G.I. JOE WON'T BE SCREENED FOR CRITICS
Presumably convinced that it will be roasted by critics, Paramount has decided not to screen G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra to critics before its opening on Friday, the Associated Press reported today (Tuesday). The studio has implemented a non-traditional strategy in promoting the film, showing it in advance only to carefully selected groups and a handful of what it regards as dependable bloggers and website creators. Most have already reviewed the movie -- positively. In an interview with the A.P., Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore said, "After the chasm we experienced with Transformers 2 between the response of audiences and critics, we chose to forgo opening-day print and broadcast reviews as a strategy to promote G.I. Joe. We want audiences to define this film."
BOX OFFICE CRASHES
The box office, which started off the year like Michael Phelps diving into an Olympic pool, stalled badly over the weekend. The top movie, Funny People, which, according to studio estimates on Sunday, had been expected to earn around $23.4 million, actually did worse. It managed only $22.7 million. Another newcomer, Aliens in the Attic debuted with $8 million, and a third film, the Collector opened with $3.6 million. The story wasn't much better among the holdovers. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince came in second with $17.9 million, despite being launched on 166 IMAX screens. The latest Potter sequel has earned less than its predecessor, Order of the Phoenix, every day since its big opening.
The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Box Office Mojo (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1. Funny People, Universal, $22,657,780, (New); 2. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Warner Bros., $17,909,385, 3 Wks. ($255,672,245); 3. G-Force, Disney, $17,515,489, 2 Wks. ($66,918,912); 4. The Ugly Truth, Sony, $13,187,433, 2 Wks. ($54,668,841); 5. Aliens in the Attic, 20th Century Fox, $8,008,423, (New); 6. Orphan, Warner Bros., $7,525,419, 2 Wks. ($27,066,812); 7. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, 20th Century Fox, $5,526,015, 5 Wks. ($182,068,804); 8. The Hangover, Warner Bros., $5,194,475, 9 Wks. ($255,890,892); 9. The Proposal, Disney, $4,931,064, 7 Wks. ($148,964,741); 10. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Paramount/DreamWorks, $4,688,329, 6 Wks. ($388,189,320).
REDBOX ADDING THOUSANDS OF KIOSKS
Fast-growing video kiosk operator Redbox says that it will install an additional 2,400 kiosks in Kroger supermarkets within the next year, up from 200 currently. Redbox, which is racing ahead of slow-moving brick-and-mortar giants Blockbuster and Movie Gallery in kiosk installations -- and drawing customers away from them -- is expected to double its revenue by 2011 and have as many as 22,000 machines operating by the end of the year. Besides its deal with Kroger, which also operates as Ralphs and Smith's Food & Drug, Redbox has major deals with, among others, McDonald's, Walgreens, and is said to be close to a deal with the Circle K convenience store chain.
PIRATE BAY SPOKESMAN STEPPING DOWN
Peter Sunde, a member of The Pirate Bay Four who were convicted in April of "assisting in making copyright content available" over the Internet, has resigned from the BitTorrent tracking site. Sunde, who, as the group's spokesman, was its most visible member, was quoted by the website TorrentFreak as saying, "I want to build something new and I want to focus my energy in a different direction. I have projects waiting to be finished, a book is waiting to be finalized and many more books are waiting to be read." His resignation comes as controversy swirls around the announced acquisition of The Pirate Bay by Sweden's Global Gaming Factory, which several analysts have predicted will not materialize. Sunde said on Monday that the challenges facing the site's founders -- who have appealed their one-year sentences and fines totaling $3.6 million -- "have been raised to another level." As for himself, he said, "I am simply leaving a role in order to be a person instead."
LENNON BIOPIC TO OPEN LONDON FILM FESTIVAL
The 53rd annual London Film Festival has selected Nowhere Boy, a movie about John Lennon's teenage years in Liverpool, to be its closing presentation on Oct. 29. The film stars Aaron Johnson in the title role, Kristin Scott Thomas as his Aunt Mimi, who raised him, and Anne-Marie Duff as his estranged mother Julia. It is directed by Sam Taylor-Wood, who has previously created multi-screen videos that often feature celebrities. She is also a longtime collaborator with the Pet Shop Boys, creating visuals for their performances and also producing their music videos. Nowhere Boy is her first feature. The London Film Festival opens on Oct. 14.