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  1. The Most Anticipated Movies of June 2017

    Welcome to New Release Rundown, where we run down the most anticipated movies hitting theaters in June 2017. And the winners are...

    June 2nd sees "Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie" and the hotly anticipated -- and well reviewed -- "Wonder Woman" flying into theaters.

    The following weekend bolsters up with Kate Mara war drama "Megan Leavey," the Sam Elliott drama "The Hero," and horror-thriller "Camera Obscura" all on limited release. And Tom Cruise Dark Universe kick-off movie "The Mummy" busts into the box office on June 9th

    June 16th is chock full of new releases, with tearjerker "The Book of Henry," shark-infested Mandy Moore thriller "47 Meters Down," Disney-Pixar's speedy sequel "Cars 3," R-rated party-comedy "Rough Night," and the Tupac Shakur biopic "All Eyez on Me" all new in theaters.

    The latest entry in the Transformers franchise, "Transformers: The Last Knight," gets a mid-week release on Wednesday, June 21st, while Sofia Coppola's period drama "The Beguiled," dystopian apocalypse flick "The Bad Batch," and romantic dramedy "The Big Sick" come to theaters June 23rd.

    Action-thriller "Baby Driver" revs its engine with a midweek debut on June 28th, while minion-heady three-quel "Despicable Me 3" and the Amy Poehler / Will Ferrell comedy "The House" both hit theaters on Friday, June 30th.

    Head over to to watch the trailers for all the movies we mentioned, plus search showtimes and buy tickets for a theater near you!

  2. New Movie Releases: 'The Longest Ride,' 'Ex Machina,' and More (VIDEO)
    This weekend, the lives of a young couple intertwine with an older man as he reflects on a lost love in "The Longest Ride," and Oscar Isaac stars as a tech genius developing a groundbreaking experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I. in "Ex Machina."

    New Movies in Theaters: 'The Longest Ride,' 'Ex Machina'

    Also in theaters this weekend:
    • "Kill Me Three Times" stars Simon Pegg as a professional hit-man who finds himself in three tales of murder, blackmail, and revenge after a botched contract assignment.
    • Directed by Ryan Gosling, "Lost River" follows a single mother who is swept into a dark underworld, while her teenage son discovers a road that leads him to a secret town.
    • In "Desert Dancer," a dancer risks everything to start a dance company amidst his home country of Iran's politically volatile climate and that nation's ban on dancing.
    • In "Clouds of Sils Maria," a veteran actress (Juliette Binoche) deals with the uncomfortable reflection of herself when she agrees to take part in a revival of the play that launched her career 20 years earlier. The film also stars Kristen Stewart and Chloë Grace Moretz.
  3. 10 More Young Adult Books Being Made Into Movies

    If you loved "Divergent," "The Maze Runner," and "The Hunger Games" and are ready for more young-adult stories set in fantasy, sci-fi, or dystopian universes, we've got good news -- there are dozens of popular YA books currently in development for film adaptations. They may not be about Factions and Districts, but these books deal with everything from doomed supernatural love stories to bloody revolutions in human-occupied space. Here are 10 books to read if you want more "Divergent"-level action and romance at the movies.
    YA Books and Movies Coming Soon
  4. 7 Things You Need to Know Before You See 'Insurgent'

    So you saw "Divergent" a year ago and loved it. Maybe some of you caught it on cable, bought the DVD, or rented it from Redbox recently to catch up. Perhaps you're so confused by the number of young-adult films Shailene Woodley and her co-stars have made, they're jumbling up in your head (is this the one where Miles Teller is a teen alcoholic? No. Is this the one where Ansel Elgort is her brother or her boyfriend?). I happen to know quite a few girls and women who were so distracted by star Theo James they couldn't tell you much about any scene he was in other than "Four is hot."

    We get it. You might not remember everything that happened in "Divergent," so we're here to help jog your memory and to prep you for "Insurgent," the second installment in the dystopian trilogy written by Veronica Roth. Remember that – it's a middle book, so there will, once again, be a cliffhanger.
    insurgent what to know
  5. WATCH LIVE: Jeremy Renner & Michael Cuesta on 'Kill the Messenger'

    Actor Jeremy Renner and director Michael Cuesta have teamed up to make one of the fall's hottest films: "Kill the Messenger" Watch as they stop by AOL BUILD to discuss the dramatic thriller of a journalist who risks everything to expose the CIA's funding of Nicaraguan rebels.

    WATCH LIVE 10:30 a.m. ET / 7:30 a.m. PT.

  6. What to Watch This Week: 'Chef,' 'The Vampire Diaries,' 'In A World...'
    ChefAt a loss for what to watch this week? From new DVDs and Blu-rays, to what's streaming on Netflix, we've got you covered.

    New on DVD and Blu-ray

    Jon Favreau wrote and directed this delicious comedy about a chef named Carl Casper, who quits the biz to start a food truck with help from fellow chef Martin (John Leguizamo) and Carl's son Percy. Sofía Vergara plays Carl's ex-wife, with Dustin Hoffman as Carl's former boss, Scarlett Johansson as the hostess of the restaurant, and Oliver Platt as a food critic whose mean tweets kicked off this whole business.

    "The Exorcist: The Complete Anthology"
    This Blu-ray box set includes both the theatrical version and the extended director's cut of "The Exorcist," "Exorcist II: The Heretic," "The Exorcist III," and the two prequels, "Exorcist: The Beginning" and "Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist." Although this set doesn't boast a whole lot of extras, it's the only way to snag "Dominion" on Blu if you're a completist. The entire set is actually cheaper than the "Exorcist" Blu-ray released in 2010, and this is the first time four of these are even on Blu-ray, so hey, why not?

    "The Pretty One"
    Zoe Kazan stars as identical twins with very different lives. Laurel is sweet but childish; she lives at home with their dad and wears the old clothes of their dead mother. She's in love with the boy she used to babysit, and spends her days taking care of their dad. Audrey lives her own life in a different city, with a real job and a boyfriend and cool clothes; she's "the pretty one" of the two sisters, even though they're genetically identical. A terrible accident gives Laurel the chance to experience life as the pretty one, but can she keep up the ruse? Jake Johnson co-stars as Laurel/Audrey's next-door neighbor in this darling indie from writer/director Jenée LaMarque.

    TV Worth Watching

    "Gracepoint" (Fox, Thursday at 9 p.m. EST)
    It's not clear why there's an American adaptation of the excellent BBC drama "Broadchurch," but we'll take it. David Tennant reprises his role as the lead detective in a murder investigation, joined by Anna Gunn as his partner.

    "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, Saturday at 11:29 p.m. EST)
    Sarah Silverman is hosting! Don't worry, you can mute Maroon 5 if you really want to.

    "The Vampire Diaries" (The CW, Thursday at 8 p.m. EST)
    It's the premiere of the sixth season! The Other Side has gone bye-bye, the doppelganger nonsense is dunzo, and now we've got to figure out what the future holds for Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Bonnie (Kat Graham). We're also anticipating some new characters, like a mysterious and possibly psycho new villain (Chris Wood).

    New on Netflix

    "The Double"

    Jesse Eisenberg does double duty as nerdy Simon James and his suave, shifty doppelganger James Simon (without a green screen!) in Richard Ayoade's quirky adaptation of the Dostoyevsky novella. Mia Wasikowska appears as Hannah, the fiery love interest of Simon and James, alongside a motley crew of fabulous actors like Wallace Shawn and Noah Taylor. Beautiful, weird, and highly literary, with a cool Japanese pop soundtrack.

    "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa: Unrated Version"
    If you didn't get nearly enough of Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) and his dangly bits, well, you're in for a treat. If you dig the "Jackass" crew, then you know what to expect. And if you don't, well, buyer (or renter) beware!

    "The Walking Dead" (Season 4)
    It's never too late to catch up on the gory trials and tribulations of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and the folks he meets trying to stay alive among all the flesh-eating walkers, diseases, and baddies (like the Governor) shambling around this AMC drama.

    New Video on Demand, Rental Streaming, and Digital Only

    "Broad City" (Amazon Prime)

    This Comedy Central sitcom is finally available on Amazon Prime. (Shout out to everyone who tried to watch it on the Comedy Central site and struggled through endless ads!) It actually became available last week, but it's so ridiculously good that you can't afford to miss it. Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer star as best friends who love pot, sex, and being slackers. Amy Poehler is an executive producer!

    "Hellion" (iTunes)
    This gritty indie from IFC is about a motocross-obsessed 13-year-old named Jacob (Josh Wiggins) who's in and out of trouble, but mostly in it. Aaron Paul co-stars as his drifting, freshly widowed dad, with Juliette Lewis offering some support as a concerned aunt who's given custody of Jacob's little brother Wes (Deke Garner). Austenite Kat Candler wrote and directed this coming-of-age story.

    "In A World..." (Amazon Prime)
    Lake Bell does triple duty as writer, director, and star of this witty indie about a voice coach named Carol who's struggling to get into the male-dominated voice-over acting biz. Her competitors include her successful and selfish dad (Fred Melamed) and a gross chauvinist named Gustav (Ken Marino). The excellent ensemble cast includes Demetri Martin, Michaela Watkins , Tig Notaro, Rob Corddry, and lots of other cool people.

  7. New DVD Blu-ray: 'Labor Day,' 'Sophie's Choice,' and More

    new dvd blu-rayMankurt Media

    Moviefone's Top DVD of the Week
    "Escape from Tomorrow"
    What's It About? A trip to the House of Mouse becomes a surreal nightmare for a father of two.
    Why We're IN: Filmed secretly on location at Disney World and Disneyland, "Escape from Tomorrow" is creepier than "It's a Small World."

    Moviefone's Top Blu-ray of the Week
    "Il Sorpasso" (Criterion)
    What's It About? A wild bachelor and an uptight law student go on a road trip for the ages in this adored Italian comedy.
    Why We're IN: It's been spiffed up and digitally restored, and even the subtitles got a makeover. Plus, there are all the Criterion bells and whistles we know and love.

    New on DVD and Blu-ray
    "Bad Country"
    What's It About? Willem Dafoe and Matt Dillon star as a cop and a criminal who are forced to work together to bring down an even bigger baddie. Neal McDonough, who freaked everyone out in "Justified," co-stars
    IN or OUT: Out.

    "The Best Offer"
    What's It About? An antiques dealer (Geoffrey Rush) doesn't particularly like dealing with people, and his latest client is a young woman who's definitely a pain in the keister. Will her weird ways teach this old dog new tricks?
    IN or OUT: This arty drama/thriller charmed critics, though it didn't get much of a theatrical release. Hitchcock fans might want to check it out.

    "Devil's Due"
    What's It About? Something weird happened on Zach and Samantha McCall's honeymoon, and nine months later, Samantha's pregnancy seems anything but normal.
    IN or OUT: More found footage horror? Now that's a scary idea.

    "Gimme Shelter"
    What's It About? Sadly, this is not the classic Rolling Stones doc by the Maysles' brothers. Disney starlet Vanessa Hudgens gets tough to play a pregnant, homeless teen with an abusive mother (Rosario Dawson). Luckily, James Earl Jones is there in non-Vader garb as a guy who helps her find her way into a shelter and a better future.
    IN or OUT: Out.

    "Labor Day"
    What's It About? Josh Brolin stars as a prison escapee named Frank who seeks refuge with an agoraphobic woman named Adele (Kate Winslet) and her son Henry (Gattlin Griffith). Frank fixes things around the house and cooks for them while he's avoiding authorities and holding them hostage over Labor Day weekend. He also manages to make baking a peach pie look sexy.
    IN or OUT: This tepid love affair will leave you hungry.

    "The Legend of Hercules"
    What's It About? Greek myth gets the "Twilight" touch with Kellan Lutz as the muscle-bound hero Hercules. Directed by Renny Harlin of "Deep Blue Sea" infamy.
    IN or OUT: Out, unless you're just looking for some laughs.

    New on Blu-ray
    "Gamera: Ultimate Collection" (Vol. 1 and 2)
    What's It About? The crazy turtle-like Kaiju from Daiei Studios destroys a whole lot of stuff in these eight (EIGHT!) films. Volume 1 is the first four films in the Gamera series, and Volume 2 is the last four.
    IN or OUT: If you love this fireball-spitting turtle monster, you'll want in.

    "Sophie's Choice" (Collector's Choice)
    What's It About? If you haven't seen this classic tearjerker that won Meryl Streep her first Oscar, we can't help you.
    IN or OUT: There aren't a ton of extras to recommend this as a fancy collector's edition, but it's a great movie to add to your collection.

    "The Wind and the Lion"
    What's It About? Warner Bros. open up their archives for this exciting action/adventure story about a woman who is kidnapped in Morocco. Sarring Candice Bergen, John Huston, and Sean Connery.
    IN or OUT: This isn't writer/director John Milius's finest or most well-known work (that would probably be his script for "Apocalypse Now," although he also wrote and directed "Conan the Barbarian" and "Red Dawn"), but it's still an enjoyable ride.
  8. New DVD Blu-ray: 'Philomena,' 'Ride Along,' 'The Nut Job'

    new dvd blu-rayThe Weinstein Co.

    Moviefone's Top DVD of the Week
    What's It About? Judi Dench stars as an Irish woman who wants to find the son she gave birth to as a teen sent to live in a convent; Steve Coogan co-stars as the posh journalist who wants to write a story about her journey.
    Why We're IN: Based on a true story about Philomena Lee's travels to find her long-lost son, this is a sweet drama with moments of levity, thanks to the chemistry between Coogan and Dench.

    Moviefone's Top Blu-ray of the Week
    "Breaking the Waves"
    What's It About? Ah, yes. Another tale by Lars von Trier about tormented love, sex, and religion! Stellan Skarsgård and Emily Watson play newlyweds who are forced into some rather extreme circumstances after he's paralyzed while working on an oil rig.
    Why We're IN: This tragic tale gets the full Criterion treatment, including select audio commentary from the bad boy LvT himself.

    New on DVD & Blu-ray
    "Better Living Through Chemistry"
    What's It About? Sam Rockwell plays a straight-laced (and married) pharmacist named Dough who gets tangled up with a pill-popping housewife (Olivia Wilde). Just how far will he go to keep the drugs and sex coming?
    IN or OUT: What, you don't want to watch a comedy about a pharmacist supplying drugs to (and having sex with) a lonely, addicted housewife? It's okay; you're not alone.

    "Black Nativity"
    What's It About? Kasi Lemmons returns to the director's chair for this adaptation of Langston Hughes' Christmas story set in NYC. Starring Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson, and Jennifer Hudson, with a special appearance by Mary J. Blige.
    IN or OUT: This Christmas story sort of fell through the cracks. If you like religious stories and/or great singing, check it out.

    "Date and Switch"
    What's It About? Matty (Hunter Cope) and Michael (Nicholas Braun) pinky swear to lose their virginities before prom, but Michael's thrown for a loop when Matty comes out. Co-stars Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman, and Gary Cole.
    IN or OUT: This disappeared into the ether, so it's hard to say. However, it did get good reviews from several major outlets, so your mileage may vary.

    "Great Expectations" (2013)
    What's It About? The Dickens classic about poor orphaned Pip and gorgeous Estella gets a fancy makeover from director Mike Newell. Starring Jeremy Irvine, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, and Holliday Grainger.
    IN or OUT: Despite the fancy credits (including an adaptation by "One Day" author David Nicholls) and cool cast, there's almost no evidence that this came out in the US. It looks like BBC fans will enjoy it. Check it out and let us know, would you?

    "The Nut Job"
    What's It About? Will Arnett voices Surly the squirrel, a conniving little fella who's planning to rob a nut store with help from a rat named Buddy. Things get a little... nutty when they discover the human who own the nut store are up to no good. Brendan Fraser, Liam Neeson, and Katherine Heigl also loan their voices for this strange family film.

    #TheNutJob is on Blu-ray/DVD 2day & U can own a copy for free! Just RT this message for a chance to win! Rules:

    - moviefone (@moviefone) April 15, 2014

    "Ride Along"
    What's It About? Ice Cube plays a cop who decides to put his future brother-in-law (Kevin Hart) to the test by taking him out for a day on the beat. This buddy cop movie crime comedy made eleventy-billion dollars and is already getting a sequel.
    IN or OUT: If you like Kevin Hart, you probably can't go wrong.

    "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"
    What's It About? Ben Stiller directed and stars in this labor of love about a worker bee who dreams of adventure and love and awesomeness. Kristen Wiig co-stars as his love interest.
    IN or OUT: What once seemed like a sure-fire Oscar nominee got reamed for being sappy and/or full of product placement. It had its defenders, though.

    EXCLUSIVE: Watch a scene from "Walter Mitty" (VIDEO)
    New to Blu-ray
    "Double Indemnity"
    What's It About? Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray get tangled up in a deadly love affair in this classic noir by Billy Wilder. Be sure and read the fine print on those life insurance contracts, people!
    IN or OUT: The movie itself is worth the price of admission, but there are also a bunch of cool extras -- such as the TV movie starring Samantha Eggar!

    What's It About? Kevin Smith's second feature is about two dorky dudes who head to the mall and engage in slackerly activities while pining over their hot exes. Jason Lee and Jeremy London co-star, but Shannen Doherty, Ben Affleck, Jason Mewes, and even Stan Lee show up for some fun.
    IN or OUT: "Mallrats" and/or SModcast diehards will be thrilled that this is finally on Blu-ray.

    "Reality Bites" (20th Anniversary Edition)
    What's It About? Ben Stiller directed and co-stars in this little comedy about a bunch of twenty-somethings trying to figure out their lives after college. (This was before the Internet.) People are still arguing over whom the babely Lelaina (Winona Ryder) should have picked as her paramour, Michael (Stiller) the businessman or Troy (Ethan Hawke) the poet?
    IN or OUT: Do you want to own Lisa Loeb's video "Stay" on Blu-ray? Done and done.

    "Touch of Evil"
    What's It About? Orson Welles nearly outdid himself with this fantastic film noir -- after all, it's hard to outdo "Citizen Kane." Still, he came pretty close! Welles directed, adapted, and co-stars in this drama about a crooked cop who tries to frame another officer for his misdeed. Then things get really weird.
    IN or OUT: Finally, this is out on Blu-ray as an all-region release! It also includes different cuts of the movie, plenty of commentaries, and other cool stuff.
  9. Fact-Checking 'Lee Daniels' The Butler'


    For all the unlikely casting of U.S. presidents in "Lee Daniels' The Butler" (Robin Williams as Ike? James Marsden as JFK? Uh... okay...), the movie's highly subjective recreation of history actually seems to work. Maybe the actors aren't up to the task of playing such formidable real-life titans, but then, as seen by the long-serving White House manservant of the movie's title, these presidents are all just men, overwhelmed by the burdens of politics, world events, and history's eventual judgment. He sees them all at their most vulnerable and proves the old adage that no man is a hero to his valet.

    Still, as subjective as the movie is about the many presidents that Forest Whitaker's character serves and the crises they address while he pours their coffee, it holds pretty close to the historical record. In fact, the movie takes its greatest liberties not with the presidents but with the butler and his family life. In the movie, his name is Cecil Gaines, he serves seven presidents over 30 years, and he has two sons – one who's an activist in all the major Civil Rights protests of the 1960s and one who willingly goes off to fight in Vietnam. In real life, however, the butler's name was Eugene Allen, he served eight presidents over 34 years, and he had one son.

    You can read the details of Allen's remarkable life in Wil Haygood's 2008 Washington Post article "A Butler Well Served by This Election," and Haygood's recent book "The Butler: A Witness to History." As for how the movie's depictions of major historical figures match up against the actual record, here are the details. (Spoliers follow.)

    Dwight D. Eisenhower: In the movie, Cecil's first day at the White House coincides with Ike's intervention in the Central High School integration imbroglio in Little Rock, Arkansas. Cecil muses to himself that it's the first time he's seen a white man stick his neck out to help black people. Later on, Cecil sees the former D-Day general and current leader of the free world taking time off to paint a flower-strewn landscape.

    In fact, Allen began working at the White House under Eisenhower's predecessor, Harry S. Truman. But there are photos of Allen serving coffee to Eisenhower and his advisers during the Little Rock crisis, just as the movie depicts. Also, Eisenhower really did paint landscapes and portraits as a hobby, and Allen kept one of the president's paintings on display at his own house in northwest Washington, D.C.

    John F. Kennedy: The movie's JFK suffers so much from Addison's disease and other ailments that he can barely move; at one point, Cecil finds him prone on the bedroom floor and has to help him stand up. He also takes lots of medicine; Cecil estimates it at 103 pills a day. Cecil reads bedtime stories to little Caroline Kennedy. After the assassination, a distraught Jackie Kennedy gives Cecil one of the president's neckties as a memento.

    The movie's assertions about JFK's medical history are borne out by presidential historian Robert Dallek's research. In addition to Addison's disease, he endured several digestive tract and back ailments that were so painful that even simple motions like reaching across his desk or tying his shoe were excruciating. As a result, the president was on eight to 12 different medications at any given time, though it's not clear how many pills per day that amounted to. After his assassination, Jackie invited Allen as a guest to the funeral, but he chose to stay behind at the White House and serve as needed. He comforted Caroline, who was just shy of her sixth birthday at the time. Jackie did give Allen one of JFK's ties, which he framed and displayed at his home.

    Lyndon B. Johnson: Cecil is a witness as LBJ barks orders to underlings while seated on the presidential toilet, with the bathroom door open. Cecil admires Johnson's passage of landmark Civil Rights legislation but holds his tongue about Johnson's prosecution of the Vietnam War, even though Cecil has a son, Charles, who fights and ultimately dies in Vietnam.

    According to Dallek, this was a common Johnson tactic, one designed to unnerve and intimidate whomever Johnson was talking to. Allen did have a son named Charles who served in Vietnam, but Charles came back alive.

    Martin Luther King Jr.: Cecil's son Louis, a longtime Civil Rights activist, is a close associate of Dr. King's, close enough to accompany him on his fatal trip to Memphis in 1968. There, Louis sheepishly admits that his father is a butler, but Dr. King sees no shame in that profession, asserting that Cecil is furthering the cause and subverting stereotypes by presenting an image of a black man who's industrious and dignified. When King is assassinated, blacks in Washington riot, forcing a frightened Cecil to abandon his car and walk to work.

    In real life, there was no Louis, but Allen did meet Dr. King during a White House visit, when the Civil Rights leader made a point of meeting and complimenting the White House's all-black service staff. Allen certainly was industrious; in 34 years, he never took a sick day. The movie's account of Allen's encounter with rioters after King's death comes from Haygood's interviews with Allen.

    Richard M. Nixon: In an awkward encounter that's an apparent attempt at community outreach, Vice President Nixon visits the White House's all-black service staff when he's campaigning for president in 1960 and gives them all pro-Nixon buttons. Fourteen years later, Cecil encounters a defiant President Nixon one night, listening to the Watergate tapes and vowing not to resign. His slurred speech suggests drunkenness.

    According to Haygood, Allen found Nixon to be shrewd, secretive, and a little distant. As Eisenhower's vice president, he actually had a better Civil Rights record than his 1960 rival, Senator John F. Kennedy, but African-American voters still overwhelmingly supported Kennedy. Nixon's 1968 campaign was criticized for his "Southern Strategy," appealing to voters a Nixon campaign strategist referred to as "Negrophobe whites," but once in office, he did more to further school integration than any of his predecessors. Nixon's late-night drinking and defiance in the final months of his presidency has been documented by such colleagues as then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

    Ronald and Nancy Reagan: In a scene suggesting that the president's Alzheimer's disease was already evident while he was in office, Reagan asks Cecil to go on a "secret mission" of philanthropy behind Nancy's back. To honor his 30 years of service, Nancy invites Cecil and his wife Gloria to a state dinner as guests. Talking to Senator Nancy Kassebaum, President Reagan remains steadfast against sanctions for South Africa over apartheid, but in private, he expresses doubts to Cecil, worrying that he's on the wrong side of history.

    In real life, many Reagan observers, from his son Ron to various administration insiders, saw signs of Reagan's eventual senility during his White House years. The Reagans did invite Allen and his wife Helene to be guests at a state dinner in 1986. On South Africa, Reagan preferred a policy of "constructive engagement" (that is, diplomacy with supposed moderates in the South African government) over sanctions, but Congress overruled his veto of economic sanctions against the country. If Reagan had any doubts about his hardline policy against sanctions, history has not recorded them.

    Barack Obama: Two decades after his retirement, Cecil and Gloria are so ready to vote for Obama in 2008 that they make practice runs to their polling place. Sadly, just hours before the vote, Gloria dies. Cecil is invited to Obama's inauguration ceremony.

    That sounds like a contrivance only a screenwriter could invent, but it's true; Helene Allen, Eugene's wife of 65 years, died just hours before she was to go pull the lever for Obama. Still, Eugene Allen did live long enough to attend Obama's inauguration and to see a black man serve in the Oval Office instead of just serving coffee to the occupant of the Oval Office. Eugene Allen died at age 90 in 2010.

    First Look: How Butlers and Maids Paved the Way For Oprah and Forest Whitaker
  10. New DVD Blu-Ray: 'The House I Live In,' 'The Producers'

    The House I Live InEtienne Sauret

    Moviefone's Top DVD of the Week
    "The House I Live In"
    What's It About? Eugene Jarecki's ("Freakonomics") "The House I Live In" gives an in-depth look at America's war on drugs. The documentary brings our attention to the human rights issues created by the country's drug policy and the overcrowded prison system.
    Why We're IN: Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Jarecki's solid work of journalism brings up a controversial and dire issue that calls for attention. While the doc's subject may only affect a segment of the population, it reminds us that the war on drugs is everybody's problem.

    Moviefone's Top Blu-ray of the Week
    "The Producers"
    What's It About? One of the funniest comedies ever, "The Producers" stars Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel as an accountant and playwright who do everything they can to produce a Broadway flop. The 1968 dark comedy was Mel Brooks' first feature film and won him an Academy Award.
    Why We're IN: Wilder and Mostel's punch lines and ad-lib are still hilarious to this day in this classic comedy that feels as fresh as when it first debuted. "The Producers" also shows Brooks at the height of his career.

    New on DVD & Blu-ray
    "The Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film Collection: Comedy"
    What's It About?
    Warner Bros. continues its 90th anniversary celebration with a box set that includes classic laughs and modern faves, going as far back as the Marx Brothers' "Night at the Opera" and capping off with "The Hangover" with everything from "Ace Ventura," Caddyshack," "Bringing Up Baby" and more in between!
    IN or OUT: IN.

    RT to win Warner Bros.' 20 FILM COMEDY COLLECTION feat. Blazing Saddles, Caddyshack, The Goonies, Ace Ventura & more!

    - moviefone (@moviefone) July 1, 2013

    "6 Souls"
    What's It About? This supernatural thriller stars Julianne Moore (for a reason we can't seem to understand) as a psychiatrist struggling with the recent death of her husband. She discovers that her newest patient (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) has taken on the multiple personalities of murder victims and that she is in danger. An embarrassment of a film, "6 Souls" is hardly watchable even with it's talented lead actors.
    IN or OUT: OUT.

    "Venus and Serena"
    What's It About?
    This biopic gives an intimate look at the two sisters who dominated women's tennis for over a decade during one of the most intense years of their lives. While the doc doesn't reveal much fans don't already know, it serves to show the deep bond between two sisters who stopped at nothing to win.
    IN or OUT: IN.

    New to Blu-ray
    "The Kentucky Fried Movie"
    What's It About?
    This 1977 collection of comedy skits marked the debut of the comedic writing trio David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker who went on to make "Airplane!" and "The Naked Gun" films. The movie, which has over 22 hilarious sketches, features cameos from Donald Sutherland, Bill Bixby, George Lazenby, Tony Dow, and other members of The Groundlings improv theater.
    IN or OUT: IN.

    "The Trouble With Harry"
    What's It About? This 1950 black comedy, starring Edmund Gwenn, John Forsythe, and Shirley MacLacine in her film debut, was a delightful surprise from Alfred Hitchcock. The film follows a group of townsfolk who stumble upon a dead man whom they all seem to believe they killed themselves, yet unsure what to do with his body. "The Trouble With Harry" proved that the master of suspense could also excel at humor.
    IN or OUT: IN.

  11. 'Monsters University' vs. 'World War Z': Which Movie Should You See? (VIDEO)


    For some, the choice may be easy: Love man-eating zombies? "World War Z" is your movie. Got little ones to entertain? "Monsters University" is for you. But, for the non-parents and non-zombie enthusiasts of the world, it may be harder to choose which movie is worth your time and money.

    That's where Moviefone comes in! We have all the monsters vs. zombies info you need to know before you head to the theaters this weekend.

    Mr. Moviefone himself, Russ Leatherman, and our Editor-in-Chief, Tim Hayne, sat down with HuffPost Live host Jacob Soboroff to discuss this week's creature-filled releases. Check the latest Moviefone Live below!

    Moviefone Live!

  12. 'Man of Steel' vs. 'This Is The End': Which One Should You See? (VIDEO)

    Warner Bros.

    It's a super-sized weekend for movies.

    Moviefone Live!: Man Of Steel & This Is The End

    Superman epic "Man of Steel" and the apocalypse comedy "This Is the End" are the big releases this weekend. Both have A-list cast members, action, and colossal-sized plots, so which one should you take your dad to see this Father's Day?

    Moviefone is here to help you decide. Mr. Moviefone himself, Russ Leatherman, joined HuffPost Live host Jacob Soboroff to discuss the flicks, as well as the unexpected surprise Russell Crowe got from baby Kal-El on the "Man of Steel" set. Check out this week's Moviefone Live above!

  13. Weekend Movies: 'Man of Steel,' 'This Is the End,' & 'The Bling Ring' (VIDEO)
    It's a bird, it's a plane, it's... a really big weekend for movies.
    Weekend Movie Preview - 06/13/2013

    Yes, the latest Superman adaptation, "Man of Steel," soars into theaters this weekend, and it's expected to have a heroic opening, with studio predictions in the $100 million range.

    "Man of Steel" tells the story of Kal-El, aka Clark Kent, aka Superman (Henry Cavill), an alien born on the planet Krypton sent to Earth by his parents as a baby. After discovering his super-human abilities as a child, Clark keeps them a secret and tries to lead a semi-normal life. But when his new world is attacked by a force that humans are powerless to defend themselves against, led by General Zod (Michael Shannon), Clark assumes the identity of Superman and fights to protect the human race. Lawrence Fishburne, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, and Amy Adams (as Lois Lane) also star.

    To combat the sure-to-be colossal box-office force that is "Man of Steel," apocalypse comedy "This Is the End" got an earlier release, hitting theaters June 12 instead of the previously planned June 14. The Seth Rogen / Evan Goldberg flick tells the story of a bunch of celebrity friends trapped in James Franco's Hollywood Hills home during a series of strange, world-ending events. The core cast consists of Franco, Rogen, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, and Jay Baruchel (all of whom play "themselves"), but the movie is overflowing with celeb cameos, from Rihanna to Emma Watson.

    Speaking of Ms. Watson, she has another movie in theaters this week. The 23-year-old stars in "The Bling Ring," the true story of five teenagers-turned-burglars who targeted the lavish pads of celebrities for more than a year, starting in 2008, before they were caught. The fame-obsessed group tracked the whereabouts of the rich and famous online, and broke into the houses of stars like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Orlando Bloom, among others, while they were out of town.

    Which movie are you going to see this weekend?

  14. Weekend Movies: 'The Internship,' 'The Purge,' 'Much Ado About Nothing' (VIDEO)
    6- Second Review: The Purge
    Comedy, horror, and Shakespeare all wrapped into one weekend? How could this be?!

    This weekend marks the release of three very different movies: "The Internship," "The Purge," and "Much Ado About Nothing."

    "Wedding Crashers" duo Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson re-team for "The Internship," the story of two out-of-work salesmen who take an internship at Google, hoping to eventually win a permanent job. Shawn Levy, who has directed numerous laugh-fests, such as "Date Night" and "The Watch," helms the comedy, so we're expecting every goofball trick in the book for this Owen-Vaughn reunion.

    If you're looking to scream with fear rather than with laughter, "The Purge" also hits theaters this Friday. The sci-fi/horror/thriller is set in the not-so-distant future where prisons are overcrowded and the country is plagued by crime, so the government sanctions a 12-hour crime free-for-all that's meant to keep illegal activity in check the other 364 days of the year. Ethan Hawke stars as a father tasked with protecting his family after a group of crazed intruders breaks into his locked-down home. Word of warning, if you are not a fan of creepy, masked strangers, you may want to skip this one.

    Joss Whedon took a break from making giant Marvel blockbusters to shoot, what he told The Daily Beast is his "passion project," "Much Ado About Nothing." The "Avengers" director shot the Shakespeare adaptation in just 12 days at his Santa Monica home and hired his friends -- like Nathan Fillion and Clark Gregg -- to star in it. While the black-and-white film is set in the modern-day, Whedon decided to keep Shakespeare's original verse as the dialogue. "Much Ado" can best be described as the original romantic comedy, filled with young lovers, mistaken identity, and bickering enemies who inevitably fall in love in the end.

    Which movie will you be running to see?

    (Photo Credit: Fox)

  15. Weekend Box Office: 'Devil Inside' Scares Up Record-Breaking Debut

    Hard to say what's scarier: the downright hostile reviews and word-of-mouth for 'The Devil Inside,' or the fact that the pans didn't stop the new horror movie from a record-breaking box office debut. 'Devil' took possession of the box office crown with an estimated $34.5 million, about twice what was expected, setting a record for the biggest opening ever for the first weekend of the year.

    No one expected much from the low-budget chiller, a star-free effort opening on just 2,285 screens. But the film had two things going for it: the marketing savvy of Paramount -- last year's top-grossing studio and the distributor of the similarly cheap, docu-style 'Paranormal Activity' horror franchise, which now owns October -- and audiences' fondness for exorcism movies, which seem to do especially well in January, when viewers want an antidote to the sugarplum sweetness of holiday fare. Past Januarys have seen such related hits as 'One Missed Call,' 'The Unborn,' and 'The Rite.'

    Still, none of them did as well as 'The Devil Inside,' which is not only the top first-weekend debut but also the third best ever opening in January, topped only by fellow docu-horror movie 'Cloverfield' in 2008 ($40.1 million million) and the 'Star Wars' special edition re-release in 1997 ($35.9 million). Still, it's hard to account for such a huge opening for a movie so poorly received by audiences as well as critics. (Demonic influence, perhaps?) It'll be interesting to see how the movie holds up next weekend, when the movie won't face any new wide-release competition for the horror audience, and when its only obstacle will be its own negative buzz; audiences gave 'The Devil Inside' an almost unheard-of F-grade on Cinemascore.

    The success of 'Devil' scared up crowds for other movies as well, judging by how well older movies held onto their audiences. Last week's champ, 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol,' slipped to second place but lost just 30 percent of last weekend's business, a shallow drop for a movie in its fourth week of release. It earned an estimated $20.5 million, for a total to date of $170.2 million.

    In third was 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,' another four-week veteran, which fell just 33 percent to an estimated $14.1 million. Its total so far is $157.4 million.

    The smallest dip among wide releases belonged to 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,' The thriller slid just 24 percent, taking in an estimated $11.3 million, good for fourth place. Despite a slow start three weeks ago, the film has earned $76.8 million so far, and distributor Sony believes it's on track to cross $100 million.

    The top family movie was still 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked,' which finished in fifth place. Its estimated $9.5 million take, down 42 percent from last week, brings the film's four-week total to $111.6 million.

    Moving into wider release, 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' broke into the top 10 by expanding from 57 screens to 809. It earned an estimated $5.8 million, good for ninth place and a five-week total of $10.4 million.

    Awards buzz for 'Tinker' and several more limited-release movies was reflected in large per-screen averages for some year-end contenders playing in just a handful of theaters. 'The Iron Lady' averaged an estimated $34,420 on each of five screens. 'A Separation' earned an estimated $16,103 on each of its six screens. The per-screen average of 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' (six screens) was an estimated $16,000. 'Pina' scored an average estimated at $27,000 for each of three screens. By comparison, 'Devil Inside' enjoyed a per-screen average of $15,098.

    Already, box office for 2012 is $283.8 million, some 12.6 percent ahead of the same period a year ago. Between last weekend's busy New Year's traffic and this weekend's successes, 2012 is off to a roaring start.

    'The Devil Inside' - Trailer No. 1

    The full top 10:
    1. 'The Devil Inside,' $34.5 million (2,285 screens), new release
    2. 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol,' $30.5 million (3,555), $170.2 million total
    3. 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,' $14.1 million (3,603), $157.4 million
    4. 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,' $11.3 million (2,950), $76.8 million
    5. 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked,' $9.5 million (3,425), $111.6 million
    6. 'War Horse,' $8.6 million (2,783), $56.8 million
    7. 'We Bought a Zoo,' $8.5 million (3,170), $56.5 million
    8. 'The Adventures of Tintin,' $6.6 million (3,006), $61.9 million
    9. 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' $5.8 million (809), $10.4 million
    10. 'New Year's Eve,' $3.3 million (1,864), $52.0 million

    [Photo: Paramount]

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  16. New Releases: 'The Iron Lady,' 'A Separation' and 'Pariah'

    It's almost 2012, which -- depending on your level of interest in Mayan civilization -- either means the start of the apocalypse or the start of a new year. (Fingers crossed for the latter!) Whether or not you're preparing for the end days, there are still plenty of good movies to check out in the theaters (don't worry, you won't have to spend your final hours watching 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked'). From 'The Iron Lady' to 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' to 'Hugo,' let's take a look at this week's new releases, along with some films that are already on the big screen.


    'The Iron Lady'
    What's the story: With no new nationwide releases this week, we turn to former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. 'The Iron Lady,' which you may have already heard about if you're following this year's Oscar race, features Meryl Streep as Britain's conservative icon. While Streep's portrayal of Thatcher has riled some across the Atlantic, many have lauded her performance. Not to be completely outdone, critics have also praised actor Jim Broadbent's role as Dennis Thatcher, Margaret's husband. The movie focuses on the days leading up to England's involvement in the Falklands War.

    Box office projection: Since 'The Iron Lady' is only in limited release this week, we're going to wait to make a box office projection until Jan. 12, when the film hits theaters nationwide.

    [Showtimes & Tickets]

    'A Separation'
    What's the story: This Iranian film tells the story of a married couple who end up separating. Eventually, the husband is accused of attacking his father's elderly caretaker, and possibly causing her miscarriage. Iran's official candidate for the Best Foreign Language film at next year's Oscars, 'A Separation' has received critical acclaim from film festivals around the world -- pretty impressive for a movie with a reported budget of only $500,000.

    [Showtimes & tickets]

    What's the story: Another film critic favorite, 'Pariah' follows Alike, a 17-year-old African-American coming to terms with her identity as a lesbian. Adepero Oduye, who plays Alike, has been nominated for Best Female Lead at the Independent Spirit Awards. Earlier this year, 'Pariah' won the Excellence in Cinematography award at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

    [Showtimes & Tickets]


    If any of the limited releases aren't up your alley (or aren't being shown in your hometown), fear not: there are plenty of movies already out in theaters. Fresh off last week's $44 million opening is 'Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol,' the fourth film in the Tom Cruise film franchise. This time around, the mission deemed impossible features a jaw-dropping sequence where Cruise hangs from the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Those looking for something a little more serious may want to check out 'War Horse,' the Steven Spielberg-directed flick based on the award-winning stage production, which follows the path of a horse during World War I. Speaking of Spielberg, there's also 'The Adventures of Tintin,' the animated film he directed and co-produced with 'Lord of the Rings' master Peter Jackson. Also for the kids, you have a choice of 'Hugo,' 'Arthur Christmas,' 'The Muppets' or (sigh) 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked' (we'd go with 'Hugo,' our pick for best movie of the year). The dark murder mystery of 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' will attract adult audiences, while 'We Bought a Zoo' is good fare for the whole family. And, if you really want to go all out and celebrate the 2012 apocalypse, there's always 'New Year's Eve.'

    [Photo: TWC]

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  17. Weekend Box Office: 'Mission: Impossible' Takes Christmas Crown, as 'Dragon Tattoo,' 'Tintin,' 'Zoo' Stumble
    'Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol'

    A return to the days when Tom Cruise was a top domestic box office draw might have seemed like an impossible mission, but 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol,' easily fended off several highly-touted newcomers, including 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' and 'The Adventures of Tintin,' to take the holiday box office crown.

    After last week's successful IMAX-only debut, the fourth 'Mission: Impossible' installment expanded from 425 screens to 3,448, resulting in an estimated second-weekend take of $26.5 million. That's about $10 million less than most pundits predicted, but it was still far ahead of any other movie this weekend. Plus, with decent word-of-mouth and no new wide releases this coming weekend, the movie may well retain the top slot for another week or two. The movie's total to date comes to $59.0 million.

    Last week's champ, 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,' fell a sharp 55 percent to an estimated $17.8 million and a second-place finish. (No wonder, with as many as four new wide release movies elbowing into the action/mystery/adventure/thriller space.) In two weekends, it's earned a solid $76.6 million.

    In third place, 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked,' dropped 42 percent to an estimated $13.3 million. Those numbers have to be a huge disappointment for the franchise, whose first two installments grossed more than $215 million each. This one has earned just $50.3 million in two weeks. It'll be lucky to get anywhere near $100 million.

    'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' (2011)

    Debuting in fourth place, 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' earned an estimated $13.0 million. That's well below expectations, which were at least $18 million on the low end. After all, the movie is based on a best-selling book, is tailored to the gifts of its A-list director (David Fincher) and has been riding a wave of hype and Oscar buzz for a year. Still, it's a long movie (nearly three hours), which limits the number of times per day it can screen, it has a lot of competition among current wide-release thrillers, and its pretty grim and horrific for moviegoers in a holiday mood. Still, its acclaim and uniqueness (nothing else in theaters is this dark) may give it some legs. Having opened in mid-week, it has earned a total so far of $21.4 million.

    'The Adventures of Tintin'

    'The Adventures of Tintin' was already an enormous international hit by the time it opened here on Wednesday. Which is good because the Steven Spielberg family-friendly action tale earned only an estimated $9.1 million at the domestic box office over the weekend (finishing at No. 5) and $17.1 million total in North America for the week. That's about what was expected, given American audiences' lack of familiarity with the European comic-book adventurer. Having already earned $239 million overseas, the makers of 'Tintin' probably aren't too disappointed.

    'We Bought a Zoo'

    Debuting in sixth place was 'We Bought a Zoo,' which has grossed an estimated $7.8 million since it opened on Friday. Again, that's about all that was expected of the family-friendly film, despite some buzz-building sneak previews in recent weeks. Reviews were mixed, and Matt Damon isn't as bankable of a name outside the action genre.

    Final figures for the crowded Christmas weekend, which included the Sunday releases of Steven Spielberg's period drama 'War Horse' and the alien invasion thriller 'The Darkest Hour,' won't be released until Tuesday. At this writing, there were no studio estimates yet for the first day's receipts for the two December 25 debuts. Before the weekend, pundits' predictions for 'War Horse' were in the $6-$7 million range for Sunday, while they expected just $2 or $3 million from 'The Darkest Hour.'

    'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol' - Trailer No. 2

    The full top 10:
    1. 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol,' $26.5 million (3,448 screens) $59.0 million total
    2. 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,' $17.8 million (3,703), $76.6 million
    3. 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked,' $13.3 million (3,734), $50.3 million
    4. 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,' $13.0 million (2,914), $21.4 million
    5. 'The Adventures of Tintin,' $9.1 million (3,087), $17.1 million
    6. 'We Bought a Zoo,' $7.8 million (3,117), new release
    7. 'New Year's Eve,' $4.0 million (2,225), $32.3 million total
    8. 'Arthur Christmas,' $2.7 million (1,804), $44.2 million
    9. 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1,' $2.1 million (1,603), $270.9 million
    10. 'Hugo,' $2.0 million (1,236) $43.7 million

    [Photos: Paramount ('Mission: Impossible'), Sony ('The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo'), Paramount ('The Adventures of Tintin'), 20th Century Fox ('We Bought a Zoo')]

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  18. New Releases: 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol,' 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,' 'The Adventures of Tintin,' 'We Bought a Zoo,' 'War Horse,' 'Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close'

    Hopefully you want to spend at least some part of your Christmas holiday at the movie theater. A whopping six films open in wide release between now and Dec. 25, with another two arriving in limited-run availability. Toss in expansions for both 'The Artist' and 'My Week With Marilyn,' and you've got a checklist of movies that nearly everyone in your family can enjoy. Your Weekend Movie Preview is here.


    'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo'
    What's the story: Based on the international best seller by Stieg Larsson, 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' follows the unlikely friendship formed between a disgraced journalist (Daniel Craig) and a damaged computer hacker (Rooney Mara) as they try to solve a decades-old murder on a secluded Swedish island. Christopher Plummer, Robin Wright and Stellan Skarsgard co-star in this adult thriller from director David Fincher.

    Box office projection: The buzz on 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' has reached deafening levels, and with pretty good reason: the film is an expert bit of adult entertainment, that would feel like slumming for David Fincher if he didn't infuse so much of his immense talent into the airplane-read storyline. The property and Daniel Craig are international draws, while here in the U.S., it was assumed that women would come out in force to see Lisbeth Salander onscreen, like they did in print. That doesn't appear to be the case based on initial tracking, but despite its R-rating, you can assume 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' will clean up this week and right on through Christmas. Three-day weekend total: $25 million

    [Showtimes & Tickets]

    'The Adventures of Tintin'
    What's the story: Based on the famed comic strip by Belgian artist Herge, 'The Adventures of Tintin' follows the adventures of Tintin, a young reporter who -- with his trusty dog, Snowy -- tries to solve a mystery involving a decades old ship and a lost treasure. Steven Spielberg directs with help from producer Peter Jackson.

    Box office prediction: Thanks to almost $250 million in international grosses so far, 'The Adventures of Tintin' is performing well at the box office already -- and it hasn't even debuted stateside. Which is probably a good thing. Most Americans don't actually know Tintin from Snowy or Herge from Adam, but if 'Tintin' can catch on with families expect it to have long legs through the winter. Three-day weekend total: $12 million

    [Showtimes & Tickets]

    'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol'
    What's the story: Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt, Impossible Mission Force extraordinaire who must team with a band of fellow agents (Simon Pegg, Paula Patton) and an analyst (Jeremy Renner) to stop a crazed bit of Eurotrash (Michael Nyqvist) from destroying the world.

    Box office prediction: Buoyed by huge IMAX grosses last weekend, 'Mission: Impossible 4' is already the belle of the winter box-office ball. With a healthy international outlook and little competition from four-quadrant seeking ticket buyers, 'Ghost Protocol' could be the biggest hit of the holiday season. In Tom Cruise Hollywood trusts? Three-day weekend total: $38 million

    [Showtimes & Tickets]

    'We Bought a Zoo'
    What's the story: Matt Damon stars as Benjamin Mee, a journalist who buys a zoo for his family after his wife dies. Scarlett Johansson and Thomas Haden Church co-star in this new film from Cameron Crowe.

    Box office prediction: Could 'We Bought a Zoo' be the family film choice of the season? Perhaps. Twentieth Century Fox has done a fine job of building homestead buzz for the Crowe-directed film (the studio rank sneak previews over Thanksgiving weekend and again in early December), and 'Zoo' has the broad appeal that made 'Marley & Me' a hit during Christmas season in 2008. Also of note? Matt Damon, who is still a draw in the right material. Whether that's 'Zoo' remains to be seen, but don't sleep on what could become a leggy hit. Three-day weekend total: $14 million

    [Showtimes & Tickets]

    'War Horse'
    What's the story: Because you don't have enough movie options over Christmas -- nor enough movie options directed by Steven Spielberg -- here comes 'War Horse,' a touching tale of a boy and his horse set against the backdrop of World War I. Expect many Oscar nominations.

    Box office prediction: While the idea of spending almost two-and-a-half hours watch a horse that doesn't talk might not seem like the best way to spend Christmas day, 'War Horse' could be the exception. The drama is one of 2011's best films, rife with beautiful imagery, fantastic performances and an overall message that could only be described as earnest hope. Whether that connects with audiences on Christmas day remains to be seen, but figure 'War Horse' to linger in theaters well past the 2012 Academy Awards. Three-day weekend total: $4 million

    [Showtimes & Tickets]

    'The Darkest Hour'
    What's the story: When aliens attack. Russia. By using the power grid.

    Box office prediction: Despite arriving in over 2000 screens on Christmas Day, little is expected from 'The Darkest Hour.' The film isn't screening for critics and audiences don't seem all that interested in watching Emile Hirsch fight aliens. Sorry, folks. Three-day weekend total: $1 million

    [Showtimes & Tickets]


    Out in six theaters before expanding wide in January is 'Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,' the much-debated 9/11 drama starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. Elsewhere, Angelina Jolie's directorial debut, 'In the Land of Blood and Honey,' arrives.

    [Photo: Paramount]

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  19. Weekend Box Office: Weak 'Sherlock Holmes,' Chipmunks Lead, But 'Mission: Impossible' Steals Thunder
    'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows'

    The biggest mystery facing Sherlock Holmes: how come he was so ho-hum at the box office this weekend? 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows' was the weekend's top movie, with an estimated $40 million opening, but its performance was underwhelming considering it was expected to score as much as $60 million. Similarly, 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked' disappointed despite an estimated $23.5 million, second-place debut, since it was expected to gross well over $30 million. On the other hand, the unusual, IMAX-exclusive opening of 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol' outperformed modest expectations and premiered with an estimated $13 million on just 425 screens, good enough for third place.

    Pundits predicted that the 'Sherlock Holmes' sequel would open in the ballpark of the original, which debuted with $62.3 million two years ago. But that opened on Christmas weekend, while this one opened earlier and against stiffer competition. Reviews have been just so-so, though that shouldn't really matter with this franchise. Also, there's the notion that audiences in recent months have been suffering from sequel fatigue, especially if the sequel brings nothing new to the table, though this one does introduce Holmes' nemesis, Professor Moriarty.

    'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked'

    Sequel fatigue also seemed to affect the third 'Alvin and the Chipmunks' movie, which had been predicted to open between $30 and $38 million. The reviews were mostly scathing, but this franchise is also review-proof. Plus, there was no other kiddie competition this weekend. And the rude humor of the first two PG-rated installments was toned down to earn a G rating this time, so that should have drawn even more tykes. So it comes back to sequelitis, which has hit family movies especially hard this year, from 'Happy Feet Two,' to such seemingly unassailable titles as 'Cars 2' and 'Kung Fu Panda 2.'

    'Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol'

    Yet here's 'Mission: Impossible,' offering up its fourth installment, with a long-in-the-tooth star who's not the domestic box office draw he used to be, and it scores a stunning $30,588 per venue. (Compare that to $10,807 for 'Sherlock Holmes' and $6,312 for 'Chipwrecked.') What's the aging series' secret weapon? No, it wasn't Tom Cruise, nor the six-minute prologue for the even more eagerly-awated Bat-sequel 'The Dark Knight Rises' that accompanied 'Ghost Protocol' on just about 10 percent of its screens; it was the IMAX surcharge, which runs as high as $19 per ticket in Manhattan. Considering that predictions were in the $9 million range, the $13 million opening bodes very well for when the film expands into wide release over the next few weeks. Internationally, 'Ghost Protocol' grabbed almost $70 million.

    Rounding out the top five were last week's champ, 'New Year's Eve,' which fell 43 percent (about what was expected) to take in an estimated $7.4 million, and 'The Sitter,' which had an even steeper second-week drop of 55 percent, to an estimated $4.4 million. In 10 days, 'New Year's Eve' has earned $24.8 million, while 'The Sitter' has earned $17.7 million over the same period.


    Some pundits expected Charlize Theron's 'Young Adult' to crack the top five, as it expanded onto nearly 1,000 screens (after opening on just eight last weekend), with a possible take of $5 to $6 million. But it, too, underwhelmed, taking in just $3.7 million, according to estimates, finishing at No. 7. Also on the limited-release front, Oscar-hopeful 'Carnage' opened on just five screens but pulled an estimated $17,140 on each of them, for a total of $85,700.

    In all, box office has been dismal this month, down a full 39 percent from the same period last December. Barring some unexpectedly huge blockbuster numbers for such upcoming wide releases as 'The Adventures of Tintin' and 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,' it seems unlikely that 2011's total box office will close the gap of more than 3 percent (about $330 million) between this year's earnings and last year's.

    'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows' - Trailer No. 2

    The full top 10:
    1. 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,' $40.0 million (3,703 screens), new release
    2. 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked,' $23.5 million (3,723), new release
    3. 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol,' $13.0 million (425), new release
    4. 'New Year's Eve,' $13.7 million (3,505), $24.8 million total
    5. 'The Sitter,' $4.4 million (2,752), $17.7 million
    6. 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1,' $4.3 million (2,958), $266.4 million
    7. 'Young Adult,' $3.65 million (986), $4.1 million
    8. 'Hugo,' $3.63 million (2,532) $39.1 million
    9. 'Arthur Christmas,' $3.60 million (2,929), $38.5 million
    10. 'The Muppets,' $3.5 million (2,808), $70.9 million

    [Photos: Warner Bros. ('Sherlock Holmes'), 20th Century Fox ('Chipwrecked'), Paramount ('Mission: Impossible'), Sony Pictures Classics ('Carnage')]

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  20. You Won't Believe How Much Money Alvin and the Chipmunks Make
    As of now, the American public has access to a national treasure: 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.' The rambunctious rodents are at it again in another madcap musical adventure; this time Alvin, Simon and Theodore and their Chipette counterparts Brittany, Jeanette and Eleanor, go on a cruise ship vacation with the always-irritable Dave Seville. But Alvin's hijinks result in all six of the cute and the cuddly chipmunks getting stranded on a deserted tropical island. They'll have to learn to work together to get back home ... and bust out some new songs along the way.

    You may read that plot description and think it's mindless fluff designed to entertain only the smallest children, but you'd be scoffing at the selling point for a billion dollar juggernaut. Just how financially lucrative has the 'Chipmunks' franchise been since it began in 2007? Moviefone has put together a handy graph to show you!

    (Since the singing chipmunks were once lonely little orphans who were rescued by their talent manager, Moviefone decided to compare the Chipmunks' movie dollars with some real charities devoted to animal welfare and art achievement. And in honor of the island setting of 'Chipwrecked,' we threw in an actual island for reference.)

    [Click on image to enlarge]

    The first 'Alvin' movie cost $60 million to make; the second one cost $75 million. Each movie then went on to make hundreds of millions of dollars in ticket sales. So if you're one of those weirdos that hates the 'Chipmunk' movies, you can now understand how much of an outcast you are; why would so many people willingly hand over their money to the 'Chipmunks' movies if they were a bad thing?

    Watch the trailer for 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked'

    [Photo: 20th Century Fox]

    (Special thanks to Chris Spurlock for graph design.)

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  21. New Releases: 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,' 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked,' 'Carnage,' 'Corman's World'

    Get ready, folks. This weekend, the great Sherlock Holmes takes on one of his greatest challenges ever: three tiny chipmunks. Both 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows' and 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked' open nationwide on Friday, though if intellectual Englishmen or small squirrels aren't up your alley, there's always 'New Year's Eve' (joking -- kind of) and a bevy of limited releases. To help you swift through this week's newest films, check out Moviefone's Weekend Movie Preview ahead.


    'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows'
    What's the story: The sequel to the 2009 blockbuster sees Robert Downey Jr. return as the always-brilliant-yet-slightly-neurotic Sherlock Holmes. This time around, he and his trusty sidekick, Watson (Jude Law), will face off against Holmes' greatest nemesis -- the evil Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) -- who is behind a spate of mysterious bombings.

    Box office projection: The first movie made big bucks its opening weekend, grossing more than $60 million (on its way to over a half-billion ticket sales worldwide). Under normal circumstances, the sequel to a box office hit would be an even bigger success -- especially since its opening against the family friendly 'Chipmunks' -- but since movie groses last week were shockingly low, who knows how audiences will respond to 'Sherlock.' $56 million

    [Showtimes & Tickets]

    'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked'
    What's the story: Another sequel! Don't worry, this isn't called 'Squeakuel' like the last 'Chipmunks' movie, but that doesn't mean you're going to escape the animal puns. In 'Chipwrecked' (groan), David (Jason Lee) and the crew (the Chipmunks and the Chippettes) go on a holiday cruise that gets your favorite furry animated critters stranded on a desert island. Singing lots of pop songs in extremely high registers will occur.

    Box off prediction: Just like 'Game of Shadows,' 'Chipwrecked' is the sequel to another box office smash: the last two 'Chipmunk' flicks each grossed around $45 million opening weekend. Does that mean the third film in the franchise will be a hit? Considering the lack of family competition it faces this weekend, it's likely: $30 million

    [Showtimes & Tickets]


    Two buzzed-about films get limited engagements this week. First up is Roman Polanski's 'Carnage,' based on the play 'God of Carnage.' The movie follows two pairs of parents whose sons have gotten into a fight. Attempting to settle their differences the "adult way," the couples end up bickering and fighting (performances from stars Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet have already been nominated for Golden Globes). Also out is 'Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel,' a documentary on the filmmaker Roger Corman, who's credited with mentoring esteemed filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. Expanding to more theaters is 'Young Adult,' the Diablo Cody-written caustic comedy featuring Charlize Theron.

    [Photo: Warner Bros.]

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  22. The Best Quotes from James Franco's Review of 'Breaking Dawn'

    James Franco
    can officially add "movie critic" to his multi-hyphenate job description of "Actor-director-author-painter-performance artist-musician," and he couldn't have picked a better movie to ply his new trade on: 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1.' In his newest article for The Paris Review, the probably-one-time-Oscar-host compares and contrasts the blockbuster vampire soap opera with George Clooney's Oscar-hopeful 'The Descendants.' Franco makes some interesting points regarding both films' use of sex and the way they seem to "devalue motherhood"; it's worth a read if you have the time -- but if you're all interested in right now is Franco's excessively Franco-esque reaction to Taylor Lautner's abs, we've made it easy for you.

    After the jump read our favorite lines from James Franco's 'Twilight' review.

    1. "A few other forbidden territories are broken in as well. The protagonists finally marry, having waited until the wise old age of eighteen, and since the book and the film dutifully show them being wed, they are then allowed to f--- each others' brains out. For a film that claims to be sexually responsible, the 'Twilight' movies are awfully dependent on teenage sex to attract viewers."

    2. "'The Descendants' and 'Breaking Dawn' were released on the same weekend. Undoubtedly one is making a play for an Oscar. Undoubtedly the other will dominate every MTV award category, including best kiss, best dude moment, best male shirtless scene, and whatever else the network that produces 'the Jersey Shore' celebrates."

    3. "The actors prance about like pieces of meat, their disturbingly developed bodies on full display; Taylor Lautner's rippling teenage chest is just a little better than the child beauty-pageant stars at the end of Little Miss Sunshine.'"

    You can also read Franco's thoughts on 'Restless' and 'My Own Private Idaho' at the Review; hopefully, his increasingly-busy schedule won't get in the way of writing more.

    [via The Paris Review]

    [Photo: Summit | FilmMagic]


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  23. Weekend Box Office: 'New Year's Eve' Drops the Ball, Wins Anyway
    'New Year's Eve'

    'New Year's Eve' was supposed to bring the party this weekend, but it played more like a New Year's Day hangover. It mustered an estimated $13.7 million, about half what it was expected to earn. Still, on one of the most lackluster box office weekends all year, that was enough for a victory.

    'New Year's Eve' was director Garry Marshall's follow-up to his similar holiday-themed, all-star ensemble romantic comedy 'Valentine's Day,' which debuted with a huge $56 million two Februarys ago. Of course, that was on the biggest date weekend of the year; this was not (plus, it had the still-strong ''The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1' to contend with for female ticketbuyers). No one expected it to open as big as 'Valentine's Day,' but most expected an opening around half the size, not a mere fourth the size. Besides the 'Twilight' vampires, blame scathing reviews and poor word-of-mouth.

    'The Sitter'

    Opening in second place, 'The Sitter' also performed below its already underwhelming expectations. Jonah Hill has never carried a comedy all by himself, and judging by the mild reception for the recent 'A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas,' this isn't a time of year with a strong market for raunchy comedies. So pundits predicted an opening of around $12 to $13 million, but Sunday estimates came in at just $10.0 million. Director David Gordon Green, who has yet to regain the highs of 'Pineapple Express,' now enjoys the dubious distinction of having released two flops this year (the other was this spring's 'Your Highness').

    After three weekends atop the chart, 'Breaking Dawn' finally slipped to third place, with an estimated $7.9 million. A decline of 52 percent from a week ago isn't that unusual for a four-week-old blockbuster. The supernatural romance has earned $259.5 million in North America to date.

    'The Muppets' also dropped two spots, down to fourth place with an estimated take of $7.1 million. That represents a modest decline of 32 percent in the movie's third weekend. To date, Kermit & Co. are seeing green to the tune of $65.8 million.

    The only Christmas-themed movie currently playing, 'Arthur Christmas,' saw the smallest decline among wide-release movies, just 11 percent in its third weekend. At No. 5, it earned an estimated $6.6 million, for a three-week total of $33.5 million.

    'Young Adult'

    Also opening this week were two movies that did very well in limited release, according to studio estimates. Charlize Theron's black comedy 'Young Adult' earned an enormous $40,000 per screen on eight screens (by comparison, 'New Year's Eve drew $3,505 per screen), and its total debut of $320,000 landed it at No. 15 on the chart. One notch below was Gary Oldman's espionage thriller 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,' which earned an even more astonishing $75,250 per screen at four venues, for a total of $301,000. Holding up well in limited release were 'The Artist' (up 38 percent this week with the addition of 10 screens, for a total of 16, with a per-screen average of $18,250 and an estimated weekend take of $292,000) and 'Shame' (down just 21 percent, to an estimated $276,000, or $13,143 per screen). All potential year-end awards contenders, these films should continue to do well as they expand into wider release.

    Overall, the top 12 movies earned just $69.7 million this weekend, marking the third straight week of declining box office. Grosses for the year are more than 3 percent below where they were this time a year ago ($9.5 billion, compared to $9.8 billion), but that gap could widen if this month continues to see such lackluster performance.

    'New Year's Eve' - Trailer No. 2

    The full top 10:
    1. 'New Year's Eve,' $13.7 million (3,505 screens), new release
    2. 'The Sitter,' $10.0 million (2,750), new release
    3. 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1,' $7.9 million (3,604), $259.5 million total
    4. 'The Muppets,' $7.1 million (3,328), $65.8 million
    5. 'Arthur Christmas,' $6.6 million (3,272), $33.5 million
    6. 'Hugo,' $6.1 million (2,608) $33.5 million
    7. 'The Descendants,' $4.8 million (876), $23.6 million
    8. 'Happy Feet Two,' $3.8 million (2,840), $56.9 million
    9. 'Jack and Jill,' $3.2 million (2,787), $68.6 million
    10. 'Immortals,' $2,4 million (2,286), $79.9 million

    [Photos: Warner Bros. ('New Year's Eve'), 20th Century Fox ('The Sitter'), Paramount ('Young Adult')]

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  24. Who is the Modern Jim Henson?

    Now that 'The Muppets' has become a certified hit, Kermit, Miss Piggy and the rest of the gang have returned to their pop culture pedestal. While older audiences are wrapping themselves in a nostalgia blanket, young viewers are discovering the jokes of Fozzie Bear and the mistimed stunts of Gonzo the Great for the first time. But for these children just now discovering the Muppets, their experience with the characters and movies will be completely different from the children of the 70s and 80s -- because of the absence of Jim Henson.

    Jim Henson was such a distinct and caring presence for the young audiences that grew up with his projects, that they remain devoted to his work even after this passing. Storytellers like that are rare, and his too-soon departure raises the question: who can we call "the modern Jim Henson"?

    If you're not aware of it, the touring exhibit 'Jim Henson's Fantastic World' offers incredible insight into the work he put into his storytelling (and if you're visiting New York City this holiday season, it's worth seeing the show at the Museum of the Moving Image, before it closes on Jan. 16). Henson's visual style is unmistakable and evident in every production he ever worked on. Even his TV show proposals -- that would only be seen by executives for business purposes -- are adorned with full-color sketches using a variety of textiles; Henson's vision was complete, no matter how early into the production process it may have been. His knowledge of world culture, joke telling and folk tales was evident in the music and scripting of his projects. His technical curiosity resulted in a continually-blossoming cast of artificial characters evoking real human connections with viewers. And most significantly, his outlook on the world and how we should all treat one another never wavered; it rooted itself in his upbringing and remained steady no matter the financial, professional or creative obstacle.

    It's these traits that transformed his TV shows and movies into cultural touchstones. And it's a lot to live up to for anyone who wants to be considered a "modern Jim Henson."

    Perhaps the title can be bestowed upon Hayao Miyazaki, the acclaimed director of anime like 'My Neighbor Totoro' and 'Spirited Away'; like Henson, the Japanese-born filmmaker tells earth-conscious tales involving fantastical characters. Although, to be blunt, Miyazaki -- who was producing work simultaneously alongside Henson -- has never quite broken down the mainstream cultural borders quite like a 'Sesame Street.'

    So maybe that honor of "modern Jim Henson" belongs to Henry Selick, the stop-motion animator who directed movies like 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' and 'Coraline.' Another possible candidate is Nick Park, the claymation wizard from Aardman Studios, who created 'Wallace & Gromit' and directed 'Chicken Run.' Both men use dazzling special effects and have literally hand-crafted beloved characters. But neither Selick, nor Park (or the entirety of Aardman for that mater) have ever reached as many viewers as Henson, and they remain largely unknown to a casual public.

    Could the modern Jim Henson be someone like Tim Burton or Guillermo del Toro? The blockbuster pair of directors possess idiosyncratic styles filled with other-worldly creatures; their eye for design is instantly recognizable. However, while Burton is imaginative, it has been a long time since he crafted a movie around an original idea; these days he seems content remaking popular favorites in his distinct, "plenty-of-merchandising-opportunity" style. And Del Toro still seems mostly concerned with the world of horror films; he's gotten more involved with Dreamworks' animated family features, but ultimately he's just not into making all-ages projects. (Slightly off-topic: this does make me wonder what a Jim Henson horror movie would look like.)

    If I had to take my best guess at who has the same connection with audiences that Jim Henson had, it does not belong to one person, but an entire studio: Pixar. Beloved movies? Check. Colorful, comedic stories infused with heart and integrity? Check. Have the characters of Buzz Lightyear, Woody and their 'Toy Story' co-stars have reached the same pop culture pedestal as Kermit and Miss Piggy? Check. The only reason I wouldn't give them the nod is because they are a company -- a company with a strong commitment to excellent storytelling -- but ultimately, I don't think it's the right comparison. It's a different environment than the Muppet workshops of the 70s and 80s that were manned by Henson and a few close partners like Frank Oz or Richard Hunt. You could make the argument that Pixar head John Lasseter steers the ship in the same style as Henson, but Lasseter seems more content to be the businessman that Henson was itching to get away from.

    Maybe the "modern Jim Henson" hasn't broken through yet, or maybe they never will. Perhaps Henson was a once-in-a-lifetime artist, the kind that is simply wired differently, like Mozart or Da Vinci; the reason he was able to create the things he did was because he was a genius in every sense of the word. Still, even if that's the case, it's a noble effort to try and create something as monumental as the Muppets.

    Which filmmaker do you think is our modern Jim Henson?
    Let us know in the comments.


    [Photo: Getty Images]

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  25. The Muppets Are Brainwashing Your Children, According to Fox News

    Get your pitchforks ready -- those wackos in Hollyweird are trying to brainwash your children into thinking terrible evil things. Using their agents of propaganda, they are attempting to corrupt an entire generation of impressionable viewers with false information, in an effort to lead this country's future into a perilous decline. Parents take heed: to protect your children, you must not take them to see 'The Muppets'; it may appear to be a holiday comedy for the whole family, an attempt to carry on the message and spirit of its creator Jim Henson, but that is mere deception. It is actually a weapon designed to trick your children into thinking that the oil industry -- and by proxy capitalism and America -- is evil. You can thank the good people at Fox Business Report for alerting us all to their dastardly motivation.

    Since there's clearly no other economic news important enough to cover, 'Follow the Money' host Eric Bolling spoke with Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center, and asked the question that needed to be asked: "Is liberal Hollywood using class warfare to brainwash our kids?" And the answer is a resounding "YES!" In the new 'Muppets' movie, Chris Cooper stars as Tex Richman, an oil baron who plans to tear down the famed Muppet theater and drill for the precious oil percolating underneath. He also plans to buy out the Muppets name and re-package them for a group of low-life Reno troublemakers because he believes that we live in a "hard, cynical world" and it deserves a "hard, cynical act." And 'The Muppets' has the gall to imply that these are less than admirable character traits.

    As Bolling and Gainor explain, the movie may deceive you into thinking that an unhealthy lust for personal wealth can you leave morally bankrupt, but don't buy it! 'The Muppets' -- like previous children's entertainment including 'Captain Planet,' Nickelodeon's 'Big Green Help' and 'Syriana' -- is trying to deceive your child into thinking capitalism is bad. Tex Richman is a successful businessman, and like Bolling reminds you, we should admire those people. Even though Richman blatantly flaunts his wealth in the Muppets' faces when they ask him for leniency, you shouldn't believe that someone with wealth would refuse to be charitable.

    (And the fact that Bolling made his fortune on the NY Mercantile Exchange, trading crude oil among other things, has nothing to do with his motivation; if you're just going to use that "fact" to question his "objectivity" then you can hop on the first bus back to Cuba.)

    Oil, that ever-lasting lifeblood of the planet Earth, provides an endless amount of benefits to the America people; if children believe the lies of 'The Muppets,' they could grow up with the ridiculous notion that there are negative consequences to the oil business.

    Now that you've had your eyes opened, don't think that all is lost. There is still suitable entertainment you can share with your children this holiday season, like 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked,' -- which coincidentally is also produced by the Fox corporation. It's kind of funny that the movie that poses the biggest financial threat to the potential audience of 'Alvin and the Chipmunks' just so happens to be mental poison to your child; it's a good thing the employees of the company were brave enough to point out this fact about their competition.

    [via MediaMatters]

    [Photo: Disney; Fox]

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