The box office again defied analysts' predictions as the Jack the Ripper movie From Hell edged out (only the pun in the headline was intended) Riding in Cars With Boys to nab bragging rights as the top ticket seller.
The Last Castle, analysts' favorite to win, placed fifth.
None of the films performed outstandingly.
From Hell, which stars Johnny Depp, took in an estimated $11.3 million. Riding in Cars With Boys, which stars Drew Barrymore, took in about $10.8 million. The Last Castle was a clear disappointment with just $7.1 million. Training Day, which had held the top spot during the previous two weekends, slipped to third place with $9.5 million, while Bandits, which opened in second place last week, dropped to fourth with about $8.4 million.
Still, the performance of From Hell was particularly striking given the judgment by numerous critics and analysts that the country was in no mood for fictional violence and blood after last month's real-life variety. "People know the difference between fantasy and reality," Exhibitor Relations chief Paul Dergarabedian told Bloomberg News. "They just want to be entertained."
Ticket sales for the top 12 films totaled $74.5 million, up 3.7 percent from last year -- all of the rise attributable to higher ticket prices.
A war of words has broken out between the Baltimore Sun and Baltimore
TV station WBFF after the newspaper reported the station management's
decision to order its news anchors to read a statement expressing the
station's support for President Bush following the Sept. 11 attacks. Members
of the news staff later complained to the newspaper that the order
compromised their credibility. Early this week, station manager Bill
Fanshawe, during an on-air editorial, stood before images of the American
flag and the Statue of Liberty as he castigated the newspaper. "We question
why The Baltimore Sun has appointed themselves as the media watchdog
for the coverage of this tragic event," he said. Later Fanshawe told a
reporter for the paper: "The Sun is the direct competitor of TV and
radio stations in this marketplace. I would use the analogy that GM doesn't
critique the cars put out by Ford."
Everyone is hot on the trail for the new miss thang in Hollywood--Brittany Murphy (Girl, Interrupted). She's got 'em all talking about Oscars and what not, especially in her new movie, Don't Say a Word, with Michael Douglas, in which she once again plays a trouble lass stuck in a mental institution. She's also costarring with Drew Barrymore in Penny Marshall's Riding in Cars with Boys, due in Oct. And now she's signed up to join Mekhi Phifer (O) in The Untitled Detroit Project directed by Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential) and also starring rapper Eminem, in his first feature film.
This is what I read in the Hollywood Reporter about the film: "An honest and provocative fictional examination of a critical month in the life of a young man named Jimmy (Eminem) as he searches for identity and a sense of purpose. Against the familiar backdrop of indifference and community decay, he learns to express his anger, fears and frustration as he struggles to transcend his bleak circumstances." In other words, Eminem plays a street punk who tries to break out. Why can't they just say that? Geez, they're trying to make it sound like an Ivory/Merchant film. Murphy is going to play Eminem's girlfriend. Lucky girl.
Vin Diesel: Part I
The buff star of The Fast and the Furious is banking some serious bucks lately. He's going to do the sequel to his claim-to-fame film Pitch Black for a reported $11 million. Not bad. The sequel is called The Chronicles of Riddick, in which Diesel will reprise his role as Riddick, a brooding convict who was being transported as part of a space mission that got shipwrecked on a mysterious planet. You remember, where the big bad bug-things came out at night and ate most of the cast? Sure. But Diesel's big payday didn't come easy. Apparently the studio brass had a difficult time shelling out the dough to get Diesel, but hey, he keeps making movies that do well at the box office. So, he's got the clout.
Vin Diesel: Part II
And that's not all Diesel is doing. He's also got a new film starting production in November called XXX. I don't believe there's any porno in it, but I could be wrong. Samuel L. Jackson is in negotiations to join the film as a government agent who recruits and trains Diesel's character for an undercover operation designed to infiltrate a Russian crime ring. Apparently, Diesel is playing one tough mother in XXX, a cross between James Bond and Limp Bizkit's lead singer Fred Durst, and will be performing some death defying stunts. And his asking price is only $10 million for this one. OK. Whatever.
Travolta and Jackson's "Basic" instinct
Speaking of Samuel L. Jackson...Pulp Fiction fans have a new reason to rejoice: John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson--who both starred in Quentin Tarantino's 1994 hit--are pairing up again for Phoenix Pictures' new military thriller Basic, set to begin production in November. Hold on-didn't I just say XXX was shooting in November? How is Jackson going to manage that one? Oh, who knows. He's Samuel L. Jackson; he can do anything he wants. In Basic, he and Travolta will play the leads in a drama centering on a Drug Enforcement Agency officer's investigation of the mysterious disappearance of a famed U.S. Army drill instructor and a group of cadets. John McTiernan (The Thomas Crown Affair) will direct Basic based on the screenplay by newcomer James Vanderbilt.
A date with Cool J
LL Cool J (Deep Blue Sea) and Gabrielle Union (Two Can Play That Game) are going to star in the USA Film's Deliver Us From Eva about three guys who pay a smooth ladies' man (LL Cool J) $5,000 to go out with their meddling sister-in-law, Eva (Union). However, after a disastrous first date, the unlikely pair begins to fall for each other, while the three men are left without much help. Sorry, LL and Gabrielle, you two are interesting up-and-coming actors, but this script sounds pretty lame.
Just a couple of quick tidbits about movie actors going back to the thee-a-tar: First, Jason Biggs, that lovable goof ball from the American Pie series is going to be recreating the immortal Benjamin Braddock in the Broadway stage production of The Graduate. Of course, Ben was brought to life so vividly by Dustin Hoffman in the classic 1967 Mike Nichols' film, so Biggs has some big shoes to fill. Kathleen Turner is taking on the Anne Bancroft role of Mrs. Robinson and Alicia Silverstone will play daughter Elaine Robinson, played by Katharine Ross in the film. This casting choice makes me cringe a little.
And second, the lovely and talented Vanessa Williams (who would have thought a Miss America would turn out so well) will be reviving the role of the witch in an updated stage production of the James Lapine/Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods. The part was originally played by Bernadette Peters in 1987, who simply wowed them as the main foil to the travails of some fairy tale bigshots. But no matter, I'm sure Williams will give it her all.
Kip Pardue is rookie CART driver Jimmy Bly a talented kid with all the right moves behind the wheel. After a string of victories puts him in the spotlight the constant pressure to win starts affecting his focus and arch rival Beau Brandenburg (Til Schweiger) pulls ahead in the rankings. In desperation Bly's team owner (Burt Reynolds) calls upon former racing star Joe Tanto (Sylvester Stallone) who faded to semi-retired infamy after a dubious accident ended his career to help guide the youngster. Meanwhile those darn personal issues keep getting in the way--Bly's friendship with Brandenburg's girlfriend (Estella Warren) and Tanto's damaged past.
This is a car racing film 'K? Nobody's watching for Oscar-winning performances. Go in knowing that and you won't be let down. A mellow matured Stallone is well cast as an aging has-been driver who's still got attitude but has his demons to battle; it doesn't require too much of a stretch. Though he shows a hint of promise an awkward Pardue has a way to go. Schweiger had less of a character arc but somehow draws more sympathy and you find yourself rooting for him over the weepy self-absorbed Bly. Warren a low-rent Kate Winslet is unconvincing as the chief distraction for these top drivers. Glittery-eyed Reynolds is pleasingly over-the-top. But watch for Gina Gershon as Tanto's catty ex-wife to steal the show with the movie's best lines.
This is a car racing film 'K? Nobody's watching for Oscar-winning direction. Go in knowing that and you won't be let down. Director Renny Harlin seemed to be aping Michael Bay/Jerry Bruckheimer films with his slow-mo shots larger-than-life special effects and testosterone-driven story lines. If you know nothing about car racing you'll enjoy the high-energy race scenes that require some suspension of disbelief (wrecked tires that fly as high as birds cars that literally leap into first place an impromptu race through downtown Tokyo streets). It's the sappy stories that make this film feel like you're going 35 in an 80 mph zone. A fight scene between Bly and Brandenburg in a club is so squirm-in-your-seat bad you're embarrassed for the actors.
Perhaps you've heard that Gary Coleman is running for the Senate, and you've wondered if it's true. We wondered that, too.
And perhaps you've wondered, if Gary "Diff'rent Strokes" Coleman were a senator, what kind of senator would he be?
We wondered that, too.
Not to make you feel bad or anything, but we're better than you because we didn't settle for merely wondering. We went straight to the former child star source.
On the rooftop of a tony Beverly Hills hotel, at a recent party for the entertainment Web site UGO (www.ugo.com), we cornered 32-year-old Gary Coleman. We asked, he told.
Is he really running for the Senate?
No and yes. He's not currently running for the Senate (the U.S. Senate, mind you), but he is considering a run. Coleman missed the filing deadlines for the 2000 general elections, but he now has "the information" on how to mount a campaign in the future. "Diff'rent Strokes" Why is he considering a run?
Because his UGO boss (Coleman writes a column for the Web site) suggested it. "And I’m like, you know, that’s a pretty cool idea.” What kind of candidate would Gary Coleman be?
"I have certain ideas and opinions and beliefs about political issues and how I believe things should be run for citizens and cities and counties and towns and states, but that doesn't make me want to be a politician. I’m not into politics. ... That's my whole platform, I'm a non-politician." All right, but really ... what kind of candidate would Gary Coleman be?
“I’d actually focus on crime and education and things that really bug people.” What is his No. 1 thing?
"My No. 1 thing is law and order -- and checks and balances within law and order. And then things within society that need to be changed to eliminate the gulf between the haves and have-nots.” What is his No. 2 thing?
Sorry, we forgot to ask that one. Democrat or Republican?
"I’m running as an Independent.” Paper or plastic?
Oops. Missed that one, too. What are people saying about his potential candidacy?
“Right now, people are like, 'Cool! We need somebody who’s a non-politician.'” Did he ever think he'd be grow up to be a non-politician?
Not really. “It’s one of those really kind of … [guttural noise: Grrrraaah!] … things that just makes you not want to ever sleep because you’ll have nightmares, but I think with a proper platform and a proper understanding, I think the non-politician could make some non-political decisions.” Could Gary Coleman be more detailed about Gary Coleman's platform?
“My platform is constructing itself as it goes along, as I discover things that are wrong -- things that bother me and bother other people -- I add them to my platform. That can be anything from cameras at traffic intersections to ... more trains to less cars to more electric cars. ... More money for education, more money for teachers, reorganizing police departments. Anything and everything I hear or believe or have an opinion about gets added to my platform.” Is Gary Coleman a registered voter?
"Yes." What would be the best thing about the Hon. Gary Coleman, U.S. senator?
“You wouldn’t have any guesswork. You wouldn’t have to sit and go, ‘Gee, I wonder how Sen. Coleman would feel about this issue.’ You wouldn’t have to guess. You’d already know.”
And now you know.
HOLLYWOOD, June 8, 2000 – Forget "Gladiator." This weekend it's the Clash of the Titans, as Nic Cage jumps into the ring and tests Tom Cruise's box-office legs.
Cage and Oscar winner Angelina Jolie topline "Gone In 60 Seconds," a very big-budget remake of a very low-budget 1970s drive-in flick about a ring of daredevil auto thieves. After two weeks at No. 1, it looks like Cruise and his "M:I-2" are headed for a supporting role.
"It's going to be a pretty big weekend," says Paul Dergarabedian of the box-office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations. "'Gone In 60 Seconds' is just going to be tremendous. It's got a terrific trailer, a great marketing campaign, and any guy between the age of 12 and 60 will want to see this thing."
Lest you think a non-holiday weekend in early June isn't the best time to put out a big new flick, take note that exactly one year ago, "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" opened and made a whopping $54 million. In other words, unless something goes dreadfully wrong, "Gone In 60 Seconds" will rake it in likewise.
Here's a brief overview of this weekend's main event:
GONE IN 60 SECONDS (See the trailer) The skinny: A cool dude (Cage) and a cool chick (Jolie) steal cars and lead the cops on interminable, but equally cool, car chases. The upside: Vroom, vroom, crash, boom! If you don't love a great car chase, you're probably a Communist. Either that, or you're a girl. The downside: With gas prices at all-time highs, how dare Hollywood put such shameless fuel-wasting gluttony on display?
Elsewhere, "M:I-2" and "Dinosaur" will continue to make lots and lots of money, while other recent contenders like "Shanghai Noon," "Frequency," and "Gladiator" will vie to remain in Top 10 contention.
If your vision of Hollywood is that of actors strutting up and down the Walk of Fame, that was at least the case here this week.
Boasting picket signs, rhyming slogans and matching steps, about 100 actors from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) gathered on McCadden Place in the heart of Hollywood on Wednesday. Their mission: to thwart a Nike commercial shoot that was slated to roll at 4:00 p.m. that afternoon.
And we were there. Because (a) Tiger Woods wasn't (he pulled out of the gig in support of the union actors); and, (b) we wanted to know what the deal was in Hollywood's first major walkout since 1988.
Though the protesters might not have been famous, known or even remotely recognizable, their collective effort was still greeted with shows of support from onlookers and passerby. Cars tooted their horns, pedestrians pumped their fists, and the building across from the demonstration had opened up their bathroom facilities for the marching actors.
The demonstration was not the first of its kind this week. Since Monday, striking actors in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and San Francisco have come together in protest of what they say are unfair wages against the advertising industry. In theory, the work stoppage should halt all commercial productions involving SAG and AFTRA members. Except it hasn't -- because the ad agencies have been hiring non-union members to fill in on commercial shoots.
"That's the reason why we're here right now," said Coleen Maloney, a 25-year SAG member. "The production trucks for this commercial are going to come here and park. And if enough of us are here, they're going to turn their trucks around."
Her husband Bill Hollis, a 25-year union member himself, explained, "[That's] because Teamsters people are driving those trucks, and Teamsters won't cross the picket line. We are not picketing the product. We're picketing the ad agency that's hiring non-union people."
The labor dispute between the two actor unions and the advertising industry pivots on the issue of residual pay, or the money actors receive each time their commercials air on the tube. And as of now, the so-called "pay-per-play" residual system applies to network and syndicated stations -- but not cable, where a onetime flat rate is paid instead.
Therein lies the crux of the struggle: the ad industry wants the flat-rate scheme instituted for network gigs; union actors want the pay-per-play system to be extended to the areas of cable and the Internet.
As it stands now, SAG, AFTRA and the ad industry aren't even at the bargaining table. With no resolution in sight, how are the striking actors plan to support themselves in the meantime?
"Well, we still have the opportunity to do film and television, although right now it's a very down time. We're still able to pursue educational films and industrial films," Maloney said. "In the meantime, we've got to work out everyday, we've got to vocalize everyday, we've got to keep ourselves strong....
"....And we have to work our civilian jobs," her husband wryly concluded.
As for the Nike shoot? Producers say they got the job done -- union actors or no, Teamster drivers or no.
And the beat -- or, chess game -- goes on.