Spike Lee's 'Inside Man' leads resurgent box office
Los Angeles - Denzel Washington's reunion with Spike Lee put them on the inside track at the box office.
Their bank-hostage thriller "Inside Man," an unusually commercial project for director Lee, debuted as the No. 1 weekend film with $29 million - the best opening ever for both the filmmaker and his star, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Universal's "Inside Man" knocked off the previous weekend's top movie, the Warner Bros. action tale "V for Vendetta," which slipped to second with $12.3 million. "V for Vendetta" raised its 10-day total to $46.2 million.
Disney's fright flick "Stay Alive," featuring Frankie Muniz in a tale about a video game that brings death to its players, premiered in third place with $11.2 million.
The weekend's other new wide release, Lionsgate's "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector," a gross-out romp starring comic Dan Whitney investigating a food-poisoning outbreak, opened at No. 7 with $7.05 million.
Stung by declining revenues over the last year, Hollywood broke out of its latest slump, with the top-12 movies grossing $98.9 million, up 10.6 percent from the same weekend a year ago. The upswing followed a month of declines.
The solid weekend was a prelude to this Friday's debut of the animated sequel "Ice Age: The Meltdown," considered an early lead-in to a summer season that launches with Tom Cruise's "Mission: Impossible 3" on May 5.
"This was a good kickoff to what I think will be a pretty good run leading up to summer," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters:
1. "Inside Man," $29 million.
2. "V for Vendetta," $12.3 million.
3. "Stay Alive," $11.2 million.
4. "Failure to Launch," $10.8 million.
5. "The Shaggy Dog," $9.1 million.
6. "She's the Man," $7.4 million.
7. "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector," $7.05 million.
8. "The Hills Have Eyes," $4.25 million.
9. "Eight Below," $2.7 million.
10. "16 Blocks," $2.2 million.
A simpler time
New York - For actress Lily Tomlin, the 9-to-5 workday sounds quaint these days.
The star of the 1980 film "Nine to Five" - about three women who turn the tables on their oppressive male boss - Tomlin said the world now "is just so pressured."
"Look at the generation we're creating, with 'Survivor' and all that stuff," she told Time magazine for editions that hit newstands today.
"You're supposed to outwit everybody and double-deal," she said. "'Nine to Five' was trying to bring a female sensibility to the corporate world, which can really grind you down to nothing."
The 25th anniversary edition of the movie is set to be released on DVD this spring.
Words in his mouth
Horsham, Pa. - Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock was nominated for an Oscar for his McDonald's documentary "Super Size Me," but the reviews were mixed for a profanity-laced, politically incorrect speech he gave to several hundred high school students.
Spurlock, who ate nothing but McDonald's meals for 30 days to make his Oscar-nominated 2004 documentary "Super Size Me," spoke Friday at Hatboro-Horsham High School in suburban Philadelphia during its first-ever Health and Wellness Fair.
In his hourlong presentation before 700 students, Spurlock joked about the intelligence of McDonald's employees, using an Indian accent as he imitated a cashier trying to figure out how to ring up a Quarter Pounder hamburger. He also joked about "retarded kids in the back wearing helmets" and teachers smoking pot in the balcony.
There actually were special education students in the back row. Teachers led them out during the hourlong presentation.
"If you put the whole package together, the use of the F-word and poking fun at teachers and the comments about special-needs students, it just wasn't appropriate," Supt. William Lessa said.
Most students laughed, gave Spurlock a standing ovation and mobbed him for autographs. But a speech Spurlock was to make at the school later Friday night for community members was canceled.
Mocking of the penguins
Samuel L. Jackson has signed on to narrate a spoof of the Oscar-winning documentary "March of the Penguins" with an all-star supporting voice cast.
"Farce of the Penguins" will mix archival wildlife footage with an R-rated screenplay written and directed by - brace yourself - Bob Saget.
Saget said he got the idea for the film while watching the original "March" at a friend's house. "I couldn't stop doing the voice-overs of the penguins, reminiscent of when I did those animal voices on that video show back in the day," he said. Oh my.
ThinkFilm describes "Farce" as the story of "one penguin's search for love while on a 70-mile trek with his libidinous buddies on their way to a hedonistic mating ritual." Yikes.
Saget will voice several characters, including the lovelorn penguin, with Tracy Morgan, Lewis Black and Mo'Nique as some of his pals. Cameo voice roles will go to Jason Alexander, Whoopi Goldberg and Jon Lovitz, among others.
"Farce" is aimed for a late-summer release.