WOLVERINE RAKES IN $87 MILLION
Despite last month's online release of a pirated workprint, competition from the telecast of a Saturday-night NBA game between the Celtics and Bulls, and a slew of unwelcoming reviews, Twentieth Century Fox's X-Men Origins: Wolverine made the cut as a box-office contender over the weekend as it took in an estimated $87 million. The figure was in line with most analysts' predictions, although a few had forecast that it would rake in well over $100 million. (The Los Angeles Times called the result "somewhat impressive.") Over the same weekend a year ago, Iron Man took in $98.6 million. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, starring Matthew McConaughey,landed in second place with $15.3 million -- at the low end of analysts' estimates. A third new release, Battle for Terra, a computer-animated 3-D movie that received little marketing and could only find about 400 theaters that could screen the 3-D version, wound up with just $1.1 million. (In his positive review, Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert argued that the film should properly be viewed in 2-D. "The 3-D adds nothing and diminishes the light intensity, as if imposing a slightly cloudy window between the viewer and a brightly colored wonderland," Ebert wrote. On the other hand, Justin Berton in the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that the 3-D technology provides "a full, 360-degree immersion that serves the storytelling in every frame." And Claudia Puig in USA Today called the 3-D visuals "arresting.") Overall, the box-office raked in about $148 million -- about the same amount that it recorded over the comparable weekend a year ago. But it was down considerably from 2007 when the debut of Spider-Man 3 took in $151 million on its own.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates:
1. X-Men Origins: Wolverine, $87 million; 2. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, $15.3 million; 3. Obsessed, $12.2 million; 4. 17 Again, $6.4 million; 5. Monsters vs. Aliens, $5.8 million; 6. The Soloist, $5.6 million; 8. Earth, $4.18 million; 7. Fighting, $4.17 million; 9. Hannah Montana: The Movie, $4.1 million; 10. State of Play, $3.7 million.
DISNEY JOINS FOX IN EXCISING EXTRAS FROM DVD RENTALS
Disney will become the second studio to delete "extras" from DVDs that it provides to online and brick-and-mortar rental outlets, including Netflix and Blockbuster. The decision follows a similar one by Fox Home Video, which received widespread criticism among video "rentailers," and apparently sparked a retreat by Fox, which decided to provide a movie-only version at a discounted price and allow the movie-with-extras version to be sold to stores at a premium price.
MPAA'S WEBSITE IS HACKED BY PROTESTERS
The MPAA has suffered a cross-site scripting (XSS) attack from supporters of The Pirate Bay, the website that the movie producers' organization has accused of aiding and abetting online piracy. According to TorrentFreak.com, hackers managed to cover a part of the MPAA's own website and to post a link on the MPAA's "about" page to The Pirate Bay, which includes the TPB logo and links to pirated movies. The MPAA later removed the offending material.
HOWARD, HANKS DEFEND ANGELS & DEMONS
On the eve of the premiere of director Ron Howard's Angels & Demons in Rome, Howard has claimed that the Vatican interfered with efforts to get permits to shoot scenes for the film in Rome. For example, he told a news conference in Rome, he was told that he would not be allowed to shoot scenes for the film if churches were shown in the background. To recreate the Sistine Chapel, he said, he had 20 members of his crew pose as tourists to take photos of the chapel. (A spokesman for the Vatican declined to respond to Howard's accusations, except to say that the were designed to publicize the film.) Star Tom Hanks said that when moviegoers see the film, they will discover "nothing sacrilegious about it at all." Hanks told the New York Daily News: "Yes, we had a few things go on that are completely fictionalized. But there's no reason to have a big hurly-burly over what is essentially a whodunit. There's no major theological discussion that goes on, other than science versus faith. There's no winner in that argument. I just solve the murder."