Yesterday’s news that Disney has decided to shutter LucasArts, the videogame company overseen by Lucasfilm that’s produced nearly three decades worth of Star Wars and Indiana Jones games, not to mention the Monkey Island saga, gave us a full-blown nostalgia attack. Disney seems so determined to put all their effort into the production of Episode VII that they’re shutting down much of non-Episode VII Star Wars content, including the Clone Wars TV series and games like Star Wars 1313 that were in the pipeline for future release. Eric Geller, one Star Wars fan who helps run TheForce.Net speaks for many of us by saying, “They seem to think they need a dearth of other SW content to get us excited for the sequels. Have they met us?”
For kids growing up in the ‘90s, LucasArts’ games were the only way to extend the experience of Star Wars beyond endlessly replaying VHS copies of the Original Trilogy. At least, until we were old enough to start reading the Expanded Universe novels. Whether geared for the computer, NES, or N64, these games helped us fall even deeper in love with that Galaxy Far, Far Away. The batting average of these Star Wars games was really formidable, with the X-Wing and Dark Forces series, in particular, being consistently strong. Admittedly, in recent years, the quality of LucasArts’ output has waned. For all the hype, 2008’s The Force Unleashed doesn’t offer gameplay mechanics or storytelling anywhere near as satisfying as that found in Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, released six years earlier. But we still played.
RELATED: Disney Closing LucasArts, Future of ‘Star Wars’ Videogames in Question
So, to honor LucasArts’ formidable legacy, movies editor Matt Patches, staff writer Michael Arbeiter, and myself, geek writer Christian Blauvelt, put together our picks for the 10 Best Star Wars Games Ever. Oh yes, and the 5 Worst — nobody's perfect!
10. Episode I—Racer (1999)
This is the Rodney Dangerfield of Star Wars games. A lot of fans think it’s terrible without even having played it. But Racer transforms the best sequence in The Phantom Menace into kinetic art, taking you to wholly alien environments like the sulfuric planet Malastare, ocean world Aquilaris, and airless vacuum planet Oovo IV. No, it doesn’t have a story or any depth to its characters—though you do get to play as all the weird alien podracers you glimpse during the Boonta Eve Classic in the movie—but Racer isn’t trying to be “cinematic” like so many games today (games, which, as a result, are often too easy when it comes to actual gameplay). Racer is a souped-up arcade actioner. It capitalizes on your reflexes and muscle memory rather than your higher cognitive functions. But that also means that, like many of the arcade classics, it’s a lot more difficult, and thus a lot more replayable than games with supposedly loftier ambitions. And it has Watto saying stuff like “Ohhhh….You want buy pit droid, eh?” How could you not love that? — Christian Blauvelt
9. Shadows of the Empire (1996)
Lucasfilm’s idea of creating a multimedia “interquel,” a story that explores what Luke and Leia did in between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, took various forms: a novel written by Steve Perry that focused primarily on the movie characters, a graphic-novel tie-in, and a Nintendo 64 game that cut out Luke and Leia entirely to focus on gun-for-hire Dash Rendar, the scruffiest nerfherder in the galaxy not named Han Solo. As Dash, you follow the breadcrumbs from planet to planet to find out where Solo, frozen in carbonite, has been taken, so you can attempt a rescue. Along the way, you encounter droid bounty hunter IG-88, Boba Fett, and a giant dianoga—the tentacle garbage compactor creature from A New Hope! — Christian Blauvelt
RELATED: Why ‘Clone Wars’ Was Star Wars At Its Best
8. Yoda Stories (1997)
You land in the murky waters of Dagobah, your X-Wing pixilated and your R2 unit complete with incomprehensible speech bubbles. And there, you will find your mission of the day: Where will Master Yoda send you this time — Tatooine, Hoth, Endor? Who will you be charged with saving — Han Solo, Princess Leia, C3P0? The Game Boy and PC adventure game sent the player (as Luke) off on multifaceted quests, completing small tasks to aid in the ultimate conquest against baddies like Jabba the Hutt, the Rancor, swarms of Jawas, and even Darth Vader. Combining the joys of platform games and clever puzzles with Star Wars fandom makes Yoda Stories among the best of LucasArts’ contributions. —Michael Arbeiter
7. Dark Forces (1995)
LucasArts did an amazing job creating new characters and designs for their games, and Dark Forces became more than a Doom knock-off thanks to the inclusion of mercenary Kyle Katarn and the revelation of the "Dark Troopers." For a mid-90s, first-person shooter, Dark Forces had unprecedented atmosphere and an array of recognizable weapons finally put in the hands of Star Wars fans. Being able to wield a thermal detonator — only briefly seen in the first trilogy — brought a new dimension to the world we already loved. — Matt Patches
6. Battlefront II (2006)
Upgrading the skirmish style of the original Battlefront, the sequel opened up the format for larger missions, saga-spanning story arcs, space combat, and the ability to play as a Jedi. Sure, putting us in the third-person perspective of a Stormtrooper or Rebel gunman was fun, but dropping Mace Windu in the middle of a battle to slice up battalions of Droidekas and pesky Geonosians was a dream come true. Being able to run over Windu with a Trade Federation tank and send him flying off a cliff bumped Battlefront II up to "classic" territory. And the cherry on top: we loved John Williams' cue "Battle of Heroes" in Star Wars: Episode III, but when it backed up our long nights wiping out invading forces during Battlefront II's many campaigns, it was empowering. — Matt Patches
RELATED: Han Solo the Lizard, and Other Oddities of the ‘Star Wars’ First Draft
5. Knights of the Old Republic (2003)
Compared to Jedi Outcast released the year before, the actual gameplay of KOTOR isn’t great. You have no control over lightsaber combat — moves are actually determined by virtual “dice throws.” But that’s pretty much the norm in role-playing games. What you do get is a story set in a wholly unexplored period of Star Wars history and possibly the most character-driven LucasArts game ever. 3,900 years before the events of the movies, the Republic is at war with the Sith. Or rather, two Jedi, who’ve turned to the Dark Side and are calling themselves Darth Revan and Darth Malak. You play an anonymous Republic soldier with extraordinary abilities that are only slowly discovered throughout the course of the game as you battle back the darkness. As an RPG, KOTOR allows you to make key moral choices throughout the story that determine the direction of the plot…and your character’s ultimate fate, leading up to the most shocking Star Wars reveal since “I am your father.” Also, you will never learn more about the internal politics of Wookiee culture. — Christian Blauvelt
NEXT: What's the best Star Wars game ever? Plus, our picks for the 5 Worst.
4. The Empire Strikes Back (1992)
In the early days of LucasArts, being able to recreate any amount of the Star Wars trilogy was a gift to fans. Like it's movie counterpart, 1992's Empire Strikes Back — debuting first on the NES then ported over to the Gameboy — managed to, for the first time, convey the thrills of the narrative with involving gameplay. The graphics were low-res, the functionality imperfect (no you f**king Tauntaun, MOVE THIS WAY), but in the end, Luke's Hoth escapades and first taste of force powers made for hours of side-scrolling fun. There's a comic book style to Luke's lightsaber movement that remains imprinted on my mind, even today. — Matt Patches
3. Rogue Squadron (1998)
While we cannot forgive the whines and groans that accompanied Luke Skywalker’s desire to take up with the Academy, we can finally understand just why he so desperately wanted to be a pilot: Rogue Squadron gave us the chance to try our hand behind the X-Wing wheel, zipping with an impressive fluidity (at least for that era of video gaming) through some of the Star Wars franchise’s most formidable locales. Highlights of the game include taking down Imperial Walkers with some fancy footwork and a spool of yarn, and taking a dip in the gelatin-esque waters of Mon Calamari. Avoid the tasty topography of this realm: It’s a trap! — Michael Arbeiter
RELATED: ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ Canceled, New Series Planned
2. X-Wing Alliance (1998)
The last, and best, game in the PC X-Wing series puts you in the cylindrical cockpit of a YT-1300 freighter (for non-nerds, that’s a ship of the same class as the Millennium Falcon), a Y-Wing, a B-Wing, an A-Wing, and just about every other type of craft you can imagine. But it’s not just a first-person space-combat simulator. X-Wing Alliance tells a deep, involving story about a family, the Azzameens, who run a shipping company around the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. When the Empire tries to take over their business, they defect to the Rebel Alliance, and, as Ace, the hotshot pilot who’s the Azzameen family’s cocky youngest son, you participate in the mission to steal the plans for the Second Death Star and finally fly into the Death Star’s reactor shaft in the Battle of Endor itself. — Christian Blauvelt
1. Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (2002)
I’d argue the Star Wars Expanded Universe is at its very best when focusing on characters who aren’t in the films. That allows storytellers other than George Lucas to explore nooks and crannies of the Star Wars galaxy without being a slave to continuity. It also means those novels and videogames don’t feel compelled to drown in the movies’ Joseph Campbell-knockoff mythology and can take different narrative pathways. Exhibit A for how well this can work? The Dark Forces series, which reaches its apex in Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, the greatest Star Wars game ever produced. Flinty, bearded, commando-turned-Jedi Kyle Katarn has to rescue his partner and lover, Jan Ors, from the clutches of one of Luke Skywalker’s Jedi students who turned to the Dark Side. It’s Star Wars' answer to The Searchers, and it takes Kyle from the seedy, neon-tinted Hutt demimonde of Nar Shaddaa to the glistening spires of Cloud City (where you have an epic lightsaber fight in the carbon-freeze room, just like Empire Strikes Back!), to the jungles of Yavin 4.
The level maps are crammed with detail, from the little Ugnaughts who populate Cloud City’s underlevels (who you can slice with your lightsaber if you’re feeling mean-spirited: we do!) to the latest craze in interstellar mixology, a ruby bliel, the must-order drink from your local Chiss barman. And though later games like The Force Unleashed have been touted for their gameplay mechanics, none can compare to Jedi Outcast and its hyper-dynamic lightsaber combat—especially when you have “realistic saber combat” mode activated, allowing for full dismemberment. Until someone invents a T-14 hyperdrive, playing Jedi Outcast is the closest thing to visiting that Galaxy Far, Far Away for real. — Christian Blauvelt
THE 5 WORST STAR WARS VIDEOGAMES
5. Force Commander (2000)
LucasArts was never able to make a great real-time strategy game. The closest they ever came was with Star Wars: Empire at War and Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds—Clone Campaigns, which basically just used the Age of Empires engine. Force Commander was a particular misfire, though, with an unwieldy camera and uninspired combat.
4. Empire at War—Forces of Corruption (2006)
However, Force Commander wasn’t as bad as this epic dud. The sequel to Empire at War features the smallest game maps for an RTS game we’ve ever seen. They’re so small that when a Super Star Destroyer shows up for the finale, it takes up practically the entire map, with no room for maneuverability. A huge missed opportunity.
3. Rebellion (1998)
It’s not just that Rebellion hasn’t aged well, it’s that the PC game’s graphics looked archaic even when it came out in 1998, especially compared to what you could find on the N64 with Rogue Squadron, released the same year. A sad, lazy effort.
2. Kinect Star Wars (2012)
This is the game that gave us Princess Leia dancing in her metal bikini to “Genie in a Bottle.” ‘Nuff said.
1. Masters of Teräs Käsi (1998)
With a name like Masters of Teräs Käsi how could it not be the worst Star Wars game ever?
[Photo Credit: LucasArts]
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Disney's new animated film, Planes, about — guess what! — planes, just got a turbocharged assist. Top Gun stars Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards, who played ace pilots Iceman and Goose in Tony Scott's full-throttle 1986 actioner, are voicing anthropomorphic aircraft in the movie, out August 9. This is the best news we've heard about Planes so far, which otherwise has come across like the Theodore Tugboat to Cars' Thomas the Tank Engine.
Val Kilmer Saved Angelina Jolie’s Breast
Now, of course, Kilmer and Edwards' animated planes can't be named Iceman and Goose — damn you, Paramount — so they're going by Bravo and Echo instead. That doesn't mean there isn't a similarity to their characters in Top Gun, though. Check out this compelling visual evidence.
Edwards' Goose wore a red helmet in Top Gun. His Planes alter ego also wears a red helmet!
Kilmer's Iceman wore a blue helmet in Top Gun. His Planes alter ego also wears a blue helmet!
We told you this visual evidence would be compelling. Does this make you more likely to go see the movie? And, seriously, they couldn't get a Tom Cruise to voice a cocksure F-14 TomKat? I mean, an F-14 Tomcat?
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Walt Disney; Paramount Pictures(2)]
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If Sundance is the studious valedictorian of film festivals, than South by Southwest is the party animal younger broth—who's just as smart (if not more) as his stuffy sibling. Held in Austin, Texas every March, SXSW is a rootin' tootin' celebration of cinema, hosting big Hollywood premieres, the best of the best from Sundance and plenty of off-beat indies primed and ready for discovery. Some of the year's best films premiere at the festival—need I remind you of Kill List—and most make their way to release, making SXSW a festival to keep your eye on.
The line-up for this year's fest has been officially release, and sports highly anticipated movies like Jonah Hill's 21 Jump Street and Cabin in the Woods, the long-awaited meta-horror from Lost/Cloverfield writer Drew Goddard and producer Joss Whedon, the premiere of Judd Apatow's new TV show Girls (written and starring Lena Dunham) and new projects from acclaimed directors like William Friedkin (The Exorcist), Kevin McDonald (Last King of Scotland), Will Ferrell, Jay Chandrasekhar of Broken Lizard and the Duplass Brothers (Cyrus).
Check out the films below and let us know which ones you want to hear more about!
Big names, big talent: Headliners bring star power to SXSW, featuring red carpet premieres and gala film events with some major and rising names in cinema.
Films screening in Headliners are:
21 Jump Street
Directed by: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, Screenplay by: Michael Bacall, Story by: Michael Bacall & Jonah Hill
Police officers Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) get sent back to high school as undercover cops in the action-comedy 21 Jump Street. Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Rob Riggle, with Ice Cube (World Premiere)
BIG EASY EXPRESS
Director: Emmett Malloy
Emmett Malloy’s latest film invites us aboard a train ride unlike any other with Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and Old Crow Medicine Show.
The Cabin in the Woods
Director: Drew Goddard, Screenwriters: Joss Whedon & Drew Goddard
Five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods. Bad things happen. If you think you know this story, think again. From fan favorites Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard comes The Cabin in the Woods, a mind-blowing horror film that turns the genre inside out. Cast: Kristen Connolly, Fran Kranz, Anna Hutchison, Chris Hemsworth, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, and Bradley Whitford (World Premiere)
Director: Gotham Chopra
Filmmaker Gotham Chopra spends a year on the road decoding his father and spiritual icon Deepak Chopra. (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Lena Dunham
Created by and starring Lena Dunham (Tiny Furniture), the HBO show is a comic look at the assorted humiliations and rare triumphs of a group of girls in their early 20s.
Cast: Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Zosia Mamet, Adam Driver (World Premiere)
The Hunter (Australia)
Director: Daniel Nettheim, Screenplay by: Alice Addison, Novel by: Julia Leigh, Original Adaptation by: Wain Fimeri
A mercenary is dispatched from Europe to the Tasmanian wilderness by a mysterious biotech company to search for the last surviving Tasmanian tiger.
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Frances O'Connor, Sam Neill (U.S. Premiere)
Director: William Friedkin, Screenwriter: Tracy Letts
A garish, Southwestern tale - a violent black comedy about a desperate Texas debtor (Hirsch) who plots to kill his mother with help of his family (Haden Church, Gershon). They hire a crazy Dallas cop who moonlights as a contract killer (McConaughey) to do the job, but Killer Joe asks for their teenage daughter (Temple) as a retainer. The film is based on Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Letts' (August: Osage County) award winning play. Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Gina Gershon, Juno Temple, Thomas Haden Church (U.S. Premiere)
MARLEY (UK / USA)
Director: Kevin Macdonald
The definitive life story of Bob Marley - musician, revolutionary, legend - from his early days to his rise to international superstardom. Made with the support of the Marley family, the film features rare footage, incredible performances and revelatory interviews with the people that knew him best. Directed by Academy-Award-Winner Kevin Macdonald. (North American Premiere)
NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION
This year’s 8 films were selected from 1,112 submissions. Each film is a World Premiere.
Films screening in Narrative Feature Competition are:
Director/Screenwriter: Matt Ruskin
When Simon’s brother is arrested for armed robbery, he is asked to commit a string of similar crimes in an attempt to get his brother acquitted.
Cast: Nico Stone, Adam DuPaul, Seymour Cassel, Kristin Dougherty, Brian McGrail (World Premiere)
Director: Megan Griffiths, Screenwriters: Richard B. Phillips, Megan Griffiths, Story by: Richard B. Phillips & Chong Kim
A young Korean-American girl, abducted and forced into prostitution by domestic human traffickers, joins forces with her captors in a desperate plea to survive. Cast: Jamie Chung, Matt O'Leary, Beau Bridges, Jeanine Monterroza, Scott Mechlowicz (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Jonathan Lisecki
Jenn and Matt, best friends since college who are now in their thirties, decide to have a child together, the old-fashioned way - even though Matt is gay and Jenn is straight. Cast: Jenn Harris, Matthew Wilkas, Mike Doyle, Anna Margaret Hollyman, Jack Ferver (World Premiere)
Gimme the Loot
Director/Screenwriter: Adam Leon
When Malcolm and Sofia’s latest graffiti masterpiece is buffed by a rival gang, these two determined Bronx teens must hustle, steal, and scheme to get spectacular revenge and become the biggest writers in the City. Cast: Tashiana Washington, Ty Hickson, Meeko, Zoe Lescaze, Sam Soghor
Los Chidos (Germany / Mexico / USA)
Director/Screenwriter: Omar Rodriguez Lopez
The Gonzales family tries hard to hold on to their beautiful Latino traditions of misogyny and homophobia when a tall, white, industrialist stranger appears, challenging their place in the exploitative food chain. Cast: Kim Stodel, María De Jesús Canales Ramírez, Manuel Ramos, Cecillia Gutiérrez, (World Premiere)
Director: Martha Stephens, Screenwriters: Martha Stephens, Karrie Crouse
A pink-slipped music teacher ponders his stalled relationship and place in the world during an arduous trek across Kentucky’s Sheltowee Trace Trail. Cast: Timothy Morton, Bryan Marshall, Karrie Crouse, Harrison Cole, Michael Abbott Jr. (World Premiere)
Director: Sean Baker, Screenwriters: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
The film explores the unlikely friendship between 21-year-old Jane (Dree Hemingway), and 85 year-old Sadie (Besedka Johnson), two women whose worlds collide in California's San Fernando Valley.
Cast: Dree Hemingway, Besedka Johnson, Stella Maeve, James Ransone, Karren Karagulian
The Taiwan Oyster
Director: Mark Jarrett, Screenwriters: Mark Jarrett, Jordan Heimer, Mitchell Jarrett
Two Ex-Pat Kindergarten teachers in Taiwan embark on a quixotic odyssey to bury a fellow countryman. Cast: Billy Harvey, Jeff Palmiotti, Leonora Lim (World Premiere)NARRATIVE SPOTLIGHT
High profile narrative features receiving their World, North American or U.S. Premieres at SXSW.
Films screening in Narrative Spotlight are:
Director: Jay Chandrasekhar, Screenwriters: Peter Gaulke, Gerry Swallow
Unable to impregnate his wife, Tommy and friends rob a sperm bank - to get Tommy's long-ago donated sperm back. The crazy plan goes hilariously awry and shows how far a couple will go to create a new life.
Cast: Paul Schneider, Olivia Munn, Kevin Heffernan, Wood Harris, Nat Faxon (World Premiere)
Director: Adam Sherman, Screenwriters: Adam Sherman, Dave Reeves & Rachel Hardisty
Just another story about love.
Cast: Lukas Haas, Madeline Zima, Jake Busey, Tania Raymonde, Regine Nehy (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
Two brothers compete in their own private 25-event Olympics.
Cast: Mark Kelly, Steve Zissis, Elton LeBlanc (World Premiere)
Fat Kid Rules The World
Director: Matthew Lillard, Screenwriters: Michael M.B. Galvin, Peter Speakman
Troy, a depressed overweight teenager, gets sucked into the punk rock world by Marcus, a charming street musician. But when Troy discovers Marcus’ drug addiction, he suddenly must figure out the true boundaries of friendship.
Cast: Jacob Wysocki, Matt O'Leary, Billy Campbell, Lilli Simmons, Dylan Arnold (World Premiere)
frankie go boom
Director/Screenwriter: Jordan Roberts
a flick by bruce about his little brother frank who's a crybaby fuck who shouldn't do lame-ass embarrassing shit if he dozn't want people 2 see it
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Chris O'Dowd, Lizzy Caplan, Ron Perlman, Chris Noth (World Premiere)
Hunky Dory (UK)
Director: Marc Evans, Screenwriter: Laurence Coriat
From the producer of Billy Elliot comes this funny, coming of age film featuring songs from artists such as David Bowie, Lou Reed, The Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, Dusty Springfield and Electric Light Orchestra. Cast: Minnie Driver, Aneurin Barnard, Danielle Branch, Robert Pugh, Haydn Gwynne
(North American Premiere)
In Our Nature
Director/Screenwriter: Brian Savelson
Taking place over a single weekend, an estranged father and son accidentally end up in the same country house with their two girlfriends.
Cast: Zach Gilford, Jena Malone, John Slattery, Gabrielle Union (World Premiere)
Director: Guy Maddin, Screenwriters: Guy Maddin, George Toles
I'm only a ghost... but a ghost isn't nothing.
Cast: Isabella Rossellini, Jason Patric, Udo Kier, Kevin McDonald, Tattiawna Jones (U.S. Premiere)
See Girl Run
Director/Screenwriter: Nate Meyer
What happens when a 30-something woman allows life's "what ifs" to overwhelm her appreciation for what life actually is. Disregarding her current obligations, she digs into her romantic past in hopes of invigorating her present.
Cast: Robin Tunney, Adam Scott, Jeremy Strong, William Sadler, Josh Hamilton (World Premiere)
Director: Jonas Åkerlund, Screenwriter: Chris Millis
When Franklin Franklin accidentally kills his landlord, he must hide the body; but, the wisdom of his beloved brother and the quirks of his neighbors, force him on a journey where a fortune awaits him. Cast: Matt Lucas, Billy Crystal, James Caan, Johnny Knoxville, Juno Temple (World Premiere)
Somebody Up There Likes Me
Director/Screenwriter: Bob Byington
Time flies for everyone: Thirty-five years in the life of Max, his best friend Sal, and a woman they both adore. A deadpan fable about time sneaking up on and swerving right around us.
Cast: Keith Poulson, Nick Offerman, Jess Weixler, Stephanie Hunt, Kevin Corrigan (World Premiere)
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
This year’s 8 films were selected from 845 submissions. Each film is a World Premiere.
Films screening in Documentary Feature Competition are:
Bay of All Saints
Director: Annie Eastman
As the last of the notorious water slums is demolished in Bahia, Brazil, will three single mothers face homelessness or rally for a better life? (World Premiere)
Beware of Mr. Baker
Director: Jay Bulger
Ginger Baker is the original rock ‘n roll madman junkie drummer superstar who everyone thought was dead but somehow survived 50+ years of heroin abuse, disastrous experiments and 5 marriages on 4 continents. (World Premiere)
The Central Park Effect
Director: Jeffrey Kimball
The film reveals the extraordinary array of wild birds who grace Manhattan’s celebrated patch of green, and the equally colorful, full-of-attitude New Yorkers who schedule their lives around the rhythms of migration. (World Premiere)
Director: Chris James Thompson
A documentary about the people around Jeffrey Dahmer during the 1991 summer of his arrest for the murder of 17 people in Milwaukee. (World Premiere)
Seeking Asian Female
Director: Debbie Lum
When an American man with "yellow fever" meets a Chinese woman half his age online, documenting their attempt to build a marriage from scratch reveals hilarious and troubling complications for the couple and the filmmaker. (World Premiere)
The Sheik and I
Director: Caveh Zahedi
Commissioned by a Middle Eastern Biennial to make a film on the theme of "art as a subversive act," independent filmmaker Caveh Zahedi (I am a Sex Addict) is threatened with a fatwa. (World Premiere)
Directors: Jodi Wille, Maria Demopoulos
The Source Family was a radical experiment in '70s utopian living. Their popular restaurant, rock band, and beautiful women made them the darlings of Hollywood; but their outsider ideals led to their dramatic undoing. (World Premiere)
Welcome To The Machine
Director: Avi Zev Weider
Upon fathering triplets, filmmaker Avi Zev Weider explores the nature of technology, seeking answers about what it means to be human. (World Premiere)
Shining a light on new documentary features receiving their World, North American or U.S. Premieres at SXSW.
Films screening in Documentary Spotlight are:
Director: Kevin Mazur
Renowned celebrity photographer, Kevin Mazur, gives us an all access pass to the life behind the velvet rope and in front of the camera. Candid, revealing and bold interviews with Jennifer Aniston, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Lopez, Elton John and more, take us inside the blurred lines of privacy, pliable journalism, celebrity, fame and what it feels like to be consumed. (World Premiere)
America's Parking Lot
Director: Jonny Mars
Pull up a front row seat as two die-hard fans of 'America's Team' spend their last season with the Dallas Cowboys at historic Texas Stadium, and scramble to preserve their place in America’s Parking Lot. (World Premiere)
Director: Nelson George
On Thursday, November 7, 1991, Earvin “Magic” Johnson made the stunning announcement that he was HIV-positive and would be retiring from basketball immediately. The Announcement gets to the core of Magic’s incredible personal journey. (World Premiere)
Beauty Is Embarrassing
Director: Neil Berkeley
A funny, irreverent and inspirational look into the life and times of one of America's most important artists, Wayne White. (World Premiere)
Director: Katie Dellamaggiore
Amidst financial crises and unprecedented public school budget cuts, Brooklyn Castle takes an intimate look at the challenges and triumphs facing members of a junior high school’s champion chess team. (World Premiere)
Code of the West
Director: Rebecca Richman Cohen
Frames a high stakes showdown in the halls of the Montana State Legislature. The future of medical marijuana is at stake. (World Premiere)
Degenerate Art: The Art and Culture of Glass Pipes
Director: M. Slinger
A true document of the art and culture of glass pipe-making. It is the first film to ever bring to light this invisible sub-culture in a comprehensive and well-informed format. (World Premiere)
Directors: A. Sabin, David Redmon
Young Russian girls join a modeling agency to seek work in Japan, but get caught up in an unregulated system that reveals an unseemly side of the fashion industry. (U.S. Premiere)
Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters
Director: Ben Shapiro
Acclaimed photographer Gregory Crewdson’s 10-year quest to create a series of haunting, surreal, and stunningly elaborate portraits of small-town American life — filmed with unprecedented access as he makes perfect renderings of a disturbing, imperfect world. (World Premiere)
Just Like Being There
Director: Scout Shannon
Through the eyes of Daniel Danger, Jay Ryan, and the gig poster community, Just Like Being There focuses on poster artists, the music they commemorate, MONDO film posters, fans, bloggers, galleries, collectors and everything in between. (World Premiere)
Scarlet Road (Australia)
Director: Catherine Scott
The film follows the extraordinary work of Australian sex worker, Rachel Wotton. Impassioned about freedom of sexual expression and the rights of sex workers, she specializes in a long over-looked clientele - people with disability. (North American Premiere)
Director: Andrew Garrison
A choreographer finds beauty and grace in garbage trucks, and against the odds, rallies reluctant city trash collectors to perform an extraordinary dance spectacle. On an abandoned airport runway, two dozen sanitation workers -- and their trucks -- inspire an audience of thousands. (World Premiere)
Waiting For Lightning
Director: Jacob Rosenberg
From the producers of Step into Liquid, comes the story of visionary skateboarder Danny Way, who jumped China’s Great Wall and created a new movement in sport. (World Premiere)
Wikileaks: Secrets & Lies (UK)
Director: Patrick Forbes
The in-depth story of Wikileaks told by all the key players. Sulphurous, personal and moving, it documents history in the making at the lawless frontier of new technology and mainstream media. (North American Premiere)
WONDER WOMEN! The Untold Story of American Superheroines
Director: Kristy Guevara-Flanagan
This documentary examines the fascinating evolution and legacy of Wonder Woman and introduces audiences to a dynamic group of real life superheroes who continue to fight the good fight both on and off the screen. (World Premiere)
Audacious, risk-taking artists in the new cinema landscape that demonstrate raw innovation and creativity in documentary and narrative filmmaking.
Films screening in Emerging Visions are:
Black Pond (UK)
Directors: Tom Kingsley, Will Sharpe, Screenwriter: Will Sharpe
An ordinary family is accused of murder when a stranger dies at their dinner table. Stars BAFTA-winner Chris Langham and British Comedy Award Winner Simon Amstell. Cast: Chris Langham, Simon Amstell, Amanda Hadingue, Colin Hurley, Will Sharpe (North American Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Kirsten Sheridan
Five street teens break into a house in a rich Dublin suburb for a night of partying. But games are twisted into something more emotional and ultimately out of control through a series of surprising revelations. Cast: Seana Kerslake, Johnny Ward, Kate Stanley Brennan, Shane Curry, Ciaran McCabe (North American Premiere)
Director: Andrew Beck Grace
A quest to eat locally becomes a meditation on community, the South and sustainability. Eating Alabama is a story about why food matters. (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Rebecca Thomas
Rachel, a 15-year-old fundamentalist Mormon, believes she's had an immaculate conception by listening to rock and roll. She flees to Las Vegas to escape an arranged marriage, seeking answers to her mysterious pregnancy.
Cast: Julia Garner, Rory Culkin, Liam Aiken, Billy Zane (North American Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Nir Paniry
A scientist is trapped in the memories of a criminal and must solve a crime in order to get back home to his family.
Cast: Sasha Roiz, Dominic Bogart, Jenny Mollen, Nick Jameson, Brad Culver (World Premiere)
Francine (Canada / USA)
Director/Screenwriter: Brian M. Cassidy, Melanie Shatzky
Academy-Award-winner, Melissa Leo, plays Francine, a woman struggling to find her place in a downtrodden lakeside town after leaving behind a life in prison.
Cast: Melissa Leo, Keith Leonard, Victoria Charkut (North American Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Kevin Mcmanus, Matthew Mcmanus
For three 14-year-old boys at St. Mark's Middle School, it's always a good day for a funeral.
Cast: Dylan Hartigan, Alex Maizus, Jordan Puzzo, Charles Odei, Kevin Corrigan (World Premiere)
Hard Labor (Brazil)
Director/Screenwriter: Juliana Rojas, Marco Dutra
Helena prepares to open her own business: a neighborhood grocery store. She hires a maid. But when her husband Octavio is suddenly fired from his job, Helena is left to support the family alone.
Cast: Helena Albergaria, Marat Descartes, Naloana Lima, Marina Flores (U.S. Premiere)
La Camioneta - The Journey of One American School Bus
Director: Mark Kendall
On a 3,000-mile adventure across the borders between the Americas, La Camioneta follows the journey of one out-of-service American school bus as it is repaired, repainted and resurrected into a Guatemalan camioneta. (World Premiere)
The Last Fall
Director/Screenwriter: Matthew A. Cherry
An NFL journeyman struggles to deal with life's complexities after his professional career is over at age 25.
Cast: Lance Gross, Nicole Beharie, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Harry Lennix, Keith David
Leave Me Like You Found Me
Director/Screenwriter: Adele Romanski
Big trees, broken hearts. The story of a lovesick couple’s breakup & makeup while camping in the wilds of California. Cast: Megan Boone, David Nordstrom (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Tim Sutton
Max, a quietly troubled 15-year-old, leaves his lakeside town to live with his father on the sun-blasted fringe of suburban Arizona. What begins in a calm and lush environment ends in a drastic, frayed confusion. Cast: Max Schaffner, Zach Cali, Cody Hamric, Addie Barlett, Aaron Buyea (World Premiere)
Sun Don't Shine
Director/Screenwriter: Amy Seimetz
Two lovers, on the back roads of Florida, do very bad things.
Cast: Kate Lyn Sheil, Kentucker Audley, AJ Bowen, Kit Gwinn, Mark Reeb (World Premiere)
Directors: Silas Howard, Ernesto Foronda, Screenwriter: Valerie Stadler
When May returns to LA and runs smack into JP, the man she left behind, past and present collide sending them on a twenty-four hour journey in search of what they lost.
Cast: Monique Curnen, Sung Kang, Joshua Leonard, Mousa Kraish, Michelle Krusiec (World Premiere)
Director: Bill Ross, Turner Ross
Three young brothers' immersive journey into the sensory wonders of the New Orleans night.
Director/Screenwriter: Aleksander L. Nordaas
The film revolves around huldra, a mythical, tailed creature, found by two crime scene cleaners in a concealed cellar. Someone’s been keeping her down here for decades, for reasons soon to surface. Cast: Silje Reinåmo, Jon Sigve Skard, Erlend Nervold, Morten Andresen (North American Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Wu Tsang
A magical-realist portrait of the Silver Platter, a historic bar in Los Angeles that provides a safe space for Latin/LGBT immigrant and queer art communities to come together in love and conflict.
Director/Screenwriter: Ya'ke Smith
A family is shaken to the core when they discover their son has been molested. As they struggle to deal with the betrayal, their son heads towards a total mental collapse.
Cast: Irma P. Hall, Mikala Gibson, Jordan Cooper, Shelton Jolivette, Eugene Lee (World Premiere)
24 BEATS PER SECOND
Showcasing the sounds, culture and influence of music and musicians, with an emphasis on documentary.
Films screening in 24 Beats Per Second are:
Amor Cronico (Cuba / USA)
Director: Jorge Perugorria
Weaving footage of singer Cucu Diamantes’ Cuban tour into a fictional love story. The result is an energetic display of her glamorous and infectious performance style and a fascinating portrait of Cuba today.
Cast: Cucu Diamantes, Adela Legra, Liosky Clavero, Andres Levin, Jorge Perugorria (World Premiere)
Bad Brains: Band in DC
Directors: Mandy Stein, Benjamen Logan
How four young men from DC changed music forever. (World Premiere)
Charles Bradley: Soul of America
Director: Poull Brien
The incredible late-in-life rise of 62-year-old aspiring soul singer Charles Bradley, whose debut album rocketed him from a hard life in the projects to Rolling Stone magazine’s top 50 albums of 2011.
Director: Dave Boyle, Screenwriters: Dave Boyle, Michael Lerman, Joel Clark, Goh Nakamura
After a devastating breakup, musician Goh Nakamura hits the road with his irresponsible cousin to pursue a promising rebound with fellow musician Yea-Ming Chen.
Cast: Goh Nakamura, Michael Aki, Yea-Ming Chen, Lynn Chen, Ayako Fujitani (World Premiere)
Grandma Lo-fi: The Basement Tapes of Sigrídur Níelsdóttir (Iceland / Denmark)
Director: Kristín Björk Kristjánsdóttir
At the tender age of 70 she started making music - and then she couldn't stop! A tribute to the Danish/Icelandic artist and late bloomer Sigrídur Níelsdóttir.
Paul Williams Still Alive
Director: Stephen Kessler
A documentary filmmaker tracks down actor/singer/songwriter Paul Williams in an attempt to find out what happened to his idol. (U.S. Premiere)
Rock 'N' Roll Exposed: The Photography of Bob Gruen (UK)
Director: Don Letts
Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, Yoko Ono, Alice Cooper, Billie Joe Armstrong and others discuss the incredible life and work of the world's foremost rock 'n' roll photographer, Bob Gruen.
(North American Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Hans Fjellestad
The 100-year history of the loudest street on the planet, The Sunset Strip. (World Premiere)
Under African Skies
Director: Joe Berlinger
Paul Simon returns to South Africa to explore the incredible journey of his historic Graceland album, including the political backlash he received for allegedly breaking the UN cultural boycott of South Africa designed to end the Apartheid regime.
Uprising: Hip Hop & The LA Riots
Director: Mark Ford
20 years after riots ripped through Los Angeles, Uprising documents how hip hop forecasted – and some say ignited – the worst civil unrest of the 20th century. (World Premiere)
A diverse panorama of international filmmaking talent, including premieres, interactive documentaries and shorts.
Films screening in SX Global are:
Director: Ashtar Sayed, Screenwriter: Dr. Mahendra Purohit
Inspired by a true event. Scarecrow tells the true story of a young woman who is attempting to escape from an abusive arranged marriage. Cast: Arti Rautela, Amit Purohit (North American Premiere)
Crulic - The Path to Beyond (Romania / Poland)
Director: Anca Damian
The animated documentary feature-length “Crulic – The Path to Beyond” tells the story of the life of Crulic, the 33-year-old Romanian who died in a Polish prison while on hunger strike.
Cubaton - El Medico Story (Estonia / Sweden)
Director: Daniel Fridell
El Medico - a Cuban house doctor who wants to become a cubaton star - is facing a serious choice between serving the state and becoming a popstar. (North American Premiere)
Her Master's Voice (UK)
Director: Nina Conti
Watching someone talk to themselves has never been so interesting. (World Premiere)
ITALY LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT (Italy / Germany)
Directors: Gustav Hofer, Luca Ragazzi
Gustav and Luca, two Italians, have to decide: Should they stay in Italy, or leave it? (North American Premiere)
Mustafa's Sweet Dreams (Greece / UK)
Director: Angelos Abazoglou
Mustafa, a 16-year-old pastry shop apprentice dreams of becoming a famous baklava chef in Istanbul. (North American Premiere)
Director: Tamae Garateguy, Screenwriters: Tamae Garateguy, Diego A. Fleischer
When a film director hires two screenwriters to make a gangster movie, a fiction feast starts: femmes fatales, mobs fighting for the same neighborhood and a limitless hero who defies every movie concept. Cast: José Luciano González, Joel Drut, Chang Sung Kim, Vladimir Yuravel, Miguel Forza de Paul
¡Vivan las Antipodas! (Germany / The Netherlands / Argentina / Chile)
Director: Victor Kossakovsky
Haven’t we all wondered at some point what was happening just at this moment beneath our very feet at the other side of the planet?
Acclaimed standouts and selected previous premieres from festivals around the world.
Films screening in Festival Favorites are:
Director/Screenwriter: Christoffer Boe
How long will you go, to hold on to the person you love?
Cast: Nicolas Bro, Marijana Jankovic, Nikolaj Lie Kaas
Director: Rick Alverson, Screenwriters: Robert Donne, Colm O'Leary
Indifferent even to the prospects of inheriting his father's estate, Swanson (Tim Heidecker), a desensitized, aging Brooklyn hipster, strays into a series of reckless situations that may offer the promise of redemption or the threat of retribution.
Cast: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, James Murphy, Kate Lyn-Sheil, Alexia Rassmusen
Dreams of a Life (UK / Ireland)
Director: Carol Morley
An imaginative quest to go beyond the newspaper reports and solve the mystery of who thirty-eight year old Joyce Vincent was and why she lay undiscovered for three years after her death in one of the busiest parts of London. (North American Premiere)
God Bless America
Director/Screenwriter: Bobcat Goldthwait
Loveless, jobless, possibly terminally ill, Frank has had enough of the downward spiral of America. With nothing left to lose, Frank takes his gun and offs the stupidest, cruelest, and most repellent members of society. Cast: Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr (U.S. Premiere)
The Imposter (UK)
Director: Bart Layton
In 1994 a 13-year-old disappears without trace in Texas. Three years later he resurfaces in Spain with accounts of a horrifying kidnap. His family is overjoyed – but all is not as it seems.
Indie Game: The Movie (Canada)
Directors: Lisanne Pajot, James Swirsky
With the twenty-first century comes a new breed of artist: the indie game designer. These innovators design and program their distinctly personal games in the hope that they may find connection and success.
Director/Screenwriter: David Zellner
A fever-dream fable about Annie, a rebellious girl devoid of parental guidance or a moral compass. She roams the countryside looking for adventure, and finds it one day in the form of an abandoned well. Cast: Sydney Aguirre, Susan Tyrrell, Nathan Zellner, David Zellner, David Wingo
Last Call at the Oasis
Director: Jessica Yu
A powerful argument for why the global water crisis will be the central issue facing our world this century.
Director: Eduardo Sanchez, Screenwriters: Eduardo Sanchez, Jamie Nash
Exploring the parallels between psychosis, addiction and demonic possession, Lovely Molly tells the story of what really happens before the exorcist arrives.
Cast: Gretchen Lodge, Johnny Lewis, Alexandra Holden (U.S. Premiere)
The Raid (Indonesia)
Director/Screenwriter: Gareth Huw Evans
Rama and his special forces team fight their way through a rundown apartment block with a mission to remove its owner, a notorious drug lord.
Cast: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Doni Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno
WE ARE LEGION: The Story of the Hacktivists
Director: Brian Knappenberger
We Are Legion takes us inside the world of Anonymous, the radical "hacktivist" collective that has redefined civil disobedience for the digital age.
Live Soundtracks, cult re-issues and much more. Our Special Events section offers unusual, unexpected and unique film event one-offs.
Films screening in Special Events are:
An Evening With Sacred Bones Records
Director: Jacqueline Castel
Brooklyn-based record label Sacred Bones presents an evening of original and curated programming of music videos, short films, works in progress, and a rare screening of their first film production, Twelve Dark Noons. (World Premiere)
Director: Richard Linklater, Screenwriters: Richard Linklater, Skip Hollandsworth
Based on real-life events, this dark comedy follows Bernie Tiede, his recently deceased friend Marjorie Nugent and District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson who is determined to get to the bottom of the crime. Cast: Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey, Brady Coleman, Richard Robichaux
Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me
Director: Drew Denicola
A feature-length documentary about the massive critical acclaim, dismal commercial failure, and enduring legacy of pop music’s greatest cult phenomenon, Big Star. (Work in Progress)
Casa de mi Padre
Director: Matt Piedmont, Screenwriter: Andrew Steele
Will Ferrell plays a Mexican rancher who must defend his father's home against the country's most infamous drug lord. Cast: Will Ferrell, Gael García Vernal, Diego Luna, Genesis Rodriguez, Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Nick Offerman
Girl Walk // All Day
Director/Screenwriter: Jacob Krupnick
A feature-length dance music film that combines freestyle dance with the daily chaos of New York City, set to Girl Talk's recent mashup album, All Day. Cast: Anne Marsen, John Doyle, Daisuke Omiya
Director: Amir Bar Lev
5 DJ's Turn the Table on The History of Music.
Directors: Adam Russell, John Sear
A ground breaking feature-length show controlled entirely by the audience using laser pointers. It is the first viable example of a standalone interactive experience capable of running in commercial movie theatres. (North American Premiere)
The Oyster Princess (1919) with original live score by Bee vs. Moth (Germany)
Director: Ernst Lubitsch, Screenriters: Hanns Kraly & Ernst Lubitsch
The Oyster Princess is Ernst Lubitsch’s tart 1919 silent comedy that parodies the rich and the spoiled. Austin jazz/rock band Bee vs. Moth performs their original score live with the film for the first time. (World Premiere)
1. The Best Picture Race Down to a Pair?
A month ago I gave you the six mortal locks of the Best Picture category, movies destined to receive a nomination. I'm now ready to cut that down to the two films with a legitimate chance at victory, making me either 1) Ridiculously foolish or 2) Exceptionally brave. Maybe both. But unlike last year's depressing Avatar vs. Hurt Locker battle this one offers real intrigue, and so it deserves as much advanced bloggin' as we can give it. You ready?
127 Hours vs. True Grit. That's the Academy's choice, and it's a great one for a number of reasons. First off, we'll have two returning champions, Danny Boyle versus The Coen Brothers. Secondly, the match-up will pit two disparate styles of cinema against each other, and whichever way The Academy goes will say something significant about where our artists and culture are headed.
In one corner you've got 127 Hours, Danny Boyle's "true story brought to life," starring "it" guy James Franco. Based solely on the trailer, the film is brightly lit, offering quick cuts, rapid tonal shifts, and a dynamic tale. In the other corner you've got The Coen Bros. offering up a remake of a classic, wry and dark, Jeff Bridges squinting quietly off into the distance. Slumdog Millionaire, a tale steeped in humanity, never got a chance to face off against No Country for Old Men, a tale steeped in dread. I loved both of 'em, but you'd never confuse the directors or the films, would you?
Which brings me back to last year's Best Picture race. As the field was winnowed down it became apparent that Avatar was on a collision course with Hurt Locker (no matter how hard I tried to get the superior film, Inglourious Basterds, into the mix). It was pretty clear what the narrative was, exes facing off, the commercial titan versus the "controversial" indie, the general public juggernaut against a film that desperately needed a DVD push. The Academy made the call, correctly I think, going with a film that needed support over a movie that was big fun ... but fell apart in the last hour.
This year will be much tougher to call, but infinitely more interesting. You'll have a generation gap, Jeff Bridges battling James Franco, and a remake taking on a true story is compelling as well. A.R. Rahman's soundtrack versus Johnny Cash's mournful twang. But most of all it will be a verdict on style. Does The Academy goes with Boyle's more visceral and earnest method of cinema? Or do they reward the quieter, measured approach of True Grit? Old versus new, light versus dark, authentic versus intelligent. Now that's a race I want to tune into. A little over four months until we find out!
2. Put Without Remorse On Your Radar.
Even if you've never read a Tom Clancy novel, you know Tom Clancy. He's the novel writer behind The Hunt for the Red October, Patriot Games, and Clear and Present Danger. Based on those titles you're thinking "Military hero stuff, got it." Not so fast! He did two books that weren't Jack Ryan or hero based, and one of them is being adapted into a film. That book is called Without Remorse and it's completely atypical of Tom Clancy's oeuvre (the other one, Red Storm Rising, is a well-paced story of global warfare).
Without Remorse reminds me a little bit of Payback, it's a movie about an anti-hero, gritty and painful, heartbreaking and sudden. The book claims, at least on Wikipedia, to be part of the "Ryanverse" but I'd argue, having read all of Clancy's fiction, that it is far more of an origin story for a fellow named Clark (played by Willem Dafoe back in Clear and Present Danger). Without Remorse has much more in common with a series like Dexter than it does with anything Cold War related.
So when the news came down that Shawn Ryan, creator of The Shield, was tapped to handle the adaptation it put a little hop in my step. He's the perfect guy to handle it, as Without Remorse deals much more with street crime and drugs than it does far-flung political intrigue. I'm really looking forward to this project, it's the one Clancy story that evokes emotion while eschewing military hardware.
3. Paranormal Activity, Saw, And The Future of Suspense!
On October 23, 2009 a sea change occurred. Paranormal Activity, in its fifth weekend out, beat the newly released Saw VI straight up at the box office, $21m to $14m. It pulled off this feat with a thousand less theaters, and coming off a $19m weekend on October 18.
There were a number of ways to parse this occurrence. The first theory was that Paranormal Activity and Saw VI were going for the same audience, and Paranormal Activity won, while Saw VI limped to its worst opening and worst total box office of the franchise. The second theory holds that the Saw franchise and the Paranormal Activity crowd don't mix, and the Saw VI result was merely evidence of a series that had been on the decline since 2007's Saw IV. Whatever the case, I hold that it's good news for movie fans the whole world round.
The Paranormal Activity franchise is high on suspense, low on gore, and shot on the cheap. It feels more intimate than contrived torture porn. It opens up the horror genre, if it is even in that category, up to a wider group of folks. You couldn't take a date to Saw -- you can take one to Paranormal Activity. I don't want to be the guy that says "Back in my day," but back in my day scary films didn't have to beat you over the head with blood. Let's chalk up films like Hostel and Saw to the previous decade of irrational exuberance and discretionary income. Where will we get our scares from here on out? Hand-held cameras, lower budgets, and limited special effects. Anyone with a camera has a shot at making a splash, and you won't need to keep upping the ante on your "kills." At this point, go ahead and insert the inspiring sounds of "What a Wonderful World" (The Iz version) into this conversation. And check out Paranormal Activity 2 this weekend, you'll get a few jumps. Saw 3-D next weekend? I can't go for that, no can do.
On that note, I hope you have a weekend without any special effects at all.
Check out last week's Movie Musings here
Laremy is the lead critic and senior producer for a website named Film.com. He's also available on Twitter.
2004 had its fair share of highs and lows. Celebrities like to live life in the fast lane so there's been no shortage of wild entertainment news to report.
Right from the beginning of the year, major stories continually rolled in. Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck ended their turbulent engagement in January, while the following month Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman announced their marriage was over. But, like the silver lining of every cloud, some of Hollywood's finest tied the knot this year: Kevin Costner, Dennis Quaid and Robert Evans all walked down the aisle with their loved ones, while Diane Lane and Josh Brolin married each other. Clearly believing there's no time like the present, J.Lo secretly wed Marc Anthony in June.
2004 also saw the passing of several legends, including Sir Peter Ustinov, Ronald Reagan, Fay Wray, Russ Meyer, Janet Leigh, Rodney Dangerfield and Superfly star Ron O'Neal. But it was Marlon Brando's death in July that garnered the most headlines.
Away from the big screen, three of television's most popular shows all ended within the space of a few weeks of each other. Many fans were left fearing the world would be a lonelier place without the likes of Friends, Frasier and Sex and the City.
But it's difficult to sum up a year in a few sentences, so read on and reminisce on the eventful 12 months that made up 2004.
The year began with the heart-warming announcement that Dawson's Creek actress Katie Holmes and American Pie star Chris Klein became engaged over the 2003 Christmas break. At the time, the couple had been dating for four years and decided not to set a date for their nuptials.
Actress Chloe Sevigny had a more pressing start to her year, which she began by rubbishing reports she was dumped by the William Morris Agency after performing a sex act on screen--saying it was she who ended their association. The 29-year-old star shocked critics and audiences alike with her performance in Vincent Gallo's movie Brown Bunny, in which she is seen giving the controversial filmmaker oral sex. But Sevigny insists that, despite the media storm, she made the decision to end her eight-year business relationship with the firm.
Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin escaped a public rebuke from Australia's child welfare officials after dangling his one month-old baby dangerously close to a crocodile in a stunt on New Year's Day. The incident at Australia Zoo prompted a storm of controversy, but Irwin insists his son, Bob, was never in danger. The animal expert-turned-TV star was interviewed by the Office of Workplace Health and Safety, who concluded there wasn't enough evidence to suggest he violated any safety regulations.
Angelina Jolie started 2004 by angrily hitting out at claims her adopted Cambodian son Maddox may have been illegally taken from his birth mother. American police shut down the Seattle international Adoptions Inc agency--which the Tomb Raider star used to adopt--following concerns it paid mothers as little as $119 to give up their children, rather than "rescuing" them from orphanages, as claimed. Jolie said, "I would never rob a mother of her child. I can only imagine how dreadful that would feel. If a parent survived then I would want Maddox to meet them--but I have not seen any evidence."
Love was in town for Stuck on You co-stars Matt Damon and Eva Mendes, who ended months of media speculation over their relationship when they joined pals Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez to see in the New Year in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Orlando Bloom began 2004 in a similar manner--by confirming he was dating actress Kate Bosworth. At the time, The Lord of the Rings hunk had been dating 21-year-old Bosworth for some months, but had refused to discuss their romance. But, Bloom announced, "I'm in love with love. It's heavenly when you're falling for someone and you can't stop thinking about her."
The story of the month had to be the news Affleck and Lopez were ending their high-profile romance. The stars, who cancelled their September 2003 wedding blaming an intrusive press made their privacy impossible, split amid persistent rumours they were growing apart.
Kate Hudson and her rocker husband Chris Robinson were celebrating on Jan. 7 after becoming first-time parents. The actress gave birth to baby boy Ryder Russell in Los Angeles. Elsewhere, Cameron Diaz categorically denied she would wed lover Justin Timberlake in 2004, hoping her comments would end the media circus surrounding the couple's relationship.
Actor and writer Spalding Gray went missing on Jan. 11. The Killing Fields star's body was found washed up on the Brooklyn side of New York's East River on Mar. 7. He had committed suicide by jumping off the city's Staten Island ferry.
An ex-boyfriend of Halle Berry stepped forward to accuse Wesley Snipes of being her abusive ex-lover, who struck the Catwoman star so hard, she lost most of the hearing in her right ear. R&B singer Christopher Williams--who dated Berry in the early 1990s--made the startling accusation against the Blade star after getting upset with the number of people who assumed it was him who dealt the screen beauty the damaging blow.
Nicole Kidman ditched her lover Lenny Kravitz amid reports of his infidelity. The Cold Mountain beauty had been dating the rock wildman for eight months but was horrified to hear he had been spotted romancing Brazilian artist Isis Arruda and actress Michelle Rodriguez behind her back.
Veteran actor Carmine Caridi admitted lending his screener copies of
February's Oscar contenders to a friend who put them online. The Godfather:
Part III star, 70, later told investigators he sent VHS copies of approximately
60 films per year to pal Russell Sprague who converted them onto the DVD
format. Caridi insists he had no idea that Sprague would distribute the films
via the internet and had sent them to him because he believed they were for the
51-year-old's personal entertainment. Caridi became the first person to be
expelled from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for his part in
the affair. In November he was fined $300,000. The US District Court
in Los Angeles imposed two fines of $150,000 each on Caridi, one for
The Last Samurai and one for Mystic River, after studio Warner Bros filed a
Animation giants Pixar and Walt Disney ended their record-breaking
partnership this month, despite the international success of films including
Finding Nemo, Toy Story and Monsters Inc. Pixar chief executive Steve Jobs said
the company decided to end its distribution deal with Disney, after its request
for a greater percentage of the profits was declined.
January saw the passing of Superfly star Ron O'Neal, who died after a long
battle with cancer. The blaxploitation legend was 66. Renowned fashion
photographer Helmut Newton also died this month, in a car crash in Los Angeles.
He was 83. Newton reportedly lost control of his Cadillac car after leaving
Hollywood's Chateau Marmont hotel and crashed into a wall.
February began with Jamie Foxx being placed on two years probation after
pleading guilty to charges of fighting with security guards at a New Orleans,
Louisiana, casino in April 2003. The actor and comedian entered a disturbing
the peace plea on and also received a $1,500 fine. It was to be a
good year for Foxx, however, with movie hits in Collateral and Ray.
A new biography claimed four-times Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn had affairs
with Judy Garland, Greta Garbo and other A-list ladies. Author Darwin Porter
wrote in the book Katharine The Great that Hepburn, who died in June 2003, was
busy romancing both men and women during her younger years.
Meanwhile, Mel Gibson was slammed as "ignorant" and "insensitive" for
defending his dad over his view that the Holocaust has been exaggerated. Gibson
stated his unwavering support for Hutton Gibson during a magazine interview,
even though his father has previously rubbished the belief six million Jews
were exterminated by Nazi Germany during World War II. Gibson acknowledged the
Holocaust happened, but said, "I love (my dad). So I'll slug it out, until my
heart is black and blue, if anyone ever tries to hurt him." But it was Gibson's
The Passion of the Christ which caused the most controversy for the Lethal
Weapon star in February. In the weeks leading up to its release, The Passion was criticized by many religious leaders for supposedly blaming Jews
for Jesus' crucifixion. However, on its release, the film--about the final 12
hours of Jesus' life--went on to become a surprise box office smash, taking
$23.6 million on its opening day alone.
Actor and murder suspect Robert Blake's ongoing legal problems continued this
month, when his third attorney, Thomas Mesereau, quit because of
"irreconcilable differences". The news was unwelcome for Blake, standing trial
for the murder of his actress wife Bonny Lee Bakley, who was fatally shot while
sitting in a car outside Studio City, California eatery Vitello's following a
meal with her husband in 2001. Mesereau ended 2004 by representing Michael
Jackson in another one of the most high-profile legal battles of the year.
It came to light in February that Nicole Kidman had been given the all-clear
following a breast cancer scare the previous month. The Oscar-winning beauty,
36, was sent for further tests after doctors spotted a suspicious area during a
routine check-up, but fortunately was found to be in perfect health.
Liza Minnelli's and David Gest's divorce became increasingly bitter
throughout February. First, Gest asked Minnelli to take a lie detector test, in
a bid to prove she beat him up during drunken rages. Then, he appeared on
news show Dateline and showed interviewer Stone Phillips 'claw' marks
he claimed Minnelli had left on his stomach, and asked, "See those finger
Hotel heiress Paris Hilton filed a $28.8 million lawsuit
against an internet company for showing her explicit sex-tape on the web. The
22-year-old slapped the lawsuit on Kahatani Ltd, claiming a violation of
privacy over the film which shows her having sex with former boyfriend Rick
Salomon. The tape--which surfaced on the website in November 2003--was made
when Hilton was 19.
Kiefer Sutherland was rushed to hospital to receive six stitches after his
face was slashed during a bar fight. The 24 star was left disfigured following
the brawl in Los Angeles--forcing the show's bosses to delay filming while his
face heals. Sutherland's publicist said the star was "defending himself".
Also this month, Ethan Hawke confirmed his marriage to Uma Thurman was over
for good and that they'd filed for divorce. The couple split in 2003.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered officials to stop granting
gay wedding licences in San Francisco. The Terminator star ordered
the clampdown after a judge decided not to impose a restraining order on
same-sex marriages. Before he could, though, Rosie O'Donnell married her lesbian
lover Kelli Carpenter in the city.
Former boxing champ Mike Tyson agreed to plead guilty to disorderly conduct
instead of assault for his part in a New York hotel brawl in 2003. Tyson agreed
to 100 hours of community service--lecturing, training and instructing at
Gleeson's boxing gym in Brooklyn--and to undergo counselling.
Hit medical drama ER axed a two-second slot featuring an elderly woman's bust
following the outrage sparked by Janet Jackson's Super Bowl breast exposure.
Jackson caused a nationwide scandal when she revealed one of her bosoms during
her performance with Justin Timberlake at American football final on Feb. 1. ER wasn't the only victim of censorship as the result of the 'nipplegate' furore. The Oscars, which took place on Feb. 29, were broadcast with a five-second delay. However, ceremony producer Joe Roth promised nominees the planned delay in the telecast would not be used to cull any controversial political remarks.
Blake Edwards kicked off March by slamming Academy Awards bosses for placing a
five-second delay on the live TV broadcast. The Breakfast at Tiffany's
filmmaker, who picked up an honorary Oscar on Feb. 29 for his
long-standing movie career, was irritated America's moral guardians had reacted
to Janet Jackson's breast-baring at the previous month's Super Bowl. Edwards
said, "It's such hypocrisy. I really don't see how you can run Sex and the
City, and then turn around and raise this kind of fuss."
The legal woes of troubled actor Robert Blake continued unabated in March as
he appeared with his fourth lawyer, M. Gerald Schwartzbach, at a preliminary
hearing to answer charges he murdered his wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley.
Steven Seagal's lawyers wanted to be released from representing him this
month. The attorneys defending the Under Siege star from a $60 million civil suit brought by former business partner Julius Nasso filed papers in New York asking to be let loose from the case.
Elsewhere, a judge threw out a claim by Sony Pictures that it be
allowed to use remarks by a non-existent critic to promote films including A
Knight's Tale. The argument, presented by Sony's lawyers--that adverts with
fake quotes are protected by freedom of speech--was dismissed. The
controversial case was filed by filmgoers against the Hollywood studio after a
2001 Newsweek article uncovered fake critic David Manning, who'd written
favourable 'reviews' for movies including Vertical Limit and Hollow Man.
Oscar winner Charlize Theron broke down in tears after former South African
President Nelson Mandela praised her for putting their country on the map. The
actress, who picked up the Best Actress Oscar for her role as a
serial-killing prostitute in Monster in February, was guest of honour at the
Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg.
Scottish actor Alan Cumming slammed President George W Bush's stance on
gay marriage--branding him "out of step" with public opinion. The openly
bisexual X2:X-Men United star, who lives in America, was horrified to hear Bush's plans
to outlaw the practice and urged liberal-minded Americans to use their vote
this year to oust him in November's presidential election.
Pamela Anderson was celebrating after being paid staggering $250,000
advance to pen her first novel, Star.
Newlywed Kate Winslet stunned Inside The Actor's Studio host James Lipton by
breaking down in tears while talking about life with husband Sam Mendes and their new son, Joe. In an interview broadcast in March, but recorded weeks after giving birth to the couple's first child together in December 2003, Winslet was clearly overcome by her emotions as she talked about how happy the American Beauty director had made her. She gushed, "I had a baby. His father is Sam Mendes. He is a wonderful... I will start crying in a minute because I'm so emotional because we just had the baby."
The Passion of the Christ star Jim Caviezel had a private meeting with Pope
John Paul II on Mar. 15. The religious Caviezel, who plays Jesus Christ in the
controversial Mel Gibson-directed epic, was reportedly blessed by the pontiff
during a brief meeting at the Vatican in Rome, Italy.
A Canadian man accused of stalking German supermodel Claudia Schiffer was
deported from Britain. Louis Alexandre Brisette, 21, was arrested after
repeatedly calling at the mansion Schiffer shares with filmmaker husband
Matthew Vaughn and their one-year-old son Caspar in Bury St Edmunds, England.
Unemployed Brisette appeared in court on Mar. 13 to face harassment charges
but returned to Schiffer's house just hours later, police said. On Mar. 14,
cops arrested Brisette at the hotel he was staying at in Bury St Edmunds and
handed him over to immigration officers.
Catherine Zeta-Jones failed in her bid to prevent a businessman from running
his company close to her new home in Swansea, Wales. The Oscar winner was
furious when she discovered Steve Gwynn planned to run his telecommunications
business near her lavish property, and had gained permission to use a garage
which is situated on the same estate as her house.
Actor Paul Reubens agreed to register as a sex offender for three years as
part of a plea bargain to remove charges of child pornography from his record.
The child porn charges against Pee-Wee Herman's alter-ego were dismissed after
the actor confessed to a separate misdemeanour obscenity charge. Under the
terms of the plea agreement, Reubens also agreed to pay a $100 fine and
to enter a counselling program for a year. He launched an appeal to clear
this name in April.
Hollywood beauty Sharon Stone became a single woman again in March when her
divorce from newspaper editor Phil Bronstein was finalized. The Basic Instinct
actress, 46, and the San Francisco Chronicle editor split in July 2003, with
Bronstein citing "irreconcilable differences".
The entertainment world was in shock this month, when Tom Cruise and Penelope
Cruz announced they'd split up after less than three years together. The
glamorous pair met on the set of the 2001 film Vanilla Sky as Cruise's marriage
to Nicole Kidman fell apart, and they began dating publicly in July 2001.
Cruise's sister and publicist Lee Anne DeVette confirmed the couple "broke up
at the end of January and it's amicable".
Hollywood actor Jason Patric was arrested after a drunken encounter with
police in Austin, Texas, at the end of the month. Patric was booked on
misdemeanour charges of public intoxication and resisting arrest. He was taken
to the Travis County Jail and released five hours later. A few days later
Patric launched a blistering counterattack on police, claiming he was assaulted
without motive. The charge of resisting arrest was dropped in May.
Acting legend Peter Ustinov died in Switzerland on Mar. 28. He was 82.
Ustinov's acting career spanned more than 60 years--including Academy Awards
for two supporting roles in Spartacus (1961) and Topkapi (1965).
Not an April Fool's joke, but the month started with the news California
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had enrolled on a training course which teaches
attendees how to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Schwarzenegger,
who at the time still faced 16 accusations of sexual harassment from women, had
voluntarily attended the two-hour seminar along with many of his senior staff
shortly after taking office, his spokesperson said.
Jennifer Lopez mother Guadalupe won a staggering $2.4 million on a Wheel of Fortune gambling machine in an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino. The elder Lopez scooped the prize from just a $3 stake at the city's Borgato Casino.
Will & Grace star Debra Messing became a mother on 8 April, when she gave birth to a baby boy.
New York radio disc-jockey Howard Stern was dropped by Clear Channel Communications in
April, after the American media giant was fined $495,000 fine for indecency following a foul-mouthed interview with Paris Hilton's ex-lover Rick Salomon. Stern had been suspended from broadcasting on the network's six stations following the "vulgar and insulting" February interview, but was removed as a result of the size of the fine. Stern found an ally in comedian Chris Rock, who launched a furious attack on the indecency craze sweeping America this month, labeling the furor "sad". Rock criticized the harsh laws that have took Stern off the air, and believes America overreacted to Janet Jackson's nipple flashing stunt at the Super Bowl in February.
Quentin Tarantino was reprimanded by producers of hit TV talent show American
Idol on April 13, when he used a swear word to describe his thoughts about a
contestant. Red-faced TV bosses had to reshoot guest judge Tarantino's reaction
to singer Latoya London's performance so the show didn't feature his expletive
when it aired on April 14. The usually live telecast was cancelled at the last
minute when chiefs at Fox TV decided to air a live broadcast by President
George W. Bush's instead. Regular judge Paula Abdul says, "He said 'I have three
words for you LaToya: F**king power house.'"
Mystery surrounded Kevin Spacey's "mugging" in a south London park at 4.30 a.m.
on April 17. The Usual Suspects star told police he had been attacked and had
his mobile phone stolen while walking his dog. However, after reporting the
crime and receiving hospital attention for a minor head injury, Spacey returned
to the police station to withdraw his claim. Spacey explained, "I fell for a
con and I was, I think, incredibly embarrassed by it. Some sob story about
someone needing to call their mother and could they use my phone. This kid
took off and I ran after him and it was 4 a.m. and I tripped up over my dog and I
ended up falling onto the street and hitting myself in the head."
And basketball star Dennis Rodman was placed under heavy restriction on the
road, after pleading no contest to a drunk driving charge in a Las Vegas court.
A judge fined Rodman $1,000, ordered him to serve 30 days of home
detention, and required him to use a device in Nevada which will measure his
blood-alcohol content before he can start his car for the next year--to
prevent him from driving after drinking alcohol.
Cosmetics impresario Estee Lauder died of a heart attack on April 24. She was 97.
The actors who voice Homer and Bart on The Simpsons were delighted at the
beginning of May, when they were awarded a huge pay rise. Dan Castellaneta and
Nancy Cartwright--who voice Homer and Bart respectively--won their battle
with TV bosses at 20th Century Fox Television to be paid $8 million each for the 22-episode 2004-05 season.
Anna Nicole Smith was banished from shock jock Howard Stern's New York radio
studio on May 4 after turning up with a TV crew and demanding an apology. The
busty blonde had hoped to film the DJ's apology after he poked fun at her
weight during a 2002 interview. But, not only did Stern refuse to say sorry, he
kicked Smith and her reality TV crew out of his studio.
The same day, supermodel Heidi Klum gave birth to a baby girl called Leni.
Klum split with the child's father, Formula One boss Flavio Briatore earlier in
the year, and later hooked up with her current beau, Seal.
Supermodel Naomi Campbell was celebrating after the British High Court ruled
her privacy was invaded when the Daily Mirror newspaper published photographs
of her leaving a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. The London-born catwalk queen's
lawyers claimed the article breached her confidence and was an invasion of
Tough guy actor Tom Sizemore's legal problems swarmed around him this month.
Firstly, a former assistant sued the actor for allegedly forcing her to hide
his drugs and trying to have sex with him. Then, the Saving Private Ryan star
was accused of violating his probation terms, imposed for abusing his former
fianceé Heidi Fleiss, after reportedly tested "dirty" for methamphetamine in
March. His spokesperson immediately dismissed claims he'd tested positive for
the drug as "bogus".
Two of America's most beloved sitcoms came to an end in May. For many, both
Friends and Frasier left a hole that couldn't be filled. Frasier enjoyed an
hour-long finale with a show of stars. The regular cast was joined by Robbie
Coltrane, Richard E Grant, Laura Linney, Wendy Mallick, Jennifer Beals and
Anthony LaPaglia. But while Frasier drew a total of 25.2 million viewers when
it aired on May 13, this couldn't compare to the 52.5 million fans the
final Friends drew on May 6.
French film legend Brigitte Bardot faced up to a year in jail when she
appeared in court to deny charges of inciting racial hatred in a book. Bardot,
69, has been defending herself in court over her best-seller A Cry in the
Silence, in which she opposes the "Islamisation of France". In June, a French
court fined her $5,400 for the offence.
British actress Kate Beckinsale wed director Len Wiseman in Los Angeles, in
front of guests including Ben Affleck and Christian Slater.
Canadian-born actress Pamela Anderson was officially sworn in as an American
citizen this month. The former Baywatch star, who moved to California from her
native British Columbia 15 years ago, passed a citizenship test and was sworn
in at a private ceremony.
Australian super couple Heath Ledger and Naomi Watts officially ended their
turbulent on/off romance, with close friends blaming the 10-year age gap for
Good news for Gwyneth Paltrow and her Coldplay singer husband Chris Martin
when their first born, a girl called Apple Blythe Alison Martin, was born in a
London hospital on May 14.
The spotlight was on Michael Moore at the Cannes Film Festival in France,
when his Fahrenheit 9/11 was given an unprecedented 15-minute standing ovation.
The controversial film--which looks at the links between President George W.
Bush and the Bin Laden family, as well as the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners
of war by American servicemen--took home the Palme D'Or best movie award at
the event, which was chaired by Quentin Tarantino. While in France, Tarantino
was made an Officer of Arts and Letters by the French government. The Kill Bill
filmmaker was presented with the honor by French Culture Minister Renaud
Donnedieu De Vabres, leaving Tarantino uncommonly "speechless".
Meanwhile, Bush received further criticism from Superman actor Christopher
Reeve, who blasted the president for failing to increase federal spending on
embryonic stem cell research. Reeve, who was paralyzed from the neck down
following a horse-riding accident in 1995, told 625 graduates at Middlebury
University in Vermont that Bush's "inaction is unacceptable".
Halle Berry won a restraining order against a former Navy SEAL stalker who
made threats against her life and those of her manager and publicist. In June,
Greg Broussard, who insisted he was destined to marry the actress, was
ordered to stay at least 100 yards away from her and two of her associates.
Blaxploitation movie legend Lincoln Kirkpatrick died after a long battle with
lung cancer in May. The 73-year-old actor appeared in more than 40 movies,
including Uptown Saturday Night and Hoodlum. He earned his acting break by
understudying for Sidney Poitier in the play A Raisin in the Sun. Emmy-winning
actor Tony Randall died on May 17at the age of 84. Randall,
most famous for playing photographer Felix Unger in TV spin-off series The Odd
Couple, died in New York after developing pneumonia following heart-bypass
surgery in December 2003. Soap and sci-fi star Richard Biggs died of a
reported stroke at his home in California on May 22. He was 44. The actor was
best known for playing Dr. Stephen Franklin in cult hit Babylon 5.
June started with the news Julia Roberts was nine weeks pregnant with twins,
reportedly a boy and a girl. Roberts had spent the preceding two years trying
to conceive with husband Danny Moder.
Lucky Ben Affleck scored a big hit at the California State Poker
Championship, scooping up a $360,000 first prize. The actor now
plans to join the likes of pop star Robbie Williams at the European Poker
Series in March.
The upcoming release of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 was on the mind of
former President George Bush at the start of the month, when he blasted
Moore over the film which questions his son's presidential actions after the
Sept. 11 atrocities in 2001. Bush senior said, "I have total disdain for
Moore. His film is a vicious attack on our son. My son served with honor, and
to get knocked down by this guy. Why should we hear about body bags, and
deaths? Why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that? To have to
answer anything about what that slime ball says is just too much."
Comic-book giant Marvel settled its legal dispute with film studio Sony
Pictures over Spider-Man merchandise, after accusing the firm of wrongfully
using the character for promotional purposes. Marvel sued Sony in February
2003, claiming it had violated an agreement by using the super-hero--played by
Tobey Maguire in the hit movie--to advertise other Sony products. Sony
countersued, saying Marvel had itself breached their licensing deal. But Marvel
announced on June 1 it had reached an agreement that would give it "additional
Jennifer Lopez surprised many when news of her secret wedding to boyfriend
Marc Anthony leaked out. The actress-singer married Anthony on June 5, just
five months after splitting from fiancé Ben Affleck.
Recovering alcoholic and Baywatch creator David Hasselhoff was arrested on
drunk driving charges when he was pulled over by Los Angeles police. When his
case was heard in court in late October, Hasselhoff was ordered to attend 50
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings, fined $200, placed on probation for
36 months and ordered to complete 200 hours of community service after pleading
"no contest" to driving with excess alcohol.
DJ Howard Stern's indecency case ended after the biggest American radio chain
agreed to pay out in a record settlement. Clear Channel Communications--who
dropped Stern earlier in the year after he conducted a sexually explicit
interview live on air--will pay $1.75 million in a deal with the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the largest ever negotiated by the FCC
and a broadcaster.
Good news arrived for Friends star Courteney Cox and husband David Arquette
when they became parents for the first time. Baby girl Coco was born in Los
Angeles on June 13.
Michael Moore slammed the American censor's decision to give his acclaimed
documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 an R rating, making it unsuitable for under-17s to
view alone. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) cited the "violent
and disturbing images" contained in the film, as well as instances of bad
language for their decision--but distributor Lion's Gate blasted the ruling as
"totally unjustified". Moore said, "It is sadly very possible that many 15 and
16-year-olds will be asked and recruited to serve in Iraq in the next couple of
years. If they are old enough to be recruited and capable of being in combat
and risking their lives, they certainly deserve the right to see what is going
on in Iraq." Moore and Lion's Gate lost their appeal.
Sharon Stone headed to a Los Angeles court to fight for lost cash she claimed
she was owed after producers of a Basic Instinct sequel scrapped the project.
Stone said she was owed more than $100 million by Rambo producers
Andrew Vajna and Mario Kassar after they promised her a $14 million salary to make the follow-up and a healthy cut of the profits. Stone dropped the lawsuit in July and agreed to appear in the sequel after all.
Legendary actor Ryan O'Neal was hailed a hero when he saved a boy from
drowning, after spotting him struggling while swimming in the sea near his
home. The brave 63-year-old star of classic movies including Paper Moon and The
Driver ran into the waves when he noticed the youngster having difficulties.
Winona Ryder returned to court in Beverly Hills to discuss her shoplifting
arrest and it was all good news. A Los Angeles judge reduced criminal theft
charges against her to misdemeanors after noting she had served 480 hours of
community service at a California hospital after being sentenced for
shoplifting in December 2001. Ryder, who was in court for her latest hearing,
thanked the judge for his time. She was placed on unsupervised probation.
Former President Bill Clinton's autobiography My Life broke records after
fans bought more than 400,000 copies of the book in America on its first day of
release. The huge opening sales figures made it the best-selling non-fiction
book of all time. Sales doubled that of the previous record holder, Clinton's
wife Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's book Living History.
June saw the deaths of movie star and former President Ronald Reagan, who
died from pneumonia at his home in Hollywood, aged 93, and screenwriter Robert
Lees, whose severed head was discovered in his murdered neighbor's Hollywood home.
Lees, 91--whose credits include episodes of the western Rawhide and Alfred
Hitchcock Presents--was found murdered with his neighbor Dr. Morley Hal
Engleson after an airline agent heard a commotion while Engleson booked a
flight by phone. Suspect Keven Lee Graff was arrested near the gates of
Paramount Studios--two miles from the victims' homes--after a studio guard
recognized his picture from a recently aired TV news conference. He was later
charged with the killings.
Ewan McGregor was "delighted" after winning damages in a settlement over photos
of him and his children. The Moulin Rouge star was furious when British
newspapers published snaps of him holidaying with daughters Esther Rose and
Clara Mathilde in Mauritius in 2002. Tabloid newspapers the Daily Record and
The Sun, photographer Jason Fraser and his company Fraser Woodward Ltd. all
contributed to the undisclosed sum. It was a great month overall for McGregor
who completed a three-and-a-half month motorbike trek around the world with pal
Charley Boorman. Ewan McGregor roared into New York City on July 29 after
completing his "very, very long" journey. The stars left London in April and
drove 20,000 miles through eastern Europe, Mongolia,
Siberia and Alaska.
Independence Day was made extra special for Dennis Quaid, when he married
fiancee Kimberley Buffington in Montana. Jack Henry Ryan, Quaid's 12-year-old
son with ex-wife Meg Ryan, was best man at the low-key ceremony.
Gossip columns around the globe were filled with the story of Hugh Grant
romancing British socialite Jemima Khan this month, just weeks after Jemima's
divorce from Pakistani politician and former criketer Imran Khan. The pair
vigorously maintained a media blackout on the subject of their relationship,
before finally admitting they were a couple later in the year.
Socialite Paris Hilton's $30 million lawsuit against an
internet company that distributed her infamous sex tape, was thrown out of
court on July 9. A Los Angeles judge dismissed the invasion of privacy suit
filed by The Simple Life reality TV star against Panama City, Florida-based
Kahatani Ltd. The video, suggestively titled "One Night in Paris," made Hilton,
who claimed it was "intended only for personal use", and her ex-boyfriend Rick
Salomon household names. The tape was leaked onto the internet in November 2003--over two years after it was filmed in May 2001. Meanwhile, Hilton split from her boyfriend of seven months, boy-band star Nick Carter. A spokeswoman for the hotel heiress blamed her busy schedule for the breakup, but
insisted it was amicable.
Hollywood couple Kirsten Dunst and Jake Gyllenhaal split up in July after two
years together. The stars blamed "filming commitments" for the separation.
Lifestyle queen Martha Stewart was sentenced to five months in
prison and a further five months of home confinement after being convicted of
lying to a court about the sale of shares in 2001. The 62-year-old
billionairess was also placed on probation and fined $30,000. She
began her jail sentence in October.
Hollywood producer Robert Evans was granted a divorce from his sixth wife,
Versace model Leslie Ann Woodward. The 74-year-old Rosemary's Baby mogul's
marriage to Woodward, 35, lasted just seven months--they tied the knot in
August 2003, but the model filed for divorce in March citing "irreconcilable
differences". Evans previous wives include Love Story star Ali MacGraw, former
Miss America Phyllis George and Dynasty actress Catherine Oxenberg.
On a happier note, Harry Potter author J.K.Rowling announced she was pregnant
with her third child this month. The 38-year-old writer will give birth to her
second child with second husband Neil Murray in 2005. Rowling also has a
daughter, Jessica, with first husband Jorge Arantes.
Teen actress Mary-Kate Olsen was released from a health facility on the July 23
after undergoing six weeks of treatment for an eating disorder. Olsen headed
off for her first semester at New York University in August.
Veteran character actor Robert Sorrells was hit with a murder charge after
witnesses told police he walked into a California bar and shot two patrons,
killing one. The 74-year-old actor, who appeared in popular TV western
Gunsmoke, was arrested close to the Simi Valley ba--called The Regency Lounge--shortly after the shooting on the 24th. He was booked for investigation of murder and attempted murder.
Pierce Brosnan announced his retirement from the role of movie spy James
Bond, starting an endless bout of speculation as to who would replace him.
British actors touted for the dream role have included Clive Owen, Ioan
Gruffudd, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Gerard Butler, Jude Law and Ewan McGregor,
as well as Australians Hugh Jackman, Heath Ledger and Eric Bana.
Sad news flew around the world on July 2, when it was announced movie legend
Marlon Brando had died from lung failure the previous day on his private South
Pacific island, Tetiaroa. He was 80. Brando--best known for a series of
era-defining film roles including A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront,
The Godfather and Apocalypse Now--was cremated at a family ceremony in Los
Angeles on July 3. And the body of Michael Douglas' troubled half-brother Eric
was discovered inside a Manhattan, New York, apartment on July 6. New York
authorities ruled Eric, who was the youngest son of screen legend Kirk Douglas,
was killed accidentally by alcohol and prescription drugs.
Snatch star Jason Statham vowed to give actor Billy Zane "a good slap" this
month, when he found out he was dating his actress girlfriend, Kelly Brook.
Statham was left fuming after seeing photos of Brook in a passionate embrace
with Titanic star Zane. Zane and Brook emerged as an inseparable couple later
in the year.
Hollywood stars Diane Lane and Josh Brolin married at a secret ceremony on
the west coast of America. The Oscar-nominated Unfaithful actress and her
Hollow Man beau exchanged marital vows on Aug. 14.
News emerged this month that superstar couple David and Victoria Beckham were
expecting their as-yet-unborn third child, amid rumors their marriage was
floundering, following allegations the Real Madrid ace had an affair with his
personal assistant Rebecca Loos.
Lethal Weapon star Danny Glover was arrested outside the Sudan Embassy in
Washington D.C. during a heated protest march on Aug. 25. Glover was charged
with disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly after he spoke to a crowd calling
for a peace-keeping force to stop violence in western Sudan.
Meanwhile, tough guy actor Russell Crowe confessed he fought with his
bodyguard on the Canadian set of Cinderella Man. In a letter to an Australian
newspaper, the Oscar-winner confirmed recent reports of a brawl with long-term
pal Mark "Spud" Carroll during a party on the set of the film--in which Crowe
plays a boxer--in July. He wrote, "Spud and I had a push around after work on
a Friday night. The misunderstanding arose when Spud came over to tell me what
he thought other people in the room might have been thinking of my
conversation. I thought he was accusing me specifically of something and I took
offence to it. Spud was passing on other people's 'perceptions' and I shot the
Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron suffered an injury to her neck while
shooting stunts for her upcoming movie Aeon Flux in Germany on Aug. 30. The
production was shut down while Theron recovered at home in Los Angeles.
Legendary photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson died at the age of 95 on Aug. 3, after a successful career snapping leading figures of the mid-20th century. Cartier-Bresson--whose work appeared in leading American publications Vogue, Life and Harper's Bazaar--died at his home in the south western Luberon
region of France. Other August deaths included film editor Geraldine Peroni who died at her New York home on Aug. 3 after reportedly committing suicide. She was 51. The city's medical examiner's office ruled Peroni--who frequently worked with director Robert Altman, most spectacularly on his 1993
masterpiece Short Cuts--had killed herself, however, her family are disputing that finding. And actress Fay Wray--best known for her role in 1933 movie King Kong--died on Aug. 8. She was 96. In tribute to the famous scene from King Kong that featured Wray hanging in the giant ape's grasp from the top of the Empire State Building, officials at the skyscraper dimmed the building's lights for 15 minutes on Aug. 10.
Former President Bill Clinton underwent heart surgery in a New York
hospital on Sept. 6, and went on to make a full recovery. After complaining
of chest pains and tiredness, medics discovered he had four clogged arteries
that needed to be bypassed.
Gorgeous Italian actress Monica Bellucci and her actor husband Vincent Cassel
were celebrating on Sept. 12 when their first child, Deva, was born.
Terminator 2 star Edward Furlong was arrested after attempting to free live
lobsters from a grocery store while drunk. The 27-year-old, a longtime animal
rights supporter, was caught with pals trying to help the creatures escape from
a store in Florence, Kentucky, on Sept. 15. Furlong was on location
shooting Jimmy & Judy.
Former child star Macaulay Culkin was arrested and charged with two
misdemeanor drug counts in Oklahoma City. Culkin and a friend were in a rental
car on Sept. 17, when police pulled them over and discovered marijuana and
a dangerous controlled substance without a prescription. On Sept. 21,
Oklahoma City prosecutors charged the troubled star, who was freed on bail
after posting a $4,000 bond.
Kevin Costner wed fianceé Christine Baumgartner on Sept. 25. The Dances
With Wolves star, 49, rode in on a horse-drawn carriage while handbag designer
Baumgartner, 30, traveled in a pick-up truck to the Aspen, Colorado, wedding.
Cult filmmaker Russ Meyer died in Los Angeles from dementia and complications
of pneumonia on Sept. 18. He was 82. Meyer made 23 films in total, but he
is most famous for his saucy 1960s and 1970s movies, featuring scantily-clad
buxom women--most notably Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Beyond The Valley
of the Dolls.
Golf superstar Tiger Woods married Swedish beauty Elin Nordegren on Oct. 5
in an extravagant Barbados ceremony.
Former child star Mark Everett was placed on America's most wanted list in early October, after being accused of beating his girlfriend to death and then kidnapping their son Benjamin. The star of Pee Wee's Big Adventure and Stand & Deliver is accused of murdering Stephanie Spears in her Hawthorne, California, apartment and remains on the run.
Rape charges against Barbershop star Anthony Anderson were dismissed on
Oct. 6. A woman seeking a job as an extra on the set of the actor's movie
Hustle and Flow in Memphis, Tennessee, had claimed Anderson and director Wayne
Witherspoon attacked her in a trailer on the set. The unnamed plaintiff also
alleged she had forced sex with both men over a period of several days before
the reported rape took place in July. But in court, a Tennessee judge said the
accuser's testimony did not produce probable cause to let the charges stand and
that the woman's testimony was the most "incredulous" he had ever heard.
American lifestyle guru Martha Stewart began serving her five-month jail
sentence in West Virginia, after being found guilty of lying about a suspicious
stock sale. Stewart entered Alderson Prison Camp in the early hours of
Oct. 8, sneaking by the photographers and reporters who had been posted there
for more than a week.
Billy Bob Thornton had further reason to celebrate on Oct. 7, when he
received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The actor, who has
been married five times, and girlfriend Connie Angland had their first child
together in September, when daughter Bella was born.
Lisa Bonet was awarded a restraining order against an alleged stalker who the
The Cosby Show actress claims regularly performs voodoo rituals outside her
Californian home. Bonet, who once dated Lenny Kravitz and has starred in a
string of films including Enemy of the State, claims Francesca Jacobs Assandri
has also sent her over 100 letters and packages. A Santa Monica, California,
judge ordered Jacobs to remain at least 24,100 yards away from Bonet, her home,
her place of work and her car.
Teen actress Lindsay Lohan was hospitalized in Los Angeles with a mystery
fever. The Mean Girls star, who spent "a relaxing" five nights at Cedars Sinai
hospital recovering later claimed she was overworked and exhausted. The
actress' family problems didn't help matters--her father Michael claimed he
did not approve of his daughter's partying lifestyle and the friends she chose
to hang out with. The young Lohan later released a statement blasting her father for
his insensitive comments upon her release. The hospital stay topped a troubling
year for the actress. Her father was arrested after beating up her uncle at a
family party in the summer and her ended the year in police custody again after
violating a restraining order filed by his estranged wife Dina--Lindsay's mum.
Meanwhile, upon her release from hospital, she ended her six-month romance with
fellow pin-up Wilmer Vanderrama.
Former French movie siren Brigitte Bardot was celebrating after a Paris court
threw out a defamation lawsuit against her. Radio Courtesy host Marc-Olivier
Fogiel infuriated the actress during a May 12, 2003
broadcast, when he insisted she talk about her controversial best-selling book
Un Cri Dans Le Silence (A Cry In The Silence). Bardot, 70, was convicted in
June of inciting racial hatred in her 2003 book with her comments comparing
Muslims to "invaders, cruel and barbaric". The Parisian court ruled Bardot had
been provoked into calling Fogiel "a little jerk". Judge Nicolas Bonnal agreed
that "the expression little jerk seemed injurious" toward the presenter.
News circulated around Tinseltown that longtime couple Goldie Hawn and Kurt
Russell had split. Hawn was reported to be romancing Pakistani cricket legend
Imran Khan. The couple seemed to have patched up their differences in November
when they bought a house together in Pacific Palisades, California.
Actor Rip Torn was cleared of drunk driving charges by a New York court at
the end of the month. The Emmy-winning star, real name Elmore Torn, had stood
accused of driving under the influence of alcohol after crashing into the back
of a taxi in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, in January.
Psycho star Janet Leigh died on Oct. 2 at the age of 77. The actress had
been suffering from vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels, for a
year and died peacefully at her Beverly Hills, California, home with her
husband, Robert Brandt, and her daughters, actresses Kelly and Jamie Lee, at
her side. Leigh was best known for her Oscar-nominated part as Norman Bates'
first victim in Alfred Hitchcock's notorious shower scene, but also starred in
classic movies Little Women, The Manchurian Candidate and Touch of Evil. On Oct. 5 comedian Rodney Dangerfield died in a Los Angeles hospital. He was 82.
The funnyman slipped into a coma following a heart-valve operation in August
and never recovered. Nearly 400 mourners turned out to pay their respects at
the Caddyshack star's funeral, including Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey, Chris Rock,
Jay Leno and Tim Allen. And Hollywood mourned the loss of paralyzed Superman
actor Christopher Reeve, who died of heart failure on Oct. 10. He was 52.
Reeve had been receiving treatment from the hospital for several weeks for a
pressure wound--a common complication for people living with paralysis--which
had become infected. He fell into a coma after suffering a heart attack in his
Kiefer Sutherland's troubled year continued when he was sentenced to serve 50
hours of community service after pleading no contest to a drunk driving charge
in Los Angeles. The 24 star was arrested by police in late October. As well as
the community service, Sutherland was also ordered to pay a $500 fine.
Supermodel Claudia Schiffer gave birth to her second child with husband
Matthew Vaughn, a baby girl named Clementine, on Nov. 11. The tot, a sister
for the couple's 22-month-old son Caspar, was born at London's exclusive
Greek lawyers attempted to force maverick movie maker Oliver Stone to admit
his Alexander The Great epic, Alexander, was a pure work of fiction by filing a
class lawsuit against him. The proud Greeks were upset that Stone had focused
on the historic hero's bisexuality in the film. The Greeks later dropped the
lawsuit after seeing the film in its entirety. They were, it seems, among the
few who actually liked the epic, which was one of the year's big flops at the
when it opened in November.
Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor admitted she was suffering from congestive
heart failure to W magazine. The 72-year-old actress was hospitalized
with the condition, but told fans she hopes to recover.
Meanwhile, Johnny Depp was so keen to explain himself after Germany's Stern
magazine misconstrued a comment he made about America in a 2003 interview, he
chose to personally call the patriots who had bombarded him with hate emails.
Depp was nationally blasted as being unpatriotic when a reporter quoted him as
saying America was "an ignorant puppy dog", but he insists the quote was taken
out of context. He told Vanity Fair, "I called them, three or four people, and
I said, 'It's very easy for a publication to print whatever they want to print
as a representation of me, but it's not me. If you would allow me just a moment
to represent myself...if you still feel like I'm a s**thead or a schmuck
afterwards, then fine. But at least hear me out.' These were heavy, right wing,
military people: one was a cop, one had a nephew who'd been wounded in Iraq. I
told them, 'What was printed was ugly, but this is what I meant...' And each
one of them said, 'I understand.'"
Movie legend Omar Sharif proved he still had his hell-raising ways intact at
72, after he became involved in a drunken brawl with a fellow actor in India.
The Doctor Zhivago star was quarrelling with The Lord of the Rings: The
Return of the King villain John Noble in a Jodhpur hotel--before reportedly
hitting him with a lamp. The two stars, in India filming One Night with the
King with Sharif's Lawrence of Arabia co-star Peter O'Toole, stopped fighting
as soon as the lamp smashed.
Gossips found the possibility of a romance between Nicole Kidman and Liz
Hurley's ex, Steve Bing, mouth watering. The pair were spotted out and about
together in New York and Los Angeles as insiders buzzed about the prospect of
another high-profile love match.
Two Los Angeles photographers launched legal proceedings against Cameron Diaz
and Justin Timberlake for assault and battery. The snappers claim the pair
attacked them as they tried to take pictures of them in the street outside a
Los Angeles hotel on Nov. 6. Saul Lazo and Jose Gonzalez allege the couple
taunted and threatened them before Diaz took Lazo's camera after beating him.
The alleged attack was caught on camera by another snapper, who sold his
pictures to Us Weekly. Diaz later handed Lazo's camera over
to police, insisting she only took it so she could find out who the snapper
was. In a lawsuit filed on Nov. 12, the photographers blasted allegations
from Diaz and Timberlake's publicists that they harassed the couple and jumped
out of bushes on them in a bid to stir up an angry reaction. The snappers
insist they did nothing to harass the couple and stood more than three feet
away from them at all times. The photographers claim they suffered emotional
distress and physical harm.
In a clampdown, Hollywood film studios began a legal assault on Internet
pirates across America, after announcing their quest to sue anyone caught
swapping or downloading digital copies of films. The Motion Picture Association
of America (MPAA) pledged to take perpetrators to court in an effort to abolish
the threat posed to future film production. Officials said the civil suits
would seek damages of up to $30,000 per movie, to combat the billions
of dollars piracy is costing film studios every year.
Bridget Fonda and her composer husband Danny Elfman were celebrating after
discovering the actress was pregnant with her first child. The latest member of
the famous Fonda clan is due to arrive next February.
Shelley Long suffered an alleged drug overdose this month, prompting mass
media reports the former Cheers actress was struggling with depression. The
55-year-old actress' spokesman Martin Mickelson later denied, an American newspaper
reports, the star took an overdose following the break-up of her 22-year
marriage. Mickelson said Long merely took one pain pill too many to combat a
Dustin Hoffman confessed to Playboy magazine that he had enjoyed sexual
threesomes in his youth and once had sex in the DJ booth at New York's famed
Studio 54 nightclub.
Actress Julia Roberts gave birth to twins on Nov. 28--more than a month
before they were due. The actress is now a proud mother to a boy
and a girl, named Phinnaeus Walter and Hazel Patricia. The babies' safe
delivery came after Roberts had a pregnancy scare in October, when she was
confined to bed after suffering early contractions.
TV star Robert Conrad was sentenced to six moths house arrest for a
2003 car accident that left another driver seriously injured.
A Paris court ruled Jean-Pierre Jeunet's new film A Very Long Engagement is not French enough to qualify for funding from the country's film agency. The Amelie filmmaker was furious
about The Centre National De La Cinematographie's (CNC) claims the drama was
not Gallic, despite having a French cast speaking their native language,
directed by a Frenchman in a Paris setting. The CNC argued the film had partial
backing by Warner Bros and therefore was not French. The Paris
administrative court ruled it was too American to compete in French film
festivals, including Cannes and Deauville.
Drew Barrymore's actor father John D. Barrymore died in Los Angeles at the age
of 72 near the end of the month. In a statement issued by her publicist, Drew
said, "He was a cool cat. Please smile when you think of him." Meanwhile, Dutch
film-maker Theo Van Gogh was shot dead in Amsterdam on Nov. 2 by a radical
Islamist. Van Gogh, 47--who was related to legendary artist Vincent Van Gogh--
had received death threats since his controversial film Submission, which
depicted violence against women in Islamic societies, was broadcast on Dutch
television. After the attack, police arrested a man in a nearby park but,
before they restrained him, there was a vicious exchange of gunfire that left a
policeman and the suspect with bullet wounds. Both were taken to hospital. A
26-year-old man was arrested by Dutch police investigating the killing.
Other deaths in November included that of French movie maker Phillipe De
Broca, who lost his battle with cancer at the age of 71. And Dallas star Howard
Keel lost his battle with colon cancer on Nov. 7 He was 85. The
Illinois-born actor launched to fame in 1950 as Betty Hutton's love interest in
musical film Annie Get Your Gun. Keel went on to play the romantic lead in MGM
classics Kiss Me Kate, Show Boat, Calamity Jane and Seven Brides For Seven
Brothers. Author and screenwriter Arthur Hailey also lost his life in November.
The 84-year-old novelist died in his sleep.
An interview Will Smith gave to a German newspaper in which he downplayed the
effect Sept. 11, 2001 had on black Americans prompted angry activists to
call for a boycott of his films at the start of December. The I, Robot star had
unleashed his controversial comments in Frankfurter Allgemeine four months
previously, when reporter Johanna Adorjan asked Smith if the events had
personally changed him. He'd replied, "No. Absolutely not. When you grow up
black in America you have a completely different view of the world than white
Americans. We blacks live with a constant feeling of unease. And whether you
are wounded in an attack by a racist cop or in a terrorist attack, I'm sorry,
it makes no difference."
New mother Julia Roberts was given an extra reason to celebrate when she
topped The Hollywood Reporter's annual list of highest-paid actresses yet
again. The Oscar-winning star pulled in a salary of $20 million per picture. Others named in the Women In Entertainment issue included Cameron Diaz, who also takes in $20 million, and Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Drew Barrymore, who each earn $15 million.
Natalie Portman wrote a letter to style magazine Allure to explain
herself for comments she made in an interview in which she empathized with
being a black American. The star insisted the attributed quote, "I'm not black,
but I know what it feels like," was "personally offensive" when she read the
article in August's Allure. She said, "If I had spoken more articulately, I might
have conveyed what I truly feel: I could never know what it is like to be a
Not such good news for Catherine Zeta Jones and her husband Michael Douglas, whose legal woes continued unabated when British showbiz magazine Hello! decided to appeal the damages awarded to its rival OK! after it printed photographs of the couple's wedding. However, Hello! doesn't dispute the $27,740 awarded to Zeta Jones and Douglas for breach of confidence, but insisted the $1,982,197 awarded to OK! was "far too high."
Luscious Liv Tyler and her rocker husband Royston Langdon became first-time
parents on Dec. 14, after she gave birth to a boy called Milo.
Articles Copyright World Entertainment News Network All Rights Reserved.
Top Story: Winslet, Mendes Welcome First Child
Oscar-nominated actress Kate Winslet and her husband, Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes (American Beauty), are the proud parents of a baby boy, The Associated Press reports. Joe Mendes, the first child for the couple, who were married in May, was born Dec. 22, weighing 7 pounds, 13 ounces, Winslet's publicist, Jennifer Allen, said Friday. "The couple is overjoyed," Allen told AP. Winslet has a 3-year-old daughter, Mia, from her previous marriage to director Jim Threapleton.
Actor Bates Dies
Veteran British thesp Alan Bates, who had a long career on stage and in film including Women in Love (1969), An Unmarried Woman (1978) and most recently Gosford Park (2001), died Saturday in London after a long battle with cancer, Reuters reports. He was 69.
Townshend Contemplated Suicide
Rock icon Pete Townshend admitted he considered suicide while being investigated for his use of child pornography earlier this year. Reuters reports Townshend gave an interview with Britain's Observer, in which the 58-year-old guitarist for The Who said, "If I had had a gun, I would have shot myself" but then decided against it. "If I had shot myself, it would have been awful because it would have confirmed what everybody thought," he said. Townshend, who claims he was abused as a child, publicly admitted viewing child pornography but said it was purely for research purposes for a book on the subject. He was never officially charged but his name will stay on the national Sex Offenders Register for five years, Reuters reports.
Rings Tops Southeastern Crix List
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was tagged as best film by the Southeastern Film Critics Association, with Peter Jackson taking the prize for best director. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Lost in Translation's Bill Murray also won for best actor while Naomi Watts from 21 Grams was named best actress.
CBS' Crime Wave Wins Christmas Day Ratings
With its crime drama lineup--CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Cold Case and Without a Trace--CBS came in first place in the ratings Christmas Day, attracting a total of 11.2 million viewers, Reuters reports. Fox came in second as 6.5 million viewers watched the two-hour special World Idol--in which 10 Idol winners from around the globe, including American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson, competed for the title. World Idol's two-hour finale airs New Year's Day.
Rapper Faces Child Abandonment Charges
Rapper Juvenile, known for his hit song "Back That Thang Up," is facing an arrest warrant in Georgia on child abandonment charges, AP reports. Gwinnett County sheriff's deputies say the rapper, whose real name is Terius Gray, has failed to provide financial support for his six-month-old daughter. Although Gray disputes the fact he is the father of the child, deputies say they have paternity test results that show he is.
Role Call: Renfro Puts On Jacket; Towne Will Climb 39 Steps
Brad Renfro has joined cast members Adrien Brody and Keira Knightley in the thriller The Jacket. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film, being produced by George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh, centers on a soldier (Brody) convicted of murder who, during his treatment in a psychiatric hospital, begins to believe that he is traveling through time. On his travels he searches for a woman (Knightley) he met as a child and is fated to love…Writer/director Robert Towne has signed a deal with Carlton International Media to write and direct a contemporary remake of the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock classic The 39 Steps, Variety reports. Based on a novel by John Buchan, the story centers on a London man who hides a glamorous female spy on the run in his apartment for one night, only to find her murdered the next day. Having a bit of trouble explaining it all to Scotland Yard, he tries to clear his name by locating a spy ring known as The 39 Steps.
Entertainment Weekly has named Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington 2002's top entertainer. Washington won on Oscar this year for his role in the drama Training Day and made his directorial debut with Antwone Fisher, set for release in New York Dec. 19. "Denzel reached new heights in his career this year, artistically, commercially and in a business sense," said Dave Karger, senior writer and author of the EW cover story. "And it's not only that he directed his first movie, but it is a fantastic movie ... It's not that he did it, but that he did it in a really accomplished way." Others on the list include Spider-Man's Tobey Maguire, the Osbournes, My Big Fat Greek Wedding's Nia Vardalos and American Idol's Simon Cowell and Kelly Clarkson.
Techno artist Moby was attacked by two men Thursday evening while signing autographs outside a nightclub in Boston, The Associated Press reports. One of the men punched Moby, whose real name is Richard M. Melville, in the back and of the head and on the right side of his face, breaking his glasses and cutting his face. The two men then sprayed a mace-like substance on Moby, his manager and club security guards before fleeing. Moby states on his Web site that he is not angry about the assault, but is mystified about the motive.
The Fox network issued a statement Thursday denying a New York Post article suggesting that American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson was ineligible to appear on the show, People.com reports. The Post article claims Clarkson had a previous existing recording contract at the time of her audition, which would have violated the reality show's eligibility rules which states that the contest is closed "if you already have any type of talent representation or a recording contract."
A Los Angeles judge today ordered accused wife killer Robert Blake to provide answers under oath next month in a wrongful death suit brought by his murdered wife's children, City News Service reports. Blake will testify at the Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles, where he has been held since his arrest last April for Bonny Lee Bakley's shooting death.
Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine was named best documentary of all time by the International Documentary Association, Reuters reports. Bowling for Columbine examines America's love affair with guns and the pathology of violence in the United States, which as a country, has the highest gun-murder rate in the world.
DreamWorks is replacing 20th Century Fox as a co-financier for Baz Luhrmann's epic Alexander the Great. According to Variety, DreamWorks will shoulder an equal share of the budget with Universal in return for international distribution rights to the massive production. Alexander the Great, a panoramic biopic of the Macedonian conqueror, stars Leonardo DiCaprio. Shooting on the project is set to begin in late 2003.
Eight major Hollywood studios are expected to back the Directors Guild of America in a legal suit against companies and stores that rent and sell sanitized versions of their films, Variety reports. In their filings, the studios are expected to ask for a ruling that the editing practices violate their rights as copyright holders and request the court grant an injunction to prevent distribution of the edited videos.
An unidentified American collector paid more than $45,000 for a card containing clues to the plot of the J.K. Rowling's fifth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the AP reports. The money will be used to buy 18,000 books for schools in Africa. Sotheby's auction house in London revealed that some of the 93 words in the card include: "Ron ... broom ... sacked ... house-elf ... new ... teacher ... dies ... sorry."
Director Martin Scorsese will be heading to France next month to join the Cannes Film Festival's short film and Cinefoundation jury, where he'll be awarding the Palme d'Or for short film and three Cinefoundation awards. He'll also be there to support his upcoming film Gangs of New York, where roughly 17 minutes of the film will be screened. Scorsese isn't a stranger to the famed seaside film festival, having won the Palme d'Or in 1976 for Taxi Driver and the director award for After Hours in 1986.
On the injury-plagued set of the new James Bond movie, Die Another Day, Oscar-winning actress and confirmed "Bond" girl Halle Berry was the latest casualty. After she performed a stunt, debris from a smoke grenade lodged in Berry's eye, and she was taken to the hospital for minor treatment--however, returning to the set soon after. Star Pierce Brosnan was also put out of action for a couple weeks in February when he injured his knee. Sometimes it's difficult being a super agent.
Kevin Costner is not afraid to get back in the saddle again. The actor/producer/director will be directing his first feature in five years and guess what? It's another western. The film, Open Range, centers on the day-to-day lives of four men living in the West and will star Costner and Robert Duvall. Costner probably figures if he can win an Oscar with one western (Dances with Wolves), then why not two? Why not, indeed.
Who's your daddy? Eddie Murphy is set to star in Revolution Studios' Daddy Day Care, about a father who loses his job and decides to set up a day care center with his friends. The comedian will team again with producer John Davis, who produced the Dr. Dolittle franchise. Shooting will start in August.
Feature film director Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon) will be trying his hand at game show television. He has teamed with production company Stone Stanley Entertainment (ABC's The Mole) to create a comedic quiz show called The Real Deal, in which contestants compete for cash by correctly determining the origin of popular words, urban legends and superstitions, Variety reports. The Game Show Network is in discussions with the company to develop the series.
NBC's The West Wing characters will pay tribute to their real-life counterparts in a special episode April 24. The special will combine dramatic scenes with the series regulars with commentary from former White House staff, including former President Bill Clinton, his press secretary Dee Dee Myers (who acts as a consultant for the show) and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Spidey is certainly "Livin' on the Edge." The Spider-Man theme song will be getting a decidedly harder edge when rock band Aerosmith records its own rendition for the upcoming blockbuster release. Other artists who contributed to the soundtrack include Sum 41, Nickelback and Macy Gray. Well-known film composer Danny Elfman created the score.
Eminem settled a civil lawsuit with a man, John Guerra, who claimed the rapper pulled a gun on him outside a bar June 2000, after Guerra allegedly kissed Eminem's then wife, Kim Mathers. The singer pleaded guilty to charges of carrying a concealed weapon and is serving a two-year probation. Now, Guerra will receive $100,000 minus lawyer fees.
The Lollapalooza tour will have to wait another year. Organizer and Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell thought to bring back the tour, which features several alternative bands, this summer but has decided to shoot for the summer of 2003.
Star Wars guru George Lucas will be receiving a British Academy of Film and Television Arts/Los Angeles award for excellence in film. The Stanley Kubrick Britannia award will be presented to him by his good friends Harrison Ford and last year's recipient, Steven Spielberg, April 12 in Los Angeles.
Talent manager Helen Noga, best known for discovering singer Johnny Mathis and crusading for black entertainers to get the same privileges as whites in Las Vegas, has died of heart failure in Los Angeles. She was 88. Noga is survived by her daughter, a granddaughter and two great-grandchildren.
Most end-of-the-year "best of" lists from critics deplore the current state of movies before telling you about the few nuggets that came out that were actually (according to them) worth your time. The year 1999 was different. The critics didn't complain, and rightfully so.
The last of the 1900s marked a groundbreaking revolution in cinema. Films like "Three Kings," "American Beauty," "The Sixth Sense" and "The Blair Witch Project" expanded the boundaries of what traditional generic films could become. True oddballs like "Being John Malkovich" were made and even turned a profit. Sequels like "Toy Story 2" didn't suck.
Overall, going to the movies was about as dreadful as living through Y2K. Instead of suffering through a bunch of bummers, audiences were treated to a diverse, colorful celebration of life as we live it, and where it's headed.
Here is our list of the Top 10 films that quickened the pulses, stimulated our minds and sent us soaring. In an era of yuppie-fied java-pushing theater concessions, these babies required absolutely no additives to achieve maximum effect.
THE HOLLYWOOD.COM TOP 10
1. "The Insider": Who would have guessed that a story based on the cigarette industry could be so excellent, let alone interesting? Arguments could be made that director Michael Mann's absorbing and powerful tale about a "60 Minutes" producer and a tobacco-industry whistleblower is even more thrilling and consistently involving than his crime epic masterpiece, "Heat." No explosions or gun battles needed here. Believable human drama, real relationships and a time-tested theme about a thing called truth are all that's needed, plus some of the best performances of the year.
2. "Anna and the King": That's right. We'll chalk this one up as being the most unrecognized, unheralded classic in the making. Some would say the story's been done before -- but so what? This one, sans music, gets to the basics of the inherent poignancy of the relationship between the King of Siam and British schoolteacher Anna Leonowens. As portrayed by Chow Yun-Fat (our vote for best leading man of the '90s) and reliable Jodie Foster, the couple is a doozy. Add in some amazing cinematography, and this affecting period piece's built to last for future generations.
3. "Toy Story 2": As with its predecessor, "Toy Story 2" proves that the best cartoons are those made for kids and adults. Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang made it back for another amazing, hilarious adventure. The pop-culture in-jokes were a bonus. The most surprising thing here was how much the people at Pixar and the voice talent (led by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen) could make you care about a toy's feelings. With a thing this good, another manufactured product doesn't sound half-bad.
4. "American Beauty": Praised for its blunt appraisal of suburban dystopia, this feature debut from theater director Sam Mendes burned with creative fervor, not to mention a cast working at the top of its collective talent. Kevin Spacey continued to show why he's America's favorite satirical Everyman, and newcomer Wes Bentley shone as the odd, mysterious peeping Tom next door. Every shot was a marvel to behold, and the movie itself was unlike any middle-American drama ever released. It's the Cleavers gone to hell -- and then some.
5. "The Winslow Boy": David Mamet fans had a hard time believing he could be responsible for this G-rated period piece set in proper Britain circa World War I. But the street poet is one smart cookie who realizes great drama and tension when he sees it. This tale of a court case to redeem a boy and his family's honor made perfect sense as a Mamet tale. It was also highly entertaining and enthralling, using the powers of subtlety and things left unsaid to sell its boiling dynamics. Combined with a command performance from Jeremy Northam, the film and its accompanying love story made for powerful, memorable stuff.
6. "Liberty Heights": Barry Levinson complimented his Baltimore trilogy ("Diner," "Tin Men," "Avalon") with another personal bit of filmmaking set in his hometown. Dealing directly with issues of racial separation in the 1950s, the director and his cast of fresh-faced talents provided painful, funny truth-telling. The look and feel was right, and Joe Mantegna gave the production the right air of fallible humanity as the patriarch of a Jewish family dealing with issues in an imperfect America.
7. "Bowfinger": Overlooked by the Golden Globes nominating committee was Steve Martin's dead-on, affectionate lambasting of the Hollywood industry and all its assorted characters. Martin's smart screenplay and Frank Oz's good direction were simply the trimmings. Eddie Murphy provided the final coup, playing both a lovable, earnest dummy and an egotistical action movie star. The scenes between Martin and Murphy were worth the price of admission alone. Same goes for the scenes with just Murphy.
8. "Last Night": Never seen or heard of it? Stay tuned to your local independent movie house, which could be showing this amazing gem from Canada, the winner of the country's equivalent of the Oscar for best picture and several other awards. Forget "Armageddon," "Deep Impact" or any other Hollywood-derived disaster flick. This movie's the real deal about what people would say or do to each other if the world were really going to end in six hours. Expect the unexpected from this defiantly independent and haunting film.
9. "The Hurricane": Denzel Washington's performance as real-life boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, imprisoned for 19 years for murders he didn't commit, was a true phenomenon. Norman Jewison told the story in expert fashion, and the supporting cast was excellent, especially Vicellous Shannon as a boy who sets out to help free Carter. But Washington rose above his (lofty) surroundings with a charismatic portrayal that is the embodiment of dignity and integrity. It's a landmark performance that ranks on par with his work in "Malcolm X" and his Academy Award-winning part in "Glory."
10. "Go": Largely overlooked by youth audiences and twentysomethings, this second effort from "Swingers" director Doug Liman was the perfect follow-up to "Pulp Fiction," and blew away all the hack, "Pulp" wannabes. Instead of copping Tarantino entirely, Liman cast a talented group of young actors including Sarah Polley and Taye Diggs, and threw them into a believable world of wild all-night raves and quick trips to Vegas. The end result was colorful, decadent, energetic and wonderfully cinematic. "Go," more than any other film of '99, captured the millennial spirit of the party in all its gross, absurd and youthful glory.
SANTA MONICA, Calif., Feb. 6, 2000 -- The only loud noise at this weekend's box office was Dimension Films' "Scream 3," opening to a blockbuster estimated $35.20 million.
"Scream 3" accounted for about 42% of the ticket sales for key films over the weekend, living up to industry expectations reported by Hollywood.com on Friday. With its first-choice tracking score of 31% going into the weekend, the Wes Craven film was seen as likely to open to at least $30 million.
Dimension, Miramax's genre label, launched "Scream 3" to an estimated $35.20 million at 3,467 theaters ($10,152 per theater). The film's theater count set a new record for wide release, topping last summer's 3,342 theaters for Warner Bros.' "Wild Wild West." Dimension said there were 5,522 prints of the film in the marketplace.
An indication of how little business everything else in the marketplace did is that "Scream 3's" gross was about equal to the combined gross for the next 11 films on the chart.
"This is the biggest opening for Miramax and/or Dimension in the history of the company," Miramax Senior Vice President, Marketing, David Kaminow said Sunday morning. "It's the biggest February opening ever, and it actually looks like the biggest opening for any movie between January through April."
The previous record-holder was Universal's Jim Carrey starrer 'Liar Liar' at $31.4 million back in March 1997.
Who went to see the "Scream 3"?
"In terms of audience demo, it's our core 18-24," Kaminow said. "But what's interesting is the slight demographic shift in terms of the people who were 18-24 when the first movie came out four years ago (and) have followed us on the path, so we have a segment (of the audience) that's also a little higher in the 25-29 bracket than we've seen previously.
"It indicates to us that the audience has grown as the movie's grown."
Asked where it could wind up in terms of its domestic theatrical gross, Kaminow replied, "The first two did (over) $100 million. It would be wonderful if it did. This is a great start, and we'll see what happens."
"Scream 3's" per-theater average was the highest for any film playing in wide or limited release last weekend.
Directed by Wes Craven, "Scream 3" was produced by Cathy Konrad, Kevin Williamson and Marianne Maddalena. Its screenplay by Ehren Kruger is based on characters created by Williamson. It was executive produced by Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Cary Granat and Andrew Rona.
The film reunites Craven with David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox Arquette and Liev Schreiber. Also starring are Patrick Dempsey, Scott Foley, Matt Keeslar, Jenny McCarthy, Emily Mortimer, Parker Posey, Deon Richmond, Kelly Rutherford and Patrick Warburton.
"Scream 2" opened in first place the weekend of Dec. 12-14, 1997, to $32.9 million at 2,663 theatres ($12,354 per theater). Its second weekend gross was $13.9 million, down 58%. It went on to gross about $101.3 million in domestic theaters.
The first "Scream" opened in fourth place the weekend of Dec. 20-22, 1996, to $6.4 million at 1,413 theaters ($4,497 per theater). It wound up grossing about $103 million in domestic theaters.
It was a long way down to second place, where Universal's R-rated, critically acclaimed Oscar contender "The Hurricane" was holding well, up one notch in its sixth week with a solid estimated $4.91 million (-14%) at 2,148 theaters (+13 theatres, $2,285 per theater). Its total is approximately $37.5 million.
Directed by Norman Jewison, it stars Denzel Washington as wrongly imprisoned boxing champion Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.
"The word of mouth is exceptional on this film," Universal Distribution President Nikki Rocco said Sunday morning. "We were No. 3 for two weekends. Now we're No. 2.
"Granted, it's a soft marketplace except for one film, but the word of mouth does that with a picture. It will linger and linger around through the Academy Awards season."
Columbia's PG-rated family comedy "Stuart Little" finished third, up one peg in its eighth week, continuing to hold strongly with an OK estimated $4.80 million (unchanged) at 2,702 theaters (-339 theaters, $1,776 per theater). Its total is approximately $128.7 million, heading for $140 million or more in domestic theaters.
Directed by Rob Minkoff, it stars Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie and Jonathan Lipnicki.
"I'd say at least $140 million," Sony Pictures Releasing President Jeff Blake said Sunday morning, when asked where the film would wind up in domestic theaters. "For the first time, we're going to have some company in the kids' market next Friday (with BV/Disney's animated "The Tigger Movie" and Paramount and Nickelodeon Movies' PG-rated live action Chevy Chase comedy "Snow Day"), so it will be interesting to see how we hold up.
"Starting out on Dec. 17, at the point when 'Toy Story 2' was still strong, we managed to beat them. We sort of had our own way with the kids between Dec. 17 and today. It will be interesting to see what happens when (the two new family-appeal films arrive Friday). I think, probably, what will happen is they'll do very well, but we'll continue to play out our run. I can't see it being any less than $140 million -- maybe into the $140 millions. A lovely success story."
The film is also looking strong on the international front.
"The best news for us is every market we've opened internationally has been sensational," Blake said. "So we really are hoping to even do better internationally. The real number on this one will probably be about $300 million worldwide, which is very exciting."
New Line's R-rated urban-appeal hit comedy sequel "Next Friday" fell two rungs to fourth place in its fourth week with a still decent estimated $4.28 million (-25%) at 1,420 theaters (+85 theaters, $3,011 per theater). Its total is approximately $45.5 million.
Directed by Steve Carr, it was written by, stars and was produced by Ice Cube.
There was a close race for fifth place between Destination Films' R-rated psychological thriller "Eye Of the Beholder" and Warner Bros. and Castle Rock Entertainment's R-rated death-row drama "The Green Mile."
As was the case last week when "Eye" opened, Destination did not report an estimated gross by mid-morning Sunday, making it difficult to calculate which film would take fifth place. Other studios estimated Destination's gross at $3.89 million to $4.1 million.
"Eye," which placed first last week, would need about $4.1 million to finish in fifth place in its second week. That would represent a very discouraging drop of about 30% at 1,751 theaters (theater count unchanged, $2,342 per theater). Its total is approximately $11.9 million.
Directed by Stephan Elliott, it stars Ewan McGregor and Ashley Judd. Destination reportedly picked up the independently made film for domestic release for about $4 million.
In contrast, "The Green Mile," which was fifth last week, is a blockbuster success in its ninth week, holding very well with an estimated $4.02 million (unchanged) at 2,335 theaters (-36 theaters, $1,719 per theater). Its total is approximately $120.4 million, heading for $140 million in domestic theaters.
Written and directed by Frank Darabont, it stars Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan.
"We've been tracking it from day one against 'A Few Good Men,'" Warner Bros. Distribution President Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. "'A Few Good Men' after this exact weekend (in its run) had $119.8 million. They ended up at $141 million. We're definitely getting close (in terms of projected domestic theatrical total) to $140 million now.
"I raised my estimate last week to $136 million. I'm going to pop it again to about $140 million. It has great legs. You see what happens to it every week."
DreamWorks' PG-rated sci-fi fantasy comedy "Galaxy Quest" continued in seventh place in its seventh week, holding nicely with an estimated $3.30 million (-3%) at 1,939 theaters (-270 theaters, $1,702 per theater). Its total is approximately $62.9 million, heading for $70 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Dean Parisot, it stars Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman.
Miramax's PG-13-rated teen-appeal romantic comedy "Down To You" fell two pegs to eighth place in its third week with a dull estimated $2.90 million (-28%) at 2,003 theaters (+26 theaters, $1,447 per theater). Its total is approximately $16.8 million.
Written and directed by Kris Isacsson, it stars Freddie Prinze Jr. and Julia Stiles.
Columbia's R-rated drama "Girl, Interrupted" slipped one post to ninth in its seventh week with a slower estimated $2.60 million (-20%) at 1,863 theaters (-72 theaters, $1,396 per theater). Its total is approximately $25 million.
Directed by James Mangold, "Girl" stars Winona Ryder and recent Golden Globe winner Angelina Jolie.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Paramount's R-rated drama "The Talented Mr. Ripley," down one peg in its seventh week with a calm estimated $2.50 million (-10%) at 1,819 theaters (-323 theaters, $1,350 per theater). Its total is approximately $75.6 million, heading for about $80 million in domestic theaters.
Written and directed by Anthony Minghella, it stars Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Cate Blanchett.
Last weekend also saw the arrival of Buena Vista/Hollywood's R-rated black comedy adventure "Gun Shy," placing 22nd with a discouraging estimated $0.70 million at 296 theaters ($2,367 per theater).
Written and directed by Eric Blakeney, it stars Liam Neeson, Oliver Platt and Sandra Bullock.
Fine Line Features' R-rated suspense/dark comedy "Simpatico" kicked off in 28th place to a soft estimated $0.43 million at 256 theatres ($1,680 per theater).
Based on a play by Sam Shepard, it was directed by Matthew Warchus and stars Nick Nolte, Jeff Bridges, Sharon Stone, Catherine Keener and Albert Finney.
The PG-13 boxing drama "Knockout," a CEO release, arrived in 34th place and was knocked flat on its face with an estimated $0.072 million at 110 theaters ($655 per theater).
Directed by Lorenzo Doumani, it stars Sophia-Adella Hernandez.
Last weekend saw no national sneak previews.
On the expansion front, last weekend saw USA Films R-rated drama and critics' darling "Topsy-Turvy" go wider in its eighth week, placing 21st with a quiet estimated $0.69 million at 130 theaters (+59 theaters, $5,285 per theater). Its total is approximately $2.3 million.
Written and directed by Mike Leigh, it stars Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner.
USA Films' reissue of the PG-rated suspense drama "Rear Window" expanded in its third week, placing 36th with an OK estimated $0.063 million at 14 theaters (+11 theaters, $4,475 per theater). Its total is approximately $0.2 million.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, it stars James Stewart and Grace Kelly. Robert Harris and James Katz restored the 1954 film classic.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 for the weekend - took in approximately $85.28 million, up about 13.21% from $75.33 million for the comparable weekend last year.
This weekend's key film gross was up about 40.85% compared with the previous weekend, when key films grossed $60.55 million.
Last year, Paramount's opening week of "Payback" was first with $21.22 million at 2,720 theaters ($7,802 per theater), and Miramax's second week of "She's All That" was second with $11.65 million at 2,629 theaters ($4,447 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $32.9 million. This year, the top two films grossed an estimated $40.1 million.
STUDIO MARKET SHARES
Based on business by key films, the weekend's top six distributors were the following:
Miramax (Miramax, Dimension) was first with three films ("Scream 3," "Down to You" and "The Cider House Rules") grossing an estimated $40.10 million or 47% of the market.
Sony Pictures Entertainment (Columbia, TriStar) was second with three films ("Stuart Little," "Girl, Interrupted" and "The End Of the Affair") grossing an estimated $8.50 million or 10% of the market.
Universal was third with three films ("Isn't She Great," "Snow Falling on Cedars" and "The Hurricane") grossing an estimated $6.24 million or 7.3% of the market.
Buena Vista (Touchstone and Disney) was fourth with five films ("Play it to the Bone," "Toy Story 2," "Fantasia 2000," "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo" and "Bicentennial Man") grossing an estimated $5.94 million or 7% of the market.
New Line was fifth with two films ("Next Friday" and "Magnolia") grossing an estimated $5.55 million or 6.5% of the market.
Warner Bros. was sixth with two films ("The Green Mile" and "Any Given Sunday") grossing an estimated $5 million or 5.9% of the market.
(11) "Toy Story 2"/BV/Disney: Theaters: 1,618 (-178) Gross: $2.20 million (-6%) Average per theater: $1,360 Total: $237 million
(12) "The Cider House Rules"/Miramax: Theaters: 834 (-9) Gross: $2 million (+14%) Average per theater: $2,398 Total: $20.7 million
(13) "Fantasia 2000"/BV/Disney: Theatres: 54 (0) (all IMAX in U.S.) Gross: $1.70 million (-8%) Average per theater: $31,481 Total: $24 million (worldwide)
(14) "Angela's Ashes"/Paramount: Theaters: 614 (+3) Gross: $1.55 million (-15%) Average per theater: $2,524 Total: $8.6 million
(15) "Magnolia"/New Line: Theaters: 829 (-257) Gross: $1.27 million (-20%) Average per theater: $1,535 Total: $19.3 million
(16) "The End of the Affair" Theaters: 681 (-7) Gross: $1.10 million (-6%) Average per theater: $1,615 Total: $8.5 million
(17) "Any Given Sunday"/Warner Bros.: Theaters: 1,557 (-455) Gross: $0.99 million (-31%) Average per theater: $633 Total: $73.8 million
(18) "Play it to the Bone/BV: Theaters: 1,249 (-339) Gross: $0.76 million (-55%) Average per theater: $610 Total: $7.7 million
(19) "Bicentennial Man"/BV: Theaters: 861 (-341) Gross: $0.75 million (-24%) Average per theater: $870 Total: $56.7 million
(20) "Snow Falling On Cedars"/Universal: Theaters: 800 (-200) Gross: $0.71 million (-21%) Average per theater: $890 Total: $12.8 million
(21) "Topsy-Turvy"/USA Films: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(22) GUN SHY/BV/Hollywood: (see OTHER OPENINGS above)
(23) "Supernova"/MGM: Theaters: 1,135 (-936) Gross: $0.66 million (-46%) Average per theater: $585 Total: $13.3 million (24) "Isn't She Great"/Universal: Theatres: 750 (0) Gross: $0.62 million (-55%) Average per theater: $820 Total: $2.4 million
(25) "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo"/BV: Theaters: 739 (-404) Gross: $0.53 million (-40%) Average per theater: $710 Total: $63 million
(26) "The World Is Not Enough"/MGM: Theaters: 842 (-15) Gross: $0.52 million (-7%) Average per theater: $620 Total: $125.1 million
(27) "Anna and the King"/Fox: Theaters: 568 (-182) Gross: $0.48 million (-19%) Average per theater: $845 Total: $37.6 million
(28) "Simpatico"/Fine Line: (see OTHER OPENINGS above)
(29) "Being John Malkovich"/USA Films: Theaters: 207 (-26) Gross: $0.31 million (no change) Average per theater: $1,505 Total: $21.1 million
(30) "Man On the Moon"/Universal: Theaters: 481 (-143) Gross: $0.24 million (-31%) Average per theater: $505 Total: $34.2 million
(31) "The Bone Collector"/Universal: Theaters: 325 (-7) Gross: $0.15 million (-23%) Average per theater: $465 Total: $65.7 million
(32) "End of Days"/Universal: Theaters: 343 (+5) Gross: $0.15 million (-20%) Average per theat er: $440 Total: $66 million
(33) "Titus"/Fox Searchlight: Theaters: 17 (-1) Gross: $0.11 million (-20%) Average per theater: $6,653 Total: $0.8 million
(34) "My Dog Skip"/Warner Bros. Theatres: 30 (0) Gross: $0.11 million (-3%) Average per theater: $3,595 Total: $0.4 million
(35) "Knockout"/CEA: (see OTHER OPENINGS above) (
36) "Rear Window" /USA: (see EXPANSIONS above)
(37) "The Cup"/Fine Line: Theaters: 4 (0) Gross: $0.031 million (-13%) Average per theater: $7,673 Total: $0.083 million
(38) "The Big Tease"/Warner Bros. Theaters: 4 (0) Gross: $0.019 million (-35%) Average per theater: $4,723 Total: $0.059 million
Documentary special about the beginnings of Top Gun, the world's premier air-to-air combat training facility. During the Vietnam War when American planes were being out-maneuvered and shot down by small, quick MIGs, Captain Frank Ault, Skipper of the carrier "Coral Sea," wrote up a report that contained a quick, complete solution that could be implemented in time to save lives. Dan Pedersen, who was training rookie pilots at Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego, used Ault's report to create Top Gun. Within five weeks, pilots discovered previously unknown tactics and maneuvers that would work against a MIG in a combat situation. When these pilots entered the battle, American naval pilots' kill ratio skyrocketed from 2:1 to 21:1, virtually wiping out enemy air resistance.