i>WHO'S ON FIRST
Whoville scored a massive victory at the box-office over the weekend as the G-rated Horton Hears a Who! hauled in an estimated $45.1 million, making it the best opening so far this year. Some analysts predicted that the actual take will turn out to be even higher when receipts from morning and matinee screenings for kids on Sunday are tallied. With spring break hitting many cities this week, the film is also expected to perform strongly through next weekend, which includes the Easter holiday. Also opening this week, Summit Entertainment's Never Back Down performed about as expected as it took in about $8.6 million to place third, but Universal's Doomsday appeared doomed to failure as it debuted in seventh place with just $4.7 million. Last weekend's winner, 10,000 B.C., came closer to extinction when it dropped 54 percent to earn $16.4 percent, raising its gross to $61.2 million.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Media by Numbers:
1. Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!, $45.1 million; 2. 10,000 B.C., $16.4 million; 3. Never Back Down, $8.6 million; 4. College Road Trip, $7.9 million; 5. Vantage Point, $5.4 million; 6. The Bank Job, $4.9 million; 7. Doomsday, $4.7 million; 8. Semi-Pro, $3 million; 9. The Other Boleyn Girl, $2.9 million; 10. The Spiderwick Chronicles, $2.4 million.
HINDU PROTESTS MOUNT OVER MEYERS'S LOVE GURU
Paramount has reportedly agreed to screen its forthcoming Mike Meyers comedy The Love Guru to a group of Hindu leaders in the U.S. in an apparent effort to quell growing criticism of the movie among Hindu organizations in the U.S. and India, Indian newspapers reported. Over the weekend, Lila D. Sharma, president of the India Heritage Panel in Chandigarh, India, said in a statement, "Hollywood is trying to make money by laughing at our holy men and in the process creating a stereotype." The Indian news website Merinews.com said in an editorial, "With all the ridicule showered at our holy men and women in the film The Love Guru, we should not only brace ourselves against Hollywood comedian Mike Myers, but also assert our rights to not let aliens poke fun at us when we revere our revered ones!" In the U.S., Raja Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, said that the trailer for the movie "appears to be lampooning Hinduism. ... It perpetuates stereotypes of Hindus." Paramount spokesperson Jessica Rovins responded, "It is our full intention to screen the film for Rajan Zed and other Hindu leaders in the U.S. once we have a finished print." The movie, she added, "is a comedy and the purpose is to entertain, and we are not making this movie to offend anybody."
COLLEGES CHALLENGE BILL REQUIRING PIRACY CRACKDOWN
College administrators say that MPAA-backed legislation tying federal financial-aid programs to a requirement that the schools institute anti-piracy programs could wind up increasing student tuition. Steve Worona, director of policy and networking for the nonprofit Educause, told the Los Angeles Times that the vast majority of piracy occurs off-campus and that the new mandate would be ineffective in reducing it. "More than 80 percent of students live off-campus and use commercial networks," he said. Educause Vice President Mark Luker added that the House-passed legislation was spurred by the MPAA's initial claims that 44 percent of the industry's losses due to piracy were caused by students using college networks. However, in late January the organization, citing "human error," acknowledged that the percentage was about 15 percent. However, the Times reported, some studies indicate that the actual percentage of students using peer-to-peer networks on campus is much lower still, around 3 percent.
THINK PINK, SAYS CANDIDATE FOR HOLLYWOOD MAYOR
Buxom blonde Angelyne, star of Los Angeles billboards, is among the front-runners for the post of Honorary Mayor of Hollywood, according to the Los Angeles Times. Two others are also vying for the post left empty by the death of Johnny Grant on January 9 -- announcer Gary Owens and former game-show host Monty Hall, the newspaper said. The honorary mayor mostly presides over Walk of Fame ceremonies, at which celebrities are honored with a star embedded in the sidewalk of Hollywood Boulevard. "I'd definitely promote Hollywood in a much brighter light," Angelyne told the Times. "It needs more flash -- pink flash."
BRITISH BOX OFFICE SETS RECORD
The British box office set a record in 2007 with ticket sales rising 7.7 percent and admissions, 3.7 percent, according to figures released over the weekend by the Film Distributors' Association and reported today (Monday) by Britain's Guardian newspaper. The group also predicted that this year's box office will build on last year's success, despite predictions of an overall downturn in the British economy. "Given the lineup, we do not foresee a downturn this year at all -- quite the reverse," Mark Batey, the FDA's CEO, told the Guardian.