There’s a battle between actors at the box office this weekend, which wouldn’t be unusual except neither one is actually acting.
Danny DeVito and Peter Berg, who have each starred in dozens of movies over the years, will go head-to-head as directors, with “Duplex” and “The Rundown,” respectively.
“The Rundown,” Berg’s directorial follow-up to 1998’s “Very Bad Things,” features Seann William Scott in his second attempt at an action movie, following April’s “Bulletproof Monk.” The actor forever branded as “Stifler” plays the son of a powerful and occasionally ruthless man who heads to the Amazon jungle in search of hidden riches.
The Rock plays a bounty hunter who is hired to track Scott down, but eventually joins him in the search. Rosario Dawson portrays the love interest of both men and Christopher Walken is a man hunting for the same treasure.
Scott apparently embraced the role by showing up on the set incredibly buff, although he admitted to still feeling intimidated by his pro-wrestler co-star.
“One time I think Rosario Dawson was giving him crap and he just freaked out and just like flipped her up and gave her some weird choke hold,” Scott recalled. “It was weird. He was laughing about it, but I don’t think she was. I saw that happen and then I was always like, ‘Hey Rock, can I get you some water? Crackers? Tuna?’ ”
DeVito, who has helmed several films, including 1987’s “Throw Mamma From the Train” and last year’s “Death to Smoochy,” returns to the directing chair for another dark comedy, this one starring Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore as a New York couple that decides to kill the old lady living in the other side of the duplex they just purchased.
While the story is wickedly evil, Barrymore found a way to relate to the character. “They are actually acting on the things that we [only think about] when people provoke us to that level,” she explained. “And what’s good is that karma continually bites them back every time they try to force something to occur to this old woman.”
Along with starring in the movie, Barrymore and Stiller also produced it.
“We were able to sort of figure each other out and we also made each other laugh a lot,” Stiller said of the process. “That was really important, because it’s a long time to be working on a movie and there were only like three characters really in the movie for most of it, so we were spending many hours together.”
A somewhat less unusual love story is also hitting movie screens over the weekend: “Under the Tuscan Sun” starring Diane Lane and directed by Audrey Wells, who wrote the upcoming Jennifer Lopez movie “Shall We Dance?”
Based on a popular novel by the same name, the film follows an American lawyer who, while on a vacation in Italy, decides to buy and fix up a villa in the Tuscan countryside. Along the way she falls for a local, played by Italian star Raoul Bova.
While only three movies open nationwide, there are a couple of film-festival favorites hitting select cities, including “Prey for Rock & Roll,” starring Gina Gershon as the singer of an all-girl Los Angeles rock band struggling to avoid obscurity. Drea de Matteo (“The Sopranos”) and Lori Petty (“A League of Their Own”) co-star as bandmates who are struggling with aging and other personal issues.
Also opening in limited released is “My Life Without Me,” which features Sarah Polley (“Go”) as a married mother of two who conceals her terminal cancer and instead sets her husband (“Felicity” star Scott Speedman) up with a new woman, finds her true love (Mark Ruffalo, “Windtalkers”) and befriends her jailed father (Alfred Molina, “Identity”).
Last weekend, “Underworld” was the top grosser at the box office, followed by “The Fighting Temptations” (see “‘Underworld’ Rises To The Top, Beyonce Tempts Fans At #2 Slot” ).