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The six Hollywood majors will set an all-time record at the overseas boxoffice during 2007, raking in about 15% more than last year with a peak of nearly $10 billion.
The half-dozen MPA companies each topped $1 billion for the first time in industry history, according to preliminary data. An estimate for the full year places Warner Bros.' international theatrical arm in the No. 1 spot with $2.15 billion.
Disney's analogous unit is next with about $1.66 billion, followed by 20th Century Fox at $1.64 billion, Paramount Pictures at $1.60 billion, Sony Pictures at $1.27 billion and Universal Pictures at a touch above $1 billion.
The figures and standings are tentative because most of the companies have titles in release during the final days of the lucrative year-end holiday period.
On Warners' current slate are I Am Legend, Beowulf and Fred Claus. Disney still has to include the foreign returns from National Treasure: Book of Secrets and more dates on Enchanted, Fox has Alvin and the Chipmunks, Paramount has Bee Movie and Universal has American Gangster, Atonement and Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
A highlight of the 2007 boxoffice bonanza was the entry of Par's PPI and Universal's UPI in the $1 billion ranks. Both were operating for the first time as stand-alone overseas distributors following the breakup of their longtime partnership in United Pictures International.
For Warner Bros. Pictures International, its tally marks the seventh straight year that it has exceeded $1 billion in foreign boxoffice. The more than $2 billion this year represents the company's second-highest gross, trailing only the $2.2 billion achieved in 2004 as the industry standard. »
Angelina Jolie has praised her boyfriend Brad Pitt for the "extraordinary" way he comforted her in the aftermath of her mother's death earlier this year. The Beowulf actress, who lost her mom Marcheline Bertrand to cancer in January, is grateful to Pitt for helping her to focus on the happiness she'd shared with her mother over the years. Jolie tells British magazine Grazia, "He is just a great friend and when my mother passed, he was so great. He sat with me and held (my mother's) hand. After she passed away he spent the night asking me and my brother about our mother and got us to tell funny stories about her. He focused on all the love and joy we were fortunate enough to have had. He was extraordinary." »
List of nominees
'Massive sweep' for Focus
'Damages' leads TV pack
Strike curbs enthusiasm
"Atonement", the tony British drama of love, lies and war, led the pack with seven nominations -- including best drama and acting noms for its two leads, Keira Knightley and James McAvoy -- as the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. on Thursday morning announced its nominations for the 65th annual Golden Globes.
"Charlie Wilson's War", a comic look at the roots of the U.S.' involvement in Afghanistan, followed with five nominations, including best comedy or musical.
On the TV side, the top contenders with four nominations apiece are the FX dramatic series "Damages", which revolves around a lethal legal case, and the HBO telefilm "Longford", which looked at a crime and its punishment in Great Britain. NBC's comedy "30 Rock", HBO's "Entourage" and ABC's freshman entry "Pushing Daisies" both scored three noms, as did the HBO telefilm "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee".
But this year's wide-open film awards season didn't get much narrower as a result of the Globe nominations as the HFPA chose to include a whopping seven films in its best drama category. In addition to "Atonement", the crowded list includes several looks at criminal behavior, "American Gangster", "Eastern Promises" and "No Country for Old Men"; two very different takes on American business, the oil-struck "There Will Be Blood" and "Michael Clayton", with its corporate intrigue; and the inspirational college drama "The Great Debaters". According to the HFPA, the expanded category came about because three films tied for fifth place.
That should make the competition for prime tables even tougher when the Globes ceremony, broadcast live by NBC, is held Jan. 13 at the Beverly Hilton.
In the case of the best comedy or musical category, the HFPA was a little more selective, nominating three musicals -- the Beatles-inspired "Across the Universe", the '60s-inflected "Hairspray" and the bloody "Sweeney Todd" -- along with two comedy-dramas, "Charlie Wilson's War" and "Juno", a wry look at an unexpected teen pregnancy.
With just five nominations in the best directing category, the contest suddenly got fiercer. On the dramatic side, brother filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen were nominated for "No Country" along with Ridley Scott for "Gangster" and Joe Wright for "Atonement". The only director with a film from the musical category is "Sweeney Todd"'s Tim Burton. The fifth nominee is Julian Schnabel for "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," which also was nominated for best screenplay and best foreign-language film.
Cate Blanchett scored a double-header, picking up a best dramatic actress nom for her regal turn in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" and supporting actress recognition for her Dylanesque performance in "I'm Not There". With best dramatic actor and supporting actor noms for, respectively, "The Savages" and "Charlie Wilson's War", Philip Seymour Hoffman was much in evidence. Clint Eastwood, though he didn't appear on film this year, also earned two nominations for his score and song for "Grace Is Gone", the study of an Iraq War widower.
Still, for all their largesse, the 82 voting members of the HFPA ignored several possible nominees. Sean Penn's "Into the Wild" was left out in the cold, save for score and song nominations. "Knocked Up" and "Superbad", which were both critical and commercial hits, also got the cold shoulder. Laura Linney, who stars with Hoffman in "Savages", wasn't awarded a nomination like her co-star. Tommy Lee Jones, lauded by critics for performances in both "In the Valley of Elah" and "No Country" wasn't mentioned. And the 3-D "Beowulf" didn't make an appearance in the Globe's new animated feature category, which encompasses just "Bee Movie", "Ratatouille" and "The Simpsons Movie".
With co-productions figuring prominently on both the studio and indie fronts, there were plenty of bragging rights to go around. »
Fifty-nine songs from eligible feature-length motion pictures are being considered in the original song category for the 80th Annual Academy Awards.
The songs, unveiled Wednesday, include four songs from August Rush as well as three each from Dan in Real Life, Enchanted, 56 Drops of Blood, Good Luck Chuck, Into the Wild and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will screen clips in random order Jan. 15 featuring each song for voting members of the music branch in Beverly Hills and New York. Following the screenings, members will vote to determine which three, four or five songs become nominees in the category.
The 80th Academy Awards nominations will be announced Jan. 22.
The original songs, along with the motion picture in which each song is featured, are:
"Do You Feel Me" from American Gangster
"At the Edge of the World" from Arctic Tale
"Someday" from August Rush
"This Time" from August Rush
"Raise It Up" from August Rush
"Break" from August Rush
"Nothing's There" from Badland
"The Devil's Lonely Fire" from Badland
"A Hero Comes Home" from Beowulf
"The Stars of Orion" from Berkeley
"Say" from The Bucket List
"To Be Surprised" from Dan in Real Life
"My Hands Are Shaking" from Dan in Real Life
"I'll Be OK" from Dan in Real Life
"December Boys" from December Boys
"So Close" from Enchanted
"That's How You Know" from Enchanted
"Happy Working Song" from Enchanted
"Atkozott Egy Elet" from 56 Drops of Blood
"O, Atyam!" from 56 Drops of Blood
"Eleg!" from 56 Drops of Blood
"A Dream" from Freedom Writers
"Lyra" from The Golden Compass
"Good Luck Chuck" from Good Luck Chuck
"Shut Me Out" from Good Luck Chuck
"I Was Zapped by the Lucky Super Rainbow" from Good Luck Chuck
"Grace Is Gone" from Grace Is Gone
"Lullabye for Wyatt" from Grace Is Gone
"Come So Far (Got So Far to Go)" from Hairspray
"The Tale of the Horny Frog" from The Heartbreak Kid
"China Doll" from Honeydripper
"It Will Stay With Us" from The Hottest State
"Never See You" from The Hottest State
"Society" from Into the Wild
"Guaranteed" from Into the Wild
"Rise" from Into the Wild
"First Amendment Blues" from Larry Flynt: The Right To Be Left Alone
"Hello (I Love You)" from The Last Mimzy
"Despedida" from Love in the Time of Cholera
"Huck's Tune" from Lucky You
"Little Wonders" from Meet the Robinsons
"Another Believer" from Meet the Robinsons
"Way Back into Love" from Music and Lyrics
"PoP! Goes My Heart" from Music and Lyrics
"Ordinary People" from Music Within
"Pretty Much Amazing" from Nancy Drew
"Falling Slowly" from Once
"If You Want Me" from Once
"Le Festin" from Ratatouille
"Land of Quiet Poems" from Resurrecting the Champ
"Love Will Still Be There" from September Dawn
"Royal Pain" from Shrek the Third
"Rule the World" from Stardust
"Before It's Too Late (Sam and Mikaela's Theme)" from Transformers
"Baby Don't You Cry" from Waitress
"Beautiful Ride" from Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
"Walk Hard" from Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
"Let's Duet" from Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
"Back Where You Belong" from The Water Horse
With seven nominations, Sean Penn's Into the Wild, the account of a young man who leaves society behind, led the pack as the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. announced its nominees for its 13th annual Critics' Choice Awards Tuesday morning in New York.
Wild figured in the categories of best picture, best actor for Emile Hirsch, best supporting actor for Hal Holbrook, best supporting actress for Catherine Keener and best song for Eddie Vedder's "Guaranteed" and picked up a double nomination for Penn as both writer and director.
Several actors received dual recogntion. Newcomer Michael Cera appeared twice among the nominees for best young actor for his performances as a horny teen in Superbad and an unexpected father in Juno. Cate Blanchett was hailed with a best actress nom for Elizabeth: The Golden Age and a supporting actress nom for her Dylanesque appearance in I'm Not There. Amy Adams, who plays a Disneyesque princess in Enchanted was nominated for best actress and made an appearance in the best song category for "That's How I Know" -- in the song category, the group recognizes the performer who performs a song on film.
Made up of nearly 200 TV, radio and online critics from the United States and Canada, the BFCA prides itself on its ability to foreshadow eventual Oscar noms and awards.
However, the BFCA does load up some of its categories with six nominations each to cover its bases. And for best picture, the group nominated ten films that encompassed American Gangster, Atonement, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Into the Wild, Juno, The Kite Runner, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men, Sweeney Todd and There Will Be Blood.
In addition to Hirsch, the best actor heat includes George Clooney (Michael Clayton), Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood), Johnny Depp (Sweeny Todd), Ryan Gosling (Lars and the Real Girl) and Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises).
Nominated for best supporting actor are Holbrook, Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), Javier Bardem (Country), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson's War) and Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton).
Seven directors appeared among the BFCA's six nominations for best director, thanks to a shared nomination for brothers Joel and Ethan Coen for Country. Their competition embraces Penn, Tim Burton (Sweeney Todd), Sidney Lumet ("Before the Devil Knows Your Dead"), Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell) and Joe Wright (Atonement).
A rat could emerge as the big cheese at this year's Annie Awards.
Pixar's Ratatouille leads the pack in the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA-Hollywood) competition field with 13 feature nominations, including best animated feature as well as individual nominations for directing, writing, character animation, animated effects (two nominations), production design, storyboarding, character design, character animation, music and voice acting (three nominations).
Sony's Surf's Up followed, riding a wave of interest to earn 10 feature nominations for feature, animated effects, animation production artists, character animation (two nominations), character design and directing.
The nominees for directing in an animated feature are Brad Bird for Ratatouille, Ash Brannon and Chris Buck for Surf's Up, Chris Miller and Raman Hui for DreamWorks Animation's Shrek the Third, Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi for Persepolis and David Silverman for The Simpsons Movie.
In television, Nickelodeon's El Tigre leads the pack with four nominations -- for best animated television production for children as well as individual nominations for character animation, character design and music.
The best animated television production nominees are Creative Comforts America from Aardman Animations, Jane and the Dragon from Weta Prods. and Nelvana, Kim Possible from Walt Disney Television Animation as well as Moral Orel and Robot Chicken Star Wars from ShadowMachine.
The Annie Awards honor overall excellence as well as individual achievement in 25 categories covering film, television, commercials, video games and short subjects.
The Winsor McCay Award for career contributions to the art of animation will be presented to John Canemaker, Glen Keane and John Kricfalusi. The June Foray Award for significant and benevolent or charitable impact on the art and industry of animation will be presented to Jerry Beck; the Ub Iwerks Award for technical achievement award will be bestowed on Jonathan Gay, Gary Grossman and Robert Tatsumi; and a Special Achievement Annie Award will go to Edward R. Leonard.
Certificates of merits will be awarded to Marcus Adams, Jo Jo Batista, Steve Gattuso, Jon Reeves, Gemma Ross and Woodbury University.
The 35th annual Annie Awards will be presented Feb. 8 at UCLA's Royce Hall in Westwood.
2007 ANNIE AWARD NOMINATIONS BY CATEGORY FOLLOWS:
Best Animated Feature
Bee Movie - DreamWorks Animation
Persepolis - Sony Pictures Classics
Ratatouille - Pixar Animation Studios
Surf's Up - Sony Pictures Animation
The Simpsons Movie - Twentieth Century Fox
Best Home Entertainment Production
Doctor Strange - MLG Productions
Futurama Bender's Big Score - The Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Television
Best Animated Short Subject
Everything Will Be OK - Bitter Films
How to Hook Up Your Home Theater - Walt Disney Feature Animation
Shorty McShorts' Shorts Mascot Prep - Walt Disney Television Animation
The Chestnut Tree - Picnic Pictures
Your Friend the Rat - Pixar Animation Studios
Best Animated Television Commercial
CVS Watering Can - Acme Filmworks
Esurance Homeowners - Wild Brain
Idaho Lottery: Twister - Acme Filmworks
Oregon Lottery Alaska - Laika/house
Power Shares Escape Average - Acme Filmworks
Best Animated Television Production
Jane and the Dragon - Weta Productions Limited & Nelvana Limited
Creative Comforts America - Aardman Animations
Moral Orel - ShadowMachine
Robot Chicken Star Wars- ShadowMachine
Kim Possible - Walt Disney Television Animation
Best Animated Television Production for Children
Chowder - Cartoon Network Studios
El Tigre - Nickelodeon
Little Einsteins - Disney Channel
Peep and the Big Wide World - Discovery Kids
The Backyardigans - Nickelodeon
Best Animated Video Game
Avatar: The Last Airbender The Burning Earth - THQ, Inc.
Bee Movie Game - Activision
Ratatouille - THQ, Inc.
Transformers: The Game - Blur Studios
The music-filled Amy Adams starrer dropped an acceptable 50% from its first Friday-through-Sunday frame while boosting its cumulative boxoffice to $70.6 million since bowing Nov. 21.
Sony/Screen Gems' urban-skewing seasonal drama This Christmas continued to overachieve with a second-place finish of $8.4 million in its second weekend, marking a 53% drop and a $36.9 million cume. Beowulf, Paramount's animated actioner playing in 3-D on many screens, finished third with $7.9 million on a 52% drop as its 17-day cume hit $68.6 million.
The boxoffice weekend after the long Thanksgiving session is often a weak one. This year's certainly fit that pattern, and a snowstorm in the U.S. Midwest didn't help any. Industrywide, the weekend was off 10% from a year ago with $84 million in grosses, according to data tracker Nielsen EDI. That represented a fourth consecutive year-over-year downtick.
Headed into the weekend, 2007 remained 5% ahead of last year in collective industry grosses.
Elsewhere during the weekend, two other films hitting sophomore sessions managed top-10 finishes while still underwhelming.
Fox's video game adaptation Hitman fell 56% from its opening grosses to ring up $5.8 million in fifth place, good for a $30.2 million cume. Warner Bros.' family musical August Rush tumbled a relatively modest 45% to $5.2 million in seventh place with a $20.3 cume.
Miramax's Coen brothers film No Country for Old Men added 135 theaters for a total of 995 and grossed $4.5 million in eighth place, or a solid $4,523 per venue. No Country, which boasts a $23 million cume through four weeks of platformed release, is set to add another 225 playdates Friday. »
Beowulf remained the No. 1 film internationally for the third consecutive weekend, yielding an estimated $19.4 million from about 6,700 screens in 60 markets.
The showing helped push distributor Warner Bros. International past the $2 billion mark in overseas grosses for 2007. Warners -- which also handled the international rollout of "300" and "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" -- is enjoying its second-biggest-grossing year ever, surpassed only by 2004, when it took in $2.2 billion overseas.
Beowulf, the pop culture rendering of the Old English poem directed by Robert Zemeckis, broadened its overseas run by at least six key markets, scoring most strongly in Japan, where it snared an estimated $2 million from 292 screens.
An Australia bow generated $1.9 million from 269 sites, while Brazil weighed in with $1.2 million from 233 locations. Figures from a Russia opening were not available. The film also opened in Turkey and New Zealand (where it ranked No. 1 with $306,000 from 61 screens).
Beowulf's international gross is $75 million.
Propelled by a sizzling first-place opening in France, Disney's Enchanted -- which finished first domestically for the second consecutive weekend -- lured an estimated $10.7 million overseas from about 1,600 screens in a dozen territories, enough to place No. 2 overall. Its international cume stands at $18.5 million vs. $70.6 million domestic.
The musical fantasy bewitched a huge $5.5 million from 540 sites ($9,259 per screen) in France, dominating the market with a 35% share. »
Walk The Line star Reese Witherspoon is officially the highest-paid actress in Hollywood. The 31-year-old Oscar winner has beaten the likes of Angelina Jolie, Cameron Diaz and Nicole Kidman to claim the number one spot in the Hollywood Reporter's annual female rich list - receiving a staggering $15-$20 million paycheck per picture. Tomb Raider star Jolie, 32, comes in second, though her salary for the current Beowulf picture was said to be a "mere" $8 million. Diaz, 35, is placed third, with a $15 million-per-movie salary demand, though her take-home earnings from the recent Shrek The Third are pegged at a very healthy $30 million. Last year's number two, Nicole Kidman, 40, fell to fourth place, with an asking price of $10 million to $15 million a film. Also in the $10 million to $15 million club are Renee Zellweger, Sandra Bullock and Julia Roberts, despite an absence from the screen since 2004. The full list is: 1. Reese Witherspoon - $15 million-$20 million; 2. Angelina Jolie - $15 million-$20 million; 3. Cameron Diaz - $15+ million; 4. Nicole Kidman - $10 million-$15 million; 5. Renee Zellweger - $10 million-$15 million; 6. Sandra Bullock - $10 million-$15 million; 7. Julia Roberts - $10 million-$15 million; 8. Drew Barrymore - $10 million-$12 million; 9. Jodie Foster - $10 million-$12 million; 10. Halle Berry - $10 million. »
Expanding its overseas run by 30 markets, Beowulf ruled the international roost for the second weekend in a row by generating an estimated $26 million from about 5,400 screens in 43 markets and lifting its overseas total to $48.5 million.
According to distributor Warner Bros. International, Robert Zemeckis' pop culture rendering of the Old English epic poem finished No. 1 in at least 20 fresh markets, with Russia topping the list with an estimated $4.3 million from 492 sites. Its worldwide cume is $104.9 million.
Openings in Spain ($3.2 million from 450 screens), France ($2 million from 481 sites, a return negatively affected by a national transportation strike, Warners said) and Mexico ($1.9 million from 512 screens) were notable.
Beowulf holdover action was especially strong in the U.K., with an estimated $3 million (down just 26% from the previous weekend) from 454 screens for a market cume of $9.3 million. Second weekends in Korea and in Germany generated an estimated $1.4 million in each market. Upcoming this weekend are openings in Japan, Australia, Brazil and Sweden.
The weekend's eclectic mix of newcomers produced a broad range of returns. Disney's romantic fantasy Enchanted, which opened No. 1 domestically, produced an estimated $7 million from 1,000 screens in eight overseas markets, enough to qualify as the weekend's No. 4 title internationally.
Enchanted finished No. 1 in every market it played, with Spain generating the highest numbers (an estimated $3.7 million from 350 locations for a tuneful $10,571 per screen). »
That's the second-biggest boxoffice feast ever over the holiday-lengthened Thanksgiving weekend, behind the $80.1 million performance by Disney/Pixar's Toy Story 2 in 1999. Over the three-day weekends following their respective Turkey Days, Toy Story 2 grossed $57.4 million and Enchanted rung up $35.3 million.
Elsewhere during the weekend, Sony/Screen Gems' urban-skewing seasonal drama This Christmas opened well beyond expectations with a five-day gross of $27.1 million in second place, and Fox's video game adaptation Hitman hit all its marks with a $21 million bow, good for fourth overall.
Moviegoers were a bit less hurried to support August Rush, Warner Bros.' musically driven family drama that opened with $13.3 million in seventh place. And MGM/Dimension's Stephen King-adaptation The Mist seemed to evaporate in the crowded marketplace, fetching just $13 million to finish ninth in its first outing.
A couple holdovers from the previous frame had solid second weekends.
Paramount's Beowulf was off just 41% in a three-day comparison to gross $23.3 million for the five days. It finished in third place overall while bumping its cumulative boxoffice to $56.4 million. Just outside the top 10, Fox/Walden's Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium slipped a modest 17% to fetch $10.9 million with a $22.3 million cume.
Miramax expanded the Coen brothers' No Country for Old Men by 712 theaters Wednesday for a total of 860 to gross $11 million for the five-day frame. That 10th-place performance carried the cume for the platforming film to $16.6 million.
On an industrywide basis, the weekend was less than enchanting, notching a third consecutive downtick compared with the same session last year. The three-day weekend was off 1% from the same frame a year ago, at $160 million, according to data tracker Nielsen EDI.
Year to date, 2007 remains 5% ahead of the same period last year with $8.36 billion in industry grosses. »
British actor Ray Winstone is to take a break from making films, because his heavy workload has left him exhausted. The 50-year-old has starred in variety of recent blockbusters including The Departed, Beowulf and the forthcoming Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull - and his raised profile has led to a number of offers pouring in. But Winstone is determined to keep his work schedule clear for the foreseeable future - no matter how lucrative - so he can enjoy some well-earned time off. He says, "I just turned one down. It was a biggie, and good and all. But I thought, 'I've had enough for a while. I'm knackered. I need to recharge my batteries'." »
As the major studios start to position high-profile films for the holiday season, two diverse films -- Robert Zemeckis' pop-culture adaptation of the Old English epic poem Beowulf, and Ridley Scott's crime thriller American Gangster -- jumped to the forefront at the start of the year-end international boxoffice race.
Beowulf, from Warner Bros. Pictures International, grossed an estimated $17.3 million in its opening weekend from 2,500 prints in 13 markets, while Gangster pulled in $14.3 million from 1,477 screens in 14 countries.
In several key markets in which both films opened simultaneously, the films were close competitors. In the U.K., Gangster came in at No. 1 with $5.3 million from 410 screens, followed by Beowulf with $4.5 million from 454. In Germany, Gangster also topped the boxoffice chart with $2.7 million from 357 screens, with Beowulf copping the No. 2 spot with $1.9 million from 667.
On its own in Korea, Beowulf, showing in some markets in Imax and digital 3-D, arrived at No. 1 with $3.8 million (including previews) from 148 prints, topping the third-weekend take of local smash hit Le Grand Chef, which tallied $2.7 million from 330 screens for a market cume to date of $13.1 million. Beowulf entered Italy at No. 3 with $2.1 million from 667 screens, lorded over by two local contenders -- the opening of Matrimonio Alle Bahamas ($4.4 million from 431 screens) and the second weekend of Come Tu Mi Vuoi ($2.4 million from 367).
Beowulf was particularly strong in Asia, dominating Taiwan with an 80% market share of the top five films, and 81% in Thailand, and debuted at No. 1 in Hong Kong ($539,000 from 45 prints).
Bowing in France without competition from Beowulf, Gangster grabbed the No. »
Warner Bros. International's Beowulf, director Robert Zemeckis' reworking of the Old English epic poem, fought its way to No. 1 overseas over the weekend, grossing an estimated $17 million from about 2,500 screens in 13 markets.
The special-effects laden adventure/fantasy yarn, shown in 3-D in many locations, had solid openings in the U.K. (placing No. 2 with an estimated $4.4 million from 552 screens), Germany and Italy.
But Beowulf finished most powerfully in Asia. The best market in that region was Korea, where the film ranked No. 1 with an estimated $3.7 million (including previews) from 159 screens for a mighty per-screen average of $23,270.
It was also first in Thailand where it nabbed an estimated $788,000 from 128 prints. In Hong Kong, the No. 1 gross was $539,000 from just 45 locales for a per-screen average of $11,978. A first-place finish in Singapore yielded $538,000 from 50 sites for a per-screen average of $10,760.
Combined with its No. 1 opening domestically, Beowulf has notched an early worldwide gross of $45.1 million. »
But the battle for the top spot was hardly epic, with two pics in their third week of release running far behind the frontrunner in grabbing the weekend's silver and bronze medals. DreamWorks/Paramount's animated Bee Movie finished second with $14.3 million, and Universal/Imagine's crime drama American Gangster was third with $13.2 million.
Also bowing over the pre-Thanksgiving frame, Fox's family fantasy Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium -- a Walden Media pic starring Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman -- finished fifth with $10 million. And New Line/Stone Village's literary adaptation Love in the Time of Cholera unspooled in 852 theaters to gross $1.9 million in 10th place.
Paramount Vantage's Nicole Kidman starrer Margot at the Wedding bowed in single theaters in New York to gross $82,929, or $41,464 per location. Margot expands to about 35 runs in the top 12 U.S. and Canadian markets on Wednesday.
IDP's Southland Tales, a futuristic comedy starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, grossed $116,550 from 63 theaters over its first weekend, or a thin $1,850 per venue. Cumulative boxoffice hit $133,896 after Tales unspooled Wednesday in seven of its locations.
Industrywide, the weekend became the eighth of the last nine frames to underperform boxoffice from the same session a year earlier. Collectively, distributors rung up $107 million over the latest frame, or 27% less than the comparable frame a year ago, according to data tracker Nielsen EDI.
Seasonal boxoffice is off 4% from fall 2006, but year-to-date grosses still are up 5% year at $8.28 billion.
In another positive, Universal this week crossed the magical $1 billion on the year, marking the first time five studios have managed such a feat. Sony, Warner Bros., Disney and Paramount also have rung up more than $1 billion in 2007. »
The weekend's boxoffice crown should be copped by an animated feature based on an Old English epic poem.
Let that sink in for a second. Then know this is Robert Zemeckis' passion project "Beowulf" we're talking about, and it becomes a little easier to understand why the battle-strewn film's tracking to open with as much as $30 million domestically.
Other wide openers during the busy pre-Thanksgiving frame include Fox's family fantasy "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium", with Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman, and New Line's literary adaptation "Love in the Time of Cholera".
"It has the look and feel of a movie that will perform stronger internationally than domestically," said David Davis, managing partner and entertainment adviser at Arpeggio Partners in Los Angeles. "It's kind of an action-adventure with a cast that should play well overseas."
What have they done to Beowulf, everyone's least favorite Old English epic about a hero's battles with a monster, the monster's mother and an annoying dragon who turns up 50 years later?
Director Robert Zemeckis not only deploys 21st century movie technology at its finest to turn the heroic poem into a vibrant, nerve-tingling piece of pop culture, but his film actually makes sense of Beowulf. In Zemeckis' hands, it's an intriguing look at a hero as a flawed human being.
Remember in Annie Hall when Woody Allen advised Diane Keaton, "Just don't take any class where you have to read 'Beowulf'"? As multitudes stand in long lines to see this movie, many may indeed be reading Beowulf, if only to relish what Zemeckis & Co. have accomplished. In any event, those lines should last through year's end.
There are two sets of heroes here. One is the writing team of author/graphic novelist Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary (the nearly forgotten other writer of Pulp Fiction). They have genuinely solved the structural problem of the poem, written around 700 A.D. The link between the early battles of a young hero and his fatal confrontation with the dragon as an aging king is his temptation by the monster's mother who dangles wealth, power and sexual favors before his bedazzled eyes. Makes sense -- Beowulf's sins come back to haunt him.
The other heroes are Zemeckis' "performance capture" and 3-D animation teams, who digitally enhance the bare-bones live action into a beguiling other world brimming with vitality. This new technique, which Zemeckis broke ground with in the visually impressive though dramatically weak The Polar Express, comes to full fruition in Beowulf, where myth becomes vigorous flesh.
Beowulf tells of a young warrior, Beowulf (Ray Winstone), who emerges out of a raging storm in a Viking ship to rescue a Danish kingdom ruled by old King Hrothgar (Anthony Hopkins) and his beauteous queen Wealthow Robin Wright Penn). The monster Grendel (Crispin Glover), angered by the noise of singing and drinking in Hrothgar's great hall, has butchered many warriors.
Grendel is a thing of horrific beauty. He looks like a mummy with a contagious disease. He's a slobbering, puss-filled, bloody, drooling, hideously deformed giant with a lop-sided face and rotting teeth that can barely chew a man's head.
Knowing no weapon will defeat this monster, Beowulf sheds his clothes and waits for the next attack. In an epic battle, Beowulf rips off Grendel's arm. The now whimpering bully limps home to his mother's lair to die.
Grendel's mother (Angelina Jolie) takes revenge by attacking the hall following a night of celebration. She strings up the corpses of all of Beowulf's men save for his trusted lieutenant, Wiglaf (Brendan Gleeson).
Presented a sword by Unferth (John Malkovich), who initially doubted Beowulf's resolve, Beowulf enters the mother's grotto with its eerie lake. But rather than battle Beowulf, the mother sets out to seduce him, as she did Hrothgar years before.
Zemeckis is not afraid to indulge in moments of camp. Jolie's golden and nude temptress with a devil's tail strides toward her adversary in high heels! Grendel's whimpering about the Big Bad Man who tore off his arm reveals a pathetic mama's boy. The hero's constant assertion "I am Beowulf!" and Wiglaf's equally frequent refrain "You are Beowulf!" cry out for a Saturday Night Live skit.
But here lies Zemeckis' keen pop sensibility. He means to avoid Woody Allen's Beowulf by tapping into both the Lord of the Rings crowd and Knocked Up enthusiasts. The gruesome violence and male and female near nudity -- about as bold as a PG-13 rating will allow -- mixed together with ribald humor make Beowulf a waggish bit of postmodern fun. It may raise the eyebrows of English Lit professors but will quicken the pulse of everyone else.
Beowulf will roll out in the largest 3-D release of any film to date, including Imax 3D. While 2-D prints will certainly play well, Zemeckis has brilliantly designed the movie for 3-D, creating a strong depth of field and action in the fore, middle and back grounds in his more complex shots. Figures do blur slightly with heavy action or quick camera pans, but audiences will experience total immersion into the world of Beowulf best in 3-D.
Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. present in association with Shangri-La Entertainment an ImageMovers production
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Screenwriters: Neil Gaiman, Roger Avary
Director of photography: Robert Presley
Production designer: Doug Chiang
Music: Alan Silvestri
Costume designer: Gabriella Pescucci
Editor: Jeremiah O'Driscoll
Beowulf: Ray Winstone
King Hrothgar: Anthony Hopkins
Queen Wealthow: Robin Wright Penn
Wiglaf: Brendan Gleeson
Grendel: Crispin Glover
Grendel's mother: Angelina Jolie
Running time -- 115 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13
Angelina Jolie has hit out at the media for constantly comparing her to Jennifer Aniston, insisting the topic is of no importance to anyone. The 32-year-old actress - who has been dating Aniston's ex, Brad Pitt, since 2006 - has previously claimed she has no problems with the Derailed star, and would even welcome a meeting with her. But at a press junket in Beverly Hills for her new movie Beowulf on Saturday, Jolie reportedly snapped at a journalist who asked for her opinion of the nine limited edition W magazine covers - which features both the Tomb Raider beauty and Aniston on competing covers. She retorted, "Why would I comment on that? That matters because...?" »
Actress Angelina Jolie was bashful after seeing herself in a simulated nude scene in forthcoming animated movie Beowulf. The Tomb Raider star - who plays a temptress killer lizard, painted gold and fitted with a tail - admits the motion capture technology was so shockingly real, she phoned her partner Brad Pitt to warn him about the nudity in the family movie. She says, "I was really surprised that I felt that exposed. There are certain moments where I felt actually shy - and called home, just to explain that the fun movie that I had done that was digital animation was, in fact, a little different than we expected. I didn't expect ourselves to come out as much. I didn't expect it to feel as real, and so because of especially the type of character I play, it was kind of funny at first." »
Sony Picture Entertainment has retained investment bank Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin to place a value on Sony Pictures Imageworks and Sony Pictures Animation. The company is exploring possible investment, prompted by an expression of interest.
Said Jim Kennedy, senior vp corporate communications for Sony Pictures Entertainment: "As we have in other areas of our business, we are open to exploring equity partnerships, and it's no surprise that there is market interest in our visual effects and animation businesses. Having worked on everything from Spider-Man and Superman to Polar Express and Beowulf, Imageworks is one of the most respected visual effects studios in the industry. Sony Pictures Animation has produced two critically acclaimed films, and we continue to maintain a strong commitment to making animated movies going forward."
Sony Pictures Animation, which recently completed Surf's Up, has announced upcoming features Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, slated for March 2009; and Hotel Translvannia, which is scheduled to open later that year.
Visual effects business Imageworks, the company behind the visual effects in the Spider-Man films, just completed Robert Zemeckis' Beowulf. In the works is the December release I Am Legend, starring Will Smith. »
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