Top Story: Dixie Chicks Give Two Cents on Schwarzenegger
Must be something about being on tour in Europe that inspires the Dixie Chicks to spout off on politics. Rolling Stone reports the country trio had plenty to say about another high-profile Republican besides President Bush. "[Arnold Schwarzenegger] is a great film star," banjo player Emily Robison told a German newspaper, "but I find his run for governor absolutely insane." She added, "America should be governed by people who have a clue. I hope he doesn't win." Maybe bodybuilders will ban the country singers this time.
Schwarzenegger's Ex-Girlfriend Writes Memoirs
On the heels of controversy surrounding reports of Schwarzenegger's naughty behavior decades ago, now it seems his first girlfriend, Barbara Outland Baker, is writing a memoir of her relationship with the Austrian actor called Surviving Arnold, Reuters reports. Baker, now an English professor at a California community college, dated the then Mr. Universe from 1969 until 1974. "I'm trying to sell it as an insider's account of Mr. Schwarzenegger's early years…with over 100 never-before-published photographs of Arnold," her book agent told Reuters. "She's been writing it for years, but obviously now is an opportune time to try to sell it."
Farrell Wields a Mighty Pen, Diaz Does Not
Irish hunk Colin Farrell has been named "best signer" by Autograph Collector magazine in its 12th annual poll of celebrity autograph givers, The Associated Press reports. "Colin is extremely generous with fans and collectors, and goes out of his way to sign for everyone he can at his movie premieres. ... He just flat-out loves to sign autographs," contributing editor Jeffrey Woolf, who helped compile the annual Best and Worst Signers list, told AP. The worst celebrity to be approached for autographs, he says, is Cameron Diaz. "She might be an Angel for Charlie, but Cameron is nothing short of a witch when it comes to signing autographs," Woolf said. Some of the best included Kate Bosworth, Jennifer Love Hewitt, The Osbournes and Jennifer Garner, while some of the worst included Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Orlando Bloom, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Christina Aguilera.
FCC Rules Stern Is Legit Newsman
The Federal Communications Commission ruled shock jock Howard Stern's daily radio show is a legitimate news program, exempting it from federal equal time rules on political coverage, Reuters reports. The FCC decision opens the way for the show to book two of the sexier candidates for California governor: Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had been slated to appear on Stern in August, and porn star Mary Carey. The Communications Act requires broadcasters to treat political candidates equally when selling or giving away air time, although exceptions are made for news programs. Media Access Project, a media watchdog group, plans to appeal the ruling, claiming it is a reversal of decades of U.S. media regulation designed to promote fairness in election coverage.
Simon and Garfunkel Return
The singing-songwriting duo Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel announced Tuesday their plans to put aside their longstanding differences and launch a U.S. tour together for the first time in 20 years, Reuters reports. The Old Friends tour will hit 32 cities, starting at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan Oct. 18.
ABC Scores Ratings Touchdown
The opener of the NFL football season between the New York Jets and Washington Redskins last Thursday gave ABC its first nightly win in many months in the Neilsen ratings for the week of Sept. 1-7, the AP reports. NBC won the week, averaging 8.3 million viewers followed by a tie between CBS (7.8 million) and ABC (also 7.8 million); Fox (6.3 million); UPN (3 million) and the WB (2.9 million). The top 10 shows were: NFL Monday Night Football: N.Y. Jets vs. Washington, ABC; 2003 NFL Showcase, ABC; CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS; Law & Order, NBC; NFL Post-Game Show, Fox; Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS; The King of Queens, CBS; Law & Order: Criminal Intent, NBC; and CSI: Miami, CBS.
Sales Galore at Toronto Film Fest
Films were snapped up left and right at the Toronto Int'l Film Festival Tuesday, Variety reports. Jim Jarmusch's Coffee & Cigarettes was bought by United Artists for domestic distribution. Sony Pictures Classics picked up the Korean film Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring, while Newmarket Films acquired the Danish flick The Green Butchers.
Role Call: Phantom To Appear On-Screen; J.Lo Produces Documentary
With an all-star cast including Miranda Richardson, Minnie Driver, Ciaran Hinds, Simon Callow, James Fleet, Victor McGuire and Jennifer Ellison, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical extravaganza The Phantom of the Opera is coming to the big screen via Warner Bros. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it will be directed by Joel Schumacher and starts production Sept. 15 in the U.K…Jennifer Lopez will make her first foray into producing by making the documentary Los Quinces through her banner Nuyorican Prods., in association with HBO. Variety reports the film revolves around the coming-of-age ball that marks a Cuban girl's 15th birthday.
Comedy is king.
In what is obviously a strong indication that moviegoers want to laugh more than anything, the new heavenly comedy Bruce Almighty, starring Jim Carrey, ruled at the box office over the four-day Memorial Day weekend with a smashing $86.4 million*, stealing the crown from reigning champion The Matrix Reloaded. The sci-fi sequel came in second with a meager $45.6 million, down 60 percent from its strong opening last weekend.
Bruce Almighty's three-day total of $70.8 million makes it the best non-sequel comedy opening of all time, as well as the best Jim Carrey opener ever, toppling his personal best Dr. Suess' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which opened in November 2000 at $55 million.
Universal Pictures distribution president Nikki Rocco told Reuters she had expected the film to open in the $50 million to $60 million range. "I think it's a very moral film," she said.
While Carrey was obviously the key attraction, co-star Jennifer Aniston's presence and the romantic elements possibly accounted for the larger-than-usual female turnout. Women accounted for 53 percent of the audience, according to exit polling data, Reuters reports. Carrey's movies usually do best with young males.
But the record-breaking doesn't stop there. Bruce Almighty also becomes the second best Memorial Day opener ever, although the record still belongs to The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which opened in 1997 and took in $90.1 million over four days. And to add a little icing on the cake, it looks like this may turn out to be the best Memorial Day weekend in box office history with an estimated grand total of $155.8 million, beating out last year's record holder of $152.4 million.
Despite this weekend's big holiday grosses, this year has largely seen sub-par box office numbers, although comedies are showing a lot of muscle. In addition to Bruce Almighty, Bringing Down the House opened in early March and stayed on top for several weeks for a cume of $129 million, while Anger Management opened April 15 with $42 million and is still on the top 10 list with a cume of $131 million. In fact, of this weekend's 10 best, six are comedies.
This could be good news for the upcoming comedies including Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd (June 13) and Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde (July 2).
THE TOP TEN
Universal Pictures' PG-13 Bruce Almighty debuted on top with an ESTIMATED four-day take of $86.4 million at 3,483 theaters. The film's $24,806 per theater average was the highest of any film playing this weekend.
The film follows a down-on-his-luck TV news reporter who blames God for all his problems--so God challenges him to take on the job and see if he can do it any better.
Directed by Tom Shadyac, it stars Carrey, Jennifer Aniston and Morgan Freeman.
Warner Bros.' R rated sci-fi sequel The Matrix Reloaded came in second with an ESTIMATED $45.6 million at 3,603 theaters ($12,666 per theater). Its cume is approximately $209.5 million.
In the trilogy's second installment, Neo, Trinity and Morpheus continue their battle against the Machines both in and out of the Matrix as mankind has just 72 hours before the destruction of the human city of Zion.
Directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, it stars Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss and Hugo Weaving.
Sony Pictures' PG-rated Daddy Day Care dropped to No. 3 in its third week with an ESTIMATED $18 million (-26%) at 3,472 theaters (+64 theaters, $5, 184 per theater). Its cume is approximately $73.1 million.
Directed by Steve Carr, it stars Eddie Murphy, Jeff Garlin, Steve Zahn, Regina King and Anjelica Huston.
20th Century Fox's comic book sequel X2: X-Men United moved down a spot to fourth place in its fourth week of release with an ESTIMATED $13 million (-40%) at 3,067 theaters (-423 theaters, $4,258 per theater average). Its cume is approximately $192 million, heading towards the $200 million mark.
Directed by Bryan Singer, it stars Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.
Another comedy made its debut at No. 5 this weekend. Warner Bros.' PG-13 The In-Laws took in an ESTIMATED $9.1 million in 2,652 theaters with a $3,443 per theater average.
In this remake, two prospective fathers-in-law meet for the first time on the eve of their children's nuptials, and the wedding cake literally hits the fan.
Directed by Andrew Fleming, it stars Michael Douglas, Albert Brooks, Candice Bergen, Ryan Reynolds and Lindsay Sloane.
In sixth place was 20th Century Fox's PG-13 romantic comedy Down With Love, which took in an ESTIMATED $4.1 million (-41%) in 2,118 theaters (-5 theater; $2,427 per theater). Its cume is approximately $14.6 million.
Directed by Peyton Reed, it stars Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor and David Hyde Pierce.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Buena Vista's PG rated The Lizzie McGuire Movie fell a notch to No. 7 in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $4 million (-33%) at 2,118 theaters (-540 theaters, $1,889 per theater). Its cume is approximately $37.3 million.
Directed by Jim Fall, it stars Hilary Duff, Adam Lamberg and Yani Gellman.
Buena Vista's PG rated 'tween comedy Holes held onto eighth place in its sixth week with an ESTIMATED $3 million (-27%) at 1,762 theaters (-470 theaters, $1,703 per theater). Its cume is approximately $60 million.
Directed by Andrew Davis, it stars Rick Fox, Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Tim Blake Nelson and Shia LeBeouf.
Sony Pictures' R-rated psychological thriller Identity dropped three places to ninth in its fifth week with an ESTIMATED $2.6 million (-46%) at 1,590 theaters (-606, $1,635 per theater). Its cume is approximately $49.1 million.
Directed by James Mangold, it stars John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, Rebecca DeMornay and Alfred Molina.
Sony Pictures' PG-13 rated comedy Anger Management also fell three rungs to come in 10th place in its seventh week with an ESTIMATED $2.4 million (-51%) at 1,809 theaters (-667 theaters, $1,327 per theater). Its cume is approximately $131.8 million.
Directed by Peter Segal, it stars Adam Sandler, Jack Nicholson, Marisa Tomei and John Turturro.
The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $155.8 million, just barely up a percent from last week when they totaled $154.6 million.
The Top 12 were up two percent from last year when they totaled $152.4 million.
Last year, Fox's PG rated Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones stayed at the top of the box office Memorial Day weekend in its second week in release with $60 million at 3,161 theaters ($18,983 per theater); Sony's PG-13 rated Spider-Man also stayed put at No. 2 in its fourth week with with $35.8 million at 3,876 theaters ($9,240 per theater); and Warner Bros' Insomnia debuted in the third spot with $26 million at 2,610 theaters ($9,988 per theater).