11 items from 2007
Actor George Clooney will make a second awareness-raising trip to the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan next month. The 46-year-old hopes his celebrity status will draw more attention to the appalling conditions in the area as he tours the most affected areas of the crisis. Clooney says, "I'm not a politician, so the reason I go is to focus attention there. We're going to try to get deeper into Darfur, try to get some cameras in to the tougher camps and have conversations. That's basically all I can do. If you put famous people in front of very ugly sites, people will watch." Clooney visited Darfur with his father, a former U.S. news anchor, last year. They shot a short film about the horrors of the refugee camps. Details of Clooney's upcoming trip are being kept secret for security reasons. The actor admits he feels compelled to do all he can to raise awareness in Darfur: "It certainly reminds you to be ridiculously happy with your life. Once you see people suffering in the way these people are suffering, you feel very guilty about not suffering at all." On Thursday, Clooney and his Ocean's Eleven co-star Don Cheadle will be honored for their efforts in Darfur at the World Summit Of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in Rome, Italy. Both actors will receive the Peace Summit Award at the event. »
Erin Brockovich actress Julia Roberts lost her temper with a paparazzo recently when she ordered him to stop attempting to take pictures of her young children. The mother-of-three was driving her two-year-old twins Hazel and Phinnaeus in Los Angeles on Wednesday, when she decided to confront an overzealous snapper, reports Tmz.com. Taking advice from her Ocean's Eleven co-star George Clooney, Roberts honked the horn of her Mercedes-Benz sports utility vehicle and forced the photographer to pull over before storming over to scold the shocked paparazzo. An enraged Roberts told the cameraman, "Listen, you can turn your video camera off. You're at a school where children go. Turn it off." Earlier this month, a videotape of Clooney angrily confronting two photographers for driving dangerously surfaced online. »
- Continuing their love fest with George Clooney- Warner Bros has picked up the movie rights to The Tourist, an upcoming book by two time Edgar Award nominee Olen Steinhauer, for George Clooney and Grant Heslov to produce via their Smokehouse banner. The book is described as an international thriller about a spy on the run after he's suspected of a murder he did not commit. Supposedly in the vein of John LeCarre and Graham Greene, the book was picked up in early manuscript form. Smokehouse is the successor to Section 8, the company Clooney fronted with Steven Soderbergh. Films in production include the period football comedy Leatherheads for Universal, in which Clooney both stars and directs, and the upcoming White Jazz, an adaptation of the James Ellroy novel to be directed by Joe Carnahan. Smokehouse is also developing an adaptation of Beau Willimon's upcoming play Farragut North, rumored »
- Ever notice that the acting crew from Ocean's Eleven (12, 13...) fight the good cause. Matt does his thing, Clooney and Pitt and politically involved and now Don Cheadle is one among five subjects who are attempting to address genocide in Darfur. To be released on November 2nd by Warner Independent Pictures, this film is a call to action for people everywhere to help stop the genocide in Darfur. For the first time in human history, genocide has been declared in a region while it is still ongoing. In the Darfur documentary, the struggles and achievements of six very different individuals bring to light the situation in Darfur and illustrate the absolute need to get involved. From an undergraduate student in Santa Monica, California, to a Darfurian refugee woman who joins rebel forces, to a lawyer at The Hague, to a United Nations worker for the World Food Program, to an internationally known actor and activist, »
A spokesman for the sports entertainment powerhouse said Thursday that WWE has hired Lake for a two-year contract.
Lake will develop theatrical features and direct-to-video products as vehicles for WWE Superstars. He says he plans to ramp up production on WWE Films' straight-to-video slate, aiming to produce around three to four films annually along with a theatrical tentpole feature. He will also develop new TV projects that would benefit from an affiliation with WWE or its talent.
He most recently served as executive producer on one of three WWE films the company has produced in the last five years, The Condemned, starring wrestling star "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. The movie struggled at the boxoffice but has done solid home-video business in recent weeks.
"Joel is leaving to pursue a career as an independent producer," a WWE spokesman said of Simon's departure. »
Hollywood actress Julia Roberts has been named the winner of the 2007 American Cinematheque award. The Mona Lisa Smile star was chosen unanimously by the non-profit organization's selection committee which honors career achievements, Variety magazine reports. Roberts, who won an Oscar for Erin Brockovich in 2001, will collect the prize at a ceremony in Beverly Hills on 12 October. Actors, directors and writers - including Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman - have been honored at the ceremony every year since its inception in 1986. Last year, Roberts presented fellow actor and Ocean's Eleven co-star George Clooney with the award after he landed the annual honor. »
20th Century Fox's Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer rode a commanding wave to the top of the North American boxoffice during the weekend, finding a broad-based audience with the help of a family-friendly PG rating. The original Fantastic Four, with a PG-13 rating, opened to $56.1 million in 2005, and its sequel didn't lose any momentum and outgrossed its predecessor with an estimated bow of $57.4 million.
Warner Bros. Pictures' Nancy Drew, on the other hand, settled for niche appeal. The PG detective yarn, the weekend's other new wide opening, attracted mostly younger girls and posted an estimated opening of $7.1 million, good for seventh place overall.
The female-starring martial arts movie DOA: Dead or Alive, from the Weinstein Co.'s Dimension Films, opted for a limited release -- though playing nationwide, it was booked into 505 theaters -- and finished well outside of the top 10 with an estimated $232,000, just $460 per theater. Having targeted the video game audience with the title, the company is looking for it to achieve a better showing on DVD.
Despite the strength of Silver Surfer, the top 10 films were down slightly from the comparable weekend in 2006, the third down weekend in a row according to Nielsen EDI. The top 10 finished 2% below the crop last year, when Paramount Pictures' Nacho Libre, with a second-place opening of $28.3 million, led four new wide releases into the marketplace.
Warners' all-star Vegas caper film Ocean's Thirteen, last weekend's boxoffice leader, shifted to second place for the frame. With a respectable 47% decline, it collected an estimated $19.1 million to bring its domestic cume to date to an estimated $69.8 million. After 10 days, the third installment in the Steven Soderbergh-directed franchise finds itself between the 10-day totals of 2001's Ocean's Eleven ($72.3 million) and 2004's Ocean's Twelve ($68.5 million).
Holding on to third place was Universal Pictures' relationship comedy Knocked Up, which again posted the best hold among the wide releases. Dropping just 26%, it picked up an estimated $14.5 million to bring its domestic tally to just more than $90 million. »
The Ocean's Thirteen gang engineered a boxoffice heist, capturing the top spot in the weekend listings. But a bit of a summer chill settled over North America's megaplexes as the latest installment of the caper franchise came up just short of its two predecessors, while the weekend's other new debuts -- the animated Surf's Up and the gorefest Hostel: Part II -- arrived below expectations.
Warner Bros. Pictures launched Thirteen -- which it financed with Village Roadshow -- in 3,565 theaters, where it delivered an estimated $37.1 million. But while the PG-13, Las Vegas-set tale reunited all the principals from the last two Ocean's movies -- producer Jerry Weintraub, director Steven Soderbergh, and George Clooney and his gang of modern-day rat packers -- it didn't quite equal the initial take of the two previous titles. Ocean's Eleven, a remake of the 1960 Frank Sinatra film, bowed in December 2001 to $38.1 in 3,075 theaters, while Ocean's Twelve followed three years later, also in December, with a $39.2 million opening in 3,290 theaters. (Eleven went on to gross $183.4 million domestically; Twelve captured $125.5 million.)
This time out, the Ocean's gang placed its marker on a summer opening rather than winter, so Warners domestic distribution president Dan Fellman is predicting that strong midweek business should see the new film outdistance the first-week gross of Eleven, which amounted to $50.2 million, as well as Twelve, which rang in at $50.4 million. "It's the first film of the series released in June, so we're well positioned to take advantage of strong midweek business," he said.
The film, which bowed to $13 million on Friday, $13.9 million Saturday and an estimated $10.2 million Sunday, skewed slightly older; of the audience, 63% was over 25. It skewed slightly female as well, 52%-48%.
"I think we were very bold to go out in the summer, but it worked," Weintraub said. "Now that we've got it into the market, because our audience is not kids who run out to the theater on Friday night, we are close enough to 'Eleven' and 'Twelve' that at the end of the day, I think we're going to outdo both of them. We'll have enough play time now that I think this will be our biggest week."
With this weekend's openers including Weintraub's Nancy Drew, appealing to girls and their moms, and 20th Century Fox's Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, making a bid for the younger male demo, Weintraub predicted, "If an adult wants to go to a movie, we're that other movie."
Sony Pictures' Surf's Up, from Sony Animation, also will be looking to midweek grosses to boost its purse. »
Jerry Weintraub will be honored as producer of the year at ShoWest, the annual film industry convention set for March 12-15 at the Bally's and Paris hotels in Las Vegas.
Weintraub, whose career ranges from 1975's Nashville through the Karate Kid series in the '80s to the current Ocean's Eleven franchise, will be recognized March 15 at ShoWest's closing-night ceremony.
"Jerry Weintraub has proven himself to be one of the most innovative and prolific producers of all time," ShoWest co-managing director Mitch Neuhauser said. "From the groundbreaking 'Nashville' to the controversial 'Cruising' to the comedic 'Oh, God!' and 'Ocean's' series of films, Weintraub has exercised a masterful touch to everything he involves himself in and an instinct to discover exactly what audiences want to see."
Weintraub will be represented by two films in theaters in the summer.
On June 8, Warner Bros. Pictures will release Ocean's Thirteen, the third film in the franchise. The Warners/Village Roadshow Pictures production reunites the original cast of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison, Shaobo Qin, Carl Reiner and Elliott Gould with director Steven Soderbergh. »
How the Internet has changed the creative process, the life of a film and its distribution pattern were the topics discussed by a panel of notable Hollywood screenwriters at the first in a new speakers series hosted by Google on Monday night.
Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow), Lauren Greenfield (Thin), Ted Griffin (Ocean's Eleven), and Jim Uhls (Fight Club) spoke specifically to how they each use the Web's resources for development, how blogging communities now serve to promote films online and the impact of digital technology not only on a film's aesthetics but the industry at large to a mostly packed theater inside the Mann Criterion and close to Google's Santa Monica location.
"It used to be that reviews came out on Friday, then they were lining everybody's birdcage but now they're there forever," quipped Griffin about the power behind the interactive nature of blogging on the Net.
Brewer, whose 2005's "Hustle & Flow" garnered Terrence Howard an Academy Award nomination for best actor credited the social community aspect created through blogging as responsible for creating greater momentum for the film. »
Ocean's Eleven star Julia Roberts has confirmed reports she is expecting her third child with husband Danny Moder. The 39-year-old actress and Moder were married in 2002 and welcomed twins Hazel and Finn (short for Phinnaeus) in November 2004. Roberts' representative Marcy Engelman confirms to American publication People that the actress is due this summer. The Erin Brockovich star recently completed filming Charlie Wilson's War with Tom Hanks in Morocco, where she had her twins and Moder in tow. She also provides the voice of the spider Charlotte in the classic children's tale Charlotte's Web starring Dakota Fanning. »
11 items from 2007
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