28 July 1997
Af1 Hijacks Box Office
Air Force One (1997)
opened impressively over the weekend, earning an estimated $37.1 million, making it Harrison Ford
's biggest opening ever, exceeding the takes of the original Star Wars (1977)
and Indiana Jones movies. (By comparison, the "special edition" version of Star Wars earned $24.3 million during its opening weekend last February.) The success also served to underscore the turnaround of Sony Films this year. With its Men in Black (1997)
placing third at the box office ($12.6 million) and My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)
, eighth ($4.5 million), Sony has now grossed more than $800 million at the box office to date. Sony distribution chief Jeff Blake, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, observed that the figure is more that twice last year's.
Biggest Indie Opening Ever?
Inasmuch as Sony hedged its bet on the $90 million film Air Force One (1997)
by agreeing to co-produce and finance it with indie Beacon Communications and to acquire only domestic distribution rights for it, the company will not see the kind of stratospheric returns ordinarily expected from such a blockbuster. However, the results will likely give Beacon an enormous boost. Beacon chairman Armyan Bernstein
told today's Los Angeles Times, "This is probably the biggest opening ever for an independent film ... and it's the biggest film to ever open in the second half of the summer."
Clinton Endodrses Af1
President Clinton has given "two thumbs up" to Air Force One (1997)
. As reported in today's (Monday) Los Angeles Times, Clinton told reporters traveling with him aboard the actual AF1 Saturday night that he thought that the film "was very well done" and that he disagreed with critics who called the plot preposterous. Clinton also indicated that he was "in the middle of it" when Harrison Ford
was attempting to persuade Glenn Close
to appear as the vice president in the film. "I told her I thought she ought to go on the ticket, that she'd be good. She was very good."
Are Japanese Influences Being Felt At Studios They Own?
Despite predictions at the time of Sony's acquisition of Columbia and Matsushita's, of Universal that Japan would seek to impose its own cultural values on U.S. filmmakers, there has been no evidence that Japanese execs have ever attempted to influence the content of films, the New York Times reported today (Monday), citing top studio executives. Sony Pictures president John Calley
told the newspaper: "Obviously, our strategic and financial interests are mutual, but all creative decisions are exclusively local." Former Universal president Tom Pollock
attributed one-time fears of a Japanese takeover in Hollywood to "racism." (Matsushita has since sold 80 percent of Universal to Seagram, a Canadian concern.) And said Australian-turned-American Rupert Murdoch
chairman of News Corp: "I always thought if they (the Japanese) had been so foolish as to try and control the movies, the public would have destroyed them."
Milchan Likely To Have New Digs At Fox
is likely to take his New Regency Productions from Warner Bros. to Fox as part of a a deal in which Fox would become an equity investor, trade reports said today (Monday).
Tighter Censorship Rules In The U.K. Predicted
The decision by the British Board of film Classification to allow David Cronenberg
's controversial Crash (1996)
to be screened in the U.K. may produce a backlash resulting in tighter regulations on sex and violence in films, the London Daily Telegraph reported today (Monday). According to the newspaper, James Ferman
, the country's chief film censor, is likely to resign, forced out by mounting political pressure. Julian Brazier, a Conservative MP from Canterbury, told the newspaper, "We have got to find ways of curbing the way in which videos and films are encouraging the culture of violence by glamorizing it."
Old Theater Organ Returning To Jersey Movie Palace
As part of a restoration project, the Loews Jersey Theater, in Jersey City, NJ, has purchased a 1, 678-pipe organ, similar to the one that occupied the theater from silent-film times until 1974, when it was sold. Only five of the theater organs, built by the Robert Wonder Organ Company, were ever produced.
Note To Ted: Even Rupe's Money Talks
Time Warner reversed course and agreed to a deal that allows News Corp access to its New York cable system -- and other Time Warner outlets as well -- because Rupert Murdoch
agreed to pay it well over the $10-a-subscriber fee that he has been paying to get access to other cable systems, the New York Times reported today (Monday), citing people with direct knowledge of the agreement. The newspaper indicated that the price was probably in the neighborhood of $20 per subscriber. Other sources told the newspaper that Ted Turner, who had opposed dealing with Murdoch, had not been informed of the negotiations until the last minute and had played no role in them. (On Saturday, the Times editorialized against the deal.)
Forget "The Eye;" The Ear Pays Off For Cbs
Westinghouse reported today that its radio operations helped it report a $1 million net gain for the second quarter, compared with a net loss of $89 million in the year-ago quarter. Last year's figure included an after-tax charge of $114 million. Earnings (EBITDA) for its CBS television division was down substantially to $261 million against $340 million in the comparable quarter last year. But CBS Radio Group's earnings soared to $157 million, 23 percent higher than the year-ago figure, the company said.
Lawmakers May Delay Dawn Of Digital Tv
House and Senate budget conferees agreed on a compromise Friday that will allow broadcast station owners to hold on to analog transmission systems past the 2006 deadline if at least 15 percent of households in a given area lack TV sets capable of receiving digital broadcasts, the New York Times reported today (Monday). However, broadcasters would be required to buy the additional broadcast spectrum at auction, the Times said. Meanwhile, Daily Variety reported today (Monday) that the White House has warned the lawmakers that it has "serious problems" with the bill.
Fox Roars About Big Summer Gain
Fox-TV's summer launch of Roar has helped it boost revenue for the summer by 11 percent, USA Today reported today (Monday), citing Fox execs. And it may result in an industry-wide reconsideration of the summer rerun custom, according to Fox Entertainment chief Peter Roth. "As an industry, we can no longer afford to keep shutting down in the summer, " Roth told the newspaper. "We can't afford to lose viewers every summer."
Gm Expected To Make Biggest-Ever TV Buy
General Motors is expected to announce a sponsorship pact with NBC for Olympic Games coverage that is likely to represent the largest deal of its kind in history, exceeding the $250 million that Coca Cola paid for NBA sponsorship, the New York Times reported today (Monday). It said that remaining issues concern fees payable to the U.S. Olympic Committee, promotional spending and GM products that will be contributed to the Olympics.
NBC Develops Its Own Content Labels
Although it has steadfastly insisted that it will not add content labels to its ratings, NBC has begun making announcements at the beginning of some shows alerting parents to potentially disturbing material, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday. According to the newspaper, last week's movie Out for Justice was preceded by the announcement, "Due to some violent content, parental discretion advised." A similar announcement will be used for the upcoming She Fought Alone. And the Aug. 6 episode of "Homicide: Life on the Street" (1993)
is likely to carry a warning that the stanza "has a level of violence unusual for this series."
Navy Calls Hbo Drama "Outrageous"
The U.S. Navy has denounced Saturday night's HBO movie, Hostile Waters (1997) (TV)
, which claimed to be the true story of a collision between an American and a Soviet submarine off the coast of Bermuda in 1986. The Soviet vessel was, according to the movie, armed with nuclear weapons. Rear Adm. Kendell Pease, chief of information, called the scenario "outrageous, " adding that the Navy "categorically denies" that any such collision ever took place.
BBC Newsman Quits, Calls Execs "Pygmies"
A veteran BBC news anchor resigned on the air Friday, saying in a parting shot, "When I first joined the corporation, it was led by giants. Now it is being led by pygmies in gray suits wearing blindfolds." Alan Towers, in an interview appearing in today's (Monday) London Times said that he has since received numerous calls supporting his stand. He accused his former employer of "a paranoid desire to save money at all costs. "They may know something about accounting but they know nothing about program production, " he remarked An unidentified colleague told the London Daily Telegraph, "Alan was voicing what many of us feel."
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