BOND, WOLVERINE TEAM UP ON BROADWAY
In another demonstration of Hollywood's hold on Broadway, the drama A Steady Rain, starring film stars Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig (a "two hander" as such two-actor plays are called) produced $1.17 million in ticket sales at the Schoenfeld Theatre during the week ending Sept. 20 -- a record for a non-musical, even though the play was still in previews. The sales record was set without benefit of the mostly solid critical reviews that appeared only today (Wednesday) following Tuesday's official premiere. In his review, Ben Brantley of the New York Times observed that while both actors "are just fine in their parts" he could not avoid thinking that if they had merely recited the alphabet, "their joint appearance would still generate ticket sales unknown for a straight play since Julia Roberts appeared in Richard Greenberg's Three Days of Rain ... three years ago." He dourly predicted that "superstitious producers will start looking for other plays with small casts and precipitation in their names as money-making vehicles for stars from the covers of People." Overall, Brantley's is one of the few so-so critiques of the play. Elysa Garner in USA Today concludes hers by remarking, "It's hard to imagine a better vehicle for two actors who clearly don't need larger-than-life characters to deliver grand performances." Linda Winer in Newsday comments: "This is a taut exercise in Middle American pulp fiction, a gorgeously acted set of monologues about moral ambiguity and a couple of disappointed beat cops." It is, she concludes, "quality theater." In the London Daily Telegraph, Claire Stenhouse observes, "By turns humorous, dark and tense, the actors handled Keith Huff's evenly paced drama, directed by John Crowley, with a skill and subtlety which rarely gets chance to shine in Hollywood." Other critics praise the two actors but fault the script. In the New York Daily News, Joe Dziemianowicz writes that the stars "ooze confidence and charisma. But Chicago writer Keith Huff's play is a stark and modest work that's all talk and no action." Peter Marks in the Washington Post writes that the play is "presented as that timeworn convention, a star vehicle. It might be an opportunity for audiences to see in-vogue movie actors in the flesh, but otherwise it's an opportunity squandered." On the other hand, Charles McNulty concludes in the Los Angeles Times: "As drama, A Steady Rain is mostly drizzle. But as entertainment, the play packs hurricane force, thanks to its lightning headliners."
EX-20TH CHIEF: PLUNGE INTO BLU-RAY LIKELY A MISTAKE
Former 20th Century Fox chief Bill Mechanic has suggested that Hollywood may have made a costly misjudgement when it decided to market Blu-ray Discs as the next big wave in home entertainment. During a time of recession, he told the Independent Film & Television Alliance's production conference in Santa Monica Tuesday, many consumers are likely thinking, "If I can buy Titanic for under $5 in some stores, why am I so eager then to rush out to pay $30 or so when it's released on Blu-ray? Is the quality that great? How many formats are yet to come?" Mechanic maintained that the downturn in home video sales was "completely self-imposed" by top management who failed to assess the impact of their decisions on the marketplace. "No one asked what buying great [older] movies at cheap prices would do to new releases, which may not be as great. Give a consumer with less expendable dollars a choice between Legally Blonde for $5.00 or All about Steve for $20.00 or $30.00 -- which do I want to buy?"
VIDEOGAME PLAYING COMING TO MOVIE THEATERS
In a two-day demonstration beginning October 5, Sony plans to introduce a new game, "Uncharted 2: Among Thieves," by allowing viewers to play it on movie screens in four theaters equipped with Sony's 4K digital cinema technology. The theaters are located in San Francisco and Thousand Oaks, California, Rosemont, Illinois and Bellevue, Washington. Members of the audience will be handed Sony PlayStation Portable devices to play the game. A news release did not explain how hundreds of people seated in theater seats would be able to play a game displayed on a single screen. But Sony indicated that this will not be the only time such a setup will be employed theatrically. Mike Fidler, senior vice president of Sony Electronics' Digital Cinema Solutions, told Reuters: "We think it's a start of something for us and hope we can build this into a standard element in the movie-going experience."