12 items from 2002
LONDON -- U.K boxoffice admission figures for September remained static from the same period last year, according to figures from the Cinema Advertising Assn. released Monday. The figures held fast year-on-year on the back of performances of M. Night Shyamalan's Signs and Doug Liman-directed The Bourne Identity. During September, admissions hit 10.6 million, the same as last year's level. But the total for September is a dramatic 33% slump from August, which recorded levels of 15.9 million thanks to strong performances from Men in Black II and Austin Powers in Goldmember. According to CAA figures, Signs was September's top performer, taking £11.2 million ($17.4 million) for Buena Vista International. »
ORLANDO -- Posters of Warner Bros.' Harry Potter adorned the walls of ShowEast 2002's final night banquet, but the evening definitely belonged to the Walt Disney Co. Not only did Walt Disney Studio's chairman Dick Cook attend the banquet to present Chuck Viane, Buena Vista Pictures president of distribution, with the prestigious Show "E" award, but Disney characters from Mickey and Minnie Mouse to Lilo and Stitch were on parade along with a Disney band from the neighboring theme parks to celebrate Viane's achievement. Before presenting Viane with the award, Cook introduced a Hugh Hefner-spoof illustrating Viane's so-called "wild days," complete with commentary from Pamela Anderson, Playboy playmates and Viane's wife. The final night spectacle was preceded by presentation of the Kodak Award to M. Night Shyamalan -- the director of Sixth Sense and Signs -- which has thus far generated more than $200 million for domestic exhibitors and filled Disney's coffers with much needed revenue. »
A number of high-profile films that shunned the crowded kid-oriented summer market, instead making their big overseas pushes in the early fall, took command over the weekend in most of the territories in which they set down, despite a generally soft boxoffice. For the fourth consecutive weekend, M. Night Shyamalan's Signs, without a single new opening, emerged as the leading scorer in the international market, tallying $13.9 million from 3,421 screens in 28 countries. The Buena Vista International release is expected to top the $100 million mark by the end of this week after reaching $94.6 million this past Sunday night. The supernatural thriller held the No. 1 position for a second weekend in Japan, where it has taken in $13.4 million in nine days. It was No. 1 for a third weekend in the United Kingdom ($17.2 million in 17 days), the front-runner for a second weekend in Spain ($7 million in 10 days) and the leader in Mexico for a third frame ($9 million in 17 days). »
Hollywood director M. Night Shyamalan is convinced his The Sixth Sense star Haley Joel Osment was robbed of an Oscar at the 2000 Academy Awards bash. Shyamalan directed the child actor in the spooky thriller and was disappointed when Haley missed out on the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor to Sir Michael Caine. Shyamalan says, "Movies become what they're eventually gonna be over a period of time, you never really know straight away. Neither The Sixth Sense nor American Beauty were the films that people think they are now when they first opened. If I said to you, 'Gosh Michael Caine gave one of the greatest performances ever in Cider House Rules,' you know I'd be lying. I don't think you'd ever hear anybody say that. But you could easily hear somebody say, perhaps ten years from now, that Haley Joel Osment gave the best child performance ever, in (my) film." »
Summer went out with a whimper at the boxoffice, as films performed below last year's mark for the seventh consecutive weekend. The total gross for the 127 films tracked by The Hollywood Reporter was $115.8 million, down 3% from last summer's Labor Day weekend. Despite the somewhat sluggish overall boxoffice doings, the four-day holiday period was not without its success stories. Buena Vista's Signs continued to show its staying power as the M. Night Shyamalan thriller improved on its previous week by 19% and won the weekend with a $17 million take. Now in its fifth week, the Mel Gibson starrer has grossed $195.6 million to date. The weekend's second place finisher was the summer's biggest sleeper hit, IFC's My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The indie romantic comedy earned another $14.8 million while expanding its run to 1,619 locations. Wedding has now grossed $82.6 million since its April debut and the phenomenon still seems to be building steam. The latest performance marked the film's highest weekend finish, largest weekend gross, and widest theater count to date. »
VENICE, Italy -- Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and David Lynch are all scheduled to jet into this year's Marrakech International Film Festival, organizers said Monday. The trio of heavyweight directors add weight to the event held in Morocco, which runs Sept. 18-22, with each receiving an homage to their work and special awards at a gala awards night. Scorsese is scheduled to receive the country's highest order of merit and will be named a commander of the order of the Ouissam Allaouite. It will be presented by the King of the African country Mohammed VI. Producer-actor Aamir Khan will also receive plaudits at the ceremony, penciled in for Sept. 20. The festival also unveiled a strong U.S. presence in the festival's 18-strong separate gala screening lineup. The U.S. titles traveling to Morocco are Neil Jordan's "The Good Thief," M. Night Shyamalan's "Signs," Sam Mendes' "Road to Perdition," Marc Foster's "Monster's Ball" and Jessie Nelson's "I Am Sam." »
In its 20th weekend of release, IFC Films' seemingly indestructible My Big Fat Greek Wedding already has lasted longer than some Hollywood marriages. During the otherwise lackluster Labor Day weekend, it moved up the charts, bettering its fourth place finish last weekend as it vaulted over Sony/Revolution's XXX and Dimension Films' Spy Kids 2 to lodge itself in the No. 2 slot. Wedding expanded into 1,619 theaters. Witnessing a 55% uptick in business during the weekend's first three days, it picked up an estimated $14.6 million to bring its overflowing dowry to $82.3 million. With a per-theater average of $9,018, Wedding challenged Buena Vista's Signs, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, which nevertheless remained in the top spot for the second week in a row as it scared up another $16.5 million in 3,437 houses (for a per-theater average of $4,801), bringing its total to date to $195.1 million. Slipping by a mere 6% -- again, comparing the first three days of the holiday weekend against the three days of last weekend -- Signs is on track to cruise easily past the $200 million mark. Arriving in the middle of the pack was the weekend's one new wide release, Warner Bros. Pictures' frightener FearDotCom, directed by William Malone. Debuting in 2,550 theaters, the movie scared up just $7.12 million. »
After a two-week absence from the top spot, Buena Vista's "Signs" levitated to that position once again as the supernatural thriller kept more of its audience than Sony's "XXX," which held the top slot the previous two weekends.
Produced by Revolution Studios, "XXX" slipped 40% in its third frame as the Vin Diesel starrer grossed $13.3 million and moved its cume to date to $106.3 million. The Rob Cohen directed actioner crossed the $100 million mark on Saturday, becoming the 13th film released in 2002 to reach that level. The total after 17 days is $106.3 million.
Due to the lateness in the season and the lack of any new tentpole wide releases, both "Signs" and "XXX" were able to add around 100 venues each to their respective theater counts.
As the summer season winds down -- at least half the grammar schools in the country are back in session this week -- it proved to be another lukewarm session at the boxoffice in North America. The total for 126 films tracked by The Hollywood Reporter registered $89.6 million, down 8% from the comparable frame last summer. It marks the sixth consecutive down session as compared to 2001.
Looking to the end of summer, if the boxoffice for the remaining weeks of the season match the corresponding frames last year, the summer is heading towards a record $3.18 billion. But that estimate may prove optimistic, as the last six weeks have failed to match the summer of 2001 in week-to-week performances. »
In a changing of the late-summer guard, Buena Vista's "Signs" mysteriously reappeared in the top boxoffice spot after a two-week absence, during which Sony's "XXX" occupied the position with its testosterone-pumped figures.
"Signs," starring Mel Gibson and helmed and written by M. Night Shyamalan, reaped an estimated $14.4 million in its fourth weekend -- off a slim 26% from a week ago -- to pull ahead of "XXX." The supernatural thriller is circling an estimated $173.2 million after 24 days in release. Revolution Studios-produced "XXX" dipped a moderate 38% in its third session, as the Vin Diesel starrer grossed an estimated $13.7 million, moving its cume to about $106.7 million. "XXX" crossed the $100 million mark Saturday, becoming the 13th film released in 2002 to do so.
The Rob Cohen-helmed actioner is on the verge of becoming the highest-grossing film for Revolution Studios as it should surpass "Black Hawk Down" early this week. "Signs" and "XXX" capitalized on their strong performances late in the summer and added a little more than 100 theaters each this weekend, upping their counts to 3,453 and 3,517, respectively.
As the summer boxoffice season winds down -- many of the nation's grammar schools are back in session today -- the summer is tracking to hit a record $3.18 billion in 2002. That estimate will prove accurate if the boxoffice during the remaining weeks is equal to last summer's comparable frames. Estimated admissions would be up by a scant 1% from last summer but fall just short of 1999's total.
But it's questionable as to whether this summer's remaining days will match last summer as this weekend marks the sixth consecutive down frame as compared with 2001. Overall, the weekend proved lukewarm as the estimated total for all films was down 4% from the comparable session a year ago. And of the weekend's three new wide releases, two arrived with barely a blip on the boxoffice radar screen.
Paramount's "Serving Sara" debuted in the sixth slot with a disappointing estimate of $6.1 million from 2,154 theaters. The PG-13 comedy, produced by Mandalay Pictures, stars Matthew Perry and Elizabeth Hurley and was helmed by Reginald Hudlin.
New Line's "Simone," a dark comedy about a director and a computer-generated actress, arrived in the ninth slot in its opening weekend with an unattractive estimate of $4.1 million from 1,920 venues. Andrew Niccol directed the Al Pacino starrer. »
Elaborate hoax or cosmic graffiti?
For those left hungry for more after "Signs", "Crop Circles: Quest for Truth" serves up plenty to chew on -- especially for the believers.
A provocative if somewhat long-winded documentary by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker William Gazecki ("Waco: The Rules of Engagement"), the two-hour film goes a little heavy on the talking heads quotient, but it's the surprising amount of photographic evidence that ultimately speaks startling volumes.
Scheduled to go out in wide release this month, the documentary should piggyback handsomely off of the still-going-strong M. Night Shyamalan picture and subsequently make a mark in home video and education circles.
According to the film's statistics, some 250 crop formations appear throughout the world each year. Since 1980, 100-180 crop circles have been reported every summer in southern England. They can take varying forms, from simple circles to complex geometric patterns to odd pictograms.
More curious is the fact that there is usually little damage found in the fallen crops, which appear bent but not broken.
Even though Gazecki and his film contend that the majority of the formations are in fact authentic -- alleging that since 1980, there has been a coordinated disinformation strategy at play designed to convince the public that they have simply been the work of resourceful pranksters -- it would have made for a better balance if he had spent a little time talking to some of those perpetrators rather than simply acknowledging their contributions in passing.
Boasting no shortage of eyewitness accounts and aerial footage of patterns, many of which rival those patented overhead shots from Busby Berkeley movies in terms of design intricacy, the handsomely assembled film certainly looks impressive.
Given that Gazecki is a former record producer and sound mixer who was also an Oscar nominee for his sound work on Bette Midler's "The Rose", it's not surprising that the digitally shot film is also pleasing to the ear, with a rich, comforting score composed by David Hamilton.
Whether you're willing to buy into the theory that the patterns are the basis of some kind of intergalactic road map for a future visitation by some distant planet looking to colonize (as some of Gazecki's more somber subjects prophesy) or maintain it's all just a load of crop, some of those formations sure are pretty -- no matter what the cause.
CROP CIRCLES: QUEST FOR TRUTH
Director-producer: William Gazecki
Executive producer: Suzanne Taylor
Co-executive producers: Diahann Hughes, Monte Zinn
Director of photography: Ariane Compagnone
Editor: Morgan Barnard
Music: David Hamilton
Running time -- 120 minutes
No MPAA rating
Moviemaker M. Night Shyamalan has revealed why he turned down the chance to write the new Indiana Jones movie. The Sixth Sense helmer confesses he rejected the opportunity to make Indiana Jones 4 - because he didn't think it was the project for him. Frank Marshall, who produced the Indiana Jones trilogy, as well as The Sixth Sense and Shyamalan's new film Signs, first approached the filmmaker about writing Indiana Jones IV. But M. Night explains, "I'm a pretty independent person and I sensed Indiana Jones would be a very collaborative project. It would be so difficult coordinating everything with Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Harrison Ford every step of the way." The director also reveals he rejected the offer of directing the third Harry Potter movie - a gig that was eventually handed to Alfonso Cuaron, of Y Tu Mama Tambien fame. But Shyamalan says his busy workload stood in the way of the wizard flicks. He adds, "I had begun working on my idea for Signs and it would have been too long of a commitment to direct the Harry Potter movies." »
For her directorial debut, 26-year-old Laetitia Colombani has assembled a top-notch cast including Samuel Le Bihan ("Brotherhood of the Wolf") and Audrey Tautou ("Amelie"). But they cannot compensate for a movie that stretches the audience's attention span to the breaking point.
"A la folie ... pas du tout" ("He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not") is oddly billed as a romantic thriller, but Colombani readily admits to the influence of such films as Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" and M. Night Shyamalan's "The Sixth Sense". Certainly, the first part of the film has a definite "Fatal Attraction" feel to it.
Angelique (Tautou) is passionately in love with Loic (Le Bihan), a successful cardiologist who appears to have everything -- including a wife. On first impression, Loic seems to return Angelique's love, but he is reluctant to commit himself to a more long-term relationship. Gradually, he becomes less attentive and reliable until Angelique realizes he is never going to leave his wife.
Her behavior grows increasingly abnormal. There's a failed attempt to kill Loic's wife in a hit-and-run accident. She has more success in murdering one of Loic's patients, who is threatening to ruin his career by bringing a lawsuit against him. As her descent into madness accelerates, she decides that her only option is suicide.
Here, the film stops and -- literally -- rewinds to the beginning. We start the whole story again, only this time we see it from Loic's point of view. And what a different tale it is. The denouement brings the two characters face to face and allows the audience to distinguish the truth from the lies.
There is little doubt that Colombani has done her homework: There are no inconsistencies in the story as told by the different characters. But this meticulous attention to detail slows the action to a crawl. Colombani takes the audience by the hand and guides them carefully through the plot's twists and turns. A more successful thriller sometimes has the intelligence to leave the audience at times alone in the dark.
As Angelique, Tautou seems on autopilot. The childlike innocence she brought to her title role in "Amelie" serves her well here. Any hint of a darker side to her character is shown by a furrowing of the brow soon banished with a toothy, wide-eyed smile. LeBihan seems similarly untaxed and appears to tread water as the movie comes to a climax. Unfortunately, there are few surprises at the end for those who manage to stay the course.
A LA FOLIE ... PAS DU TOUT
Producer: Charles Gassot
Director: Laetitia Colombani
Screenwriters: Laetitia Colombani, Caroline Thivel
Production designer: Jean Marc Keldehue
Director of photography: Philippe Aim
Music: Jerome Coullet
Costume designer: Jacqueline Bouchard
Editor: Veronique Parnet
Angelique: Audrey Tautou
Loic: Samuel Le Bihan
Rachel: Isabelle Carre
David: Clement Sibony
Heloise: Sophie Guillemin
Julien: Eric Savin
Claire Belmont: Michele Garay
Anita: Elodie Navarre
No MPPA rating, running time 100 minutes
12 items from 2002
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