Don Knotts, best known as the quirky deputy in "The Andy Griffith Show," now has his own little star.
The 75-year-old actor was honored Wednesday with the 2,152nd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Knotts, who has won five Emmys for his portrayal of Deputy Barney Fife on the show, also starred in films such as "The Incredible Mr. Limpet," "The Reluctant Astronaut" and shows such as "Three's Company" and "The Don Knotts Show." John Ritter, Knotts' "Three's Company" co-star, was in attendance.
"I can't believe I have my own star. I'm gonna come down here every morning and shine that sucker up," Knotts said.
NO JEALOUSY FOR JOLIE: Angelina Jolie, who's currently creating Oscar talk for her role in "Girl, Interrupted," is quite excited about her next role. She'll be co-starring in "Dancing in the Dark" with Antonio Banderas. "I've never been with a swarthy Latin man on camera or off, so I'm looking forward to our pairing," Jolie tells the Calgary (Alberta, Canada) Sun. But don't read too deeply into the implications of her quote; Jolie isn't looking to break up the actor's marriage to Melanie Griffith. Regardless, Melanie needn't worry; the 24-year-old actress, who recently divorced Jonny Lee Miller and has many times declared she finds women attractive, provides her own solution for jealousy.
"Maybe if I sleep with Melanie first, I'll be fine," Jolie joked.. We won't touch that one.
HE'S ALL HEART: David Letterman departed New York-Presbyterian Hospital on Wednesday, five days after undergoing quintuple-bypass surgery. He will continue recuperating at an undisclosed location, according to hospital spokesman Howard Rubenstein. Letterman, 52, joked, "I think there must be some kind of mix-up. I went to the hospital to get a face-lift." The talk-show host had emergency surgery Jan. 14 after tests showed that one of his arteries was blocked. There's no word on when he'll return to his late-night show, but we'll predict one thing: some sort of quintuple-bypass Top 10 list.
QUICK TAKES: You'd never expect to see Hollywood powerhouse Mike Ovitz on the turntables. But the former CAA head is going into rap music, forming an urban-entertainment division under his management-production company and looking to crossover into films, sports and the like. ...
... The first Latin Grammys will take place in Los Angeles rather than Miami, because the Florida city's ordinance refuses to permit Cuban performers, according to officials. The awards will have 40 categories covering Spanish and Portuguese music and will air Sept. 15 on CBS. ...
... Sandra Bullock can breathe a sigh of relief -- for now. A low-budget exploitation film she made in her pre-"Speed" days looks like it won't be released into theaters as its producer, Roger Corman, had hoped. "Fire on the Amazon" was tagged with an NC-17 rating for the extra five seconds of a sex scene Corman added, and the producer is now re-submitting it with changes, hoping the MPAA will give it an R rating. For those who are wondering, the scene involved Bullock and Craig Sheffer "drinking from a hallucinogenic liquid drug from an Indian ceremonial bowl. This spawns the couple's passionate canine-style lovemaking in the jungle." Again, we won't touch that one. ...
Hollywood should finally have something to scream about at the box office this weekend thanks to "Scream 3." "This weekend there's going to be 'Scream' -- and then everything else," observed one distribution executive.
After two consecutive weekends where all it took was a single-digit gross to top the chart, Hollywood is gearing up for some big numbers. Soaring ticket sales are anticipated as Dimension Films -- Miramax's genre label -- launches the third and concluding chapter of its blockbuster "Scream" series at 3,467 theaters.
"It's probably going to gross what the next four movies combined gross," one insider said, noting that at mid-week the thriller had a 24 percent first-choice tracking score. (Translation: Of moviegoers polled, 24 percent said they would see 'Scream 3' before any other film in release).
"That certainly puts it up in the realm of [the] high-$20 millions or beyond, depending on what [the score] is by [opening day]," the insider predicted.
Others, who are less cautious, see "Scream 3" cracking $30 million or, possibly, even more.
Tracking data available this morning showed even greater strength on the "Scream 3" front.
"It's a 31 percent first choice overall and a 37 percent first choice for males," another studio executive confided. The exec said the flick was a 62 percent first choice for males under 25 and a 40 percent first choice for females under 25 -- "which makes it huge."
How huge is huge?
"No one can predict the box office," the executive said, noting that in terms of those who said they would "go to see the movie right away," the tracking showed a 42 percent overall response and a 49 percent overall male response. "What you can figure out from that 42 percent is that, if the marketplace is going to have a $70 million weekend, take 42 percent of that and assume that it's going to do, at least, $29 million. And for the heat of a film like this, I'd say it could be anywhere from $25-30 million.
Directed by Wes Craven, "Scream 3" stars franchise players David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox Arquette and Liev Schreiber. It's the first film in the series not to feature a script by teen horrormeister Kevin Williamson. Instead, "Scream 3" was cranked out by the would-be all-new Kevin Williamson: 27-year-old Ehren Kruger ("Arlington Road").
Asked about "Scream 3's" ultra-wide release, one industry source commented: "I'm not sure there's that many [theaters] worth having, but whatever. They're as wide as you can go. The tracking is very strong. The last one opened to nearly $33 million and this one is within striking distance of that."
"Scream 2" opened on Dec. 12, 1997, pulling in $33 million in its opening weekend. The original "Scream" bowed on Dec. 20, 1996, earning $6.35 million in its first weekend en route to a $103 overall domestic gross.
"After 'Scream,' it's the battle of the single digits," a distributor said. "I'm betting 'Eye of the Beholder' takes a bigger drop than 'Hurricane' does because 'Hurricane's' been pretty steady since the Golden Globes."
The distributor predicted "The Hurricane," starring Globe-winner Denzel Washington, would be down 15 percent from last weekend, ending up in the "high $4 millions." He said the Ashley Judd-toplined "Eye of the Beholder" (last weekend's No. 1) and the comedy "Next Friday" would end up in the "low $4 millions," with "Stuart Little" rounding out the Top Five.
Look for the lower rungs of the weekend's chart to be filled out by "The Green Mile," "Galaxy Quest," "Down to You," "Girl, Interrupted" and "The Talented Mr. Ripley."
Two films are scheduled to open in limited runs this weekend, but insiders say neither is tracking particularly well. The black comedy/adventure "Gun Shy," starring Sandra Bullock, will open in 296 theaters in the Top 10 markets.
"It's not even being tracked because it's going so limited," an insider said.
Also arriving, at about 500 theaters, is Fine Line Features' R-rated suspense/dark comedy "Simpatico." Based on the play by Sam Shepard, Nick Nolte, Jeff Bridges and Sharon Stone star in a story of love, betrayal and money set in the world of thoroughbred horse racing.
This weekend also will see Warner Bros. go wider with writer/director Barry Levinson's acclaimed ensemble drama "Liberty Heights."
As for next weekend? One studio source said there already were encouraging signs. Leonardo DiCaprio's "The Beach" is "a 9 percent first choice right now, followed by 'The Tigger Movie' with 5 percent first choice, which is actually pretty good tracking for a kids' movie. [The family comedy] 'Snow Day' is at 3 percent."
The source also reported that "Hanging Up," the Diane Keaton-Meg Ryan-Lisa Kudrow comedy, is already tracking a 6 percent choice - and it doesn't open until Feb. 18. Said the source: "So maybe people are perceiving it as sort of another 'First Wives Club' type with the three actresses."
Tracking scores typically increase as a film grows closer to its release date.
This past weekend saw the nation's top box-office spots filled by "The Whole Nine Yards" and "Hanging Up" -- two films starring two, yes, "Friends." ("Yards," with Matthew Perry, took in a strong $15.9 million; "Hanging Up," with Lisa Kudrow, $15.7 million.)
For a time, box-office analysts found themselves pondering if the six primary cast members of the popular sitcom might not have some type of hideous spell cast upon them, at least when it came to their big-screen forays. Alone, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston headlined such notable (or perhaps not-so notable) flops as "Commandments" (Cox's $488,000 box-office dud), "Three to Tango" (Perry's $10.5 million dud), "Ed" (Le Blanc's $6.2 million underperformer) and "Kissing a Fooll" (Schwimmer's $4 million loser). (Remaining friend Kudrow has mainly -- and smartly? -- stuck to supporting roles in high-stakes studio films and lead roles in low-pressure indie films.)
But now with Perry and Kudrow's twin successes, can we finally call the "curse" off? Maybe, maybe not. After all, Kudrow's accomplishment came in an ensemble piece, didn't it? (In "Hanging Up," she takes third billing after Meg Ryan and Diane Keaton.) And wasn't Bruce Willis the real star of "Whole Nine Yards," not Perry?
"I think if you look at any of [the successful films starring 'Friends' members], the ones that have done well have been ensemble pieces," says Paul Dergarabedian, of the box-office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations. "However, if you look at 'The Whole Nine Yards' -- which isn't an ensemble -- a lot of women followed Matt from 'Friends' to the theater. Women cannot be underestimated in terms of their box-office draw."
Dergarabedian believes the "Friends" friends' historic lack of B.O. power -- the Cox-equipped "Scream" franchise, aside -- has more to do with choices and options, or lack thereof, than curses.
"I don't think [the poor box office performances] are necessarily their fault," Dergarabedian explains. "In the past, they didn't really have the clout to elicit a good script. They were basically using 'Friends' to get into theatrical films. Their choices are getting better and the material they are getting is better than it was."
Indeed, Kudrow scored last year in the A-list (Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal) comedy "Analyze This," which grossed a very friendly $106 million.
And while David ("The Pallbearer") Schwimmer and Matt ("Ed") LeBlanc are still searching for that elusive mega-hit, a noted expert offers some promising news. Hollywood-based professional psychic Madame Hart scoffs at the notion that our dear "Friends" were ever cursed at all.
"That doesn't really sound like a curse," Hart says. "It just sounds like they were in bad movies. If they were really cursed, then they would have experienced some serious problems, like loss of their careers, loss of property, their relationships could be destroyed, even death."
Apparently dying at the box office does not count.
Dinosaurs snapped back to life this weekend as Buena Vista/Disney's "Dinosaur" kicked off to nearly $39 million.
The PG-rated, computer-animated feature, which cut short the chart-topping reign of DreamWorks' "Gladiator," set a record as the year's biggest opening with an estimated $38.6 million at 3,257 theaters ($11,860 per theater).
"Dinosaur's" per-theater average was the highest for any film playing in wide or limited release this weekend.
"I think it's great," Buena Vista Distribution president Chuck Viane said Sunday morning.
Noting that some studios had estimated the picture as opening to even bigger numbers, Viane said, "I know some of my competitors have given me more credit than we're giving ourselves, but I'd rather see it than say it and then have to back off. If tomorrow (when actual weekend figures are released) it's a bigger number, I won't be embarrassed to tell people I was low. Every now and then, that happens."
Focusing on the film's mid-May arrival, he noted, "We have not had the opportunity to open a movie this big when it wasn't on a holiday weekend. We're not in the summer and we're not on a holiday. We'll be the first to admit that we don't have a model we're as comfortable with as we are when we're matching apples to apples."
Viane pointed out that, looking at the film's grosses market by market, he was particularly pleased that, "We're as big in the inner city as we are in the suburbs. Normally, we're a very suburban-oriented group. Our films always play well at the malls. But it doesn't matter where you are or what theater - whether you're in San Antonio or the Rio Grande Valley or up in Minneapolis - across the board these are fabulous, fabulous numbers. And so consistent. It doesn't happen often, and you just really feel great when it does."
Viane said "Dinosaur" is Disney's third-biggest animated opening ever, "Behind 'Toy Story 2,' which was Thanksgiving (with $57.4 million the weekend of Nov. 26-28, 1999), and "Lion King," which was mid-summer (with $40.9 million the weekend of June 24-26, 1994). For 'Lion King,' every day (was) a holiday, including the day we opened. We out-grossed 'Lion King' Saturday (with 'Dinosaur'). We didn't do as well as 'Lion King' on Friday. Obviously, people were either at work or in school."
DreamWorks' R-rated action adventure "Gladiator" slid one peg to second place in its third week with a still-muscular estimated $19.1 million (-23 percent) at 3,041 theaters (+98 theaters; $6,281 per theater). Its cume is approximately $102.5 million, heading for $175-200 million in domestic theaters.
"It continues to have incredible word-of-mouth, which is generating substantial repeat business, including women, who are now almost 50 percent of our audience," DreamWorks distribution head Jim Tharp said Sunday morning.
"It really is encouraging. It went over the $100 million mark in 17 days, which actually is the same as 'The Mummy' last year. But 'Mummy' started out about $9 million ahead of us (from its opening weekend). This movie is holding extremely well. It's playing so well, it's unbelievable. And people are seeing this movie three and four times."
DreamWorks is distributing "Gladiator" domestically while Universal is releasing it abroad. The two studios are 50-50 partners, sharing equally in the success of "Gladiator," which reportedly cost $103 million to make.
DreamWorks also found preferred parking in third place with the high-speed arrival of its R-rated youth appeal comedy "Road Trip," opening to an estimated $15.0 million at 2,530 theaters ($5,929 per theater).
"It's off to a really good start," DreamWorks' Tharp said. "It's always great when the opening weekend of a movie grosses the movie's cost. We're very pleased with it. 'There's Something About Mary' in the summertime did about $13 million its first weekend, so this is, I think, a really good number. 'American Pie' was higher than this, but it was also in the summer, on July 9.
"Word-of-mouth is very positive. The only exit (data) I have is from the sneaks. It was 88 percent in the Top Two Boxes (excellent and very good)."
Overall, it was a terrific weekend for DreamWorks, which had two films in the Top Five, three in the Top Ten and saw "Gladiator" crack the $100 million mark.
"U-571," Universal's PG-13 World War II submarine drama, drifted down one rung to fourth place in its fifth week, still holding nicely with an estimated $4.61 million (-20 percent) at 2,736 theaters (-84 theaters; $1,685 per theater). Its cume is approximately $64.4 million, heading for about $75 million in domestic theaters.
"Frequency" dropped one slot to fifth place in its fourth week, continuing to hold really well with an estimated $4.3 million (-13 percent) at 2,202 theaters (-268 theaters; $1,953 per theater). Its cume is approximately $30.3 million, heading for about $40 million in domestic theaters.
"The drops are great," New Line executive vice president, distribution David Tuckerman said Sunday morning. "It's the fourth week in the marketplace (and it's only down) 13 percent. That's great."
Warner Bros. and Franchise Pictures' PG-13-rated sci-fi action adventure "Battlefield Earth" plunged four orbits to sixth place in its second weekend with a weak estimated $3.83 million (-67 percent) at 3,304 theaters (-3 theaters; $1,159 per theater). Its cume is approximately $18.2 million heading for about $25 million.
DreamWorks' Woody Allen PG-rated comedy "Small Time Crooks" opened in seventh place - only about $30,000 behind Warners' estimate for "Battlefield" - to an encouraging estimated $3.8 million at 865 theaters ($4,393 per theater).
"'Small Time Crooks' is just fantastic," DreamWorks' Tharp said. "You expect the biggest eight to 10 markets to do business on a Woody Allen movie. But this movie played on a broader basis. We actually attracted families this weekend. This did family business. I think the rating and the comedy and Tracey Ullman helped.
"We may add a few runs for the holiday weekend. We're going to add a few on 'Road Trip' for Memorial Day weekend, and we may look at this now. Going this wide was sort of an experiment. Most of (Allen's) movies open in just a few runs. But seeing how broad it did play, we actually may add some new runs in the next few weeks."
Columbia's PG-13-rated youth appeal dance film "Center Stage" slipped two slots to eighth place in its second weekend with a quiet estimated $3.3 million (-28 percent) at 1,506 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,191 per theater). Its cume is approximately $9.2 million.
20th Century Fox's PG-13-rated drama "Where the Heart Is" fell two notches to ninth place in its fourth week with a softer estimated $2.9 million (-29 percent) at 2,155 theaters (-256 theaters; $1,346 per theater). Its cume is approximately $25.8 million.
"Heart," which cost about $15 million to make, was picked up by Fox for domestic and English speaking territories for only $9 million.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Universal's "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas," the PG-rated prequel to the 1996 "Flintstones" blockbuster, down five rocks in its fourth week with a calm estimated $2.5 million (-46 percent) at 2,692 theaters (-433 theaters; $928 per theater). Its cume is approximately $27.8 million, heading for about $35 million in domestic theaters.
HOLLYWOOD, May 24, 2000 – If you're planning on seeing "Mission: Impossible 2" today, you can forget it. There's no such movie.
Say what? After all, aren't there billboards all over North America officially proclaiming today -- May 24 -- as opening day for the new Tom Cruise movie?
Right, but those billboards are for "M:I-2," or as it's more properly identified, The Movie Formerly Known As "Mission: Im ossible 2."
Confused? Well, we were too. So, we called the folks at Paramount, who started the confusion by telling everyone that the flick's title is "M:I-2." That's the way it's listed in all the studio's promotional materials, that's what's it's called in all the trailers, and on all the posters. In other words, says Paramount, "M:I-2" supposedly isn't an acronym for "Mission: Impossible 2," but just a catchy title in its own right.
So, what led Paramount to drop complete words from the title? Were they all caught up in the mad rush to come up with the next hip-sounding Hollywood acronym (Let's see, there was "T2," "ID4," "MiB" etc. Of course, each of those movies had real titles, too: "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," "Independence Day" and "Men in Black."
Paramount spokeswoman Susan Indri says the studio's not trying to be trendy.
"That's the name of the movie," Indri tells Hollywood.com. "But people have referred to it both ways."
OK, but are you trying to distance this flick from its 1996 predecessor? ("Mission," er, "M:I-2" helmer John Woo's a big-name director, and this film's supposedly a world apart from Brian DePalma's original.)
"Not at all," Indri says. "It's a sequel. Everyone knows that." And then, apparently disinterested in this discussion topic, she placed the telephone on its receiver.
But that doesn't exactly clarify matters. And adding to the confusion is this: At the beginning of "M:I-2," the movie's own main title card -- the traditional arbiter for what a movie's for-the-record-books title -- reads, yes, "Mission: Impossible II." And, yes, make note of the Roman numeral. Where did that come from? So, to sum up: A movie that should only have one name now has three: "M:I-2," "Mission: Impossible 2" and "Mission: Impossible II."
Just take a look at the news stand, and it's apparent that everyone is befuddled as to what this film's real name is. US magazine is calling the thing "Mission: Impossible 2," People magazine and The Associated Press are siding with "M:I-2." called it "M:I-2" in its latest issue; the Associated Press is calling it "M:I-2." (As for Hollywood.com, we were calling it "Mission: Impossible 2" until Tuesday, when we were informed that it's "M:I-2," stupid, even on the first reference.)
Even Paramount can't keep its story straight. On its Web site, the movie is, yes, referred to as "M:I-2," except, um, for the part about a "Mission: Impossible 2" (sheesh) sweepstakes.
There are some, however, who believe all this confusion-making is a stroke of brilliance.
"If you look at it from a marketing perspective, you can see that it's a nice angle," BenDavid Grabinski, a filmmaker who runs an unofficial Web site (http://www.angelfire.com/az/ScarabNET/miindex.html) about "M:I-2" (or whatever it's called), tells Hollywood.com.
"You have this nice small acronym that looks great on a poster. But also, Paramount wants this film to be looked at as a separate entity from the original. They don't want you to look at this is a sequel to the Brian De Palma film, they want you to see this as a John frickin' Woo film with all that that entails," Grabinski adds.
"But then again, it might confuse some people."
You can say that again.