Hip-hop guru Russell Simmons said Tuesday he will announce plans this weekend for a boycott against Pepsi, accusing the soft drink giant of applying a double standard, Reuters reports. A few months ago, Pepsi yanked a commercial featuring rapper Ludacris after conservative commentator Bill O'Reilly urged a boycott and accused Pepsi of being "immoral" for using the foul-mouthed rapper to promote their product. Pepsi caved in to the pressure and pulled the 30-second television spot, but recruited potty mouth Ozzy Osbourne for a Super Bowl commercial only months later. A spokeswoman for Simmons said in a statement, "The boycott is being called in response to Pepsi dropping Ludacris as spokesman and subsequently picking up the Osbournes, who are no less vulgar." Meanwhile, a PepsiCo Inc. spokesman told Reuters the Ludacris controversy was an unfortunate experience. "It was our mistake, we learned a lot from it and we've moved on," the spokesman said. "We respect Russell's interest in bringing hip-hop talent to a larger audience and we have worked together to do just that," he added.
Madonna said she has not dyed her hair or started sporting baggy clothes because she is pregnant--and she is striking back at British gossip magazine Heat for saying so. Spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg said Madonna would file a complaint with Britain's Press Complaints Commission, a self-regulatory body set up and run by newspaper and magazines, over inaccurate reports that she is pregnant with her third child. "It's not true ... it's not accurate. She dyed her hair brown instead of blond, that does not confirm somebody's pregnant. And she's been wearing baggy clothes for 20 years, so what else is new?" Rosenberg told Reuters.
Brit mag Hello!, meanwhile, told London's High Court Tuesday that Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones couldn't complain over the use of unauthorized photos of their lavish New York wedding because they actively sought publicity for the event. The stars are suing the mag for an estimated $800,000 in damages for loss of income, stress and damage to their careers because of the poor quality of the shots, taken by gate-crashing photographer Rupert Thorpe. Hello! published the pics three days before rival magazine OK! hit the stands with official shots secured in a $1.65 million deal with the stars, Reuters reports.
A man who helped steal Nicolas Cage's 1989 Porsche 911 was sentenced to five years in prison Monday in Jefferson County Circuit Court, The Associated Press reports. Michael Gramling, 20, of Arnold, Mo., pleaded guilty last year after Missouri Water Patrol divers found the $100,000 car submerged in 12 feet of water at Lake of the Ozarks. It had been stolen a month earlier from a parking lot in Arnold while in a transport trailer on its way from California to Pennsylvania. Another defendant, Scott Air Force Base airman Robert Clerkin, 21, was previously tried on stealing charges in a military court and sentenced to six months in prison. His sentence includes a rank reduction, forfeiture in pay and a letter of reprimand.
Tickets are on sale now for the Santa Monica Film Festival, which runs Feb. 13-16 at the Laemmle Theater in Santa Monica, Calif., and features more than 40 independent and short films including Briar Patch (a dark love story starring Dominique Swain and Henry Thomas), Stevie (a documentary by Hoop Dreams director Steve James) and Lost Junction starring Neve Campbell. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are slated to receive the festival's Maverick Filmmakers award at the Feb. 13 opening night ceremony. Tickets and more information are available at www.smff.com.
Miramax offshoot Dimension Films is on board to co-finance the Warner Bros. action comedy Starsky and Hutch, which is based on the classic 1970s cop series. Originally the film was going to be an updated pic set in modern-day Los Angeles but has since been turned into a period piece. Co-financing was needed to cover the rising cost of costuming and set design expenses. Insiders tell Variety the budget for the pic is already north of $60 million. Directed by Todd Phillips, the film stars Ben Stiller as Det. David Starsky, Owen Wilson as Det. Kenneth Hutchinson and Snoop Dogg as their streetwise informant, Huggy Bear.
Director Mathieu Kassovitz, best known for his 1996 drama Hate, will helm the supernatural thriller Gothika starring Halle Berry and Penelope Cruz, Variety reports. The film revolves around a criminal psychologist (Berry) who awakens to find herself a patient in her own mental institution, unable to remember a murder she supposedly committed, and victimized by a vengeful spirit in the asylum. Cruz plays a fellow inmate. The film begins production in April and is scheduled for release at Halloween.
AP reports the first new Doors concert will take place on Friday in Los Angeles with a tour planned for later this year, despite a looming lawsuit. Original Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robby Krieger re-formed the group and renamed it The Doors 21st Century, with Ian Astbury of The Cult on vocals and former Police drummer Stewart Copeland. But former Doors drummer John Densmore has now filed a suit seeking a court order prohibiting the band from calling themselves The Doors when they perform without him, and requests that Densmore be paid a share of profits from any shows that have already taken place without him.
Looks like people were ready for more Middle-earth action.
As if anyone is truly surprised, the second installment of the The Lord of the Rings trilogy dominated the box office this weekend with its continuing tale about some good-hearted Hobbits who want to destroy an evil Ring, while a bunch of nasty Middle-earth denizens try and stop them.
Over the three-day weekend, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers took in a whopping $61.5 million*, towering over the number two spot captured by the new Sandra Bullock/Hugh Grant film Two Weeks Notice. The romantic comedy only managed to take in about a quarter of The Two Towers' haul at $14.4 million.
Other openers this week included another epic saga, Gangs of New York, which came in fourth with $9.1 million and the animated The Wild Thornberrys Movie, which opened strong at number six with a respectable $6.1 million.
THE TOP TEN
New Line Cinema's PG-13 rated The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers opened with an amazing three-day weekend total, ESTIMATED at $61.5 million at 3,6 22 theaters ($16, 980 per theater) and also taking in almost half of the weekend's box office (46.4 percent). Since its Wednesday, Dec. 18, opening, the film has brought in an ESTIMATED $101.5 million in total over five days.
Directed by Peter Jackson, it stars Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Orlando Bloom and Liv Tyler.
The middle part to J.R.R. Tolkien's literary fantasy epic clearly surpassed its predecessor by nearly 25 percent. On the same weekend last year, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which also opened on the Wednesday before Christmas, took in $47.2 million in three days. The film went on to pull in $94 million after its first five days, eventually grossing $313 million in North America and about $550 million overseas, according to Variety.
The Two Towers also posted the second highest domestic Wednesday opening ever, with a healthy $26 million, behind 1999's Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace at $28.5 million, according to New Line. Fellowship of the Ring was the previous holder of the December one-day record, opening with $18.2 million.
"We are pleased and astounded," New Line distribution president David Tuckerman told Variety of The Two Towers performance.
Warner Bros.' PG-13 rated romantic comedy Two Weeks Notice opened in second place with an ESTIMATED $14.4 million at 2,755 theaters ($5, 229 per theater).
Directed by Marc Lawrence, it stars Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant.
This romantic comedy about a corporate lawyer's love/hate relationship with her boss is Bullock's second best opening in the last five films she has made. Her best opening was this summer's Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, which opened with a strong $16.1 million and went on to gross $69.5 million domestically. Bullock's top film Miss Congeniality opened to the smaller tune of $10 million in December 2000 but grossed $106.8 million domestically, proving the comedic actress has the star power to open films strong--and keep them that way.
The third spot belonged to Sony Pictures' Maid in Manhattan, this season's other romantic comedy, which opened last weekend at number one. Falling 41 percent, it still managed to rake in an ESTIMATED $11 million at 2,866 theaters (+28 theaters; $3,838 per theater). It's cume to date is approximately $35.5 million.
Directed by Wayne Wang, it stars Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes.
Guess a historical period piece about 1860s New York can't beat Hobbits or romance. Miramax's highly anticipated R-rated Gangs of New York opened with a less-than-exciting ESTIMATED $9.1 million at 1,504 theaters ($6,064 per theater). Still, with the film's recent slate of Golden Globe nominations, the momentum should give Gangs a fair amount of shelf life.
Directed by Martin Scorsese, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis and Cameron Diaz.
20th Century Fox's drum showstopper PG-13 rated Drumline continued to boom at number five with an ESTIMATED $7.6 million (-40%) at 1,837 theaters ($4,137 per theater). The little-film-that-could about an underdog high school band opened at No. 3 last week and has so far gained a respectable $22.8 million.
Directed by Charles Stone, it stars Nick Cannon, Zoe Saldana and Orlando Jones.
Another new flick on the block this weekend was Paramount Pictures' PG-rated The Wild Thornberrys Movie, which opened in sixth place with an ESTIMATED $6.1 million at 3,012 theaters ($2,025 per theater).
Based on the hit Nickelodeon TV show, the animated film about a family of wildlife documentary filmmakers, is directed by Cathy Malkasian and Jeff McGrath and includes the vocal talents of Lacey Chabert, Tim Curry, Rupert Everett, Lynn Redgrave and Marisa Tomei.
Chortling in at number seven is Disney's PG-13 rated The Hot Chick, taking in an ESTIMATED $4.5 million at 2,217 theaters ($2,030 per theater). Dropping 39 percent, the body-switching comedy bowed last week in fifth place and has made approximately $13.7 million thus far.
Directed by Tom Brady, it stars Rob Schneider, Anna Faris and Rachel McAdams.
Warner Bros. PG-rated Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets dropped a couple of notches to No. 8 with an ESTIMATED $4.45 million (-30%) at 2,750 theaters (-275 theaters; $1,620 per theater). The second movie about our fab boy wizard and his adventures at Hogwarts has managed to eke out approximately $228.9 million in its six weeks at the box office. Not too shabby.
Directed by Chris Columbus, the film stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Kenneth Branagh, Jason Isaacs, Richard Harris, Robbie Coltrane and Maggie Smith.
The once-popular franchise seems to have lost its steam. Paramount Pictures PG-13 rated Star Trek: Nemesis continued its disappointing run, slipping from its bow at second place last weekend to ninth with an ESTIMATED $4.4 million (-76%) at 2,711 theaters ($1,623 per theater). Its cume is approximately $26.4 million.
Directed by Stuart Baird, it stars Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Tom Hardy, Ron Perlman, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden and Marina Sirtis.
Tenth place belongs to Bond, James Bond. MGM's megahit, PG-13 rated Die Another Day, continued reaping the rewards with an ESTIMATED $4 million, dropping 49 percent at 2,075 theaters (-1,302 theaters; $1,928 per theater). One of the highest-grossing Bond films ever, its taken in approximately $138.4 million so far.
Directed by Lee Tamahori, it stars Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Rosamund Pike, Toby Stephens and Rick Yune.
Three of the higher-profile independent films of the season opened in limited theaters this weekend, including Denzel Washington's Antwone Fisher, Spike Lee's 25th Hour and Narc starring Ray Liotta.
Fox Searchlight's PG-13 rated Antwone Fisher opened Thursday in 15 theaters at an ESTIMATED $217,500 ($14,500 per theater). The film, about a man struggles to come to terms with his abusive childhood, is directed by the Oscar-winning Washington, who also stars along with newcomer Derek Luke. Fisher will open wide Jan. 1.
Buena Vista's R-rated 25th Hour also opened Thursday in 5 theaters and took in an ESTIMATED $109,811 ($21, 962 per theater). The intense drama focuses on a drug dealer's last 24 hours before he goes to prison and how he chooses to spend it. Directed by Spike Lee, it stars Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson and Brian Cox. The film opens wide Jan. 10.
Paramount's Narc opened in 6 theaters Friday, making an ESTIMATED $66,000 ($11,000 per theater). The gritty drama stars Ray Liotta and Jason Patric as two undercover narcotics detectives after a cop killer.
The top 12 films this weekend earned $132 million, up 46.4 percent from last weekend.
This time last year, New Line's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was number one at the box office with $47.2 million, while Warner Bros. Ocean's Eleven came in second with $14.7 million and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius third with $13.8 million.
*All estimates as reported by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.