POLANSKI ARREST CONDEMNED OVERSEAS
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office has acknowledged that it sent a provisional arrest warrant to Swiss authorities after learning that Director Roman Polanski would be arriving in Zurich to accept a lifetime achievement award at a film festival. "It was publicized on the Internet that he was going to be at the Zurich Film Festival," Sandi Gibbons, a spokesperson for the D.A.'s office, told the Associated Press. "They were selling tickets online." She indicated that the district attorney will formally move to have Polanski extradited unless he voluntarily returns to the U.S. to face fugitive charges. In 1978 he pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl but fled the country when the judge in the case indicated that he would not honor a plea bargain that would have limited Polanski's jail time to the 42 days already served. He faced a possible sentence of 50 years. The Swiss Association of Film Directors and Script Writers call the arrest "a slap in the face for the entire cultural community in Switzerland, while in Paris, where Polanski, a French citizen, has lived since fleeing the U.S., Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said that he was "dumbfounded" by the arrest and that he and President Nicolas Sarkozy are closely following the case. "In the same way that there is a generous America that we like, there is also a scary America that has just shown its face," he said. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner called the arrest "a bit sinister." Polanski's French attorney, Herve Temine, told the French daily Le Figaro: "We will be demanding that he be freed. Then we will fight the extradition."
THREE NEW FILMS ARRIVE D.O.A. AT BOX OFFICE
Three films making their debut at the box office this weekend all flopped, while last week's winner held on to its crown. The three films were Disney's Surrogates, which earned just $15 million; MGM's Fame, which collected $10 million; and Overture Film's Pandorum, which took in just $4.8 million. (Although it was not screened for critics, reviewers who saw it in theaters over the weekend gave it mostly positive reviews. Roger Moore in the Orlando Sentinel said that it "plays like the best movie based on a video game to not actually have a video game to base it on, ever." Justine Elias in the Boston Globe described it as "a dark, disquieting dream worth watching out for.") Most box-office prognosticators had figured that each of the three would take in nearly twice what they actually did. The winner was Sony's Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, which earned $24.6 million, to bring its total to $60 million. Surprisingly, the film dropped just 19 percent in its second weekend, far better than the usual second-week drop of around 50 percent. But if Overture Films had a flop with Pandorum, it appeared to have a big hit with Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story. The film took in $240,000 in just four theaters in Los Angeles and New York -- or a per-theater average of $60,000. The Los Angeles Times said that figure amounted to a 2009 record for per-theater ticket sales in limited release.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo:
1. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, $24.6 million; 2. Surrogates, $15 million; 3. Fame, $10 million; 4. The Informant!, $6.9 million; 5. Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself, $4.8 million; 6. Pandorum, $4.4 million; 7. Love Happens, $4.3 million; 8. Jennifer's Body, $3.5 million; 9. 9, $2.8 million; 10. Inglourious Basterds, $2.7 million.
UP STILL HIGH IN EUROPE
Disney's Up crossed the $500-million mark in worldwide ticket sales over the weekend as it earned $12.3 million from 25 countries overseas, holding on to the title of top-grossing overseas film. Its overseas total now stands at $215 million. (It earned $292.3 million during its domestic run.) Opening in second place was Disney's sci-fi flick Surrogates, with $12.2 million from 10 countries. (On a per-theater basis, the film actually did more business abroad than it did in North America.) Finishing in third place was Inglourious Basterds with $7.5 million, bringing its international total to $128.9 million and its worldwide total to $243.3 million. Rounding out the top five were District 9, with $6.1 million and -- a tie -- The Ugly Truth and G-Force with $5.8 million.
A FIRST: NEW FILM TO BE DISTRIBUTED BY SATELLITE OVERSEAS
Marking the beginning of a new phase in theatrical film distribution, the French documentary La Vida Loca, which explores the life of street gangs in El Salvador, will be distributed to theaters in Europe via satellite beginning on Wednesday. Currently, films are distributed in Europe either on film or on digital cinema hard drives. In an interview with Daily Variety, Arts Alliance Media chief Howard Kiedaisch said that his company's deal to distribute the film (with Arqiva Satellite & Media) for French distributor Cine Classics shows that digital distribution has finally arrived in Europe. "It's here; it's real," he said. Interest in the film has been heightened by the murder of its director, Christian Poveda, in El Salvador earlier this month. Three gang members have been arrested in connection with the killing.