HANGOVER DERAILS PELHAM
Producers of The Hangover were no doubt raising their glasses high to toast the ascension of their movie to the top of the box-office results list for the second consecutive week. The Hangover, which reportedly cost $30 million to make, took in an estimated $33.42 million over the weekend, down just 26 percent from the previous weekend, when it earned $44.9 million. After performing strongly mid-week, the Warner Bros. movie has now earned $105 million in ten days -- outperforming a raft of competitors costing four times as much --or much more -- to make. Disney/Pixar's Up (which reportedly cost $175 million) also continued to impress in its third week as it earned about $30.5 million, down from $44.1 million a week earlier, a drop of 31 percent. The movie has now earned $187.2 million. The Taking of Pelham 123 took third with $25 million, a figure at the low end of analysts' predictions, but "solid-to-strong," as Daily Variety put it, nonetheless. But Eddie Murphy is likely take a hit to his reported $20-million-a-movie salary following the dismal performance of his latest family comedy Imagine That, which earned just $5.7 million. The movie had been expected to perform poorly -- but not that poorly. His last movie, Meet Dave, which came out last year, also tanked, earning only $5.4 million.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo:
1. The Hangover, $33.4 million; 2. Up, $30.5 million; 3. The Taking of Pelham 123, $25 million; 4. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, $9.6 million; 5. Land of the Lost, $9.2 million; 6. Imagine That, $5.7 million; 7. Star Trek, $5.6 million; 8. Terminator Salvation, $4.7 million; 9. Angels & Demons, $4.2 million; 10. Drag Me to Hell, $3.9 million.
LUCAS: FILMMAKERS WILL "PRE-VISUALIZE" MOVIES BEFORE MAKING THEM
George Lucas has disclosed that his company is developing an advanced form of storyboarding that will allow filmmakers to create a virtual version of their planned movies on a computer before they actually begin shooting it. In an interview with today's (Monday) Chicago Tribune, Lucas said that the system will "pre-visualize" a film. "Everyone involved can know what the movie will look like before they shoot," he said." Lucas said that he is also developing an editing system that will at once be "more sophisticated and much more simple" and will "make editing available to more people." Asked whether he was "torn" between spending so much time on technology rather than storytelling, Lucas replied, "No matter what you do as an artist, you bump against a technological ceiling. You're trying to solve problems with tools." Lucas was in Chicago to accept the Gene Siskel Film Center Visionary Award for Innovation in Filmmaking.
CROMWELL: "I AM ABSOLUTELY NOT RUNNING FOR SAG PRESIDENT"
Actor James Cromwell, regarded as one of the leaders of the "moderate" Screen Actors Guild faction that was victorious in the guild's recent referendum on a new contract with producers and widely believed to be the faction's choice to run for union president next fall, has taken himself out of the race. In an interview with actor Michael Heister, who writes a blog dealing with SAG issues, Cromwell said, "I am absolutely not running for SAG president." Cromwell said that the only circumstances under which he would consider running are: the consolidation of all actors' unions; a new constitution that "addressed the systemic inequities of the present one" [he did not specify the "inequities"], and a system of governance that did not preclude [sic] sacrificing one's career in order to serve."
EX-FOXNEWS.COM GOSSIP FRIEDMAN SAYS HE'LL SUE
Former FoxNews.com gossip columnist Roger Friedman is planning to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against his former employer, claiming that he was a victim of a campaign by prominent Hollywood members of the Church of Scientology to pressure Fox News to oust him because of his negative comments about their religion. Friedman was fired last April after he wrote a column in which he remarked on the ease with which he had obtained and had been able to view a copy of 20th Century Fox's X-Men Origins: Wolverine over the Internet. But, in an interview with the New York Daily News's Rush & Molloy column, Friedman, who now writes his column for the Hollywood Reporter, claims that the company used the piracy issue as a cover for their actual intent -- to avoid a backlash from Scientologists. The Daily News columnists say one of those who campaigned hardest against Friedman was Kelly Preston, the wife of John Travolta. Moreover, the columnists quote Friedman as saying that when Fox accused him of "promoting" piracy, "nobody from Fox News defended me. ... They let the studio dictate to the newsroom."
COMPANY TO REVIVE INDIE FILM PRODUCTION
At a time when financing is drying up and cutbacks are affecting all of the major players in Hollywood, a group of entertainment professionals has set up shop in New York with plans to finance and distribute 12 low-budget moves a year, the New York Times reported today (Monday). Their company, DF Indie Studios plans to focus on films with budgets of up to $10 million. It is led by CEO Mary E. Dickinson and company President Charlene Fisher, who, the Times said, have signed up an advisory group including Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton; NBC co-chairman Ben Silverman; Ira Deutchman, a longtime distribution expert and producer; and John Hadity, a former production executive at Miramax.