It was the trickle of pee heard around the world. Cannes attendees were aghast and/or amused an infamous scene from The Paperboy that shows Nicole Kidman urinating on Zac Efron; this is apparently a great salve for jellyfish burns which were covering our Ken Doll-like protagonist. (In fact the term protagonist should be used very loosely for Efron's character Jack who is mostly acted upon than active throughout.)
Lurid! Sexy! Perverse! Trashy! Whether or not it's actually effective is overshadowed by all the hubbub that's attached itself to the movie for better or worse. In fact the movie is all of these things — but that's actually not a compliment. What could have become somethingmemorable is jaw-droppingly bad (when it's not hilarious). Director Lee Daniels uses a few different visual styles throughout from a stark black and white palette for a crime scene recreation at the beginning to a '70s porno aesthetic that oscillates between psychedelic and straight-up sweaty with an emphasis on Efron's tighty-whiteys. This only enhances the sloppiness of the script which uses lines like narrator/housekeeper/nanny Anita's (Macy Gray) "You ain't tired enough to be retired " to conjure up the down-home wisdom of the South. Despite Gray's musical talents she is not a good choice for a narrator or an actor for that matter. In a way — insofar as they're perhaps the only female characters given a chunk of screen time — her foil is Charlotte Bless Nicole Kidman's character. Anita is the mother figure who wears as we see in an early scene control-top pantyhose whereas Charlotte is all clam diggers and Barbie doll make-up. Or as Anita puts it "an oversexed Barbie doll."
The slapdash plot is that Jack's older brother Ward (Matthew McConaughey) comes back to town with his colleague Yardley (David Oyelowo) to investigate the case of a death row criminal named Hillary Van Wetter. Yardley is black and British which seems to confuse many of the people he meets in this backwoods town. Hillary (John Cusack) hidden under a mop of greasy black hair) is a slack-jawed yokel who could care less if he's going to be killed for a crime he might or might not have committed. He is way more interested in his bride-to-be Charlotte who has fallen in love with him through letters — this is her thing apparently writing letters and falling in love with inmates — and has rushed to help Ward and Yardley free her man. In the meantime we're subjected to at least one simulated sex scene that will haunt your dreams forever. Besides Hillary's shortcomings as a character that could rustle up any sort of empathy the case itself is so boring it begs the question why a respected journalist would be interested enough to pursue it.
The rest of the movie is filled with longing an attempt to place any the story in some sort of social context via class and race even more Zac Efron's underwear sexual violence alligator innards swamp people in comically ramshackle homes and a glimpse of one glistening McConaughey 'tock. Harmony Korine called and he wants his Gummo back.
It's probably tantalizing for this cast to take on "serious" "edgy" work by an Oscar-nominated director. Cusack ditched his boombox blasting "In Your Eyes" long ago and Efron's been trying to shed his squeaky clean image for so long that he finally dropped a condom on the red carpet for The Lorax so we'd know he's not smooth like a Ken doll despite how he was filmed by Daniels. On the other hand Nicole Kidman has been making interesting and varied career choices for years so it's confounding why she'd be interested in a one-dimensional character like Charlotte. McConaughey's on a roll and like the rest of the cast he's got plenty of interesting projects worth watching so this probably won't slow him down. Even Daniels is already shooting a new film The Butler as we can see from Oprah's dazzling Instagram feed. It's as if they all want to put The Paperboy behind them as soon as possible. It's hard to blame them.
During two terrifying weeks in 1962 the discovery of Russian nukes in Cuba triggers a series of confused responses from the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. that bring the world to the brink of Armageddon. Fiercely loyal White House aide Kenneth O'Donnell (Kevin Costner) finds himself in the center of the storm alongside President John F. Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood) and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (Steven Culp). Under the most crushing pressure imaginable can this heroic trio find the right diplomatic formula to keep itchy fingers off the button?
Costner turns in the sort of assured Everyman performance that made him a star grounding the myth-shrouded subject matter in an accessible human reality. No less important to the piece is some soulful Kennedy impersonating from the charismatic Greenwood ("Double Jeopardy") and Culp the latter such an uncanny ringer for RFK that he was previously tapped to play the crusading attorney general in the telefilm "Norma Jean and Marilyn."
Reunited with Costner star of his now-classic 1987 thriller "No Way Out " Roger Donaldson shoots for maximum tension by focusing on twists in the behind-the-scenes political maneuvering rather than the broader drama playing out on the nation's TV screens. Considering the audience knows the ending going in (no we didn't have a nuclear war in the '60s) the filmmakers are surprisingly successful in working the situation for nail-biting suspense. The key decision to center the story on O'Donnell's more ordinary character rather than the larger-than-life Kennedys helps to keep the piece dramatically real despite its epic Camelot backdrop.
Mariah Carey's lawyer said recording companies have already shown interest in the pop diva since speculation of her breakup with EMI surfaced several weeks ago. But while label executives agree Carey is still marketable, most admit they would not pay the terms she received at EMI.
Music lawyer Kenneth Freundlich told Reuters that Carey would do well to sit on the sidelines: "She's been through all the turns, has a lot of money and a tremendous fan base. She could just tap into that. That fan base is what's going to sustain her. The fans will excuse the bad movies and the breakdown, but the corporations won't."
While Mariah Carey was being bought out by EMI to the tune of $28 million, several stars, lead by rocker Courtney Love, lobbied legislators to free artists from what they claim is unfair record company control. The action has the backing of Democratic state senator Kevin Murray, who has introduced a bill to overturn a 1987 exemption that allows record companies to sue musicians and singers for albums not produced over the course of seven-year contracts.
Al Pacino will make a cameo appearance in the caper picture Gilgli, Variety reports. The movie is set for release in 2003 and stars Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.
Sylvester Stallone told Britain's Mirror newspaper that he would like to revive Rocky and Rambo, but it was unlikely the pictures would get made. Stallone said he approached Hollywood studios about having Rambo go into Afghanistan and rescue five girls, and about Rocky VI. "I would love to have one more shot at getting that right, even if people say I am a little old for it, " he told the tabloid. "I know I'd have fun trying."
T-shirts with the slogan "Free Winona" are popping up in many of Los Angeles' trendiest spots, Reuters reports. They refer to Winona Ryder's arrest on suspicion of shoplifting from a Beverly Hills store in December. The T-shirts, created by L.A. gift shop owner Billy Tsangares, are printed with jail-issue style block letters and don't actually feature Ryder but a picture from a wig ad. The actress is due in court again on February 11.
Director Frank Oz has been voted the Art Directors Guild's award for Contribution to Cinematic Imagery, Variety reports. Oz voiced the Yoda character from Star Wars and directed Bowfinger and The Score. The award will be presented at the Guild's Feb. 23 awards ceremonies at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
Katie Couric, who recently signed a new $65 million deal with NBC, is apparently having trouble getting into the Burbank studio without her ID. According to PageSix.com, Couric forgot her NBC credentials while covering the Golden Globes and was not allowed entry until someone came to vouch for her.
Donny and Marie Osmond will be among those carrying the Olympic torch on the final stage of its relay to Salt Lake City for the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Games, Reuters reports. Officials have not yet disclosed the identity of the person who will carry the torch into the stadium on Feb. 8.
Telepictures Productions announced that the eight key ABC affiliates currently carrying The Rosie O'Donnell Show have approved Caroline Rhea as Rosie O'Donnell's replacement. According to Reuters, the Canadian-born Rhea will take over the show at the end of this session.
Dawn Tarnofsky-Ostroff, who was named entertainment president at UPN Wednesday, said her first order of business would be to unify the network's programming. UPN currently runs urban-themed comedies on Monday, sci-fi on Wednesday and wrestling on Thursdays. According to Variety, Tarnofsky-Ostroff wants to turn the all-over-the-map programming into a more consistent image to broaden viewership.
Celebrities with bad habits will now have more variety when it comes to rehab clinics. Mision Korian, a privately funded $2 million walled compound, is now open for business in Durango, Mexico. The drug and alcohol treatment center will eventually house 42 patients and will charge a maximum of $3,000 for five weeks of treatment, but fees for locals will be as low as $100, the Associated Press reports. The center's spokesperson said he plans to market the clinic to Hollywood studios, agents and Beverly Hills doctors.
Gammy-nominated singer Tamia and Orlando Magic star Grant Hill are parents of baby girl. Myla Grace Hill was born at 9:22 a.m. Wednesday, and weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces. This is the couple's first child.
The Spice Girls lost their legal battle over a sponsorship deal with Italian scooter firm Aprilla, Sky News reports. Posh, Scary, Baby and Sporty sued the company for withholding some of its sponsorship money for their 1998 Spiceworld Tour. Aprilla claimed they were left with many unsold "Spice Sonic" scooters after Geri "Ginger Spice" Halliwell quit the band at the end of the European leg of the tour. A judge sided with the scooter company and ordered the Spice Girls to pay a hefty 1 million pounds in fines and fees.
With sales nearing a half-million, country crooner Alan Jackson's album Drive has removed Creed's from their eight-week stay at the top of the pop album charts, Variety reports. Sales were powered by Jackson's hit single "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)." Creed's Weathered slipped just one notch, to no. 2.
Universal launched "U-571" to over $20 million, sinking its Easter Weekend box office competition.
Hollywood had anticipated big action from the PG-13 World War II submarine drama given its 17% first-choice tracking score going into the weekend.
"U-571" sailed full speed ahead into 2,583 theaters with a killer ESTIMATED $20.28 million ($7,850 per theater). Its per theater average was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
Directed by Jonathan Mostow, "U-571" stars Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel and Jon Bon Jovi.
"This is a tremendous opening for a film of its nature," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said Sunday morning. "It's the biggest submarine film (opening ever). It's bigger than 'Crimson Tide.' It's bigger than 'Hunt For Red October.' Jonathan Mostow is a very talented director, who was able to give audiences a thrill ride. The exit polls were all outstanding, indicating that audiences are going to embrace this film for weeks to come."
New Line's kick off of "Love & Basketball" was a high-scoring number two with a winning ESTIMATED $8.38 million at 1,237 theaters ($6,770 per theater).
The PG-13 rated drama is targeted to under-25 African-Americans.
Written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, it stars Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan.
Referring to last week's 15% first-choice tracking scores, which had suggested an even stronger opening, New Line distribution head David Tuckerman said Sunday morning, "Before all this started with the tracking, we thought we'd be between $8-9 million. The tracking got us hyped up.
"Also, almost everybody's down from Friday to Saturday. We should have a big Sunday. Traditionally, African-Americans like to go to the movies on Sunday."
Facing direct competition from "U-571" for adult male moviegoers, Paramount's R rated military trial drama "Rules of Engagement" fell two notches in its third week but held its own very well with an ESTIMATED $8.0 million (-27%) at 3,220 theaters (+30 theaters; $2,484 per theater). Its cume is approximately $43.0 million.
Directed by William Friedkin, it stars Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L Jackson.
"Frankly, I thought we'd be down a minimum of 35%," Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning. "Our mid-weeks last week were exceptionally strong. So I think we're (heading for) $60-65 million."
Columbia's PG-13 rated dramatic comedy "28 Days" skidded two rungs to fourth place in its second week, holding nicely with an ESTIMATED $7.4 million (-28%) at 2,523 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,933 per theater). Its cume is approximately $22.2 million.
Directed by Betty Thomas, "Days" stars Sandra Bullock and Viggo Mortensen.
"I think down 28% is a nice drop," Sony Pictures releasing president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning. "Probably, we'll have over $25 million in by the end of the second week. So certainly it seems on course to do over $40 million. That'll make us some money. We'll be a little ahead of our production costs. I think Sandra Bullock really remains very reliable (as a star whose movies audiences want to see)."
Buena Vista/Touchstone's PG-13 rated romantic comedy "Keeping the Faith" dipped two slots to fifth place in its second week, holding strongly with an ESTIMATED $7.3 million (-10%) at 2,158 theaters (+6 theaters; $3,386 per theatre). Its cume is approximately $18.7 million.
Directed by Edward Norton, it stars Ben Stiller, Jenna Elfman and Norton.
Universal's "Erin Brockovich" fell one notch to sixth place in its sixth weekend, still holding nicely with an ESTIMATED $5.55 million (-21%) at 3,056 theaters (-14 theaters; $1,815 per theater). Its cume is approximately $107.4 million.
The R rated dramatic comedy was co-financed by Universal, which is distributing it domestically, and by Columbia, which is releasing it internationally. The two studios are 50-50 partners in the picture.
Directed by Steven Soderbergh, it stars Julia Roberts, Albert Finney and Aaron Eckart.
DreamWorks' PG rated animated comedy "The Road To El Dorado" dropped two rungs in its fourth week to seventh place with a still colorful ESTIMATED $5.1 million (-17%) at 3,170 theaters (-53 theaters; $1,609 per theater). Its cume is approximately $41.8 million.
Directed by Eric "Bibo" Bergeron and Don Paul, it features the voices of Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, Rosie Perez, Armand Assante and Edward James Olmos.
MGM's PG rated romantic comedy "Return to Me" slid two slots in its third week to eighth place with a quiet ESTIMATED $3.8 million (-24%) at 2,320 theaters (theater count unchanged; $1,640 per theater). Its cume is approximately $21.0 million.
Directed by Bonnie Hunt, "Return" cost only about $24 million to make. It stars David Duchovny and Minnie Driver.
Universal's PG-13 rated thriller "The Skulls" slipped one notch to ninth place in its fourth week with a slow ESTIMATED $2.83 million (-30%) at 2,047 theaters (-362 theaters; $1,380 per theater). Its cume is approximately $30.4 million.
Directed by Rob Cohen, it stars Joshua Jackson and Paul Walker.
Rounding out the Top Ten was New Line's R rated suspense thriller "Final Destination," down one peg in its sixth weekend and holding well with an ESTIMATED $2.78 million (-9%) at 1,305 theaters (-204 theaters; $2,126 per theater). Its cume is approximately $42.8 million.
Directed by James Wong, it stars Devon Sawa.
Last weekend also saw the arrival of Warner Bros.' R rated youth appeal drama "Gossip" with little to talk about in 12th place with a disappointing ESTIMATED $2.34 million at 1,525 theaters ($1,534 per theater).
Directed by Davis Guggenheim, it stars James Marsden, Lena Headey, Norman Reedus, Kate Hudson, Marisa Coughlan and Joshua Jackson.
Paramount Classics' R rated drama about teen suicide, "The Virgin Suicides" went into limited release, placing 20th with a sexy ESTIMATED $0.24 million at 18 theaters ($13,460 per theater).
Written and directed by Sofia Coppola, it stars James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Kirsten Dunst and Josh Hartnett.
Saturday night saw two rounds of national sneak previews. New Line held 1,200 sneaks of its PG-13 rated time travel thriller "Frequency." It was the film's second set of Saturday sneaks, following 800 well-attended showings one week earlier.
"They were better than last week. We're trying to figure out exactly how much better," New Line distribution head David Tuckerman said. "My fax broke down this morning and (with the opening of 'Love & Basketball') that's why I'm running so late."
Directed by Gregory Hoblit, it stars Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel.
"Frequency" opens Apr. 28 at about 2,500 theaters.
There also were Saturday night sneaks of 20th Century Fox's comedy drama "Where the Heart Is." No details were available Sunday morning.
Directed by Matt Williams, it stars Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd, Stockard Channing and Joan Cusack.
"Heart" opens wide Apr. 28.
On the expansion front, Miramax's R rated comedy "East Is East" went wider in its second week, placing 21st with an encouraging ESTIMATED $0.22 million at 18 theaters (+14 theaters; $12,111 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.3 million.
Produced by Leslee Udwin and directed by Damien O'Donnell, "East" stars Om Puri and Linda Bassett.
"It will go into about 35 runs next Friday," Miramax senior vice president, marketing, David Kaminow said Sunday morning.
USA Films went wider with its R rated drama "Joe Gould's Secret," placing 22nd in its third week with a slow ESTIMATED $0.089 million at 26 theaters (+10 theaters; $3,430 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.3 millio .
Directed by Stanley Tucci, it stars Ian Holm and Stanley Tucci.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 for the weekend -- took in approximately $84.41 million, up about 47.49% from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $57.23 million.
This weekend's key film gross was up about 10.67% from this year's previous weekend, when key films grossed $76.27 million.
Last year, Warner Bros.' fourth week of "The Matrix" was first with $12.64 million at 2,903 theaters ($4,355 per theater); and Universal's second week of "Life" was second with $11.26 million at 2,597 theaters ($4,335 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $23.9 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $28.6 million.
STUDIO MARKET SHARES
Based on business by key films (those grossing $500,000 or more), last weekend's top six distributors were:
Universal was first with three films ("U-571," "Erin Brockovich" and "The Skulls"), grossing an ESTIMATED $28.65 million or 33.9% of the market.
Buena Vista (Disney, Touchstone) was second with three films ("Keeping the Faith," "High Fidelity" and "Fantasia 2000"), grossing an ESTIMATED $11.60 million or 13.7% of the market.
New Line was third with two films ("Love & Basketball" and "Final Destination"), grossing an ESTIMATED $11.15 million or 13.2% of the market.
Paramount was fourth with one film ("Rules of Engagement"), grossing an ESTIMATED $8.00 million or 9.5% of the market.
Sony Pictures Releasing (Columbia, TriStar, Screen Gems) was fifth with one film ("28 Days"), grossing an ESTIMATED $7.40 million or 8.8% of the market.
DreamWorks was sixth with two films ("The Road To El Dorado" and "American Beauty"), grossing an ESTIMATED $6.50 million or 7.7% of the market.
(11)American Psycho/Lions Gate: Theaters: 1,242 (+5) Gross: $2.7 million (-45%) Average per theater: $2,176 Cume: $9.7 million
(12)Gossip/Warner Bros.: (see OTHER OPENINGS above)
(13)High Fidelity/BV/Touchstone: Theaters: 1,231 (+2) Gross: $2.3 million (-14%) Average per theater: $1,869 Cume: $21.2 million
(14)Fantasia 2000/BV/Disney: Theaters: 53 (-1) (all IMAX) Gross: $2.0 million (+36%) Average per theater: $38,632 Cume: $45.9 million (domestic)
(15)Romeo Must Die/Warner Bros.: Theaters: 1,439 (-385) Gross: $1.42 million (-47%) Average per theater: $983 Cume: $52.2 million
(16)American Beauty/DreamWorks: Theaters: 1,130 (-337) Gross: $1.4 million (-30%) Average per theater: $1,239 Cume: $127.0 million
(17)Where the Money Is/USA Films: Theaters: 1,538 (0) Gross: $1.33 million (-47%) Average per theater: $865 Cume: $4.7 million
(18) Ready to Rumble/Warner Bros.: Theaters: 1,672 (-913) Gross: $1.01 million (-63%) Average per theater: $601 Cume: $11.3 million
(19)My Dog Skip/Warner Bros./Alcon Ent.: Theaters: 937 (-86) Gross: $0.59 million (+3%) Average per theater: $630 Cume: $32.4 million
(20)Mission to Mars/BV/Touchstone: Theaters: 508 (-254) Gross: $0.4 million (-40%) Average per theater: $795 Cume: $58.8 million
(21)THE VIRGIN SUICIDES/Paramount Classics: (see OTHER OPENINGS above)
(22)East Is East/Miramax: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(23)Joe Gould's Secret/USA Films: (see EXPANSIONS above)