DE FACTO STRIKE? WHAT DE FACTO STRIKE?

A spokesman for the semi-official group that coordinates the issuance of production permits for location shooting in Los Angeles has taken issue with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which said that the impasse in negotiations with the Screen Actors Guild had led to a "de facto strike" in Hollywood that had virtually shut down motion picture production. Todd Lindgren of FilmL.A. told the Associated Press that in the five-week period ending June 24, FilmL.A. obtained 21 permits, up from 13 during the same period a year ago. "I wouldn't say it is the de facto strike that the AMPTP has mentioned. ... We are seeing the opposite." Meanwhile, the Screen Actors Guild on Thursday stepped up its campaign to encourage members who also hold cards in the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists to reject a contract that AFTRA union leaders had negotiated with the AMPTP. Dual cardholders received an email message containing quotes from Sean Penn, Sandra Oh, Edward Asner, Justine Bateman, Anne-Marie Johnson, and Jobeth Williams denouncing the AFTRA deal. AFTRA has claimed that SAG has misrepresented the terms of the deal.

MULTIPLEXES SHOWING FEWER FILMS, SAYS CHICAGO CRITIC

The nation's multiplexes are providing less variety to patrons than they once did and are instead running fewer movies on more screens, Chicago Tribune entertainment columnist Mark Caro observed today (Friday). He noted, for example, that while Chicago's River East multiplex boasts 21 screens, it is showing only 12 movies; another Chicago multiplex, 600 No. Michigan, is showing 13 movies on 30 screens. Caro comments,"And you wonder why movies don't hang around so long: It's because theater chains would rather overload their screens with the current 'greatest hits' than offer a wider selection of movies that actually might require some positive word-of-mouth."

HANCOCK TAKE SUPER -- BUT IT'S NO TRANSFORMERS

On Wednesday, its first full day of release, Sony's Hancock took in $17.3 million and appeared to be in position to top $100 million by the end of the Independence Day weekend according to box-office trackers Media by Numbers.Combined with Tuesday-night preview screenings, the film has now taken in $24.1 million. While such results would normally be the kind studio executives dream about, they pale in comparison with those of last year's Transformers, which took in $27.8 million in its first full-day of release.

MOVIE REVIEWS: THE WACKNESS

In addition to the slew of blockbusters that have taken over the multiplexes for the Independence Day holiday, the critically praised The Wackness, starring Ben Kingsley and Josh Peck, Mary-Kate Olsen and Olivia Thirlby is opening in limited release today (Friday) to largely enthusiastic reviews. Rafer Guzmán in the Newsday indicates the movie "is less a story than a series of moments -- some funny, some poignant, all memorable." Comments Claudia Puig in USA Today: "The writing and filmmaking style are often poetic, and the dialogue, steeped in '90s phrases, sounds believable. ... The Wackness is both darkly funny and life-affirming, in an offbeat and offhanded way." Some critics suggest, however, that the movie was contrived primarily for the film-festival crowd and like many festival competitors is overloaded with preadult angst. Although set in New York in 1994, Jan Stuart notes in the Los Angeles Times, the movie "is ultimately less evocative of pre-Sept. 11 Manhattan than it is of post-Sept. 11 Park City, Utah, where the film had its Sundance debut." And Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily News concludes that the film is ultimately a disappointment. The film, he writes, "occasionally stumbles into charm but more often is just wayward and hazy."

ORIGINAL METROPOLIS FOUND

Less than two weeks after New York-based Kino International had announced that it had completed a frame-by-frame restoration of Fritz Lang's 1927 classic Metropolis and would release it in 2009, a long-lost and badly scratched original cut of the movie has turned up in Argentina, where it was shown to reporters for the first time on Thursday. Paula Felix-Didier, director of the Museo de Cine in Buenos Aires, told the reporters that the three-and-a-half-hour print is the only known copy of Lang's complete film. The film that has been shown in theaters since that time and which in recent years has become available on home video is roughly half that length. Kino said Thursday that it may include the newly discovered footage in its 2009 release.

WARNER BROS. QUASHES FRIENDS RUMORS

Warner Bros. on Thursday spiked rumors that had spread over the Internet that, following the recent success of the movie version of Sex and the City a movie version of Friends was now in the works. The studio, which owns rights to the Friends shows, issued a statement in London, where the rumors originated, saying that there was "no truth to the story." The BBC also contacted representatives of some of the stars of the TV show, who also denied the reports. Lisa Kasteler, a spokesperson for Matthew Perry commented, "Nothing is happening. ... The rumor is false."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.