A REVOLT AT REVOLUTION?

A bitter rift has developed between Julie Taymor, director of Across the Universe, and Revolution Studios chief Joe Roth after Roth recut the film and tested it at a sneak preview without informing Taymor, the New York Times reported today (Tuesday). According to the newspaper, Taymor, best known for her staging of the Broadway version of Disney's The Lion King, is considering taking her name off the movie. Commenting on Taymor's possible movie, the Times observed that it "could embarrass the studio and hurt the movie's chances for a successful release in September." Although Taymor issued a statement saying only that she "would not [get] into details at this time, Roth told the newspaper that testing different cuts of a movie is a normal Hollywood process. "But her orientation is stage. ... No one is uncomfortable in this process, other than Julie. ... If you work off her hysteria, that will do the film an injustice," he said. "Nobody wants to do that. She's worked long and hard, and made a wonderful movie."

ICY COLD OUTSIDE, BUT BOX OFFICE IS HOT

Snow and sleet in wide areas of the country did not deter moviegoers as they packed theaters for a second weekend -- most of them to see Warner Bros.' 300. The comic-book-like retelling of the ancient battle of Thermopylae captured $32.9 million at the box office, significantly above the $31.2 million that the studio had estimated on Sunday that it would bring in. Disney's Wild Hogs roared past the $100-million mark in its gross during its third weekend as it counted $19.1 million in ticket sales. Sony's Premonition bowed in third place with $17.6 million. Universal's horror flick Dead Silence followed with $7.8 million. Rounding out the top five was the Chris Rock romantic comedy I Think I Love My Wife, which opened with a disappointing $5.7 million.

The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Media by Numbers (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):

1. 300, Warner Bros., $32,877,328, 2 Wks. ($129,165,656); 2. Wild Hogs, Disney, $19,058,871, 3 Wks. ($104,226,868); 3. Premonition, Sony, $17,558,689, (New); 4. Dead Silence, Universal, $7,842,725, (New); 5. I Think I Love My Wife, Fox Searchlight, $5,674,802, (New); 6. Bridge to Terabithia, Disney, $5,192,153, 5 Wks. ($74,967,513); 7. Ghost Rider, Sony, $4,176,658, 5 Wks. ($110,378,574); 8. Zodiac, Paramount, $3,287,560, 3 Wks. ($29,137,557); 9. Norbit, Paramount, $2,766,593, 6 Wks. ($92,438,806); 10. Music and Lyrics, Warner Bros., $2,272,317, 5 Wks. ($47,448,875).

300 DIRECTOR SAYS CARPING CRITICS WERE "FUNNY"

300 director Zack Snyder says he feels no resentment towards the critics who pummeled his movie. "Nah, I love 'em, they were funny," he told Los Angeles Times columnist Patrick Goldstein in today's (Tuesday) edition. "The reviews were so neo-con, so homophobic. They couldn't just go see the movie without trying to over-intellectualize it." Goldstein himself commented, "Sadly, our critics, who seemed content with hooting at 300, have lost touch with what makes movies different from other art forms. Hollywood's mass-audience films are not a literary or an intellectual genre. Never have been, never will be. They are built around visuals and emotion, the two elements that 300 used to capture the public imagination."

STUDIO YANKS GRUESOME BILLBOARDS

After what appeared to be a marketing campaign gone haywire, advertising for the upcoming movie Captivity will reportedly be removed today (Tuesday), following public complaints. The ads show a panel of photographs of actress Elisha Cuthbert being abducted, confined, tortured, and killed. Lionsgate, which is distributing the film, said Monday that After Dark Films, which produced it, had been given complete control over marketing materials. "Once aware of the materials and the reaction to them, we immediately asked After Dark to remove the billboards," the company said in a statement. Thirty billboards had gone up in Los Angeles, as well as 1,400 taxi tops in New York City. After Dark said that the wrong advertising material had accidentally been sent out without approval, since executives of the company had been attending the ShoWest convention in Las Vegas at the time. Today's Hollywood Reporter quoted sources close to the MPAA as saying that posting the ads without approval from the organization was "in clear defiance of MPAA rules and regulations."

CHINESE PIRATE CONVICTED, BUT RECEIVES SLAP ON WRIST

A spokesman for the Motion Picture Association has expressed disappointment with the relatively small fine meted out to a Shanghai store, renowned for its large stock of pirated DVDs. Although a court in the Chinese city ruled that the store, Ka de Club, had illegally sold pirated DVDs of Lord of the Rings and The Incredibles, it was fined just $3,200. Today's (Tuesday) London Financial Times quoted Frank Rittman, the MPA's legal counsel in Asia, as saying, "We are disappointed at the paltry amounts of the awards, which amount to only a negligible cost of doing business for these criminals."

AMITYVILLE DIRECTOR ROSENBERG DEAD AT 79

Stuart Rosenberg, who directed such film classics as Cool Hand Luke, Brubaker and The Amityville Horror, died of a heart attack at his home in Beverly Hills on March 15, his wife Margot disclosed Monday. In the early 1960s, he also directed episodes of numerous classic TV series, including Naked City, Ben Casey, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone, and The Untouchables.

Brian B.