FAST AND FURIOUS MUSCLES PAST RIVALS
Producer Neil Moritz's Fast and Furious roared past the $100-million mark at the worldwide box office in record speed for an April release over the weekend, taking in $72.5 million domestically and $30.1 million overseas. The muscle-car film easily broke the previous domestic opening gross of $42.2 million set by Anger Management in 2003. Meanwhile, Adventureland, the only other film to open wide this weekend, took in $6 million to place sixth. Last weekend's winner, Paramount/DreamWorks Animation's Monsters vs Aliens fell 44 percent to $33.5 million domestically. Overall, the box office was up 68 percent from the comparable weekend a year ago.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Media by Numbers:
1. Fast & Furious, $72.5 million; 2. Monsters vs. Aliens, $33.5 million; 3. The Haunting in Connecticut, $9.6 million; 4. Knowing, $8.1 million; 5. I Love You, Man, $7.9 million; 6. Adventureland, $6 million; 7. Duplicity, $4.3 million; 8. Race to Witch Mountain, $3.4 million; 9. 12 Rounds, $2.3 million; 10. Sunshine Cleaning, $1.9 million.
VARIETYS BART "KICKED UPSTAIRS?"
In a move that saw Variety's Peter Bart being, as one blog put it, "kicked upstairs" after 20 years, editor Tim Gray has been named the new editor-in-chief of the daily trade publication. Bart was given the new post of vice president and editorial director. He will also continue contributing a weekly column to the newspaper. Reed Business CEO Tod Smith suggested that the move had long been planned that "we have long had an agreement in place that, at the 20-year mark, he would move on to new responsibilities." However, some industry observers suggested that the move was prompted by Bart's reluctance to push the online profile of Variety and by the paper's declining ad sales. In her blog The Wrap, Sharon Waxman commented, "Bart may well have been regarded as being of the wrong generation to transform Variety for the digital age."
NATO: DON'T CLOSE WINDOW
Wrapping up its ShoWest convention in Las Vegas last Friday, the National Association of Theater Owners warned studios against further closing the window between the end of a movie's theatrical release and its release on DVD. As reported by Video Business magazine, studios narrowed the window by six days last year. But the decision to do so did not significantly boost DVD sales, the organization suggested. While revenue in theaters was up 2.8 percent, DVD sales were down 15 percent, NATO observed. While not showing a correlation, NATO urged that "distributors, faced with declining DVD revenues, resist the impulse to trim marketing budgets by shrinking the theatrical release window." And in yet another alteration of the pecking order, the Walt Disney Co. said Friday that it will release the high-definition Blu-ray version of its 1937 classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on Oct. 6, seven weeks before its release on standard DVD.
PORN FILM MAY BE SHOWN AT MARYLAND UNIVERSITY, AFTER ALL
By effectively banning the screening of the (relatively) big-budget porn film Pirates 2 -- Stagnetti's Revenge at the University of Maryland, state legislators may have given the film incalculable free publicity and assured it of big attendance when the movie is screened off campus. In fact, Baltimore station WJZ reported Sunday that a revolt over the legislators' move -- they threatened to cut off funding for the university if the movie was shown -- has been spreading onto other campuses throughout the state. The TV station also talked to the leader of a protest group at the University of Maryland who threatened to screen it tonight (Monday) on the College Park campus. "It's a big campus and we are a lot of students. Basically we have reserved a few rooms, and we have a few options, and we're keeping it a little bit silent," he said.
WALL STREET JOURNAL: OUTLOOK DIM ON UP
A lot of Wall Street analysts are down on Up, the upcoming Disney/Pixar production. Today's (Monday) New York Times quotes Chris Marangi of Gabelli & Company as suggesting that Up will not become the kind of megahit that Pixar is used to creating. Doug Creutz of Cowen and Company told the newspaper, "The worries keep coming despite Pixar's track record, because each film it delivers seems to be less commercial than the last," But Disney CEO Robert A. Iger suggested that his company does not make films to suit Wall Street's tastes. "A check-the-boxes approach to creativity is more likely to result in blandness and failure," he said.
WAS FOX.COM COLUMNIST FRIEDMAN FIRED?
It was unclear, even as of today (Monday), whether FoxNews.com's entertainment columnist Roger Friedman had been fired for writing a review of 20th Century Fox's X-Men Origins: Wolverine based on a pirated copy of a workprint that appeared online last week. Although Friedman had praised what he saw, News Corp, Fox's corporate parent, said that he had been "terminated." Twentieth Century Fox issued a statement saying that Friedman's decision to watch and review the movie was "reprehensible, and we condemn this act categorically -- whether the review is good or bad." But as of this morning (Monday), Friedman's blog was still posted on FoxNews.com (although without the Wolverine review). Friedman himself told ABC News, "There was no action taken against me." And the HuffingtonPost.com said that Friedman will be meeting with News Corp executives this morning to discuss the matter.