HOLLYWOOD LABOR PEACE: ARE WE THERE YET?
The Screen Actors Guild national board on Sunday voted to approve a new two-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers -- but by a margin so slim that it raised questions about whether it would be approved by the overall membership. The agreement, which passed by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent, differed little from the last, final offer from the AMPTP except that it will remain in force only until 2011 instead of 2012, thereby allowing SAG to coordinate a successor agreement with other industry unions. It will be submitted to membership with arguments for and against ratification. "I urge members to carefully review both pros and cons in the referendum materials and exercise their right to vote," SAG President Alan Rosenberg said in the official statement announcing what the union called a "tentative" contract. In reporting on the deal, the Los Angeles Times said that it resulted from so-called back-channel talks between SAG officials and Disney's Robert Iger, News Corp's Peter Chernin, and Warner Bros.' Barry Meyer. The newspaper commented that since it is "largely similar to the one" the studios had demanded, it is "certain to raise questions about what the union accomplished by holding out so long." On her influential blog, industry commentator Nikki Finke commented that the SAG "national majority" is "counting on the 'exhaustion' factor to ensure passage: that SAG members are so tired of how long it's taken to reach a deal that they'll 'Vote Yes' just to end the prolonged process."
ZAC ZAPS BOX OFFICE
Zac Efron wasn't the box-office sensation that Miley Cyrus was a week ago, but his 17 Again did trounce all others over the weekend as it debuted to an estimated $24.1 million. (Cyrus's Hannah Montana: The Movie hauled in $32.3 million last week.) Universal's State of Play, starring Russell Crowe, opened in second place with about $14.1 million, about what had been expected for it. But Crank: High Voltage, which had not been screened for critics before it opened, displayed little voltage at all, as it grossed around $6.5 million. (Critics insisted the plot had little juice, either. Frank Lovece in Newsweek called it "a joyless slog." Jeannette Catsoulis in the New York Times described it as "boorish, bigoted and borderline pornographic." Liam Lacey in the Toronto Globe & Mail concluded: "The movie feels like a form of aversion therapy designed to take the fun out of dumb.") Nevertheless, the box office continued on its year-long hot streak, with revenue up an estimated 19 percent above the comparable weekend a year ago. "It's going to be a record year, because we've never had a start to a year this strong," Media by Numbers President Paul Dergarabedian told the Associated Press. "Unless the world goes off its axis and spins into the sun, I don't see how we're not going to have a $10 billion year."
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Media by Numbers:
1. 17 Again, $24.1 million; 2. State of Play, $14.1 million; 3. Monsters vs. Aliens, $12.9 million; 4. Hannah Montana: The Movie, $12.7 million; 5. Fast & Furious, $12.3 million; 6. Crank: High Voltage, $6.5 million; 7. Observe and Report, $4.1 million; 8. Knowing, $3.5 million; 9. I Love You, Man, $3.4 million; 10. The Haunting in Connecticut, $3.2 million.
FOX ATOMIC IMPLODES
Just two years after it was launched to provide Fox with a slate of low-budget features aimed at teens, Fox Atomic is shutting down. The unit was unable to produce a single bona fide smash and had had a string of flops, including the recent Miss March, which grossed only $4.6 million, and 12 Rounds, which grossed $10.8 million. The studio had originally been set up under the supervision of Peter Rice, who had enjoyed considerable success as head of Fox Searchlight, the specialty outfit responsible for Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, and Slumdog Millionaire. Rice, however, was named chairman of Fox Broadcasting in March. His successor, Debbie Liebling, will reportedly return to 20th Century Fox.
REPORTS: PIRATE BAY CONVICTIONS WON'T HALT PIRACY
The conviction last week of four operators of Sweden's The Pirate Bay will have virtually no effect on online piracy, several analysts commented over the weekend, and some suggested that it may even encourage it. Sweden's Pirate Party boasted that its membership had risen 20 percent, making it the fourth-largest political party in the country. PC World editorialized on its website: "What Hollywood needs to remember is that sites like The Pirate Bay are like weeds. When you try to kill one, they grow back even stronger. In this case, The Pirate Bay already moved most of its servers to the Netherlands, a change that could keep the site running even if The Pirate Bay loses its appeal."