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"X-Men: The Last Stand" took in almost $45 million on Friday and landed in the history books. It is now the second highest opener of all time, right behind "Star Wars: Attack of the Sith."
Insiders are predicting that the Brett Ratner directed third episode in the X-Men trilogy could do as much as $150 million over the four-day Memorial Day weekend. Word of mouth and "tracking" are so strong that "X-Men 3," with no real rivals, should shatter all kinds of records by time the numbers are in officially on Tuesday.
In the meantime, audiences may be cooling off to normal levels for "The Da Vinci Code." After a monster first weekend, Friday night's numbers — a respectable $10.2 million — were off by two thirds from a week ago when the movie opened. "Da Vinci" could still have a very good weekend, and luckily it made its money back with that strong start.
Moviegoers remain lukewarm about "Mission Impossible 3" and the really disastrous "Poseidon," both of which are now distant also-rans in the weekend race.
For Ratner, whose successes have included two "Rush Hour" movies, the X-Men blast off is quite a success story. He narrowly escaped making "Superman Returns" instead, a movie that is now being billed as the most expensive ever made, and could have a lot of problems.
"X-Men 3" was not cheap to make. With a ticket of $225 million, it also sets a record as maybe second most expensive ever. But with a first weekend like this, 20th Century Fox should see a nice return before too long.
Maybe you remember "Clerks," the hilarious indie film that put director Kevin Smith on the map more than a decade ago. Since then, he’s brought us some good ones ("Chasing Amy"), some that are controversial ("Dogma") and some that are only for the faithful ("Jersey Girl," "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back").
Last night Smith returned to form in a post-midnight premiere of "Clerks 2," the long awaited sequel that reunites the still unknown stars of the first film and adds the delightful Rosario Dawson to the mix. The result was a huge eight minute standing ovation in the Claude DeBussy Theater in the Palais at 2 a.m. Saturday.
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And this was despite the fact that the film -- hilarious, moving and shocking -- is simultaneously a meditation on friendship, aging and bestiality. Yes, you read that correctly. Much is made of a well-dressed donkey that is forced into interspecies commingling with its owner as part of an after-hours going away party in a fast food restaurant called Mooby’s. The movie has an R rating, and the donkey may be featured in a For Your Consideration ad in Variety next winter.
Besides the donkey, "Clerks 2" also features extended cameos by Jason Lee and Wanda Sykes, a walk-on from Ben Affleck, and of course Smith himself as his long-running character Silent Bob with partner Jason Mewes as Jay. The clerks of the title are still played by longtime-Smith-pals Jeff Anderson (Randall) and Brian O’Halloran (Dante); Smith’s real-life wife, Jennifer, is featured as Dante’s clueless fiancée Emma.
This is good news for The Weinstein Company, which will have a huge summer hit. Smith is one of their franchise players, coming from the original—real—Miramax.
The premise of "Clerks 2" is pretty simple. The Quick Stop where Randall and Dante have been clerks since we last saw them in 1994 burns down, and the pair—now in their 30s—move over to Mooby’s where Dante has had a one-night stand on the prep table with the manager (Dawson). Before finding out that she’s pregnant, Dante makes plans to move away with Emma. Silent Bob and Jay move their dope peddling from the Quick Stop to Mooby’s as well, and Randall plans the Donkey Show for Dante. It’s that simple, and no, it’s no "Da Vinci Code," that’s for sure.
But fans of Smith—who are legion—as well as teens in general and the college crowd, are going to adore "Clerks 2," which was originally titled "The Passion of the Clerks." In the middle of all this nuttiness and "Animal House" inspired moments (the poor donkey is certainly the cinematic descendant of the dead horse in the dean’s office), Smith has crafted a nifty little tale of friends who love each other—as they say over and over, not in the gay way—but realize their extended adolescence must finally come to an end.
What’s really amazing about "Clerks 2" is that it works at all. The first "Clerks" was a cult hit, and unlike with say John Sayles’s "The Return of the Secaucus Seven," the actors never went on to anything other than recurring in Smith’s world. To find them not only picking up where they left off, but also making the whole thing work again, is quite an achievement. A lot of it has to do with Dawson, who is so natural, appealing, and evolved as Becky that she pulls the whole enterprise together.
Special mention, by the way, has to go to Jason Mewes. Unlike his cohorts, he’s managed to get some other roles in the recent past in some great unseen B or C movies that are either already on DVD or simply can’t be sold. In "Bottom’s Up," his biggest one, he co-stars with our friend Paris Hilton, whose own "House of Wax" and "Pledge This" would have benefited from having a donkey as well.
Loved the story on the wire yesterday about Cate Blanchett playing Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes’s upcoming film. If only this column had gotten credit for scooping the story back on May 4. You’ll notice that Colin Farrell’s name didn’t make the official release. I am told he is currently indisposed…
Cannes is winding down, but not before Dolce and Gabbana, the designers, threw a massive blow out of a party at the Hotel Martinez with pole-dancing girls in fishnet stockings, Eurodisco pulsating music and lasers shooting all over the room… I ran into one of my favorite actor-directors, Mario van Peebles, shooting an indie film last night on Cannes’s beloved Le Suquet district. This guy never stops working! He just finished another film with Wesley Snipes, and probably has two or three ready to go. If you never saw his terrific “Baaadasss” last year, I urge you to rent it or buy it…
Willem Dafoe is also here filming the new Bean movie with Rowan Atkinson. Dafoe, of course, was last seen in Spike Lee’s "The Inside Man"…
Today at the Palais an exciting political thriller gets a too-late premiere. "Buenos Aires 1977," directed by Adrian Caetano. The story of an Argentinian soccer player (Rodrigo de la Serna) who was kidnapped and tortured by a secret government squad and then escaped with his fellow survivors, should have been a bigger deal here. But the Cannes programming is odd to say the least. The Weinstein Company will release this in the fall, and a foreign-film Oscar nomination is guaranteed. The film has a great score, too, which hopefully will be acknowledged.