KURT RUSSELL CRITICIZES GRINDHOUSE BREAKUP

Kurt Russell, who starred in the Death Proof segment of the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez horror"double feature" Grindhouse, has expressed disappointment over the decision to release Death Proof as a separate feature for European audiences. Appearing today (Tuesday) at a news conference at the Cannes Film Festival, where Death Proof is screening in competition for the Palme d'Or, Russell, acknowledging that he hasn't seen the reedited longer version, said, "I'm disappointed for any audience that they won't get the Grindhouse experience. ... These [two] movies are going to go out there by themselves and they'll live their own life, but my prediction is that 20 years from now, you'll want the Grindhouse experience. ... [It's] something bizarre that you've never experienced before." But, appearing at the same news conference, director Quentin Tarantino defended the new version, saying that the film has changed "180 degrees so far as the emotion" is concerned and that he is particularly pleased with the way Russell's character has evolved in the editing. Standing at the rear of the news conference, producer Harvey Weinstein also joined in the discussion, saying that what Tarantino and Rodriguez originally had to remove from their films so that they could be combined "reduced the essence of the films." It would have been like "cutting [Tarantino's] Kill Bill and [Rodriguez's] Sin City to 70-minute versions," he said. He predicted that European audiences "and hopefully American audiences" will get a lot more enjoyment out of the films when they're seen separately. (Grindhouse was a surprise flop when it was released domestically in April. The $60-million film earned only $24 million in ticket sales.)

DRAMA AT PRESS CONFERENCE FOR FILM ABOUT SLAIN REPORTER

In the film A Mighty Heart, a reporter is seen asking Mariane Pearl (played by Angelina Jolie), the wife of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, whether she had seen the tape of her husband's beheading. At a news conference Monday at the Cannes Film Festival where the film was screened for the first time, a reporter for Bloomberg News shocked those around him when he addressed Pearl, who was seated next to the filmmakers, and remarked, "I was one of the reporters who covered the Danny Pearl murder in Karachi. I was the one who asked that question. ... Could you -- have you -- maybe now -- have you -- maybe -- forgiven me for that question, which I regret?" Pearl replied, "I accept your apology." The exchange triggered a murmur in the crowd of reporters, who had never previously seen such an exchange during a film festival news conference.

WILL PIRATES CAPTURE NEW RECORDS?

Disney has lined up 1,064 digital movie screens for Thursday's opening of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, the Hollywood Reporter reported today (Tuesday), noting that the number has been rising steadily. Disney distribution chief Chuck Viane noted that in addition to the savings in print costs that digital distribution represents, it will also result in future audiences being able to see the movie without dirt or scratches degrading the picture. "I believe Pirates is going to be around a long time this summer, [and] this guarantees that audiences will see this in the most pristine way throughout the engagement," Viane told the trade publication. "In week 15, it will be as good-looking as this Thursday at 8 p.m." During a month when 3 appeared to have become Hollywood's magic number, after Spider-Man 3 and Shrek the Third set box-office records, the third Pirates movie is expected to make May 2007 the most lucrative month in film history.

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. Shrek the Third, Paramount, $121,629,270, (New); 2. Spider-Man 3, Sony, $29,022,026, 3 Wks. ($282,379,655); 3. 28 Weeks Later, Fox Atomic, $5,454,168, 2 Wks. ($18,914,,924); 4. Georgia Rule, Universal, $3,745,880, 2 Wks. ($12,867,,455); 5. Disturbia, Paramount, $3,731,349, 6 Wks. ($71,379,,695); 6. Fracture, New Line, $2,278,362, 5 Wks. ($34,530,,840); 7. Delta Farce, Lionsgate, $1,852,193, 2 Wks. ($6,138,105); 8. The Invisible, Disney, $1,300,769, 4 Wks. ($17,654,,557); 9. Hot Fuzz, Focus Features, $1,291,898, 5 Wks. ($21,125,,512); 10. Blades of Glory, Paramount, $1,091,982, 8 Wks. ($115,446,583).

NEXT HARRY POTTER FILM TO OPEN IN TOKYO

For the second time this year, a blockbuster movie is scheduled to premiere in Tokyo. Warner Bros. said that it plans to open the fifth Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, in Tokyo on June 28. Earlier this month, Sony opened the third Spider-Man movie in Tokyo -- but Sony, unlike Warner Bros., is a Japanese-owned company. A spokeswoman for the Time Warner-owned studio told Reuters that there was "no special reason" why the film is premiering in Japan.

Brian B.