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Weekend Box Office: “Up” Surprises; “Drag Me to Hell” in Limbo

Everyone expected a big weekend for the latest from the seemingly unstoppable Pixar/Disney creative team, but who knew that an elderly human could outperform an immature robot?

Yes, despite apparently being a bit intense for the very small ones, “Up” benefited from its widely noted ability to make adults cry and then laugh a lot as well — and perhaps more pointedly from being shown in what Nikki Finke reports is a record number (over 1,500) of 3-D digital screens. It raised $68.2 million, beating “WALL-E” by about $5 million, making it the third highest grosser in Pixar’s illustrious history. (Though, as always, one should remember that ticket prices keep getting higher.) But for those who think pristine visuals and high tech sound are the only attractions, I also have reason to believe it did well at the few remaining drive-in theaters as well…but more about that in a bit.

Overall, “Family” was apparently the watchword as “Night at the Museum: The Battle of the Smithsonian,” as Brandon Gray points out, dropped what is now considered a very respectable 53.5% to net $25.5 million smackers, buoyed by those premiums for IMAX theaters, both legit and “Liemax.”

Meanwhile, there was just a slight whiff of disappointment in horrorland as the ethically fascinating creepfest “Drag Me to Hell” netted a mere $16.6 million, but Sam Raimi’s presumably lowish budget flick is not quite in the movie toilet. Variety‘s Dave McNary cites a Universal bigwig thusly:

“It was a solid start,” [distribution chief Nikki] Rocco said, who asserted that “Drag Me to Hell” should benefit in coming weeks from a slew of positive reviews.

And, word of mouth of course. Like me, right here. As mentioned in my pre-weekend b.o. post, I really did head down to the Mission Tiki Drive-In in otherwise scenically challenged Montclair, CA. Alongside seeing hordes and hordes and hordes and hordes of families scrambling to see “Up” and meeting some very, very cool fellow cinenerds (some famed far and wide, relatively speaking), I can also say that “Drag Me to Hell” is a genuine hoot. You serious horror fans should be aware that, while it has laughs, they are mostly of the nervous and ironic variety, if that makes you feel any better. I mean, God forbid if a horror movie should actually be, you know, fun — and I don’t mean Dick Cheney’s idea of fun.

Meanwhile, “Terminator Salvation” did a lackluster $16.1 million in its second weekend, meaning that McG, Christian Bale and company likely feel like they’ve been dragged to the unhappy place themselves.

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Torchwood – Children of Earth (and a new companion for the Doctor!)

It’s been two days of steady announcements for fans of both “Doctor Who” and “Torchwood.” Yesterday came the news that instead of Sci Fi airing the latest episodes of “Who,” BBC America would instead be premiering the final five David Tennant adventures beginning in June with “The Next Doctor,” and then July will see the premiere of “Planet of the Dead.” Granted, it’s a shame that BBC America isn’t in as many homes as Sci Fi, but isn’t BBCA really the proper place for the Doctor?

This morning the BBC issued a press release naming the newest companion to travel with the Time Lord. Her name is Karen Gillan, and she’s Scottish and all of 21 years old. She’ll be time travelling with new Doctor Matt Smith when Season Five gets under way in 2010.

Incoming head honcho Steven Moffat had this to say about Gillan: “We saw some amazing actresses for this part, but when Karen came through the door the game was up. Funny, and clever, and gorgeous, and sexy. Or Scottish, which is the quick way of saying it. A generation of little girls will want to be her. And a generation of little boys will want them to be her too.”

And last, but certainly not least, the latest trailer – clocking in at just over 2 minutes – for “Torchwood: Children of Earth” has been unveiled. It’s still so difficult to tell anything about this miniseries. Will it rock, or will it just roll? Will the ante be upped, or will it flail around on the ground? Chances are this thing’s going to be a solid five hours of entertainment, based simply on the quality of the first two seasons, and yet the whole “kid” thing seems like a huge gamble for this series. Fingers crossed! Take a gander for yourself:

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Spring Breakdown

“Spring Breakdown” has been circling the movie release schedule for what seems like years now. After numerous date changes, though, the Ryan Shiraki-directed comedy finally appeared set for release following its premiere at Sundance, only to be dumped on to DVD a few months later. Though it didn’t get rave reviews in Park City, it wasn’t too harshly criticized either, which makes me wonder why Warner Bros. didn’t at least give the movie a limited run in theaters. After all, the film stars two of the best comediennes in the business and features a plot that, while not very original, offers plenty of opportunities for its leading ladies to shine.

Indie darling Parker Posey stars as Becky St. Germaine, the homely office manager of Texas senator “Kay Bee” Hartman (Jane Lynch), who’s heavily favored to replace the current Vice President after a scandal forces him to resign. Afraid that her daughter, Ashley (Amber Tamblyn), will attract negative press while partying on South Padre Island for spring break, Hartman assigns Becky to go undercover and keep Ashley out of trouble. Along for the ride are Becky’s childhood friends, Gayle and Judi (Amy Poehler and Rachel Dratch, respectively), both of whom are looking for a second chance at reliving their college years. What follows is your standard series of comedy shenanigans, and while many of them aren’t funny, the movie is still harmless fun. It’s not nearly as good as the quality of its cast suggests, but “Spring Breakdown” still deserves kudos for making what’s essentially a mild-mannered frat boy comedy with women as the stars.

Click to buy “Spring Breakdown”

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Bullz-Eye’s TV Girlfriends, Round Five: Married to the Job

Married to the Job

You’ve exercised your right to vote through the first four rounds of Bullz-Eye’s TV Girlfriends, choosing your favorites from the Hot and Smart, Pretty, Vacant, Girls Next Door, and Coworkers with Benefits categories…and now it’s time for round five: Married to the Job.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to survey our shapely (and professionally driven) lineup of potential TV Girlfriends — a list that includes more recent hotties like Nancy Botwin of “Weeds” and Veronica Mars, as well as classics like Mary Richards — and pick the one you’d most like to spend your weekends with. Will it be Chloe O’Brian of “24″? Sarah Connor? Elaine Nardo from “Taxi”? Or another of our fine choices? Take a look and cast your vote!

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A Chat with “Harper’s Island” Victim #7

Yes, this week’s interview with the “Harper’s Island” Victim of the Week is late, and I apologize wholeheartedly for that. I’d had the best of intentions to do the interview on Tuesday while in Columbus for a Bullz-Eye editorial meeting, but due to a combination of equipment malfunction, poor reception, and general bad timing, it was pushed back to Thursday, so I could be in the comfort of my own office to hold the conversation. Fear not, however: I’ll be talking to Victim #8 bright and early on Monday, so expect to see that conversation in a timely fashion.

For now, however, you’ve clearly waited long enough to read this week’s chat, so let’s dive right in, shall we?

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