“Destined to be better remembered for its grisly billboard imagery than for its relatively tame torture-porn tropes, Captivity is a thoroughly nasty piece of work that nonetheless earns credit for generating modest suspense after a predictable but effective plot twist around the 50-minute mark. Pic likely will be a nonstarter as a theatrical item — given the recent B.O. performance of Hostel: Part II, the subgenre may be in at least temporary decline — but devotees of such disreputable product may pony up for an unrated DVD edition.” — from Joe Leydon‘s 7.13 Variety review.
The hilarious final scene from “Sorry, Harvey,” the Entourage episode (#46) that aired a few days ago. Maury Chaykin‘s “Harvey Weingard” character (based on the old Harvey of the mid to late ’90s) first appeared in an ’05 episode called “The Sundance Kids.” The next Entourage episode (#47) wil focus on the posse’s visit to the Cannes Film Festival.
The story about Dimension’s abandoning of All The Boys Love Mandy Lane was given to me an hour ago. The announcement obviously came a little late, but the film’s been bought for domestic distribution by Marco Weber‘s Senator Entertainment, Inc., a production and finance company based in Berlin and Los Angeles with an established relationship with Bob and Harvey. Dimension will handle the home video distribution. Okay, but what persuaded Dimension to sell Mandy Lane in the first place? Halitosis?
Mandy will be the first film that Senator will release in the U.S. It’s also financing/producing Fireflies in the Garden with Ryan Reynolds, Willem Dafoe, Julia Roberts and Emily Watson under director Dennis Lee, and is also on pre-production of The Informers, an adaptation of Brett Easton Ellis‘s book to be directed by Gregor Jordan (Buffalo Solders, Ned Kelly, Two Hands).
There’s something vaguely therapeutic about this routine. I listen to it every two or three months. And it wouldn’t be funny if millions didn’t understand that a lot of people out there are in the grip of an obsession, and that they’re compeletely powerless against it. No controlling it, no taming it….slaves under the whip. Doesn’t sound very funny at all, and yet…
I’ve been hearing stuff about the Bill Maher-Larry Charles anti-religion doc for a few months now, and I wasn’t invited to see the “sizzle reel” in Cannes two months ago. (No journalists were — only buyers.) But now Lionsgate has bought the domestic distribution rights, and the plan is to release it sometime “next spring.” Wait…eight or nine more months? One of these guys is an ass-dragger. Why don’t they take another year?
Bill Maher, Larry Charles
Charles (the Borat helmer) “followed Maher all over the world as the irreverent host of HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher interviewed people about God and religion,” according to Michael Fleming‘s 7.12 Variety story. Here’s Maher ranting about religion during his stage show, and a Real Time discussion about how Islam “is not a religion of peace.”
Gawker is reporting that Hollywood-based N.Y. Times reporter Sharon Waxman will “definitely be joining the Metro desk” under editor Joe Sexton — i.e., moving to New York City — “when her book leave is over later this year. “A single source” told Gawker that Waxman will be on “the religion beat.” Contacted in Cairo where she’s doing research on a book about antiquities, Waxman told Gawker she “[has] no comment because Gawker has not shown itself to function by accepted journalistic rules.” I called Sexton a couple of hours ago and haven’t heard back. I called two others within the organization who might have helped clarify, but no replies from them either.
“The dynamic between celebrities and their audience is shifting,” Variety‘s Anne Thompson wrote in a 7.12 posting. “The critics and the media no longer have the last word. Thanks to evolving technology, moviemakers and stars have new weapons to not only promote their projects directly to moviegoers, but to fight back against what they perceive as misinformation. They are taking advantage of their internet fanbases to promote their projects, skipping the marketing middlemen and interacting directly with the people who buy tickets. Fan sites offer them valuable feedback about what their audiences like and dislike. But they also offer an opportunity to set the record straight. And sometimes, change the world.”
The amazing thing about this motorcycle accident footage is that one of these guys gets right up and runs away, like he’s the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and the other guy (the one with the red helmet) staggers up and then half-hobbles away, obviously dazed and hurting. If this was depicted in a film they’d both be dead or groaning on the pavement — no way would anyone run from the scene after being in a head-on slammer and then doing a one-and-a-half-gainer in the air. Reality trumps fiction nine times out of ten.
Calling, calling, calling around to try and understand why Bob Weinstein‘s Dimension only yesterday decided to pull the plug on the 7.20 release of All The Boys Love Mandy Lane, a kind of Ten Little Indians/ Cabin Fever-ish slasher film with Amber Heard, Anson Mount, Michael Welch, et. al. A Weinstein Co.publicist told me that no alternative release date has been set.
There have been indications over the least two or three weeks that Dimension wasn’t working all that hard at promoting this unrated, 88-minute film. When a distributor decides on a release date change it’ll usually be announced a month or more in advance, but suddenly yanking a film eight days before the announced release date with no substitute date mentioned is pretty much without precedent. There was an L.A. screening last Tuesday (7.10) that I missed; the two screenings that were scheduled for next week (Monday, 7.16 at the ESP Culver Plaza Theatre, and Tuesday, 7.17 at the Clarity) have been cancelled.
All The Boys Love Mandy Lane was first shown at last September’s Toronto Film Festival, so it can’t be a matter of the film being unspeakably bad. My first thought when I heard the news was probably the same as everyone else’s, to wit: the current down cycle in torture-porn/slasher films gave the Weinstein brothers the willies, and one of them woke up at 3:30 ayem a week or two ago and said, “We have to yank it and shelve it until further notice! We’re hurting as it is, and we can’t spend any p & a on a genre film that no one wants to see right now.”
There’s an interesting story here but something tells me I’m not going to nail it this afternoon.
Yesterday Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix sold $18 million worth of tickets — a sharp (and expected) drop from Wednesday’s record $32 million tally. Add the $12 million from Tuesday night and Wednesday’s figure was actually $44 million, and that figure becomes $62 million when you throw in yesterday’s $18 million,. Potter will probably earn somewhere in the mid $60s for the weekend. Make it $65 million plus the already-bagged $62 and we’re talking a Sunday night total of about $127 million.
Since writing a January 2003 slam piece about the exceedingly rote box-office spinmeister Paul Dergarabedian (“The Man Who Would Be Dull”), I’ve wondered every so often if anyone would voice a similar view. I had pretty much given up hope but now, four a half years later, it’s finally happened. New York magazine’s Vulture editor Dan Kois has written a 7.12 piece called “Paul Dergarabeidan Must Be Stopped.”
“How many times can you write, ‘Harry Potter was magic at the box office’ before your will to live evaporates?,” he says in one passage. “That’s where Paul Dergarabedian comes in. Dergarabedian, who worked for box-office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations for fourteen years before starting his own company, Media by Numbers, in December, is the media’s go-to guy for insipid quotes about the box office.”
Here’s how I put it way back when…
“Your eyelids are getting heavy. You’re feeling sluggish, listless…under the weather. You don’t have the flu or even a cold, but something’s wrong and you can’t figure out what.
“Then it hits you — it’s Monday morning and you’ve just finished reading a news story about the weekend box-office figures, and one of the industry analysts quoted was Paul Dergarabedian… that’s it! You were thinking about taking a couple of aspirin and drinking plenty of liquids, when all the time it was just an involuntary reaction to a perfectly likable box-office analyst with a beard and a warm smile and a narcotizing way with words.”
As the photo accompanying the New York piece confirms, Degarabedian has since shaved his beard.
“Dergarabedian is routinely requested by Hollywood industry analysts like the New York Times‘ Rick Lyman, USA Today‘s Scott Bowles, and Dave Germain of the Associated Press to explain the weekend numbers and give some kind of bland, toothless spin about which movie won or lost, and why,” my ’03 piece explained.
“Everybody likes Paul. He’s a nice, dependable guy who always has the numbers at hand and is always ready to discuss them on Sunday afternoons, when box-office stories are usually written. And yet I feel he’s giving the art of Hollywood box-office analysis an unfortunate taint of roteness and tedium. His pronouncements are almost oppressively mundane.
“I can’t think of any statistic or judgment Dergarabedian has ever put forward that was wrong, but to me he always sounds so damnably measured, safe, underwhelming and status-quo affirming, which has a kind of Orwellian effect after a while.
“When box-office snipers suggested last May that the opening-weekend take of George Lucas‘s dreadful Attack of the Clones wasn’t what it might have been (i.e., if word-of-mouth hadn’t been so forbidding), Dergarabedian dutifully rushed to the defense of this contemptible film. ”George Lucas is bulletproof in terms of box office,” he told Lyman. ”Regardless of what the critics say, people love these movies. To be the fifth installment in a series that’s been around for 25 years and still to be making this kind of money is truly amazing.”
“See what I mean?
“When Michael Ciepley wrote in the N.Y. Times that some observers “see the coming of Kill Bill and similar fare as the restoration of a new order” — i.e., some kind of new cycle of cynical fetishized violence — Dergarabedian brought a level-playing-field mentality to the discussion by noting “there will always be a desire by audiences to see more intense, more graphic or, in some ways, more realistic situations captured on film.”
“Can’t argue with that, can we?
“When Men in Black II, last summer’s sequel to the 1997 megahit, earned an estimated $90 million over the five-day Independence Day holiday, Lyman wrote it had broken both the five- day Fourth of July record set by Independence Day in 1996 ($85 million) and the three- day record set by the original Men in Black in 1997 ($51.1 million). And all three movies starred Will Smith.
“Asked by Lyman for a quote about this noteworthy event, Dergarabedian said, ‘Will Smith beat himself twice, which is pretty amazing.’
“Ask anyone who really knows this town, and they’ll tell you there’s a lot of drama, humor and intrigue to be found in the box-office battle each weekend.
“This or that movie tanked and some one’s to blame, or a trailer has blatantly lied about the content of a just-opened film and audiences are feeling burned, or a good movie has opened poorly but might have a chance if the distributor will keep it in theatres and wait for the word-of-mouth to catch up. It’s as exciting as anything that happens on a basketball court or on a football field. Just sussing out the different lies the studios are trying to float with the media in order to obscure what actually went down is a trip in itself.
“But you’d never know this from listening to Dergarabedian. Or should I say, you’d never know this from reading those regimented box-office stories tapped out by Lyman, Bowles, Germain and their like-minded colleagues?”