NATIVE HAWAIIANS DENOUNCE MOVIE TITLE
A movie based on the life of Hawaiian Princess Kaiulani has drawn fire from native Hawaiian groups, primarily because of its title -- Barbarian Princess. In a front-page article that appeared in the Honolulu Advertiser on Wednesday, University of Hawaii professor Jon Osorio was quoted as saying, "We really feel helpless to deal with producers ... who sensationalize our history in order to get to the wider audience." Vicky Holt Takamine, president of the Ilioulaokalani Coalition, called the title an "outrage." But Roy Tijoe, a co-owner of Island Film Group, which produced the $8-million movie insisted that the title was meant as "irony" and was drawn from newspaper accounts of the Princess's visit to the mainland shortly before the turn of the century. "It was a way to bring to the fore what had happened in the past," he said. (The role of Princess Kaiulani is played by Q'orianka Kilcher, who portrayed Pocahontas in 2005's The New World. The Advertiser noted that after an earlier protest the title was dropped, only to be reintroduced in time for a screening at the Hawaiian International Film Festival next month. The producers told the newspaper that they were unable to come up with another title that could pique interest in the movie as effectively as the original one.
WEINSTEIN COMPANY MAKING SEVERE STAFF CUTS
Despite its recent success with Inglourious Basterds, the Weinstein Co. is planning to make deep staff cuts and slash its output of films, published reports said today (Thursday) following an item that appeared Wednesday in the New York Post. According to the accounts, about a quarter of the company's staff, nearly 35 positions, will be eliminated, some by layoffs, others by attrition. It would mark the second round of layoffs at the company this year and leave the "mini-major" studio with a total staff of 70-80. The company also plans to cut the number of films it releases annually to about 10, from the current 12. A TWC spokesperson told Daily Variety: "In this economic climate, it makes sense to focus on a smaller slate, and with that, we need fewer people."
BLOCKBUSTERS HIT BLOCKBUSTER AND OTHER STORES
Summer blockbusters have now begun to appear at DVD retailers and "rentailers" and are likely to boost business at those stores significantly in the months ahead, if the debut of the first one -- X-Men Origins: Wolverine is any indication. The film, which earned $180 million at the box office, debuted in first place in sales and rentals last week, according to Nielsen VideoScan First Alert, which monitors sales, and Home Media Magazine, which monitors rentals. The movie reportedly sold more than 3 million copies during its first week in stores. By contrast, the No. 2 seller, the direct-to-video Barbie and the Three Musketeers, sold about 360,000 copies. (Home Media pointed out, however, that Nielsen does not track sales at Wal-Mart, the nation's leading DVD seller and a big player in family and children's videos.)
MOVIE REVIEWS: CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY
With Capitalism: A Love Story, Michael Moore is receiving --as usual -- props for his skill as a propagandist filmmaker and -- also as usual -- he is being criticized for failing to offer workable solutions to the injustices he exposes. "It's the morning after in America," writes Manohla Dargis in the New York Times, "and Captain Mike is here to explain it all or at least crack jokes, milk tears, recycle the news and fan the flames of liberal indignation." "Capitalism: A Love Story" sounded like my kind of film," Kyle Smith, perhaps the only major-city film critic to wear his conservative politics on his sleeve, writes facetiously in the New York Post. "I had heard Michael Moore found some exciting new historical footage, and I was picturing hot, steamy love scenes featuring Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan writhing atop piles of gold coins. Imagine my disappointment." Many critics say that Moore simply takes on too many issues in his film and that he was more successful dealing with individual ones as he did in Fahrenheit 9/11, his biggest hit, and last year's Sicko. As Kenneth Turan puts it in the Los Angeles Times: "Capitalism misses the narrower focus that gave his earlier films some of their punch." Other critics underline that point. "It's like watching a man wrestle a dozen octopuses," writes Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily News. "Moore's reach exceeds his grasp," comments John Anderson in Newsday. But the Associated Press's Christy Lemire concludes: "Moore is all over the place, and he doesn't even make the vaguest attempt at finding balance journalistically. But at least he's equal opportunity, blaming politicians on both sides of the aisle for allowing the influence of Wall Street to lead us into the troubles we're in today."