JONAS MOVIE MAY BE A WHALE AT BOX OFFICE
The Jonas Brothers are expected to reign supreme at the box office over the weekend with their Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert. Box-office observers have suggested that the 3-D film could exceed the opening of last year's similar Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds release -- also in 3D -- which pulled in $31.1 million in its first weekend and wound up with $65.3 million after a time-limited release. (It was originally scheduled to run one week only.) The film, playing in 1,271 theaters equipped with digital 3D projectors, is also benefiting from additional screenings that began at midnight. "I don't see the launch as being as frenetic, because people know they have opportunity to see it over the next few weeks," Disney distribution chief Chuck Viane told the Hollywood Reporter. (In a surprise appearance, the Jonas Brothers themselves put on a performance at one of the midnight screenings in Los Angeles Thursday night/Friday morning, delighting kids who stayed up past their bedtime to see the movie. Disney billed the performance as the first stop on the brothers' "Surprise Theater Invasion Tour" of movie theaters across the country over the next days.) Also opening this weekend is Fox's martial-arts flick Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, which was not screened for critics. It is expected to earn about $5-7 million. Opening in Los Angeles and New York only is Crossing Over, which attempts to deal with the issue of immigration post 9/11.
In Thursday's Studio Briefing, we indicated that the Jonas Brothers concert movie would be competing against the highly anticipated Watchmen. While Warner Bros. and Paramount have scheduled numerous sneak previews of Watchmen during the coming week, it does not officially open until March 6. Meanwhile, a trade review by Kirk Honeycutt in the Hollywood Reporter predicts that the film will experience a "drastic" slide after a big opening weekend and concludes: "Looks like we have the first real flop of 2009."
MOVIE REVIEWS: JONAS BROTHERS: THE 3D CONCERT
Clearly, Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert is not going to attract many grownups, if the reaction of adult critics is any indication. Associated Press writer Cristy Lemire's review concludes this way: "The movie upholds the adage that if it's too loud, you're too old. Then again, if you're bothering to read this, you're probably too old anyway." But Kyle Smith in the New York Post tops 'em all, writing that the movie is exactly what you'd expect it to be. "So read your expectations, and you already know if this is the greatest cinematic event since the Lumiere brothers set up shop, or more like getting your soft bits subjected to a deep rubdown with steel wool." But Jason Anderson has this bit of advice in the Toronto Star: "Love them or loathe them, it's the Jonas Brothers' moment -- you might as well enjoy it."
ANG LEE TO HEAD VENICE JURY
Ang Lee, a two-time winner of the Venice Film Festival's top Golden Lion award, will himself head up the jury that will decide this year's winner, the festival announced today (Friday). The Taiwanese-born director won the award in 2005 for Brokeback Mountain and two years later for Lust, Caution. In a statement, festival organizers described Lee as "one of the most successful directors in creating a dialogue between the film-making culture of east and west. This year's festival is scheduled to be held from September 2-12.
PROFESSORS TESTIFY FOR DEFENSE IN PIRATE BAY TRIAL
At The Pirate Bay trial in Stockholm, Sweden, a professor of IT law at Gothenburg University, testifying for the defense, maintained that TPB is not even the largest BitTorrent tracker -- but that it has become the most famous one, due to media coverage including the reports of the current trial. As reported by the website TorrentFreak, when Professor Kristoffer Schollin was asked what sort of content is tracked by TPB, he replied, "My God, everything," including copyrighted and copyright-free material. Another witness was media professor Roger Wallis, who, although chairman of the Swedish Composers of Popular Music, has been critical of the music industry for not adapting to new technology. Wallis maintained that increased downloaded has produced an increase in ticket sales at live concerts. He also claimed that many of those who download music actually buy more CDs than those who don't and that while CD sales are down, many things besides downloading can account for the decline, especially the current interest in video games. He also pointed out that the movie industry reported record ticket sales last year.