July 18, 2001 12:17pm EST
The dinosaurs are bigger and better than ever; the story is not. That is the essential crux of all of the reviews for Universal's Jurassic Park III, which opened Wednesday. "The sheer physical presence of these creatures is much more believable and convincing than what can be generously characterized as the film's plot," writes Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times. "The story's tired, as are the main characters," writes Rita Kempley in the Washington Post. "But the velociraptors, the triceratops and a brood of winged pteradons are among the most marvelous effects in the history of animation." Jack Mathews in the New York Daily News writes his review in the form of a letter to Steven Spielberg, who produced -- but didn't direct -- the latest Jurassic sequel. "This is even more of a Steven Spielberg movie than the two you directed," he writes. "In some ways, it's a better movie than the two you directed. There are more dinosaurs, more action, and less scientific hooey trying to justify the whole thing." Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times gives the movie its best review among the major critics, even though he drags his feet -- or at least his fingers -- doing so. ""There was nothing I disliked about it," he writes double-negatively, "and a lot to admire in its lean, efficient storytelling. I can't praise it for its art, but I must not neglect its craft, and on that basis, I recommend it." Jonathan Foreman in the New York Post doesn't agree, however, calling the sequel "so inferior even to Jurassic Park 2 that you can only hope it will be the last of its kind." Finally, Philip Wuntch sums up in the Dallas Morning News: "Jurassic Park III directly shows us how much audiences have gained in the name of special effects. And indirectly it shows how much has been lost."
July 17, 2001 11:20am EST
DreamWorks is searching for a British insurance agency that will cover the life of Steven Spielberg for $1.2 billion, Britain's Independent Television News (ITN) reported Tuesday. According to the report, DreamWorks is seeking such a record-breaking policy because it feels Spielberg's death would cost it at least that much in lost earnings. Spielberg is a principal owner of the studio.
July 12, 2001 2:54pm EST
Call it the calm before the spinosauraus attack.
With Jurassic Park III opening Wednesday, this weekend's box office victor should not make itself too comfortable in the top spot. Next week, it's T-Rex chow.
Given its strong but hardly dazzling $21.6 million debut, the current No. 1 attraction, Cats and Dogs, will likely take a fall but still land on its legs.
Expect Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within to materialize at the top of the box office. The $100 million computer-generated animated epic faces little competition in the form of Legally Blonde, whose star Reese Witherspoon is threatening to become the next Alicia Silverstone, and The Score, a heist yarn teaming method masters Robert De Niro, Edward Norton and Marlon Brando.
Seemingly owing more to the blood-splattered Starship Troopers than the lifeless sci-fi jaunt Titan A.E., Final Fantasy represents Hollywood's latest attempt to turn a popular computer game into a potential film franchise. The summer's first such attempt, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, secured the top spot in mid-June with a $48 million opening but faded fast following lousy reviews. Tomb Raider's box office take sits at $117 million--impressive, but enough to warrant sending the buxom Ms. Croft on more globe-hopping escapades?
Most films based on computer games--or any games, for that matter--crash at the box office, with Tomb Raider and 1995's Mortal Kombat serving as exceptions to the rule. Double Dragon, Wing Commander and Street Fighter simply lacked the narrative drive to compel game players to tear themselves away from their joysticks.
Final Fantasy opened Wednesday with a strong $5 million, but its long-term success hinges on its ability to overcome generally mixed reviews that praise its CGI-created imagery but damn its lack of humanity.
The peroxide set may take a shine to Legally Blonde, which looks like Clueless Goes to Law School. It also may appeal to those who women who feel alienated by Scary Movie 2's somewhat heavy reliance upon all manners of bodily fluids for laughs.
Legally Blonde may well be MGM's sole summer bright spot after the disappointing What's the Worst That Could Happen?. The studio's oft-delayed Original Sin looks like an overheated romp under the Cuban sun courtesy of Barbara Cartland. The studio also just bumped Rollerball from August to sometime next year, a troubling sign if ever there was one. Still, MGM's upcoming Ghost World, based on the quirky serialized comic book by Daniel Clowes, does look like a possible arthouse hit.
The Score hits theaters just as Brando's on-the-set clashes with director Frank Oz have made headlines. If anything, the film should generate genuine interest because of its remarkable cast. It also marks Brando's first theatrical release since 1996's The Island of Dr. Moreau (though it should be noted that Brando was willing to spew vomit at the beginning of Scary Movie 2 had he not taken ill.) Unfortunately, The Score fails to live up to expectations, with De Niro, Brando and Norton sharing all but two unexceptional scenes.
De Niro's track record with thrillers also leaves little to be desired. Ronin, which featured one of the best car chases in years, hit the wall at $41.6 million; 15 Minutes lasted almost as long, earning just $24.3 million; and The Fan struck out with just $18.5 million. He's had better luck with comedies in recent years.
Precious few drops of blood are spilled during The Score, making it almost a perfect candidate for a PG-13 rating and thus a wider audience. Oddly, the film earns its R rating because of the somewhat liberal and superfluous use of a certain four-letter expletive.
Cats and Dogs and Scary Movie 2 maintained a bitter rivalry throughout the week, with the former winning by more than a whisker. Cats and Dogs has coughed up $44.3 million in the eight days since its July 4 release; Scary Movie 2 has generated $41.6 million during the same period.
In comparison, last year's Scary Movie made $42.3 million in its first weekend. Its hurried sequel is unlikely to surpass the original's box office take of $157 million, but it should hit $100 million with relative ease.
The same applies to Cats and Dogs, given that family audiences have almost had their fill of Shrek and have thoroughly rejected Atlantis.
A big question marks continues to surround Steven Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Spielberg's adaptation of the long-cherished Stanley Kubrick project opened June 29 to a subdued $29 million and then tumbled a week later to $14 million. Its uninspired $63.7 million take indicates that the film has yet to find its true audience. What that audience happens to be has been the cause of much media speculation. It's clear that it is not a family film a la E.T., nor is it an effort by Spielberg to reach a mature audience as he did with Schindler's List or Saving Private Ryan. That confusion likely will see A.I. prove one of the summer's major disappointments.
One milestone worth mentioning: The Mummy Returns may surpass $200 million this weekend, making it the second 2001 release to do so. Shrek remains the year's highest-grossing film with $242 million.
July 05, 2001 2:32pm EST
Paramount is hoping to entice George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford to team up again for a fourth Indiana Jones saga, the New York Post reported Thursday, citing an unnamed source. "Paramount had meetings last week about the movie," the source told the newspaper. "They want the original credits." According to the newspaper, the studio is wrestling with the question of how it can make money from a film that is likely to cost $150 million--especially when the producer, director and star are likely to demand a big piece of the film's box-office take. But one industry exec laughed at the prospect of a new Indiana Jones flick. Noting that Harrison Ford is likely to be in his 60s by the time the movie starts shooting (he turns 59 on July 13), one industry exec told the Post: "What are they going to do -- put Harrison Ford in a walker?"
July 03, 2001 1:18pm EST
Steven Spielberg is planning to release a 20th anniversary "director's cut" of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrialnext year that will contain nearly 10 minutes of additional footage, according to producer Kathleen Kennedy. In an interview with the Calgary Sun, Kennedy described the footage as "bits and pieces ... little moments [that had been] cut from various scenes" in the original. She also said that now "E.T. says 'Phone Home' much better." Kennedy insisted that Spielberg's intention was not to push E.T.back to the top of the all-time box office list again. ( With a box-office take of $400 million, it currently ranks behind Titanic, the original Star Wars and The Phantom Menace.) "It's not about money. It's about introducing E.T. to a fourth generation of kids in a movie theatre where they should see it for maximum effect," she said.
July 02, 2001 1:59pm EST
Independence Day has built a reputation for being a mammoth weekend in the movie business, launching such blockbusters as Independence Day, Men in Black, Armageddon and The Perfect Storm.
This year's July Fourth releases are Dimension Film's Scary Movie 2 and Warner Bros.' Cats and Dogs, starring Jeff Goldblum. Fox's Kiss of the Dragon will open wide Friday.
The films, of different genres, will appeal to two different audiences. Scary Movie 2 is an R-rated comedy aimed at teens; Cats and Dogs' PG rating will draw in a family crowd.
The teen slasher spoof Scary Movie opened last year with an impressive $42.3 million, giving it the largest opening ever for an R-rated film. It opened July 7, 2000, almost one year to the day of the release of the sequel. Its only competition came from Buena Vista's The Kid, starring Bruce Willis, which came in fourth, earning $12.6 million. It also bumped from the No. 1 spot The Perfect Storm, which came out one week earlier.
"We know this: If we can get parents to leave in the opening scene, we know we've got a bigger hit," Scary Movie 2 costar, co-executive producer and co-writer Marlon Wayans said of the sequel.
Scary Movie was not supposed to have a sequel, according to its tagline.
"When you do a sequel to a parody," Wayans said, "it's important not to do the same joke twice. This time, we did the supernatural, from What Lies Beneath, to The Exorcist, to The Haunting. We got some old, we got some new, but at the end of the day, we got jokes."
Scary Movie 2 has stiff competition in the form of Steven Spielberg's A.I.. In its debut last week, A.I earned $30.1 million, which is well below any Independence Day opening film within the last five years. Considering the recent rash sequels and their box office successes, coupled with the fact that A.I. will be entering its second week, Scary Movie 2 could emerge triumphant.
How Cats and Dogs fits into the picture remains to be seen. The PG-rated film will appeal to younger viewers and their parents who might consider the content of A.I. too difficult for children to comprehend or too violent for them to watch.
While A.I. is no E.T., it's no Saving Private Ryan either, Spielberg said.
"This is a PG-13 movie that I would take my 9, 10, 11-year-old to see. But I would take them to see it with me sitting there next to them," he said.
"One thing Steven [Spielberg] has proven he can do time and time again is understand what young people want to see," Jude Law, who costars in A.I. said.
Whether Cats and Dogs will wipe out the Dr. Dolittle 2 audience also remains uncertain. Both are similarly themed live-action films revolving around talking animals. Dr. Dolittle 2 has already made $51 million since its June 22 opening, so does Jeff Goldblum have what it takes to bump the powerful Eddie Murphy Dr. Dolittle machine?
The July Fourth weekend-traditionally a time for studios to reap in the big bucks-often sees several releases vying for box office supremacy.
Last year's July Fourth weekend was to feature a showdown between two expensive would-be blockbusters, George Clooney's The Perfect Storm and Mel Gibson's The Patriot. Sony blinked, and moved up The Patriot's release by two days. In the end, The Perfect Storm debuted with $62.7 million during the five-day July Fourth holiday weekend. The Patriot made $35.2 million over the same period. Universal's The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle flopped, coming in at No. 5 with $10.3 million.
In 1999, three movies hit the big screen on July Fourth. While Will Smith's Wild Wild West roped in $36.4 million, it was not as explosive as predicted, considering the size of its advertising campaign and a top selling soundtrack. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut came in fourth, grossing $23.1 million, and Summer of Sam in eighth spot with $8 million.
Armageddon, the only film to open in 1998 on July Fourth, easily grabbed the No. 1 spot with a final holiday weekend gross of $36.1 million. Although this was a huge chunk of change, it was no where near the $51.1 million raked in by Men in Black in 1997. And MIB was not the only film opening that Independence Day weekend. Out to Sea opened to $5.9 million; Wild America took a meager $1.8 million.
No talk of July Fourth movie weekend watching would be incomplete without the mention of Independence Day. The 1996 blockbuster earned the biggest weekend gross for a July Fourth weekend. While MIB took in $51 million over the three-day weekend, Independence Day took in $12 million more during the same Tuesday through Sunday period, earning $96.1 million.
July 02, 2001 5:02am EST
The Hollywood studios are already hyping their crop of blockbusters for summer 2002, and it started long before Entertainment Weekly put Spider-Man stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst on its June 29 cover.
The hype went into overdrive in a galaxy far, far away, when George Lucas announced that he would unveil Star Wars: Episode II in May 2002.
In fact, sequels like Episode II seem to be a dominant theme for next summer's big releases. And chances are, if it's not a sequel, it's an adaptation of a cartoon or comic book hero. Could Hollywood be on to something?
"Until recently, sequels were lucky to do 60 percent of what the first film did," Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations said. "But with films like Mission: Impossible 2, Austin Powers 2 and Hannibal, the tide has changed."
Sequels are indeed proving to be a good summer formula. Dergarabedian noted that sequels are now outperforming their original counterparts.
"There is a built-in fan base inherent in sequels. They are pre-marketed," he said.
Video rentals don't hurt the cause either. Austin Powers, for example, found an audience on video that helped fuel the sequel's success.
Is the hype for summer 2002 too much, too soon? Only next summer will determine that. While the formula of sequels and hyping works now, you can only fool an audience so long.
Here are some films to watch out for next summer:
Spider-Man's senses must have been tingling on the set of this Marvel Comics classic. Since shooting began in January, death, injury and theft have plagued the troubled set. Let's hope the film, which explains how shy high school student Peter Parker acquires his web slinging abilities, has better luck at the box-office. Tobey Maguire takes on the role of Spider-Man, Kirsten Dunst the salacious Mary Jane Watson and seasoned Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin. (Sony Pictures)
Release date: May 3, 2002
Star Wars: Episode II
Set 10 years after Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace, Darth Sidious takes over the Republic, turns it into an empire and controls everything. The Clone Wars reach their pinnacle as the Jedi Knights struggle to defend the galaxy from the forces of evil. Meanwhile, Anakin Skywalker falls in love with Queen Amidala but begins to succumb to the Dark Side of the force. Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman will reprise their roles. Ewan McGregor will take on the part of Ben 'Obi-Wan' Kenobi as a young man. Cool guy Samuel L Jackson will play Jedi Knight Mace Windu. But will the presence of the all-CGI character Jar Jar Binks spawn as many venomous anti-fan Web sites as he did with The Phantom Menace? (20th Century Fox)
Release date: May 22, 2002
How can you go wrong with a group of teenagers who ride around in a van called "The Mystery Machine," solving crimes with their dog, Scooby-Doo? This is a live-action adaptation of the half-hour animated Hanna-Barbera series The Scooby-Doo Show, which aired on ABC from 1969 through 1974. It will be interesting to see how true the film stays to the story and its characters. But will there be a romance between real-life couple Freddie Prinze Jr and Sarah Michelle Gellar who play Fred and Daphne? And will those references we never got as kids be kept in? (Warner Bros.)
Release date: June 14, 2002
Adam Sandler plays a small-town guy who inherits a fortune and moves to the big city where he is quickly besieged by opportunists gunning for their piece of the pie. One of them is a pretty girl played by Winona Ryder. Seems someone finally told the actress that she needs make herself more marketable. Based on the Frank Capra classic Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. (Sony Pictures)
Release date: June 21, 2002
Steven Spielberg directs this sci-fi thriller set in a futuristic judicial system in which killers are arrested and convicted before they commit murder. Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, who also wrote Blade Runner, it stars Tom Cruise as Officer John Anderton. (20th Century Fox)
Release date: June 28, 2002
Men in Black 2
Fans have been anticipating this sequel to the 1997 blockbuster hit based on a Marvel Comics comic book about agents who protect Earth from extraterrestrial aliens. The irreplaceable Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reprise their roles as Agents J and K, and Linda Fiorentino as Elle. If the anticipation is too much, check out the WB cartoon Men in Black: The Series on Saturday mornings.
Release date: July 3, 2002
Stuart Little 2
Who ate my cheese? It can only be Stuart Little (voiced by Michael J Fox), the super-intelligent mouse. He returns alongside his adoptive family (Geena Davis,Hugh Laurie and Jonathan Lipnicki. Melanie Griffith lends her voice to Margalo, a bird out to romance the lovable rodent. (Sony Pictures)
Release date: Summer 2002
Austin Powers 3
Mike Myers is back as the International Man of Mystery. This prequel to earlier Austin Powers films follows the adventures of the world class playboy and part-time secret agent Austin Powesr as he finds his long lost parents. Also starring Heather Graham. (New Line Cinema)
Release date: Summer 2002
July 01, 2001 10:34am EST
Moviegoers gave Steven Spielberg's A.I. an A-OK $30 million opening this weekend.
Warner Bros. and DreamWorks' PG-13 rated sci-fi fantasy adventure A.I. Artificial Intelligence topped the chart with an enviable ESTIMATED $30.14 million at 3,242 theaters ($9,295 per theater).
A.I. 's average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
Written and directed by Steven Spielberg, it was produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Spielbergand Bonnie Curtis. Starring are Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O'Connor, Brendan Gleeson and William Hurt.
"I'm very happy," Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. "To open at the same level as Saving Private Ryan, which did $30.5 million, and The Truman Show, which did $31.5 million, (is very gratifying). All of these films were critically acclaimed and played primarily to adult audiences. And they all were released in the summer. So I've been watching these movies (box office numbers) carefully.
"In talking to the Spielberg camp, they're very happy. You know, it's a tribute to Stanley (Kubrick). This $30 million opening is the highest opening of any film in which Stanley had been associated. His biggest opening was his last movie, Eyes Wide Shut, which did $21.7 million (and went on to gross about $56 million in domestic theaters). Full Metal Jacket, which was his next biggest, had a domestic box office total of $46 million."
Who turned out for A.I. 's opening weekend? "The film attracted couples. About 51 percent of the audience were males and 49 percent were females," Fellman said. "It was primarily moviegoers 25 years and older. Major cities played the strongest, of course, across North America. The three biggest grosses came out of New York -- the Lincoln Square in two days was about $82,000, followed by Broadway, which was $75,000 and the Greenwich Village, which was $65,000.
"Over 80 percent of the audience rated the film good to excellent, so I think we'll be around for a while. It's a very provocative movie. People continue to talk about it. I think they're surprised when they walk in. After they see the movie, it may be a little different than what they expected. But it's certainly the kind of film that people talk a lot about."
Asked where it's heading in domestic theaters, Fellman replied, "Well, I'm certainly looking for the $100 million-plus mark. But obviously the rest of it is based on how we hold. The Truman Show ended up at about $125 million. Of course, Private Ryan is in a class of its own (with) over $200 million. We will definitely be watching this carefully and see what happens."
Universal's PG-13 action drama The Fast and the Furious drove down one notch to second place in its second weekend with a still muscular ESTIMATED $20.0 million (-50%) at 2,723 theaters (+95 theaters; $7,345 per theater). Fast, which was made for a modest $38 million, has a cume of approximately $77.8 million and is heading for $100 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Rob Cohen and produced by Neal H. Moritz, it stars Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster.
20th Century Fox and Davis Entertainment's PG rated comedy sequel Dr. Dolittle 2 slipped one peg to third place in its second weekend with a still funny ESTIMATED $15.4 million (-38%) at 3,053 theaters (+4 theaters; $5,045 per theater). Its cume is approximately $51.0 million.
Directed by Steve Carr and produced by John Davis, it stars Eddie Murphy.
Paramount and Mutual Film Company's PG-13 rated action adventure Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was still plunging in its third week, down one notch to fourth with a softer ESTIMATED $9.8 million (-50%) at 3,349 theaters (+37 theaters; $2,926 per theater). Its cume is approximately $101.2 million, heading for $125 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Simon West, Tomb stars Angelina Jolie.
Columbia's R rated African-American appeal drama Baby Boy arrived in fifth place to a solid ESTIMATED $8.6 million at 1,533 theaters ($5,610 per theater). Its cume after 5 days is approximately $11.7 million.
Written, produced and directed by John Singleton, it stars Tyrese Gibson, Snoop Dogg and Ving Rhames.
"It's a good solid opening in a tough market," Sony Pictures Entertainment worldwide marketing & distribution president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning. "Certainly, the weekdays look to be very good next week and it should be a great weekend next weekend, as well.
"It's a $16 million negative (cost) picture that we think should end up right where we hoped it would be in the $30-40 million range (in domestic theaters)."
Baby Boy faced competition this weekend for its core audience of African-American moviegoers from Paramount's Chris Rock comedy Pootie Tang. Pootie, which some media observers criticized for opening when it would fragment the African-American audience, only grossed an ESTIMATED $1.55 million and failed to crack the Top Ten (see OTHER OPENINGS below for details).
"I think initially in our movie world it was a little disconcerting when Pootie Tang landed on our date," Blake observed. "But the more we thought about it, (we realized that) certainly you wouldn't hesitate to counter program an inexpensive comedy aimed at white teenagers against a more ambitious project. So I think a bit too much was made of it in this case. And, obviously, I don't think it ended up being much of a factor."
Buena Vista/Disney's PG rated animated feature Atlantis: The Lost Empire descended two levels in its fourth week to sixth place, making fewer waves with an ESTIMATED $7.8 million (-38%) at 3,030 theaters (-41 theaters; $2,573 per theater). Its cume is approximately $58.0 million.
Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, its voice talents include Michael J Fox, James Garner, Cree Summer and Leonard Nimoy.
DreamWorks' PG rated computer animated blockbuster Shrek dropped two rungs to seventh place in its seventh week, still holding well with an ESTIMATED $7.1 million (-32%) at 2,704 theaters (-303 theaters; $2,605 per theater). Its cume is approximately $227.5 million on its way to $250 million or more.
Directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson, its voice talents include Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow.
Buena Vista/Touchstone's PG-13 teen appeal drama crazy / beautiful arrived in eighth place to a not so beautiful ESTIMATED $4.5 million at 1,601 theaters ($2,815 per theater).
Directed by John Stockwell, it stars Kirsten Dunst and Jay Hernandez.
Buena Vista/Touchstone and Jerry Bruckheimer Films' PG-13 rated three-hour epic action romance Pearl Harbor fell two pegs to ninth place in its sixth weekend with a calm $4.4 million (-35%) at 2,305 theaters (-363 theaters; $1,918 per theater). Its cume is approximately $179.4 million, on its way to $200 million by late summer.
Directed by Michael Bay, Pearl was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay. Starring are Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Tom Sizemore, Jon Voight and Alec Baldwin.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow's R rated action thriller Swordfish, down four rungs in its fourth week but still in the box office swim with an ESTIMATED $4.0 million (-48%) at 2,225 theaters (-435 theaters; $1,798 per theater). Its cume is approximately $60.5 million, heading for $70 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Dominic Sena and produced by Joel Silver and Jonathan Krane, it stars John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry and Don Cheadle.
This weekend also saw Paramount PG-13 rated African-American appeal comedy Pootie Tang arrive to a not so funny ESTIMATED $1.4 million at 712 theaters ($2,020 per theater).
Written and directed by Louis C. K., it stars Chris Rock.
Miramax's R rated French comedy The Closet opened as a Miramax Zoe label release in New York and San Francisco to an encouraging ESTIMATED $0.080 million at 4 theaters ($20,000 per theater).
Directed by Francis Veber, it stars Daniel Auteuil, Gerard Depardieu, Thierry Lhermitte and Michele Laroque.
"This Friday we're adding another five markets, so we'll probably be in about 12 to 15 screens for this weekend," Miramax senior vice president, marketing David Kaminow said Sunday morning.
TriStar's R rated crime thriller The Crimson Rivers, opened to a slow ESTIMATED $0.035 million at 7 theaters ($5,000 per theater). Its theatrical run sets Rivers up for a home video release.
Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz, it stars Jean Reno and Vincent Cassel.
USA Films' PG-13 drama Pandaemonium opened quietly to an ESTIMATED $2,477 at 1 theater in Los Angeles.
Directed by Julien Temple, it stars John Hannah, Linus Roache, Samantha Morton and Emily Woof.
There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
On the expansion front, this weekend saw Fox Searchlight's R rated critically acclaimed British crime thriller Sexy Beast continue to widen in its third week with a still hot ESTIMATED $0.72 million (+17%) at 109 theaters (+48 theaters; $6,580 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.9 million.
Directed by Jonathan Glazer, it stars Ray Winstone and Ben Kingsley.
"I feel very good (about its performance)," Fox Searchlight distribution president Stephen Gilula said Sunday morning. "In many of the core urban markets -- Manhattan, L.A., Washington, D.C., San Francisco -- the film is holding extremely well. A number of the new regional markets actually did quite well in addition. Portland was quite good. It's good everywhere and some of them are actually outstanding.
"So we feel very, very good that we're going to continue to expand and play through the summer and hold for long runs. We're adding another 20 cities for an additional 25 theaters this week so we'll be in about 135 runs this coming Friday."
Fine Line Features' R rated comedy The Anniversary Party went wider in its fourth week with a less lively ESTIMATED $0.42 million (-30%) at 103 theaters (+18 theaters; $4,110 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.9 million.
Written and directed by Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh, its ensemble cast includes Jane Adams, Jennifer Beals, Phoebe Cates, Alan Cumming, Kevin Kline, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gwyneth Paltrow, Parker Posey and John C. Reilly.
Lions Gate Films' PG-13 rated drama Songcatcher expanded in its third week with a quiet ESTIMATED $0.13 million at 37 theaters (+24 theaters; $3,390 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.27 million.
Directed by Maggie Greenwald, it stars Janet McTeer and Aidan Quinn.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 -- took in approximately $120.56 million, down about 6.22% from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $128.56 million for the Friday-Sunday portion of the five day July Fourth holiday weekend. July Fourth fell on a Tuesday last year, which allowed for a five-day weekend. This year the holiday falls on a Wednesday and is not part of the weekend.
This weekend's key film gross was down about 12.47% from last weekend this year when key films took in $137.74 million.
Last year, Warner Bros.' opening week of The Perfect Storm was first with $41.33 million (for three days) at 3,407 theaters ($12,129 per theater); and Columbia's opening week of The Patriot was second with $22.41 million at 3,061 theaters ($7,322 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $63.7 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $50.1 million.
# # #
June 29, 2001 2:04pm EST
Steven Spielberg's A.I. (the movie was conceived by the late Stanley Kubrick) is inspiring praise from some critics and censure from others, probably the most polarized reaction ever to a Spielberg film. It has also inspired a masterfully crafted (positive) review by A.O. Scott in the New York Times. A couple of samples: "Mr. Spielberg seems to be attempting the improbable feat of melding Kubrick's chilly, analytical style with his own warmer, needier sensibility. He tells the story slowly and films it with lucid, mesmerizing objectivity, creating a mood as layered, dissonant and strange as John Williams's unusually restrained, modernist score." Scott concludes: "The final scenes are likely to provoke argument, confusion and a good deal of resistance. For the second time the movie swerves away from where it seemed to be going, and Mr. Spielberg, with breathtaking poise and heroic conviction, risks absurdity in the pursuit of sublimity. ... [He] locates the unspoken moral of all our fairy tales. To be real is to be mortal; to be human is to love, to dream and to perish." Across town, Jack Mathews, the New York Daily News critic, will have none of it. "The ill-conceived final section is a sentimental coda recalling the 'awe' moments of both E.T. and Close Encounters," he writes, "But here is the real genius of Spielberg, whose Midas commercial touch fascinated Kubrick to the end: The very moment that will have viewers reaching for their hankies is the film's most artificial, even on its own terms. The emotion you feel may be real. But nothing else is." Compare that review to this one from Michael Wilmington in the Chicago Tribune: "Steven Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence is pure magic, a three-act movie fantasy that transports us -- as the best films do -- to a world of its own, a place of ambiguous joy and delirious terror." Or consider the review by Peter Howell in the Toronto Star, who calls the film "a genuine collaboration between a fading mentor [Kubrick] and a brilliant student [Spielberg] and the smartest thing likely to hit the multiplexes this summer. A.I. represents a unique union of mind and heart that no machine could ever understand, but could one day learn to envy." Just as enthusiastic about the film is Jay Carr in the Boston Globe: "In a season where most films seem devoted to artificial stupidity, the ambition and execution in A.I. make it a standout, quite apart from its guaranteed place in movie history." On the other hand Joe Morgenstern, the Wall Street Journal film critic, regards A.I as "a grim disappointment for grown-ups and far too violent for young kinds ... I found it to be clumsy, misanthropic and intractably lifeless." Numerous reviews express ambivalent reactions to the movie. "A.I. is always engrossing," writes Steve Murray in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, "but it never fully comes to grips with its central subject, the ethical and emotional question of the responsibility men have toward the machines they make." On a similar note, Roger Ebert writes in the Chicago Sun-Times: "A.I. is audacious, technically masterful, challenging, sometimes moving, ceaselessly watchable. What holds it back from greatness is a failure to really engage the ideas that it introduces. The movie's conclusion is too facile and sentimental, given what has gone before. It has mastered the artificial, but not the intelligence."
June 29, 2001 9:45am EST
Talks between the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists are still working to resolve key issues before Saturday's deadline, The Associated Press reports. Details of the talks are not known since both sides have imposed a news blackout. Some of the key issues include residuals and pay for middle-class actors, which make up the majority of the guild. A breakdown in talks could trigger a strike that would devastate the Los Angeles-area economy and cost billions of dollars in revenues. Some studios are speeding up production on films in the event of a possible walk walkout. Steven Spielberg was noticeably absent from much of the press tour for A.I. in order to wrap his current project starring Tom Cruise. Fall TV shows, which normally begin filming in the summer also could be affected by a possible strike.