 Weekend Box Office List 


Moviegoers brought holiday cheer to "Disney's A Christmas Carol." The Robert Zemeckis 3D animated flick took in $31 million to open at the no. 1 spot this weekend.

Scrooge knocked over the King of Pop out of the top spot as "Michael Jackson's This Is It" fell to no. 2 with $14 million.

Taking the no. 3 spot was "The Men Who Stare at Goats." It's a farcical film about a military unit exploring the possibilities of using paranormal abilities for war. The film, starring George Clooney, took in $13.3 million.

Universal's "The Fourth Kind" with Milla Jovovich debuted at no. 4 with $12.5 million. The other new release, "The Box," starring Cameron Diaz and James Marsden, opened at No. 6 with $7.9 million.

Meanwhile, the fantastic drama "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" was off to a great start! The film, executive produced by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, took in $1.8 million in just 18 theaters and in only four cities -- New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Chicago -- averaging an astounding $100,000 per cinema.

"Precious" expands this Friday to five more -- Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Dallas and Houston. Lionsgate plans to open the film in wide release Nov. 20.

Here's a list of the top 10 box office films for weekend of Nov. 6th:

1. "A Christmas Carol," $31 million.


2. "Michael Jackson's This Is It," $14 million.

3. "The Men Who Stare at Goats," $13.3 million.

4. "The Fourth Kind," $12.5 million.

5. "Paranormal Activity," $8.6 million.

6. "The Box," $7.9 million.

7. "Couples Retreat," $6.4 million.

8. "Law Abiding Citizen," $6.2 million.

9. "Where the Wild Things Are," $4.2 million.


10. "Astro Boy," $2.6 million.

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What I Think of this Weekend's Other Box Office Contenders -- "The Box" and "The Fourth Kind" 


Everyone's predicting that "Disney's A Christmas Carol" will take the box-office crown this weekend. And it just might, that's why Warner Bros. and Universal are counter-programming with "The Box" and "The Fourth Kind," respectively.

For my review of "Disney's A Christmas Carol, click here. Now, here's what I think of:

"THE BOX"


Based on a Richard Matheson short story which later became a "Twilight Zone" episode called "Button, Button," "The Box" tells the tale of Norma (Cameron Diaz) and Arthur (James Marsden), a suburban couple who receive a gift of a lifetime -- a simple wooden box that bestows upon its owner $1 million with just a press of a button.

One million dollars is a big deal specially since the film is set in 1976. So Norma and Arthur have the box, they'll get $1 million if they press the button, blah blah blah...but there's always a catch! Pressing the button will cause the death of another human being somewhere in the world, someone they don't know...or do they?

Written and directed by "Donnie Darko's" Richard Kelly, "The Box" is a trippy and edgy morality tale that knows its 70s tone and setting.

But here's my problem -- after a great set-up, Kelly did not quite know how to match its build up that the film suffers a lackluster final reel because of its pretentious albeit allegorical conclusion.

Still, "The Box" is a better than average run-of-the-mill horror movie (which we seem to get every week now). It will make you think twice about the true nature of humanity.

RATING: "The Box" gets :25k



"THE FOURTH KIND"

According to the film, there are four kinds of alien encounters.

The first kind is a U.F.O. sighting.

When evidence is collected, it's known as an encounter of the second kind.

When contact is made with extra-terrestrials, it is the close encounters of the third kind.

But when you're abducted, sorry dudes and dudettes, you just entered the fourth kind.

Intriguing right? Well, too bad the execution was clumsy!

Milla Jovovich, the reigning scream queen (she starred in the "Resident Evil" films, and the recent "A Perfect Getaway," which by the way, I kind of enjoyed!), stars as a shrink whose patients tell her the same stories -- are aliens to blame?

Honestly, "The Fourth Kind" is like an overlong, overwrought "X-Files" episode set against the questionable climate of Alaska. The film comes complete with government conspiracies and extra-terrestrial visitors,

Yes, "The Fourth Kind" has all the necessary elements to make it a satisfying thriller but I don't think writer-director Olatunde Osunsanmi has the creative wherewithal to make it all work -- to bring all the grand ideas together.

So the gimmicky presentations, such as the split screen technique where one side shows patients describing their gripping experiences while the other shows a "pseudo-documentary" footage of the events, come off laughable at times.

Add to that the uneven performances and you get a pedantic ho-hum flick! Another one of those run-of-the-mill horror movies we've discussed above.

There are some, very few scares, but "The Fourth Kind" tries soooooo hard to be this weekend's "Paranormal Activity" that it lands with a big, thud! Ouch!

Here's my suggestion: Don't abduct this film, wait for it on DVD or gosh, regular cable, not the pay-per-view kind!

RATING: "The Fourth Kind" gets :15k

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