Forget the Battle of the Bands! Moviegoers felt the noize this weekend as the musical comedy School of Rock won the battle at the box office with a tuneful $20.2 million*.
Opening to positive reviews, the Jack Black vehicle easily outperformed Out of Time, starring Oscar winner Denzel Washington. The police thriller took in a sensible $17 million to place second.
"I think it has more to do with the subject matter than the stars," Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations, told The Associated Press Sunday. "School of Rock has a younger, school-age appeal. Black's like a big kid, like an Adam Sandler-type persona. Irreverent, funny, bucks the establishment. That brings in younger audiences."
Indeed. School of Rock's melodious take was also enough to make it the fifth best October opener ever, ousting the sci-fi comedy K-Pax. School of Rock follows the likes of October champ Red Dragon, which debuted in 2002 with $36.5 million; the 2000 comedy Meet the Parents, with $28.6 million; the 2002 comedy Jackass: The Movie, with $22.7 million; and the 2001 drama Training Day with $22.5 million.
Last week's box office topper, the jungle actioner The Rundown, dropped to third place with $9.7 million, followed by the sun-drenched romantic comedy Under the Tuscan Sun with $7.9 million. The family drama Secondhand Lions rounded out the Top Five with tame $5.3 million.
The Station Agent and Wonderland, which opened in limited runs in New York City and Los Angeles, also showed strong debuts with high per theater averages.
THE TOP TEN
Paramount Pictures' PG-13 rated rock 'n' roll comedy School of Rock debuted at the top of the box office this week with an impressive ESTIMATED $20.2 million in 2,614 theaters, averaging $7,728 per theater.
In the film, funnyman Jack Black stars as a hell-raising guitarist who impersonates a substitute teacher and turns a class of fifth-grade high-achievers into high-voltage rock 'n' rollers.
Directed by Richard Linklater, it stars Black, Joan Cusack and Michael White.
MGM Pictures' R rated police thriller Out of Time premiered in second place with an ESTIMATED $17 million at 3,076 theaters, averaging $5,527 per theater.
In the film, Academy Award winner Denzel Washington plays a Florida police chief whose life unravels as he begins to investigate a brutal double homicide.
Directed by Carl Franklin, it stars Washington, Eva Mendes, Sanaa Lathan and Dean Cain.
Universal Pictures' PG-13 rated jungle actioner The Rundown, last week's box office champ, dropped to third place in its second weekend with an ESTIMATED $9.7 million (-47%) in 3,154 theaters (+2 theaters; $3,100 per theater). Its cume is approximately $32.7 million.
Directed by Peter Berg, it stars The Rock, Seann William Scott, Rosario Dawson and Christopher Walken.
Buena Vista's PG-13 rated romantic comedy Under the Tuscan Sun fell two notches to No.4 in its second week with an ESTIMATED $7.9 million (-19%) in 1,697 theaters (+471 theaters; $4,661 per theater). Its cume is approximately $20.9 million.
Directed by Audrey Wells, it stars Diane Lane, Sandra Oh, Vincent Riotta and Raoul Bova.
New Line's PG rated family drama Secondhand Lions only dropped one spot to round out the Top Five in its third week with an ESTIMATED $5.3 million (-35%) in 3,032 theaters (-6 theaters; $1,773 per theater). Its cume is approximately $30.8 million.
Directed by Tim McCanlies, it stars Haley Joel Osment, Robert Duvall and Michael Caine.
Sony Picture's R rated supernatural thriller Underworld tumbled three positions to take sixth place in its third week with an ESTIMATED $4.8 million (-49%) at 2715 theaters (-213 theaters; $1,768 per theater). Its cume is approximately $44.5 million.
Directed by Len Wiseman, it stars Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Focus Features' R rated dramedy Lost In Translation climbed three positions to place seventh in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $4.2 million (+16%) in 864 theaters (+376 theaters; $4,393 per theater average). Its cume is approximately $14.1 million.
Directed by Sofia Coppola, it stars Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson.
Paramount Picture's PG-13 rated musical comedy The Fighting Temptations dropped three rungs to No. 8 in its third week with an ESTIMATED $3.2 million (-49%) in 1,762 theaters (-264 theaters; $1,864 per theater). Its cume is approximately $24.7 million.
Directed by Jonathan Lynn, it stars Cuba Gooding, Jr., Beyonce Knowles, Mike Epps and Steve Harvey.
Sony Pictures' R rated sequel Once Upon a Time in Mexico fell three notches to ninth place in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $2.5 million (-49%) in 2, 097 theaters (-825theaters; $1,216 per theater). Its cume is approximately $52.9 million.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, it stars Antonio Banderas, Johnny Depp, Salma Hayek and Willem Dafoe.
Buena Vista's R rated thriller Cold Creek Manor slipped two spots to round out the Top Ten in its third week with an ESTIMATED $2.5 million (-43%) at 1,398 theaters (-97 theaters; $1,290 per theater). Its cume is approximately $18.3 million.
Directed by Mike Figgis, it stars Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone, Stephen Dorff and Juliette Lewis.
Lions Gate Releasing's R rated biopic Wonderland premiered in five theaters in New York and Los Angeles with an ESTIMATED $90,000, averaging $18,000 per theater.
Directed by James Cox, it stars Val Kilmer, Lisa Kudrow, Kate Bosworth, Dylan McDermott and Josh Lucas.
Miramax's R rated drama The Station Agent, meanwhile, premiered in three theaters in New York and Los Angeles with an ESTIMATED $55,500, averaging a strong $18,500 per theater.
Directed by Tom McCarthy, it stars Peter Dinklage, Bobby Cannavale, Patricia Clarkson and Michelle Williams.
The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $82.1 million, up 2.9 percent from last weekend's $79.8 million. The Top 12 movies, however, were down 18.67 percent from this time last year when they took in $101 million.
Last year, Universal's R rated thriller Red Dragon came in at No. 1 in its opening week with $36.5 million in 3,357 theaters ($10,855 per theater); Buena Vista's PG-13 rated comedy Sweet Home Alabama came in second place in its second week with $21.3 million in 3,303 theaters (+10 theaters; $6,456 per theater); and DreamWorks' PG-13 rated comedy The Tuxedo finished third in its second week with $10 million at 2,051 theaters (unchanged; $4,893 per theater).
CNN CAUGHT IN ANOTHER TAILWIND?
Rekindling memories of CNN's Operation Tailwind fiasco three years ago, the CIA has issued a statement saying that Kenneth Bucchi, who was identified as a former CIA agent by the cable network during two appearances on Monday, never worked for the agency in any capacity and that his comments on the air about being involved in CIA activities involving Columbia drug lords were "utter nonsense" and "complete fiction." Reporting on the apparent hoax, the Washington Post said Thursday that Bucchi had been discharged from the Air Force after being labeled as delusional and quoted Bucchi as saying that he had been "framed" by the Air Force during his ouster. Bucchi also reportedly acknowledged that he could not prove that he had worked for the CIA but did concede that he had never been paid by the agency. A CNN anchor read a statement by the CIA about the matter Wednesday but did not retract the story or apologize, the Post said.
WHICH SURVIVOR WILL BE THE WEAKEST LINK?
CBS announced plans Wednesday to milk yet another Survivor episode from its current Outback series for the May sweeps. The one-hour show, set to air 8 p.m. May 10, will follow the 16 contestants as they return home and, from 8:30-9 p.m.will go head-to-head against a half-hour special episode of The Missing Link, which will be featuring several of the original Survivor contestants struggling to withstand the verbal scaldings of host Anne Robinson. Meanwhile, Pax TV announced Wednesday that beginning June 1 it will air repeats of Weakest Link on Fridays, just days after the original telecast on NBC on Mondays.
"TODAY"'S HIT AND RUN
Seeming to invite criticism for emulating the very thing it was scrutinizing, NBC's The Today Show on Wednesday showed a video six times of a 16-year-old boy being hit by a car as he was allegedly attempting to mimic a stunt on the MTV showJackass. The Independence, Kan., teenager suffered numerous injuries including a broken leg. During the broadcast, Garry Edmonson, the local D.A., said that his office was considering filing charges against MTV. "Certainly they are morally culpable," he remarked. For its part, MTV said that it was "incredibly upsetting" to learn of such incidents but that MTV repeatedly has warned viewers not to attempt the dangerous stunts depicted on the show. It also noted that it had never shown a stunt on Jackass similar to the one involving the injured Kentucky boy.
"NEW YORK TIMES" PUTS TV ON HOLD
Representing a blow to the New York Times' ambition to become a force in nightly television news, the paper has been forced to shelve plans to produce an 11:00 p.m. PBS newscast, published reports said Thursday. According to the reports, the newscast, which was to have been called National Edition, has been unable to find $12 million in corporate underwriting to launch the telecast, which was to have been produced with MacNeil-Lehrer Productions.
"60 MINUTES" CHIEF NOW FAVORS TELEVISED EXECUTION
60 Minutes producer Don Hewitt, who once voiced opposition to the televising of executions, now says he has changed his mind and is in favor of televising the May 16 execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. "You put a guy on a gurney and stick a needle in his arm. People watch that on E.R. every week," Hewitt remarked in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer. "What's the big deal? He goes to sleep and doesn't wake up. It doesn't seem so terrible to me." Reminded that in 1997 he said of televising McVeigh's execution, "That hungry for ratings, I'm not. ... It's in terrible taste," Hewitt replied, "I'm mush. I change on a lot of things." 60 Minutes is planning to repeat Ed Bradley's March 2000 interview with McVeigh, the only television interview with him.
WILL ACTRESS-ANCHOR MAKE IT AT CNN?
An Albuquerque, NM TV news director has sniffed at Wednesday's report that former NYPD Blue costar Andrea Thompson had been hired as an anchor and reporter for the CNN Headline News channel. Chris Berg, who heads the news department at KOB-TV, suggested that Thompson, who has worked at rival KRQE since leaving Blue, posed no competition. "I think working in Albuquerque is out of her league," he told the Albuquerque Journal. "Yes, I think she has improved as a news reporter, but she's still not good enough to work at our station." Readers of the Journal seemed to agree. In a poll conducted on the newspaper's Web site, 64 percent of the respondents answered "No" to the question, "Is KRQE-TV reporter/former NYPD Blue actress Andrea Thompson ready for CNN?"
KATHIE LEE SAYS SHE'S HAD TALKS ABOUT REPLACING ROSIE
Kathie Lee Gifford on Monday confirmed that she had had "preliminary talks" about replacing Rosie O'Donnell on Donnell's syndicated talk show beginning next June. During a conference call, Gifford said that the talks were "nothing serious, and I don't know. ... To commit to something longterm, I would be throwing myself right back in that same frying pan."
CALLS MOUNT FOR BBC CHIEF TO STEP DOWN
Word that BBC Chairman Christopher Bland has been appointed chairman of British Telecom has sparked demands that Bland relinquish his job at the publicly funded broadcasting corporation. Norman Baker, a spokesman for the Liberal Democratic party, told Britain's Guardian newspaper: "Sir Christopher Bland can't possibly do two jobs at once. He cannot give the BBC his full attention if he believes the job is that part-time. ... There is a clear conflict of interest."
NO MOVIES, NO INTERVIEWS?
If an actors' strike materializes this year, not only will TV and film studios be hard hit, but so will entertainment publications and TV shows whose stock-in-trade is running interviews with celebrities who are plugging their latest projects, the Los Angeles Times observed Thursday. Entertainment attorney Tom Hansen told the newspaper that despite actors' contractual obligations to studios to promote their films or television shows, "the union collective bargaining agreement will always trump the individual actor's agreement. ... If the guild says you cannot render publicity services, you will not be in violation of your contract."
MGM: BIG HITS, BUT BIG LOSSES
Despite back-to-back hits with Hannibal and Heartbreakers, MGM on Wednesday reported a net loss of $399.8 million in the first quarter. It attributed the result to accounting rules changes, noting that operating income (EBITDA) soared to $12.6 million from $5.2 million during the same period a year ago. In a statement, MGM Chairman and CEO Alex Yemenidjian commented, "MGM's first-quarter performance was a great start to what promises to be another strong year in 2001." The studio plans to release 20 films this year versus seven in 2000.
TRADE PAPER REPORTER QUITS AFTER HIS STORY IS QUASHED
Entertainment labor and legal reporter David Robb has quit the Hollywood Reporter after the trade paper's publisher, Robert Dowling, blocked a story that he had written concerning Reporter gossip columnist George Christy, the online media magazine Inside reported Wednesday. The story reportedly concerned an investigation by the Screen Actors Guild to determine whether Christy actually worked in numerous films and TV shows for which he had received acting credits since 1985. Those credits, Inside maintained, allowed Christy to qualify for benefits under the guild's health and pension plan. According to Inside, Dowling spiked the story over the objection of editor Anita Busch. It quoted Robb as saying that Dowling "reassigned" the story to another reporter. None of the principals in the dispute except Robb responded to Inside's requests for comment.
COLUMNIST ATTESTS "TOWN & COUNTRY" IS AS BAD AS FEARED
Syndicated columnist Liz Smith has confirmed many movie writers' speculation that Town and Country, the costly and long-delayed comedy starring Warren Beatty, Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton and Garry Shandling, is a disaster. Saying that she had seen the film this week -- most critics viewed it Wednesday night -- Smith concludes that "it is one of the most chaotic and puerile movies ever made, full of tasteless adultery and some downright offensive vulgarity." As for the top-flight cast, Smith remarks: "It is awful to see talented stars without a clue as to who they are supposed to be portraying or what they are supposed to be doing." (A digest of other reviews of the movie will be included in tomorrow's edition.)
BUSH WATCHING BOWDLERIZED VERSIONS OF MOVIES
President George W. Bush has ordered that scenes of graphic sex and violence be cut from movies shown on Air Force One flights, the British Web site Ananova reported Thursday, citing reporters traveling with the president. It was not clear from the report who was assigned to the bowdlerization of the films, nor what guidelines for cuts had been set. Ananova observed that Bill Clinton always ran the uncut versions of films on the presidential plane and at the White House, even those "that Mr. Clinton regularly condemned when he was talking up family values."