While there’s little doubt which film is going to win the box office this weekend, there’s a lot to choose from, including Universal Picture’s effects-driven Thunderbirds and the M. Night Shyamalan spookfest, The Village. While the latter is favored to scare up a killing, receipts should be spread around as other high-profile newcomers enter the fray and strong holdovers like Universal’s The Bourne Supremacy and Fox’s I, Robot scrap for top slots.
Thunderbirds is a live-action adaptation of Gerry Anderson’s classic 1960s “supermarionation” puppet series that can now be seen on cabler G4Tech TV (formerly Tech TV). This update is set in the year 2065 and follows the adventures of retired billionaire astronaut Colonel John Tracy (Bill Paxton) and his five sons who operate a rescue team called International Rescue. When evil mastermind Aristotle Spode, aka "The Hood" (Ben Kingsley) invades the family’s secret high-tech base, it’s up to 12-year-old Alan Tracey (Brady Corbet) to save the day. The film is directed by former Star Trek: The Next Generation actor Jonathan Frakes and features digital effects by Framestore CFC and Effects Associates.
While Thunderbirds is aiming for the Spy Kids crowd, Buena Vista’s The Village is shooting for an older audience with Shyamalan’s signature brand of thought-provoking suspense and chills. Reviews so far are mixed, which has been the case for all of the director’s efforts since the career-making The Sixth Sense. While Shyamalan tends to use visual effects sparingly in his films, The Village does feature some movie magic by Illusion Arts. The film takes place in the year 1897 as a rural Pennsylvania village is threatened by an ominous force that inhabits the surrounding woods.
Also opening today are Paramount’s remake of The Manchurian Candidate, New Line’s buddy stoner comedy, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and Fox Searchlight’s character-driven indie, Garden State, written by, directed by and starring Zach Branf of TV’s Scrubs.