No box office surprises: “A Nightmare on Elm Street” tops the charts; “Furry Vengeance” bites it

A Nightmare on Elm StreetI’m going to keep in short and snappy, especially since things have worked pretty much they way they looked to way back on Thursday night. So, yes, as expected, the critically dissed remake/reboot of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” did scarily well for Warners, earning an estimated $32.2 million or so as detailed by Box Office Mojo. At the #2 and #3 spot are the leggy successes of the moment, Paramount/Dreamworks “How to Train Your Dragon” and Fox’s “Date Night.” They earned estimates of $10.8 and $7.6 million respectively.

In other news…Oh, for a universe where someone not named Frank Miller made “The Spirit” and cast Brendan Fraser in the part he was born to play as Will Eisner’s affable-but-tough Denny Colt.  In that universe the accomplished actor wouldn’t have to take parts in apparently horrid comedies like Summit Entertainment’s “Furry Vengeance,” which climbed all the way up form 0% on Rotten Tomatoes earlier to a rocking 02% here on Sunday nigh because of a positive review from voice-in-the-wilderness Chris Hewitt. Still, the other 48 RT critics apparently spoke for the majority of filmgoers. The comedy earned a fairly pitiful estimated $6.5 million on its opening weekend to hit the #5 spot, despite plenty of publicity and screens for a wide release family film.

In the world of limited releases, the top per-screen earner was the extremely well-reviewed comedy-drama from critical favorite Nicole Holofcener and star Catherine Keener, “Please Give,” which earned a rocking estimated $25,600 or so for Sony Classics on five art-house screens over the weekend. Among other indie films doing notable business was the offbeat comic documentary, “Exit Through the Gift Shop” which earned an estimated $182,000 on 20 screens. “Harry Brown” starring Michael Caine also debuted strongly, earning an estimate $180,000 on 19 screens for Samuel Goldwyn, who is doing very well for a mogul whose been dead since 1974.

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Weekend box office preview: It’s a “Nightmare” all around

So, we have just two major releases this week and while one is hard-edged remake of a franchise-spawning eighties horror hit and the other is a purported family film, to me all signs this weekend in terms of major new releases (and one tiny release) scream: “Be afraid, be very afraid.” For the most part, the critics aren’t disagreeing.

For starters, we have “A Nightmare on Elm Street” which brings us Jackie Earle Haley in the role made famous by Robert Englund — the child-murderer of everyone’s dreams with the specially augmented fingers, Freddy Kruger. Now, as someone who is such a wuss that he was unable to get past the first twenty minutes or so of the original on VHS — that Wes Craven guy really knows how to scare people — I’m not really one to judge. However, the critics are thoroughly unimpressed with the new version directed by another music video alum, Samuel Bayer, granting it a dismal 11% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.

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Still, even if the original version is regarded as something of a classic today by critics, this movie has “critic proof” written all over it. Indeed, jolly Carl DiOrio, assures us that it’s “tracking” very well and will top the box office with “as much as” $30 million for Warner Brothers. He also gets a bit less jolly in his video this week and actually complains about the use of the word “reboot” to describe films like “Nightmare.” Well, considering that you’re starting over an existing franchise as if the original had never happened, I’m not sure what you’re supposed to call it. It’s not only a remake.

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A Chat with Rob Riggle

Given how long Rob Riggle has been doing stand-up, it’s actually kind of funny to think that there are lot of folks who don’t even know that he does stand-up. Then again, given that he’s been on “Saturday Night Live” and “The Daily Show,” as well as in “Talledega Nights” and “The Hangover,” it’s not like you can’t understand why some people only know him for his TV and movie work. On March 5th, however, Riggle will be taking the stage once more for an episode of “Comedy Central Presents,” where he’ll be giving viewers 22 solid minutes of stand-up. I had a chance to chat with him about the special, as well as his work on “SNL,” his two and a half year stint as John Oliver’s officemate, and some of his upcoming film projects.

Bullz-Eye: Hey, Rob!

Rob Riggle: Hey, Will! How are you doing?

BE: Pretty good. Well, welcome back to the stand-up scene on Comedy Central!

RR: I know! I’m excited! Very excited…and I haven’t even seen it yet!

BE: It’s very good. I caught it on the online screening room.

RR: Oh, well, thank you. I’m glad to hear that. I’ve literally only seen a couple of clips, so that’s good. You never know how those things go, because I think I did, like, 34 minutes, and they cut it down to 22, so you’re, like, “Uh, okay, I hope it’s good.” I’ll be very interested to see what they cut!

BE: I can only presume that the 10 minutes they cut were the slowest minutes. (Laughs) So how often do you even get to do stand-up? Because you’ve certainly got plenty of acting keeping you busy.

RR: Yeah, well, actually, I’ve been very lucky with the acting, but I try to get out as often as I can…which, in my humble opinion, is not often enough. But I book gigs whenever I can, and to answer your question directly…I dunno, I’d say probably two times a month. At least right now. There was a time where I was a lot more consistent. It just depends on the work schedule, y’know? If there’s a gap, I’ll get out there and pound it out three or four times a week, but it just depends on my work schedule, that’s all.

BE: So are you forever honing material, just in case you might have a free night for a gig?

RR: Yeah, that’s the constant work, I guess. I’m constantly waking up in the middle of the night and jotting down notes, and I have a stack of notes and thoughts and premises that I am dying to explore… (Laughs) …and I hope to have the time work them out, but I just haven’t been able to get to them yet. But one of these days I will, and hopefully I’ll be able to develop a new set. That’s what everybody’s got to do.

BE: So what was the case with this Comedy Central special? Was it planned out well in advance, or did you just get a last-second phone call saying, “Hey, Rob, come on back to the family”?

RR: No, y’know, I was just very fortunate that they came and saw me do stand-up at…I think it was right there in New York, at Comics Comedy Club. I was doing a weekend there and they came down, saw me, liked what they saw, and asked if I wanted to do it. And I was flattered. I was, like, “Yeah! Count me in!” So that’s how it all came about. And, y’know, I love Comedy Central. The people over there are awesome, and I have a good relationship with them, so…it’s all good.

BE: Well, in particular, the routine during the special that hit home for me was the bit about men’s rooms in stadiums.

RR: (Laughs) Oh, how true is it, my friend?

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