9 July 2007
'Transformers' Transforms Record Books
Although analysts had expected that it would perform strongly, Paramount
surpassed even the most sanguine predictions, taking in an estimated $67.6 million over the weekend and $152.5 million since it opened with a single, "preview" screening last Monday. The seven-day total represented a record for a nonsequel, surpassing the original Spider-Man
, which earned $151.6 million in 2002. (Spider-Man
registered more admissions, however -- 26.1 million versus 22.5 million for Transformers
.) Overseas, the film's take was equally impressive as it earned $246.1 million in 29 countries. In second place, Disney-Pixar
also packed 'em in, earning $29 million in its second weekend to bring its total to $109.5 million. Fox's Live Free or Die Hard
also remained very much alive as it placed third with about $17.4 million, raising its total to $84.1 million. Also racking up healthy ticket sales, The Weinstein Co.'s Sicko
earned $3.6 million on just 702 screens, bringing its total to $11.5 million. Noting that the film declined only 18 percent from the previous week, Harvey Weinstein
told USA Today
, "We said we were going to do steady as she goes, and I think we are going to get there, with room to spare."
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Media by Numbers: 1. Transformers, $67.6 million; 2. Ratatouille, $29 million; 3. Live Free or Die Hard, $17.4 million; 4. License to Wed, $10.4 million; 5. Evan Almighty, $8.1 million; 6. 1408, $7.1 million; 7. Knocked Up, $5.2 million; 8. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, $4.15 million; 9. Sicko, $3.65 million; 10. Ocean's Thirteen, $3.5 million.
Rowling on 8th Potter Book: "Never Say Never"
Author J.K. Rowling
has apparently left the door ajar for an eighth Harry Potter novel. Asked during a BBC
interview Friday night about the possibility of reviving the series in the future, Rowling reiterated that her seventh book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
, to be published on July 21, will be the last, but she added that her motto has always been "never say never." A spokesman for Rowling said Sunday: "It's not saying that she definitely is [going to write another Potter book], and it's not saying that she definitely isn't. I cannot comment further." Meanwhile, the British bookstore chain Waterstone's launched an online petition Sunday that begins with the words, "We, the undersigned, petition J. K. Rowling to write more new adventures for Harry Potter and his friends no matter what happens at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
." And what if Rowling kills off Harry in the final book? Well, the bookstore observed, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
killed off Sherlock Holmes in 1893 in The Adventure of the Final Problem
but brought him back to life after a public outcry.
Disney's First Chinese Film a Modest Hit
The Secret of the Magic Gourd
's first film produced for the Chinese box office, has earned $1 million in its first week, which Disney said it regarded as respectable given the current size of the Chinese film market. A Disney spokesperson said that the film, made at Centro Digital Pictures in Hong Kong, would help give Disney "a nice position at the Chinese box office." The company's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
earned more than ten times as much -- $10.5 million -- in its first week in China.
Lucas and Spielberg's Close Encounter
When George Lucas
visited Steven Spielberg
on the set of Close Encounters of the Third Kind
in 1976, he was so impressed by the movie's huge sets and Spielberg's vision for it that he bet Spielberg that the film would become a bigger hit than his own space movie that he was just completing at the time. In a documentary film, Spielberg on Spielberg
, which airs tonight (Monday) on Turner Classic Movies channel, Spielberg relates that he took the bet by exchanging 2.5 profit points on Close Encounters
for 2.5 profits points on Lucas's film -- titled Star Wars
Couric Admits Regrets About CBS Decision
has acknowledged that she now has second thoughts about accepting the job of anchor for the CBS Evening News
. Asked by New York
magazine whether she would have accepted the job if she had known that she would be delivering the traditional newscast that she hosts today, Couric replied, "It would have been less appealing to me. ... It would have required a lot more thought." She said that at the time she signed on she and CBS chief Les Moonves agreed that the newscast should become "more personable, more accessible, a little less formal, a little more approachable. ... That certainly is one of the things they found attractive in hiring me, otherwise they could have had John Roberts
do the Evening News
." (Passed over for the anchor's job, Roberts quit CBS in 2006 and joined CNN
.) She also told the magazine that she has become the victim of a "fairly primal" mentality. "I've gone through a bit of a feeding frenzy and there's blood in the water and I've got some vulnerabilities," she said, without specifying who the metaphoric sharks actually are, except to acknowledge that they are CBS News co-workers, whom she described as "petty, behind-the-scenes operators." She remarked, "There are just certain things that colleagues are not supposed to do."
Deal or No Deal?
A report by the British magazine The Business
that Rupert Murdoch
had reached a deal to buy Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal
, turned out to be premature at best and fraudulent at worst as reports emerged that supermarket magnate Ron Burkle
would meet with the Dow Jones board today (Monday). Word of the meeting suggested that the board was still willing to consider other suitors. Although Andrew Neil, editor of The Business
, said that he stands by the report, which appeared on the magazine's website on Friday, the Journal
itself reported in today's editions that Dow Jones director Leslie Hill was spurring board members to try harder to find alternative bidders. The newspaper quoted a person close to Dow Jones as saying that the meeting with Burkle is designed to "leave no stone unturned" in the search for alternatives to Murdoch. It also noted that one issue that continues to remain a hurdle in the negotiations with Murdoch has been the Down Jones contract with CNBC, which runs through 2012. That commitment, said the Journal
, "could prove a stumbling block to News Corp's plans to use the Journal
brand in its plans for a new, rival business channel."
'Bingo!' Show Saved by Internet
For the first time, an online component of a television show has given the show a new lease on life despite lackluster ratings. According to Broadcasting & Cable
, which aired six episodes of the game show National Bingo Night
during May and June, plans to bring it back in December for a five-night run. ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson told the trade magazine, "It is fair to say this show was saved by the fact that, while its ratings numbers weren't as impressive, that was totally contradicted by everything else we saw online." He pointed out that viewers downloaded 22 million Bingo cards online and won more than $550,000 during the show's run. Show creator Andrew Glassman told B&C
: "It just shows there are metrics other than ratings to gauge success in television."
Live Earth Ratings Fall to Earth
Last weekend's Live Earth
global music concert produced disappointing ratings figures in the U.K., where total viewers averaged barely a quarter of those who tuned in for the Concert for Diana
a week earlier. The BBC
attributed the low ratings to competition from its coverage of the Wimbledon tennis tournament. It also acknowledged that it received numerous complaints about use of the f-word by performers during the concert. "We asked artists not to swear but sometimes they get carried away," a BBC spokeswoman said. "We are very sorry for any offense caused." She added: "It was technically all-but-impossible to broadcast with a delay. It was called Live Earth and it was always intended to be broadcast live."
DirecTV Successfully Launches Another TV Satellite
DirecTV said today (Monday) that a Boeing 702 communications satellite that can carry 100 high-definition channels was successfully launched Saturday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It is expected to go into operation by the end of the year. The company plans to use it primarily to expand HDTV local programming in as many as 75 markets.
Silverman Is Gold for Trump
is in talks with reality show producer Mark Burnett
to bring Donald Trump
's The Apprentice
back for at least one more season, published reports said over the weekend. Today's (Monday) New York Times
reported that NBC Co-chairman Ben Silverman
, on his first day on the job last month, instigated the negotiations. "I didn't want to lose The Apprentice
," Silverman told the Times
. Commented Trump: "Ben Silverman gets it. ... I think he's a guy with vision and a great leader."
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