“This Week In Movies” – ‘The Tourist,’ ‘Chronicles Of Narnia,’ ‘The Fighter’

By Pete Hammond

HollywoodNews.com: Jolie. Depp. Narnia. Brand names all that led the pre-holiday boxoffice with a whimper , not a bang this weekend. So what’s the deal with “The Tourist?” I mean Jolie is arguably the biggest female box office star in the world right now, particularly in something as commercial as this light thriller set in Paris and Venice. Depp had a billion dollar grosser in his most recent, “Alice In Wonderland” earlier this year. Producer Graham King won a Best Picture Oscar for the hit “The Departed.” It marks the Hollywood major studio debut of director Florian Henckel VonDonnersmarck who won an Oscar for his critically acclaimed Foreign Language film winner, “The Lives Of Others” and was co-written by him with Oscar winning screenwriters Julian Fellowes (“Gosford Park”) and Christopher Quarrie (“The Usual Suspects”). The reviews though were universally dismal, only 7% positive among top critics at Rotten Tomatoes and 21% fresh overall. It’s B cinemascore rating is just okay, not terrible but this thing needs to generate strong word of mouth. Part of the initial problem is Sony’s release date. They only decided in late August to put it into the crowded holiday season, picking a date two weeks before Christmas when most of its targeted adult female audience will be otherwise engaged in holiday activities. Traditionally this audience doesn’t come out in any significant numbers until after the 25th. But if poor word of mouth sets in and the numbers drop significantly from its less-than-projected $17 million weekend haul it will probably take the international market for this old style big star Hollywood concoction to make its money back, if then. Too bad since I think Jolie has never looked more stunning that she does here in Colleen Atwood’s outfits with John Seale’s gorgeous cinematography. It’s almost like a commercial for Venice and, if nothing else, will certainly boost tourism there. The film itself is in the style of such lighter, witty 60’s thrillers like Charade and Arabesque and is based on a recent French drama, Anthony Zimmer. Look, Depp and Jolie may not be Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn or even Arabesque’s Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren but they are fun and the picture is a real throwback. Of special note are James Newton Howard’s beautiful music score and Seale’s first rate camerawork.

As for “The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” Disney which produced the first two editions threw in the towel after Prince Caspian made about $300,000 less than the first installment, “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.” Fox picked it up from Walden Media thinking there was plenty of life in it and especially by using 3D and its higher ticket prices to goose the take. Early evidence suggests that domestically it will be the least successful of all the Narnias but worldwide could rally . In fact while it made only an estimated $24 million in the U.S., it’s foreign total already stands at $81 million and climbing. It’s rotten tomatoes critical rating is right down the center at 50% but it’s A- Cinemascore is encouraging to the producers. Still Fox was hoping for something closer to mid or high $30’s and it didn’t get there. Certainly there was strong family competition from the third weekend of Disney ‘toon, “Tangled” which hung in there with $14 million but expectations were higher for these Chronicles.

The movies that made the most positive noise this weekend were on the limited release ledger. Paramount’s “The Fighter” had a knockout debut on just four screens in LA, NY and Boston (where it was shot) while last week’s arthouse darling “Black Swan” danced into just 90 screens and still made the top ten overall boxoffice list, a remarkable achievement for the dark and twisted psychological horror flick from Darren Aronofsky and starring Natalie Portman in an Oscar-bait role as a mentally disturbed prima ballerina. It is ironic that both of these films barely got made. ‘Swan’ took ten years to finally get to the screen while star Mark Wahlberg and a gaggle of producers tried in vain to get ‘Fighter’ made until Ryan Kavanaugh and Relativity Media stepped in, slashed the budget and got the picture back on track. “The Fighter,” a true story about the rocky relationship between boxing brothers Micky and Dicky Ward,was truly a passion project for Wahlberg and its early success has to be sweet.

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About Pete Hammond

Pete Hammond is a writer, producer, movie critic and film expert whose commentary on the entertainment industry has appeared in numerous publications and on air interviews including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, OK Magazine, NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw, Evening News With Brian Williams on MSNBC, the CBC, BBC, Bravo, E!, AMC, Canada AM and the KTLA Morning Show.

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