27 August 2001
Another Slice Of Pie
A slew of new releases failed to take off at the box office over the weekend, as American Pie 2
held on to the top position for the third week in a row (only the third release to do so this year, after Hannibal
and Spy Kids
). The movie earned an estimated $12.8 million, to bring its total to $109.6 million. Rush Hour 2
remained in second place with $11.4 million, bringing its four-week total to $183.2 million. Kevin Smith
's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
opened in third place with $11.1 million, while the new Freddie Prinze
movie, Summer Catch
, placed sixth and John Carpenter
's Ghosts of Mars
opened ninth. Two other newcomers failed to make the top-ten list at all. Disney's Bubble Boy
tanked with just $2 million, while Woody Allen
's The Curse of the Jade Scorpion
, which debuted on only 903 screens, earned a so-so $2.5 million. The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. American Pie 2
, $12.8 million; 2. Rush Hour 2
, $11.4 million; 3. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
, $11.1 million; 4. The Others
, $8.6 million; 5. Rat Race
, $8.3 million; 6. Summer Catch
, $7.5 million; 7. The Princess Diaries
, $6.7 million; 8. Captain Corelli's Mandolin
, $3.9 million; 9. John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars
, $3.8 million; 10. Planet of the Apes
, $3.5 million.
Columbia Fined For Safety Violation That Led To Death
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) on Friday fined Sony's Columbia Pictures $58,805 for violations on the set of the upcoming Spider-Man
movie that led to the death of a crew worker. The agency found that the company improperly modified a forklift to operate like a camera crane and that it later crashed into a construction basket in which 45-year-old construction worker Tim Holcombe was riding while welding a set.
The Next Big Thing After DVD? VOD!
Movie studios are likely to make a major push to roll out video on demand (VOD) systems via cable and the Internet over the next three years, Barron's reported in its current issue. The magazine quoted industry consultant Tom Adams of Adams Media Research as saying that despite the current lack of cable outlets for VOD, "there is a certain inevitability about it." He predicted that the VOD market will grow to $1 billion in 2003 from the current $30 million. Sony Pictures President Mel Harris agreed, telling Barron's: "You're going to see a ramp-up in the next three years that dwarfs the last three." VOD could come as a major disturbance to video dealers -- particularly Blockbuster, the magazine noted. Analyst Jordan Rohan of SoundView Technology Group predicted: "As people transition to VOD, Blockbuster's share of the total in-home entertainment market will go down."
Indian Police Say More Film Celebs Being Targeted By "Mafia"
Top Indian film producers and movie stars are increasingly being targeted for extortion by underworld gangs, although police have been frustrated over the refusal of the film personalities to lodge formal complaints, the Times of India reported today (Monday). "Many actors and actresses submit to the demands of the extortionists," one unnamed police officer told the newspaper. "In some cases, they have given money to gangsters even after being provided with police protection." Another source said that the gangs are in some cases demanding overseas distribution rights. "If producers are reluctant to part with overseas rights, they have to face the gun," the sources said.
French All-Digital Film To Beat Star Wars To Theaters
The French film Vidocq
, starring Gérard Depardieu
and set for release on Sept. 19, will become the first feature to be released using the Sony-Panavision technology that George Lucas
employed with his latest Star Wars
film, the London Sunday Observer
reported from Paris. The newspaper said that 800 of the $22-million film's 2,300 scenes were manipulated by computers after shooting was completed. The film's director, who uses only the single name Pitof
, told the Observer
: "I think this is the first step towards the cinema of the future. It certainly makes it a very different thing to do to make a film - post-production, by which I mean editing and inserting special effects, becomes just as important as the actual filming."
Experts Probe Crash That Killed Aaliyah
Authorities in the Bahamas on Sunday pressed on with their investigation into the crash of a Cessna aircraft that took the lives of singer-actress Aaliyah
and eight others shortly after takeoff on a flight bound for Opa-Locka, FL. Reporting on the tragedy, Boston Globe
music critic Steve Morse commented today (Monday): "It ended the life of a singer who brought a special elegance to the hip-hop/soul genre, as well as a unique charisma to the screen." In addition to recording two hit albums, Aaliyah
, born Aaliyah Haughton 22 years ago, had also starred in last year's Romeo Must Die
and had completed filming the movie version of Anne Rice
's Queen of the Damned
, in which she played the title character. She had also signed to appear in the next two sequels of The Matrix
. Her death extends the sizable list of performers who have died in the crashes of small private craft, including Buddy Holly
, Richie Valens, J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper), Patsy Cline
, Rick Nelson, Otis Redding
, Jim Croce
, Stevie Ray Vaughan
, Ronnie Van Zant
, and John Denver
Describing Congressman Gary Condit
as "frustrated and disheartened" over his Thursday-night interview with ABC's Connie Chung
magazine in a "Web Exclusive" on Friday quoted Condit as saying that Chung "didn't seem to be too interested in what I had to say" and that he sat through the interview "waiting for her to ask me something other than a sex question." Later he said: "The press is not entitled to know everything about my private life or the private life of any other member of Congress. ... You're not the church, and you're not the court."
DirecTV Pink-slipping 10 Percent Of Workforce
DirecTV operator Hughes Electronics said Friday that it plans to lay off about 10 percent of its workforce. "It's a really sluggish economy and we're heavily into consumer businesses," Hughes spokesman Richard Dore told Bloomberg News. "DirecTV has not been getting the number of new subscribers it has in the past and we just need to get our costs under control." The move is also expected to strengthen the hand of Hughes, which is currently involved in merger talks with Rupert Murdoch
's News Corp and rival satellite operator EchoStar.
Website Says It Knows Who Survivor Contestants Are
The pecurliarly named Ellipsiiis Brain Trust, which last April accurately revealed the weekly winners of Survivor: The Australian Outback
, as well as much of the plot, has posted on the Internet the names and thumbnail biographies of the players currently wrapping up filming for Survivor III at the Shaba Game Reserve in Kenya. In a message also posted on the sight, the operators of the Brain Trust said that the list of 16 contestants "was sent to us by an email source who wishes not to be exposed."
"Arty" Series Finale Turns Out To Have Been Computer Error
A computer error was being blamed for a split-second flash of an African woman holding a basketball that appeared at at least two points during the season finale of HBO's Six Feet Under
last week, the New York Times
reported today (Monday). The shot touched off speculation on the Six Feet Under
website about what the subliminal images meant, with many commenting that they were intended to be symbolic. "What a brilliant directing/producing technique!" one fan wrote. HBO, however, told the Times
that the images were not inserted intentionally into the movie by the producers of Six Feet Under
, and that they apparently came from the movie The Air Up There
that had aired on HBO the same day.
Film Bio Of Peter Sellers In Works
A British-American production team is developing a film about actor/comic Peter Sellers
(the Pink Panther
movies, Dr. Strangelove
, Being There
), who died in 1980, the London Sunday Times
reported. The newspaper said that Kevin Spacey
, along with British comics Steve Coogan
and Ali G
, are being considered for the Sellers role and that it will be directed by Stephen Frears
(My Beautiful Laundrette
, Dangerous Liaisons
, Accidental Hero
, High Fidelity
). Suggesting that the film is intended for a pay-TV release, the Times
said that two HBO writers are working on the script along with Lee Hall
, the writer of Billy Elliot
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