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Da Vinci Code Hits $500 Million This Week

By | Monday May 29, 2006 @ 8:11am PDT

I’m told Sony’s Da Vinci Code will hit the magic $500 million mark worldwide later this week. To date, the religious thriller has racked up over $465 mil worldwide since opening a little more than a week ago, $320 mil of it from international. The foreign front was bolstered by huge holds in Europe and Japan. Belgium was down only 2% from its opening weekend, Holland just 9%, Germany 18%, Japan 19%, and France 30%. Before Da Vinci opened, Sony execs were praying for a $500 mil summer. Now, they’re doing that boffo box office by the end of Week #2.

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Two Puff Profiles of Sony’s Sir Howard

By | Sunday May 28, 2006 @ 4:10pm PDT

Jeez, the Sony corporate flacks are working overtime. But don’t bother reading The New Yorker‘s just published profile of Sir Howard Stringer in the June 5th issue. Or The New York Times’ profile of Sir Howard in Sunday’s edition. Egads, haven’t there already been enough puff jobs penned about this guy that we don’t need two more? (If I have to read one more description of how diplomatic he is, I’ll puke.)
At least the NYT doesn’t contain the usual pages of pablum about Stringer’s background at Oxford or at CBS. New Yorker writer Mark Singer seems so in love with the fact that he’s birddogging Stringer that he fails to ask the hard questions. (Why does access always equal acceptance?) Sheesh, Stringer isn’t even pushed to name names about who helped destroy Sony’s once-upon-a-time technological lead in the marketplace: no talk, for instance, about longtime Sony Music honcho Tommy Mottola reputedly helping sabotage Sony’s Ipod-like device that preceded Apple’s gazillion-dollar goodie by two years. Neither is that in the NYT piece.
Interesting that the NYT didn’t challenge Sir Howard’s claim that “he recommended that Sony acquire rights to the book two years ago — well before it sold nearly 60 million copies globally.” If that’s the case, why didn’t Sony buy the book earlier? Instead, John Calley (too sick to travel to Cannes for the premiere) personally went after it for Sony Pictures and clinched the deal in June 2003 – well after the book had became … Read More »

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Cannes Film Festival: Palme D’Or to Ken Loach’s The Wind That Shakes The Barley

By | Sunday May 28, 2006 @ 2:47pm PDT

PALMARÈS DU 59e FESTIVAL DE CANNES – 59TH FESTIVAL DE CANNES AWARDS

May 17th – May 28th 2006
LONGS MÉ TRAGES/FEATURE FILMS

PALME D’OR: THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY réalisé par Ken LOACH

GRAND PRIX: FLANDRES réalisé par Bruno DUMONT

PRIX DU SCÉNARIO/BEST SCREENPLAY: Pedro ALMODÓVAR pour VOLVER

PRIX DE LA MISE EN SCÈNE/BEST DIRECTOR:
Alejandro González IÑÁRRITU pour BABEL

PRIX D’INTERPRÉTATION MASCULINE/BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR: Jamel DEBBOUZE, Samy NACÉRI, Roschdy ZEM, Sami BOUAJILA, Bernard BLANCAN dans INDIGÈNES réalisé par Rachid BOUCHAREB

PRIX D’INTERPRÉTATION FÉMININE/BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS: Penélope CRUZ, Carmen MAURA, Lola DUEÑAS, Blanca PORTILLO, Yohana COBO, Chus LAMPREAVE dans VOLVER réalisé par Pedro ALMODÓVAR

PRIX DU JURY/JURY PRIZE: RED ROAD réalisé par Andrea ARNOLD

COURTS MÉTRAGES/SHORT FILMS

PALME D’OR: SNIFFER réalisé par Bobbie PEERS

PRIX DU JURY: PRIMERA NIEVE réalisé par Pablo AGUERO

MENTION SPÉCIALE: CONTE DE QUARTIER réalisé par Florence MIAILHE

PRIX UN CERTAIN REGARD – FONDATION GAN POUR LE CINÉMA: LUXURY CAR réalisé par WANG Chao

PRIX SPÉCIAL DU JURY UN CERTAIN REGARD: TEN CANOES réalisé par Rolf De HEER

PRIX D’INTERPRÉTATION UN CERTAIN REGARD: Dorotheea PETRE dans CUM MI-AM PETRECUT SFÂRSITUL LUMII réalisé par Catalin MITULESCU

PRIX D’INTERPRÉTATION UN CERTAIN REGARD: Don Angel TAVIRA dans EL VIOLÍN réalisé par Francisco VARGAS

PRIX DU PRESIDENT DU JURY UN CERTAIN REGARD: MEURTRIÈRES réalisé par Patrick GRANDPERRET

CAMÉRA D’OR

A FOST SAU N-A FOST réalisé par Corneliu PORUMBOIU présenté dans le … Read More »

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UPDATED: X-M3 Busts Record For Biggest Mem Weekend Opening Ever; But Da Vinci Bigger Overseas and Set for Half-Billion $$$ Gross Worldwide This Week

By | Saturday May 27, 2006 @ 12:17pm PDT


3rd Update: *So here’s one for the record books! The superhero movie X-Men 3: The Last Stand had a superheroic gross of $120.1 million for the biggest opening ever for a U.S. Memorial Weekend. The comic book franchise also posted the 4th best three-day opening ever and second-biggest one-day gross ever on Friday. Needless to say, 20th Century Fox was super-delirious over the box office, which far exceeded their expectations for the holiday.*

2nd UPDATE: *X-Men 3 boasted the fourth biggest U.S. opening weekend of all time behind only Spider-Man, two Star Wars, and Shrek 2. But Da Vinci Code continued to surpass X-M3 overseas ($91 mil to $76 mil) and will hit the magic $500 million mark worldwide later this week. Domestically, the 20th Century Fox comic book movie grossed $107 million dollars, after earning an estimated $45.5 mil on Friday, $32 mil on Saturday and $29 mil on Sunday. Sony’s religious thriller stayed steady, earning $10.2 mil for Friday, $12.4 mil Saturday and $10.8 mil Sunday, for a 3-day second-weekend-out total of $136 mil. To date, Da Vinci has racked up over $465 mil worldwide since opening a little more than a week ago, $320 mil of it from international. The foreign front was bolstered by huge holds in Europe and Japan. Belgium was down only 2% from its opening weekend, Holland just 9%, Germany 18%, Japan 19%, and France 30%. Before Da Vinci opened, Sony execs were praying for a $500 mil summer. Now, they’re doing that boffo box office by the end of Week #2.*… Read More »

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NYT: Studios Go Sane & Pull Plug On $112 Mil Jim Carrey/Ben Stiller Comedy. Wow!

By | Wednesday May 24, 2006 @ 6:14pm PDT

The terms “fiscal responsibility” and “movie biz” rarely appear in the same sentence. That’s why I’m thinking there might still be hope for Hollywood after reading Sharon Waxman’s story in Friday’s New York Times. It’s all about how 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures pulled the plug on the movie Used Guys because the budget had crept up to $112 million even though ”millions of dollars were spent, sets were ready in Santa Fe, and all was on track for production to start next month on what seemed to be a can’t-lose comedy from the reigning superstars Jim Carrey and Ben Stiller with Jay Roach of Austin Powers and Meet the Parents fame, as director.” At that price, she reports, “Used Guys stood to be one of the most expensive original comedies ever made. And in an industry with crushing marketing costs and top-shelf stars taking a huge chunk of every ticket sale, the studio decided the math didn’t add up, to the surprise of filmmakers who were on the verge of shooting.”
But here’s the meaty part: “The real problem, said executives at Fox and elsewhere, is the percentage of box office revenues that these stars now command. ‘At an over-$100 million budget, the talent is making $60 million before the studio can recoup its costs,’ said a senior Fox executive. ‘The economics on it make no sense.’ Mr. Roach and executives on the project noted that, … Read More »

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Come Back, Howard, All Is Forgiven?

By | Wednesday May 24, 2006 @ 4:51pm PDT

As everyone expected, that CBS vs Howard Stern lawsuit officially ended today. Now the clock’s ticking: how long before Howard does a deal to get himself back on FM as well as Sirius satellite radio? God, how I miss him in Los Angeles. For seemingly forever, we’d heard about him here. Occasionally, we’d see him – that tall gawky guy with the Prince Valiant hair and the Prince of Darkness face, showing up as a guest on David Letterman (circa NBC’s Late Night) and proclaiming how he was the world’s best entertainer — yet demonstrating no visible talent beyond self-love. But, most of all, those of us who lived outside of New York didn’t get Howard Stern: not on our radios, not as an iconic figure. Sure, we were curious to hear just how dirty and despicable his act supposedly was. But if Howard Stern was the Frank Zappa of modern radio, then Los Angeles was stuck with white-bread Michael Bublé in the form of KIIS-FM’s Rick Dees, Pirate Radio’s Scott Shannon and KLOS-FM’s Mark and Brian.
That is, until Howard came to town at KLSX-FM (97.1). I know exactly when I became a Howard addict: during the 1991 Clarence Thomas hearings when Anita Hill’s testimony rocked Capitol Hill and beyond. I remember staying up until 3 a.m. the next Monday because I couldn’t wait to hear Howard’s take on it. From the moment his mike was turned on, Stern let loose; I even recall … Read More »

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Ovations and Catcalls for Sofia’s Marie

By | Wednesday May 24, 2006 @ 2:31pm PDT


Today, Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette screened for the world press this morning and for the VIPs tonight at the Cannes Film Festival, then opened big in France today. (It doesn’t open wide in the U.S. until the fall.) Frankly, I always thought the idea of debuting this film in the country that helped invent the class revolution — with a plot that presents Miss Let-Them-Eat-Cake as Paris Hilton, only more sympathetic  – was crazy talk. (I, for one, found her Lost in Translation some of the more tedious hours of my life, so that’s where I’m coming from.) So I’ve been especially curious to see the French reaction to it. After all, they’re not as much in love with Sofia as America’s film critics and indie hipsters, who all swoon over everything Sofia does. Example, her U.S. sycophants adore how she’s set the trailer of this 18th century biopic to New Order’s “Age of Consent” and juxtaposed period costumes, facilitated by Manolo Blahnik of Sex and the City fame, with Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy” and a cover of “Fools Rush In.” Anyway, Marie was booed by audiences at the media screening, I’m told (and that’s backed up by AP and AFP news services). The film had been expected to be a contender for this Sunday’s Palme d’Or, but, c’mon, we all know that award is going to either Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Babel, or Pedro Almodovar’s Volver.
At the VIP screening, a source gushed to me how Marie received a 10-minute standing ovation, and Almodovar made a … Read More »

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AFI’s Uninspiring “Inspiring” Movie List

By | Wednesday May 24, 2006 @ 1:24pm PDT

Please, someone, anyone, stop them before they whore themselves yet again. CBS on June 14th will air AFI’s latest b.s. list, this time the 100 “most inspiring” films. And, again, the “jury” composed of VIP moviemakers and movie critics and movie academics only got to pick from a short list of 300 films weighted heavily towards studio product, which isn’t fair to deserving indies. Amistad, The Color Purple8 MileErin Brockovich, Dead Man Walking, Rocky and The Karate Kid made the ballot, while Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington and Gary Cooper each have seven movies on it. The final 100 will be counted down in a three-hour special for CBS entitled, 100 Years…100 Cheers: America’s Most Inspiring Movies. This is the ninth such special between AFI and CBS, and it gets more embarrassing every time.

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Finke/LA Weekly: The Passion of the Cash

By | Wednesday May 24, 2006 @ 12:29pm PDT

Here’s my latest lalogo.gif column,  The Passion of the Cash: Da Vinci Cannes the World, about how I’ve seen the future of Hollywood, and it is foreign, as demonstrated by the craptastic Da Vinci Code. This time, I’ll tease you with the ending (and, by the way, if we can have a Gay Vito, why not a Gay Superman?):
“So what can we expect from the rest of the summer, here and foreign-wise? 20th’s X-Men 3 will fare well, though Brett Ratner’s violent, Hard-R direction was ridiculously given a PG-13 rating. Not even Universal thinks The Breakup is funny, despite Vince Vaughn’s best efforts. (Please, can we accept once and for all that Jennifer Aniston is a movie stiff?) Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest is gonna kill both here and overseas. Warner Bros.’ Superman Returns, now a metrosexual in Metropolis, will bring more than respectable returns. Paramount’s World Trade Center will be box-office challenged, despite Oliver Stone’s international luster, because of its 9/11 subject matter. And the anticipation is that M. Night Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water from Warner Bros. will drown, and, pity, not even near a topless beach in Cannes.”

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Gore’s Cannes Screening Serves Up Sherry

By | Tuesday May 23, 2006 @ 12:29am PDT


There was a surprise at the Cannes Film Festival screening of Al Gore’s ecodoc An Inconvenient Truth. No, it wasn’t the packed Salle Bunuel on the fifth floor of the Palais des Festivals giving Gore a standing ovation before and after the screening. (“In all my years of politics,” Gore modestly told the crowd, “I’ve never had that long a standing ovation.”) No, it wasn’t how he was the model of self-deprecation. (“I never thought in a million years that my little slideshow would bring me to the red carpet in Cannes.”) But I’m told the Hollywood crowd was stunned by the presence of past Paramount Pictures boss Sherry Lansing at the screening hosted her replacement, present Paramount Pictures boss Brad Grey. It was awkward.

Not that Sherry didn’t have a right to be at Cannes; her husband, director Billy Friedkin, had the movie, Bug, screening there. But why go to the Paramount event? After all, she didn’t greenlight the picture: that bragging right belongs to Paramount Vantage topper John Lesher, who scooped it up at Sundance. And she wasn’t a Gore insider. Sure, she gave to Gore during the 2000 race, but she was a John Kerry supporter during the 2004 contest. About the guy she casually calls “Johnny”, Lansing told me back then, “I never supported anyone as early on as John. I agreed with his positions and I found … Read More »

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DHD Update: 1,250,000 Page Views

By | Monday May 22, 2006 @ 5:40pm PDT

Today, DHD passed 1,250,000 page views in 9 weeks of operation. And, this past weekend, DHD had a 24-hr traffic ranking of 2,590th among all Internet sites.

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Pellicano: Limp NYT H’wood Lawyer Angle

By | Monday May 22, 2006 @ 5:14pm PDT

As I promised you, The New York Times has a new Pellicano scandal story, this time focusing on the Hollywood lawyers. Frankly, it’s not even worth your time reading; it’s all dated stuff, wrapped around an old premise. Without naming names, reporters David Halbfinger and Allison Hope Weiner claim that the fraternity of lawyers located in LA’s Century City “are waking to a grim truth: The government believes they are the problem.” The story confirms what I’ve heard for many months now: that the real object of the U.S. Attorney’s Office isn’t the rich, famous and powerful clients as much as it is their rich, famous and powerful attorneys. “It is only now becoming clear that powerful businesspeople and stars are just collateral damage in a hunt for the real target: what government lawyers see as corruption in a legal system that is suddenly being policed after decades of neglect,” the journalists write. “Nothing like this assault on lawyers and the famous people they represent has happened before in Movieland, where studio walls and security departments were built to keep the outside world out.”
Unfortunately the NYT story is long on commentary from academics, ex-prosecutors and even lawyers not involved in the scandal — but short on new facts. There is this bland quote from George Cardona, the acting U.S. attorney for the Pellicano case: “To the extent that people in various positions … Read More »

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Claim: Murdoch Foe Was H’wood Anti-War Activists; Friend Nicole Kidman & China

By | Monday May 22, 2006 @ 3:36pm PDT


In an interview published today with Advertising Age‘s Simon Dumenco, ex-New York Post Page Six reporter Ian Spiegelman claims exactly what we all suspected about the paper’s parent company run by Rupert Murdoch ever since Dubya’s ill-fated Iraq invasion: “News Corp’s enemies were the usual bunch: Anyone who thought the war in Iraq might not be the best of all possible adventures to pursue, especially if they lived in Hollywood.” [Murdoch, of course, owns 20th Century Fox and Fox Broadcasting.]
Spiegelman, who’s hawking a new novel, also has more to say about which Murdoch-mandated friends Page Six was expected to flatter: ”The People’s Republic of China. One time I was looking into an item about a Chinese diplomat and a strip club when word came from somewhere up above that China had carte blanche. The message I got was more or less, ‘If you mention Chinese, you’d better be ordering lunch.’ [Murdoch's infotainment company, of course, does lotsa biz there.] Also, Nicole Kidman. Someone in the hive-mind thinks she’s a personal friend, so you couldn’t write a word against her. At least that was true for a good part of my duration.” [Kidman, of course, is Murdoch's Australian compatriot.]

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Sequel Fever: Sony Has Da Vinci II and III

By | Monday May 22, 2006 @ 12:56pm PDT

I’m told it’s absolutely true that Sony bought the rights to the Robert Langdon character. Not only is Harvard symbologist Langdon the protaganist in Dan Brown’s already written novel, “Angels and Demons,” but I know Langdon is also featured in a new book Brown is penning as we speak that takes off where Da Vinci Code leaves off. So that means Sony has the immediate prospect of not only one but two sequels. Wow, this town is really, really, gonna hate that studio now. (Just remember, Sony had that big bomb Bewitched last summer. They were due.) Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, who penned DVC, has already been hired for A&D. ”Angels and Demons” is Brown’s other published book to feature Langdon: crammed with Vatican intrigue and high-tech drama, it thrusts Langdon together with an ancient and shadowy secret brotherhood, the Illuminati, the most powerful underground organization ever to walk the earth. Their enemy is the Catholic Church and they’re detemined to carry out the final phase of a legendary vendetta against it. There’s a frantic quest through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals and a most secret vault to find the world’s most powerful energy source (which I’m told is a bomb; I haven’t read the book myself). The heroine is a beautiful Italian physicist whose father, a brilliant physicist, has been murdered. I’m told it’s better than DVC.
No word yet on the plot of the book Brown is … Read More »

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Da Vinci #1 in Every Country It Opened

By | Monday May 22, 2006 @ 12:44pm PDT

UPDATE: My latest lalogo.gif column,  The Passion of the Cash, is all about how I’ve seen the future of Hollywood, and it is foreign, as demonstrated by the craptastic Da Vinci Code.
Final May 19-21 numbers have come in for The Da Vinci Code: a $231.8 million worldwide opening, making it the 2nd biggest ever – $154.7 mil international, $77.1 mil domestic. Sony is telling me it was #1 in every territory it opened. I’m frankly flabbergasted that mainstream papers such as The New York Times treated this like an afterthought in its pages today since phenomenons don’t happen everyday in the movie biz. There’s not even much talk about it in Hollywood today. Guess it’s symptomatic of what we already know: this town really hates good things to happen to anyone except themselves. This should make Hollywood denizens happy: News reports say bootleg DVDs of The Da Vinci Code were on sale for 5 yuan ($.60) all over Shanghai today, but the camera work on the pirated copies was so horrendous it showed people walking in front of the cinema screen and had sounds of someone drinking a soda. Meanwhile, on Monday night, Jay Leno wisecracked that The Da Vinci Code‘s new nickname was ”The Passion of the Cash.”
Previous: … Read More »

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Pat Dollard vs Sharon Waxman

By | Monday May 22, 2006 @ 12:21pm PDT

This is why I love covering showbiz…You can take Iraqi War documentarian Pat Dollard out of Hollywood. But you can’t take Hollywood out of the former agent/manager. Over the weekend, I emailed him the opening numbers on Da Vinci Code because, “Hey, you may be witnessing horrific war, but you’ll always want to know box office.” To which he responded, after thanking me, “Fuckin ‘a’.”
For the latest on the Dollard Watch, including the newest gory photo from his Iraqi sojourn, see today’s Hollywood Interrupted posting. Sharon Waxman, Hollywood correspondent of The New York Times, recently wrote about Dollard’s Iraqi odyssey for the paper of record, and clearly Dollard wasn’t thrilled with it. (Neither was webmaster Mark Ebner.) Meanwhile, Generation Kill author and freelance journalist Evan Wright has been working for months on a Dollard profile for Vanity Fair. Interestingly enough, Waxman wrote about Wright for the NYT when his book came out. I’m still waiting to hear where and when Dollard’s documentary will air. According to Waxman, HBO already nixed it. Speaking of HBO, it debuted Baghdad E.R. last night in the coveted Entourage time slot before The Sopranos. Powerful stuff.
Previous: What The F*** Is Up With Pat Dollard?

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Toldja! Hiltzik Returns to LAT in Sports

By | Monday May 22, 2006 @ 11:51am PDT

Per my April 30th infoLos Angeles Times staffer Michael Hiltzik today is back in the paper on the sports beat (with investigative pieces to follow) after the brass determined he violated its ethics rules, stripped him of both his blog and his Golden State column, and suspended him for a bit.

Previous: Suspended LAT Columnist to Probe Sports

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EXCLUSIVE: Da Vinci Code Is 2nd Biggest Opening Weekend Of All Time Worldwide With $224 Million; No. 1 International Opening Weekend with $147 Mil; $77 Mil U.S. Opening Weekend; Sony Execs Attribute Huge Success To Younger Moviegoers Globally

By | Sunday May 21, 2006 @ 7:51am PDT

LATEST SUNDAY AM UPDATE: Sony Pictures told me exclusively this morning that Da Vinci Code earned $224 million worldwide, making it the second biggest opening weekend of all time worldwide. (The only movie that did better was Star Wars 3, the last of the prequels, with $254 mil). That DVC figure broke down to $147 mil internationally, and $77 mil domestically. The studio told me that the film is the No. 1 all-time opening weekend internationally. DVC was #1 in predominantly Catholic countries Italy and Spain, and #1 or #2 in every South American territory. Sony execs explained to me that the reason for the huge success is that “young people” including teens were going to see the film worldwide as well as adults. But all audience segments were doing well, even infrequent filmgoers. ”We are absolutely thrilled with the worldwide opening of this movie and it’s a true international event,” the chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group, Amy Pascal, told me Sunday morning. ”And we got some very good reviews. Mainstream critics liked the the movie all over the world; it just wasn’t all negative.” According to Box Office Mojo, DVC ranked #13 on the all-time U.S. opening weekend, behind Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. But, internationally, DVC swamped Passion. Interestingly, domestically, DVC dipped slightly on Saturday compared to Friday, $27 mil compared to $29 mil, and Sunday’s haul was projected at $20 mil. Meanwhile, U.S. box office was strong overall: Dreamworks/Paramount’s Over the Hedge took in $37 mil for the opening weekend, which wasn’t far behind … Read More »

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UPDATED: Da Vinci Code Posts 12th Best Opening Day in U.S., 5th Best Opening Day in Japan; Just Under $30 Million For Friday’s Domestic Box Office; Sony Rivals Predict $80 Mil Opening Weekend

By | Saturday May 20, 2006 @ 7:00am PDT

For news through Sunday, see: UPDATED: First B.O. Reports on Da Vinci Code

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