4 September 2006
'Invincible' Remains Such for Second Week
Because of the Labor Day holiday, several studios did not release estimates for the weekend Sunday, but news reports indicated that the consensus was that Disney's Invincible
narrowly held on to the lead for the second weekend in a row, slightly ahead of Lionsgate's new release Crank
. Warner Bros.' The Wicker Man
, starring Nicolas Cage
, reportedly opened in third place. Neither of the two new films were screened for critics in time for their deadlines on Friday. The expected dreadful reviews materialized over the weekend. Kyle Smith in the New York Post
figured that Warner Bros. released the Wicker Man
remake "without previews because it would rather lose money than be accused of misogyny." Stephen Hunter in the Washington Post
recalled that after the original film was released, there were rumors that Rod Stewart
, whose girlfriend, Britt Ekland
, performed a nude dance in it, tried to buy up all existing copies and have them destroyed. "Only Stewart can say whether this is true, and he's not talking," Hunter wrote. "I do believe that in a few years, Nicolas Cage
will buy up all the prints to this Wicker Man
and burn them. I'll be happy to help him." Of Crank
, Liam Lacey
wrote in the Toronto Globe and Mail
that it was "so blatantly contrived it could be called The Fast and the Spurious
." Roger Moore in the Orlando Sentinel
wrote that it was "so hyped up, it's the movie equivalent of a speedball shot straight into a major artery, and every bit as irresponsible." Stephen Hunter in the Washington Post
summed it up as, "brutal, nasty and, thank God, short." And Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News
wrote that the movie "has an excellent shot at ending 2006 as the worst film of the year."
Mirren Hailed in Venice for Performance As Elizabeth II
Giving new nuance to the acclamation, "The queen is dead. Long live The Queen
!" Helen Mirren
's performance as Queen Elizabeth II
is being hailed by critics and audiences at the Venice Film Festival barely a week after she received a best actress Emmy for her performance as Queen Elizabeth I on television. The Rome newspaper La Repubblica
Wins Venice's Heart." In the film Mirren portrays the queen having to deal with a crisis that threatens the British monarchy in the wake of Princess Diana's death in 1997. The British trade publication Screen Daily
predicted that Mirren's performance in The Queen
"is likely to be crowned with a host of awards nominations." The online film commentator David Poland wrote that Mirren "lives at the center of the work, underplaying the role to within an inch of not connecting with us, but keeps us firmly at the end of the leash until it is time to show us this very reserved character's heart." The French news agency Agence France Presse reported that Mirren, director Stephen Frears
, and cast members received a 15-minute standing ovation at Saturday's screening.
Stone Accuses Hollywood of Exploiting War
Director Oliver Stone
, who steered clear of controversy during interviews promoting his World Trade Center
in the U.S. last month, returned to the thick of things over the weekend as he accused Hollywood of exploiting war. Speaking at the Venice Film Festival, Stone charged that movies such as Pearl Harbor
and Black Hawk Down
"worshiped the machinery of war" paving the way for America to go "back to the concept of war too easily." Stone, a Vietnam War veteran, who directed the anti-war film Platoon
, said that he was "depressed" about America's strategy in Iraq, commenting that as a result, "there is more terror, there is more death, there is more war. The consequences of 9/11 are far worse than the day itself."
Wal-Mart Battles Apple Over Movie Downloads
Wal-Mart, which claims that its stores account for 40 percent of all DVD's sold in the U.S., has been using its clout to dissuade Hollywood's major studios from cooperating with Apple's iTunes Music Store, which plans to sell them online. According to Business Week
Wal-Mart has sent executives to Hollywood in hopes of blocking any deal between Apple and the studios. Wal-Mart has denied the report. Apple is expected to announce a movie download service within the next two weeks, at about the same time that it is expected to unveil a new, wider-screen video iPod. New movies are expected to go for $14.99; older ones, for $9.99. So far, however, Apple has reportedly only signed up one studio, Disney, where Apple chairman Steve Jobs
is the company's largest shareholder.
Ticket Sales Recover From Last Year
The movie business saw ticket sales increase 6.3 percent during the summer season compared with last year, while movie attendance rose about 3.1 percent. Nevertheless, it remained about 3 percent behind 2004. In an interview with the Associated Press, Paul Dergarabedian
, the head of Exhibitor Relations, which tracks box-office performance, said, "If every year were like this, it would be fine. Hollywood will take 'solid' over 'slump' any day."
Worried CBS Stations Drop CBS 9/11 Film
More than two dozen CBS affiliates have decided either to drop or delay an updated version of the documentary 9/11
after some "family values" groups mounted a campaign to urge the FCC to fine the network and its stations for what one of their leaders described as "hardcore profanity" spoken by some of the rescuers who appear in the film. Congress recently increased the fines the FCC can impose on a station for broadcasting indecent language from $32,500 to $325,000. Martin Franks, executive vice president of CBS, said that the pullout by the stations represented "example No. 1" of the chilling effect on free speech of the legislative action and by earlier fines meted out by the FCC for the Janet Jackson
incident at the Super Bowl two years ago. The Rev. Don Wildmon had asked the 3 million members of his American Family Association and other sympathizers to bombard the FCC and their CBS stations with complaints about the language in the documentary. But on Arianna Huffington
's liberal blog, one message read: "Let me get this straight: It is perfectly okay for children to watch a documentary on 9-11 and see planes crash into the WTC; view footage of people jumping out of burning buildings; witness pandemonium in the streets of NYC; hear audio tape of real 911 calls; and see scenes of the wounded being treated at triage units; but it is NOT okay for them to hear curse words?"
Decency Crusader Brent Bozell To Step Down
, whose Parents Television Council has been at the forefront in campaigning for tougher regulations on television indecency, said Friday that he will step down as president of the organization on Jan. 1. He said, however, that he will continue to serve as an advisor to the group. In a statement, Bozell remarked, "It has simply become too much for me, and with a large family, it's just not healthy for me. More importantly, however, it is not healthy for the PTC."
Ratings Plummet For MTV Video Music Awards
Audiences deserted the MTV Video Music Awards in droves Thursday. According to Nielsen research, just 5.77 million people tuned in, down 28 percent from last year and 45 percent from 2004. The VMAs once regularly attracted 12 million viewers. The producers of the show had reportedly embarked on a plan last year to bring it to major cities across the country, but after last year's disappointing ratings, when it aired from Miami, they moved it back to New York. (The show has also frequently aired from Los Angeles.) The VMAs experienced their biggest drop among MTV's target audience of 12-34-year-old viewers, 33 percent of whom pulled out. However, MTV's video website Overdrive reported 3.9 million streams for VMA "extras" -- up more than 200 percent over last year.
"Crocodile Hunter" Killed During Filming
"Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin
, 44, was killed today (Monday) when he was attacked by a stingray during the filming of an underwater documentary about the Great Barrier Reef. Rescuers who flew by helicopter to the site of the filming, Batt Reef, reported that Irwin was already dead when they arrived. They said that the cause of death appeared to be a "stingray strike to the chest." The Australian newspaper The Age
headlined: "Crikey, Can the Crocodile Hunter Really Be Gone?" It wrote: "He made a career toying with some of the most aggressive and deadly creatures on the planet. But what killed Steve Irwin in the end was quite unexpected, a freakishly unlucky turn of events during what should have been an innocuous encounter with a timid ocean giant." The newspaper noted that only three confirmed stingray deaths have occurred in Australia in the past 68 years.
Pet Store Owner Out-Pimped by Viacom
The operator of an English boutique for pets called Pimp My Pet figures that if Tom Cruise
is no match for Viacom, neither is she. Liz Wilson has agreed to stop using the name for her shop after receiving a warning from the giant media company that its MTV unit, which airs the hit program Pimp My Ride
, owns the "Pimp My ..." name. She told Britain's Guardian
newspaper that after she received a letter from Viacom attorneys, she concluded: "As Viacom just fired Tom Cruise
, I thought they're obviously quite powerful." Besides, she said, "It was a choice of spending [about $800] to change the logo against thousands" for a legal defense.
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