Monday, June 23, 2008
Would you believe . . . $39.2 million?
'Get Smart' 86s box-office rivals
The old espionage spoof trick worked to push Steve Carell's "Get Smart," the big screen update of the 1960s spy sitcom, to the top of the box office over the weekend.
Although reviews were mixed, the Warner Bros. movie surpassed high expectations, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Audiences were less taken with "The Love Guru," the first live-action movie starring Mike Myers in four years. The Paramount Pictures film, with Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake and Ben Kingsley, opened in a disappointing fourth place with $14 million.
Overall, Hollywood's summer of content continued, with total revenue climbing for the fourth straight weekend compared with last year. The industry is on track to beat its revenue record set last summer, when sales topped $4 billion for the first time.
"People are finding solace from the economy, gas prices and the summer heat at the movies," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media by Numbers. " 'Get Smart' did better than a lot of people expected."
"Kung Fu Panda," the animated comedy featuring the voice of Jack Black, remained in second place with sales of $21.7 million. The film was produced by DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. and distributed by Paramount.
In "Panda," Black's character is a chubby, bungling panda who aspires to be a kung fu warrior. The film also stars the voices of Dustin Hoffman and Angelina Jolie.
Marvel Entertainment Inc.'s "The Incredible Hulk" fell to third place from first with sales of $21.6 million for General Electric Co.'s Universal Pictures.
"Iron Man" cruised past the $300-million mark in the U.S. after nearly two months in release, becoming the first film this year to hit that mark. The Paramount hit's domestic box- office total after this weekend is an estimated $305 million.
In "Get Smart," Carell re-creates the blundering Maxwell Smart character created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry. The show starred Don Adams as Agent 86 of a secret U.S. government spy agency under the guise of a greeting card salesman. Anne Hathaway plays Agent 99, Smart's capable partner.
In the film, the duo try to thwart a plot to arm unstable governments with nuclear bombs. Dwayne Johnson co-stars as a spy colleague and Alan Arkin as the spy agency's chief.
Some critics derided the movie for forgoing the verbal comedy of the TV show in place of uninspired action but new and old fans of the franchise appeared undeterred. Nearly 60% of the audience was 25 or older, leaving a larger than expected younger audience.
The film marks the highest weekend opening for Hathaway. Her previous top weekend opener was 2006's "The Devil Wears Prada."
In limited release, "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl" opened strongly with $222,697 in five theaters, averaging $44,539 a cinema, compared with $10,012 in 3,911 theaters for "Get Smart."
Released by Picturehouse, "Kit Kittredge" is based on the popular line of American Girl dolls and stars Abigail Breslin as a 9-year-old aspiring newspaper reporter during the Depression.
Plot: Maxwell Smart, a.k.a Agent 86 (Steve Carell) of CONTROL battles the ruthless forces of KAOS alongside the beautiful agent 99 (Anne Hathaway).
Review: Let's get one thing out of the way- there is only one agent 86- and that man is not Steve Carell. I love Carell as much as anyone - THE OFFICE is terrific (and just as good as it's British counterpart), and THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN is one of the funniest films of the last decade. While I hated EVAN ALMIGHTY I think Carell is a comedic genius, and he's got a long, successful career ahead of him- but he's no Don Adams.
Truth be told I've never thought a GET SMART reboot was a good idea, as Adams is simply too well identified with the character. His brand of humor is just too damn hard to imitate. Carell tries his best- but whenever he delivers one of Adams' classic lines (like "missed it by THAT much", or "would you believe...") it sounds strange.
While I think ultimately this film is unnecessary, it's still fairly entertaining and it's certainly better than the recent PINK PANTHER reboot with Steve Martin. A lot of the credit has to go to Carell. While I didn't quite buy him as 86- he remains as likable as ever. Whenever he tries to imitate Adams he falls flat- but thankfully, that's only a small part of the film. Most of the time he delivers his own take on the character, and in that regard he's successful although it makes you wonder why they didn't go the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE route and make the film more of a sequel to the original show,. They could have easily had Carell play a new agent who inherits Smart's old position as Agent 86. Anne Hathaway also does a really good job as AGENT 99. She's absolutely stunning to look at, and she surprisingly has pretty good chemistry with Carell, despite their considerable age difference (which is cleverly alluded to in the film- explaining that 99 had her faced changed and appears younger than she actually is). I also really liked Alan Arkin as the Chief- although it would have been nice if his role was a bit bigger. Dwayne "THE ROCK" Johnson is fine as Agent 23, although he really takes a backseat to Carell & Hathaway until the last act of the film. James Caan also pops up as the U.S president, and does a fairly amusing Bush impression.