ART FOR BOX-OFFICE SAKE
Only one new film is scheduled to debut at the box office tonight (Friday), the horror flick The Hitcher, and it wasn't shown to critics. Most of the attention will be focused on the art films that received Golden Globes recognition last weekend, as they expand into wide -- or wider -- release. In particular, Miramax's The Queen, for which Helen Mirren won the best actress award at the Globes, will expand from 344 screens to 1,586. Paramount Vantage's Babel, which won for best drama, will move from 173 screens to 889. The Last King of Scotland, which brought a Golden Globe award to Forest Whitaker for best actor, will go from just 4 screens to 495. Also expanding are Pan's Labyrinth and Letters From Iwo Jima.. Nevertheless, last week's winner, Stomp the Yard, is expected to remain at the top of the box office for a second week, followed by the Ben Stiller comedy Night at the Museum.
REDFORD CONDEMNS IRAQ WAR AS HE OPENS SUNDANCE FESTIVAL
Robert Redford, who rarely if ever articulates his liberal sentiments at the Sundance Film Festival, which he founded, castigated the current administration as he opened this year's festival Thursday night. Redford declared that the entire country had come together in "a spirit of unity" after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. "We put all our concerns on hold to let the leaders lead," he said. "I think we're owed a big, massive apology." His speech amounted to a prelude to the opening film, the documentary Chicago 10, dealing with the leaders of the angry anti-war demonstrations that raged during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968.
SPECIAL-EFFECTS ASSISTANT CRITICALLY INJURED ON MOVIE SET
In a rare accident involving a special-effects scene, a special effects assistant received critical injuries Thursday as a handheld mock-up of a stinger missile exploded as it was being prepared to be used in a scene aboard a helicopter, the Associated Press reported Thursday. The explosion took place at Downey Studios, a former aircraft hangar in Downey, CA that had once been operated by Boeing and NASA, and which has now been converted into a film production facility. The assistant, whose name was not disclosed, was taken to a nearby hospital where he underwent surgery Thursday evening. The special-effects device was to have been used for a scene in Charlie Wilson's War, starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, neither of whom were present at the time of the accident, the A.P. reported, citing Downey Fire Capt. Darren Moon.
DALI/DISNEY CARTOON WINDS UP AT TATE MODERN
Destino, a Disney animated film that was begun by the Spanish artist Salvador Dali in 1945 and completed under the direction of Roy Disney 58 years later, is to be screened at the Tate Modern art museum in London in June as part of an exhibit titled Dali & Film. It has never been previously screened in Britain and has mostly been seen at film festivals elsewhere. (It debuted at Cannes in 2004 and was nominated for an Oscar that year.) It was also shown with the movie The Triplets of Belleville in some art houses in the U.S. in 2004. The film was constructed from story boards that Dali created while at Disney during a nine-month period in 1945 and 1946.
SONY, SHUNNING PORN PRODUCERS, MAY HURT BLU-RAY SALES
Sony may have shot itself in the foot by resolving not to permit its disc duplicators to produce "adult content" on Blu-ray discs, several consumer electronics and DVD websites observed Thursday. One adult-film producer, Digital Playground, told the British online publication The Inquirer, that it had decided to switch from Blu-ray to HD DVD because "Sony has said to the replicators that if you replicate adult, you'll lose your license." The Inquirer quoted Jake Richter, an analyst at Jon Peddie Research as saying in a report to clients that many people believe that Sony's Betamax video tape format died because the adult movie industry was barred from using it. "Is Sony doomed to repeat one of the mistakes of the past? It seems like that may be the case," he wrote. Likewise, PC World magazine commented that Sony ought to "remember what happened more than two decades ago, when the adult film industry was forced to produce its content on VHS, and not Sony's Betamax." However, Martin Lynch of the IDG news service wrote that some porn produces are in fact finding Blu-ray disc manufacturers who are willing to work with them, adding, "You can say a lot of things about Sony but stupid isn't one of them. Well, most of the time anyway. There is no way that Sony can ignore the boost that porn can give the Blu-ray format."
A SILENT-ERA HAMLET -- IN COLOR?
Although a silent version of Hamlet seems like a contradiction in terms, the Berlin film festival said Thursday that it plans to present a "rediscovered" color version of a German film of Shakespeare's play produced in 1920/21 starring an actress, Asta Nielsen, in the title role. The film was originally presented in color (it was shot in black and white and colored in post-production), but the color version was lost until recently. In a news release the film festival noted that the film caused controversy when it was originally released because of an alteration in Shakespeare's tale, to wit: "To secure the succession to the throne, the Queen of Denmark disguises her daughter as a boy."