Saturday U-Tube Funnies: Kevin Spacey-as-Chris Walken auditioning to play Han Solo (and it’s a little stilted…Spacey is good but not great). Video also has Richard Dreyfuss auditioning to play 3CPO, and Walter Matthau reading…blah, blah.
A 7.9 N.Y. Times piece by Steve Chagollan eyeballs a fresh crop of U.S.-produced foodie and wine-sipping movies — Ridley Scott‘s A Good Year (with Russell Crowe) and Scott Hicks‘ Mostly Martha remake (with Catherine Zeta-Jones), plus a forthcoming adaptation of Anthony Capella‘s The Food of Love by director Peter Chelsom (Shall We Dance?) and an adaptation-in-the-works of Julia Child‘s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” from director-writer Nora Ephron. And…wait, there’s more.
Chagollan’s conclusion is that these films may be happening because of (a) greater longings for comfort and (b) changing notions of male virility and sexuality. “Food is that thing that people retreat to for comfort and safety,” CAA agent Lisa Shotland tells Chagollan, “and in these uncertain times that just becomes more and more the norm.” And producer Denise Di Novi observes that the chef has become “the new rock star…the qualities that make a man sexy have expanded beyond traditional male roles, [and] great chefs embody the things that make all great artists appealing, in that they’re creative, committed and passionate.”
On her Risky Biz blog, Anne Thompson is reporting how director M. Night Shyamalan “mauls a nasty film critic named Harry Farber (played by Bob Balaban) in Lady in the Water. Is it veteran critic Manny Farber? Or the still-reviewing Stephen Farber? ‘It’s one person’s concept of what a film critic is like,” said one critic who saw an early Lady in the Water screening. ‘It’s a funny character, and it dovetails with the popular conception of effete snide film critics.’ According to Farber, who hasn’t seen the film, ‘I don’t think I ever wrote much about his movies, except to say that Unbreakable was actually more interesting than The Sixth Sense up until the absurd ending. I was comparing the endings of the two movies. I never wrote about Signs and never even saw The Village. So if I am the target of his ire, I’d hate to think where that would put critics who actually slammed those two movies!'” Does anyone remember the “General Kael” character in George Lucas‘s Willow?
Just wondering how many HE readers check movie stories on Digg.com. Dan Mitchell has a N.Y. Times piece up today about how Digg is driving readers to stories. Anyone can submit a story, after which readers “vote” on its popularity orintrigue-levels by clicking on it.
Did anyone see Chris Mourkarbel‘s 12-minute ripoff video of Oliver Stone‘s World Trade Center, which was based on an early draft of the script and which led to a Paramount lawsuit? It was called World Trade Center 2006, and was shown online before it was removed for legal reasons. I’m looking for short reviews about the quality of it because Felicia Lee showed no interest in this aspect in her N.Y. Times piece about Mourkabel and his film…only the legal and political ramifications.
The L.A. Times Calendar section continues to astonish everyone by running pieces like this one by Mary McNamara about the 1989-styled revolution-of-the-suits against super-expensive big star projects…a story that Slate‘s Kim Masters covered pretty well on 6.12…ditto Anne Thompson in her Hollywood Reporter column on 6.16.
Running these bringing-up-the-rear articles about about industry trends, ripples and currents that are weeks past the point where they would be truly topical and in synch with the latest turn is exactly why newsprint dailies are losing against new-media outlets. MacNamara delivers some perspective and fresh quotes, but this story’s still more than three weeks old. (Apologies for the latest wrongo, writing Maggie instead of the correct Mary McNamara earlier today.)
“With $6 million already sunk into sets, 20th Century Fox execs asked Used Guys director Jay Roach to commit to a budget of $112 million. For a variety of reasons, he was not prepared to do so, nor was he willing to ask either Ben Stiller or Jim Carrey to further cut their deals. In May, figuring that the only way the studio would make any money on the film was if Used Guys became one of the top-grossing comedies in history, Fox decided to pass. Others in the industry were surprised at how [Roach] handled the negotiations. ‘Any other director would have said ‘$112 million? Absolutely…you bet,’ said one Hollywood insider, ‘and then gone over budget if he had to. That’s just the way it works.'” — from Mary McNamara‘s late-to-the-table L.A. Times piece about big-star turnaround projects.
All The King’s Men preeming at the Toronto Film Festival…great. (I’m half-convinced that I ran this news recently but I’ve just done a search and apparently not.) The movie stands or falls depending on whether Sean Penn’s Willy Stark exudes the right kind of whistlestop man-of-the- people charisma. That’s the whole ballgame.
In response to Friday’s item about those six fall-holiday Columbia films that may be high-pedigree, a guy I know who’s seen Running With Scissors and Stranger Than Fiction wrote in and shared. “Scissors I’m in love with,” he began. “It will be hard to beat Annette Bening for Best Actress this year, and both Jill Clayburgh and Brian Cox are standouts in the supporting cast. [The film] has a weird sense of blending the styles of Cameron Crowe and Wes Anderson that is hard to describe, but it is a fun film that ultimately really, really works.
Stranger Than Fiction is on similar turf, [although] it falls apart ever so slightly in its third act. Seriously, it felt like best-of-the-decade material for much of the running time until the end failed to capitalize, at least in my eyes, on the promise of the first two thirds. But it’s a touching tale, and Will Ferrell is as good in the flick as Jim Carrey was in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And watch out for a feisty Maggie Gyllenhaal, who’ll have World Trade Center and Sherry Baby to help push her toward supporting actress recognition. Who knows what changes will occur or have occured on these prints since I saw them, but both were at the very least capable and likely awards outings. I expect screenplay nominations for both to be a serious possibility.”
For what it’s worth, I spoke to another early viewer of Stranger Than Fiction and he disagreed with the other guy’s assessment of a third-act problem.
Now that everyone’s had a gander at Pirates 2, it’s time for everyone to submit a 50 to 75-word quickie review. Keep ’em tight, but also include observations about what others were saying on the way out. What was the vibe in the theatre during the show? How many people took separate cell-phone, bathroom and popcorn breaks? C’mon, be honest… were the critics who slammed it all that wrong? Or are the ticket-buyers just loving it to death ?
This is landmark: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest did $54.2 million yesterday counting the take from Thursday’s midnight screenings. One projection from a rival studio for the three-day weekend is $138,600,000. Spider-Man‘s three-day record of $114.8 million has been busted…blasted apart. Cue Paul Dergarabedian!
That’s because today’s (Saturday, 7.8) take is expected to be in the realm of $42 million on top of an estimate of $38 million for Sunday…figure $40 million per day. Friday was nearly $55 million (another studio is estimating that figure) because of Thursday midnight AND the eager-beaver, opening-day-adrenaline factor. And the inevitable word-of-mouth dropoff is another factor in the projections for today and Sunday.
Poor Superman Returns did only $7,032,000, and is being projected to do about $23,414,000 for the weekend. That’s roughly a 57% plunge from last Friday and a projected 55% downtown for the weekend. Considering the size of last weekend’s take during a major holiday sojourn plus the competition, the word is “give Superman a break…it didn’t collapse and everyone knew it couldn’t sustain in the face of Pirates,” etc.
The Devil Wears Prada did an estimated $4,928,000, which looks like a 40% to 45% drop from last weekend’s $27 million haul. I had heard an earlier Friday estimate of $6 million, and I said to myself, “Whoa…good hold.” Then I heard the $4,928,000 figure.
Click is expected to do $12,345,000 for the weekend. The $9,043,000 that Cars is expected to do will push it over the $200 million mark. Nacho Libre will do about $3,684,000 and The Break-Up…I can’t find yesterday’s figure but it’ll end up on Sunday evening with about $114 million.
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