UPDATE: Boards OK Murdoch/Dow Jones; Rupe’s $30M Bribe To Bancrofts Paid Off

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TUESDAY PM: The Wall Street Journal announced this evening that News Corp.’s $5 billion purchase of Dow Jones has been approved by the boards of both companies, which met separately over the past few hours. After three months of drama in the Bancroft family and … Read More »

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Goodbye Tom, Ingmar, Now Michelangelo

By | Tuesday July 31, 2007 @ 6:44am PDT

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These things really do come in threes: Tom Snyder, Ingmar Bergman, and now Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni, dead late last night at age 94. Film critics praised his portrayals of modern angst and alienation which won him a cult following as well as global fame … Read More »

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Global Film Tributes To Ingmar Bergman

By | Monday July 30, 2007 @ 9:47pm PDT

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Respects poured in from world cinematic headliners today for Ingmar Bergman who died at his Swedish home at age 89. Here’s a brief round-up from news reports:

Max Von Sydow (who appeared in 11 Bergman films) spoke of his “infinite gratitude” not only for the professional … Read More »

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Murdoch Offers Bancrofts $30+ Mil Bribe

By | Monday July 30, 2007 @ 9:11pm PDT

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After all News Corp’s big talk how it wasn’t going to raise its price for Dow Jones & Co, tonight comes news that Rupert Murdoch is now talking about a sickening payoff to the Bancroft clan. That’s right, an out-and-out bribe in the neighborhood of $30+ million for the family holdouts to … Read More »

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Elizabeth Guider Named New THR Editor: But Is This A Get Or A Variety Also-Ran?

By | Monday July 30, 2007 @ 11:12am PDT

(Refresh for latest…) Publisher John Kilcullen kept saying for months and months he was looking for a “star” to be the next editor of The Hollywood Reporter. He even delusionally told job candidates he wanted someone “along the lines of Ken Auletta”. No, he wasn’t joking. … Read More »

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Has Clint Eastwood Retired From Acting?

By | Sunday July 29, 2007 @ 1:38pm PDT

clinteastwood1.jpgThat seems to be the word from Paul Haggis. The director and screenwriter gave an interview to Entertainment Weekly (not yet published) about his September 14th film, In The Valley Of Elah, and Clint Eastwood’s name came … Read More »

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#1 ‘SIMPSONS’ D’OH! $167M Worldwide: Bigger Than Any Pixar Toon, Fox Boasts

By | Friday July 27, 2007 @ 3:45pm PDT

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SUNDAY AM: A toon triumph! I’m told 20th Century Fox says its four quadrant hit The Simpsons Movie shred the competition for No. 1 with a $71.8 million North American weekend, or more than double what the studio hoped. groeningsimpsonized.jpgAfter a stunning $30 million on Friday from 3,922 North American theaters, Homer and the family fell 23% Saturday to take in $23.1 million. The studio projects an $18.7 million Sunday (-17%). Overseas, The Simpsons Movie is also No. 1 by a wide margin with an average 55% market share. The toon grossed a phenomenal $96 million in 71 day and date markets, despite debuting in only 8 of the top 15 markets: UK, Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Australia and Argentina. Opening day records included: biggest industry opening day ever in Australia, Argentina, Columbia and Chile; and biggest animated opening day ever in Australia, Belgium, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, Peru, Sweden, Uruguay, Venezuela. Sources told me that CinemaScore had U.S. audiences giving big screen Simpsons an “A-”, with families particularly loving it. There had been early concern inside the studio with tracking showing that the “parents taking their kids” score was lower than execs wanted. But, aided by its brief 87 minute running time, The Simpsons Movie smashed record books for toons. According to Fox, it opened bigger than any Pixar film and bigger than any non-sequel animated film ever. It’s also the biggest opening for a non-CGI animated film including sequels (the previous record holder was Disney’s The Lion King).

The Simpsons Movie’s $30 million Friday was a shock to the Industry because it was more than Transformers made on its opening day and best single day this summer, and good enough for The Simpsons to slot into the Hollywood’s Top 17 opening days of all time (right behind the $30.1 mil of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones). simpsonspopout.gifBut the well reviewed (a score of 88% positive critiques on Rotten Tomatoes) and wide release (playing in 3,922 North American theaters) pic managed an outstanding per screen average of 7,649 Friday and ended the weekend with a high $18,320 3-day per screen average. Some naysayers didn’t believe the movie could pack a punch, given that The Simpsons is all over television on network and in syndication. Hah! The analysts I’m talking to attribute the film’s success to Fox’s omnipresent marketing (including Homer opening this week’s Tonight Show and earlier American Idol as well as that inspired 7-Eleven cross-promotion). Pic insiders have nothing but praise for the year-long marketing and distribution campaign which Fox orchestrated throughout the News Corp empire. “The old saw of synergy within media companies, that was never full realized before, paid off here,” a source told me. And remember: Fox says the pic cost only $75 million (without marketing) because so much animation work was done in South Korea.

The No. 2 movie, Universal’s buddy comedy with Adam Sandler and Kevin James I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry stayed strong (dropping only -44%) and made $19 million this weekend from 3,501 venues. Its new cume is a great $71.6 mil because there haven’t been enough laffers at the box office this summer. whokilledme6.jpgWarner’s Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix scored a big kiddie matinee Saturday and jumped up to No. 3 its 3rd weekend out raking in $17.6 mil from 4,005 runs. Its hot new cume is now a whopping $242.3 mil. New Line’s Hairspray slowed for its 2nd weekend (-44%) to No. 4 and took in $15.4 mil from 3,121 runs for a new cume of $59.4 mil. Jumping into 5th place was the DreamWorks and Paramount coproduction Transformers which added another $11.5 mil from 3,349 dates its 4th weekend in release for a blistering new cume of $284.6 mil. Warner’s No Reservations, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, opened in the 6th spot (with a CinemScore of “B+”, sources say) with $12 mil this weekend from 2,425 runs.

After five weekends, Ratatouille still managed to rake in $7.4 mil from 2,934 theaters for the 7th spot and a healthy new cume of $179.8 mil. Fox’s Live Free Or Die Hard hangs in for a 5th weekend in 8th place, taking in $5.3 mil from 2,271 runs for a new cume of $125.1 mil. Insiders told me that CinemaScore’s polling of moviegoers resulted in an “F” to Lindsay Lohan’s horror flick I Know Who Killed Me, which opened in 9th place to only $3.4 mil from 1,320 venues. No question she’s killing her career with her off-screen behavior. Rounding out the Top 10, horribly reviewed Who’s Your Caddy? from The Weinstein Co debuted with $2.9 mil from 1,019 venues.

Here’s the Top 10 chart:

  • 1. Simpsons Movie $30M Fri, $23.1M Sat, and est $18.7M Sun. (cume $71.8M)
  • 2. Chuck And Larry $6.2M Fri, $7.2M Sat, and est $5.8M Sun. ($71.6M)
  • 3. Harry Potter Phoenix $5M Fri, $7M Sat, and est $5.6M Sun. ($242.3M)
  • 4. Hairspray $5.2M Fri, $6M Sat, and est $4.5M Sun. ($59.5M)
  • 5. Transformers $3.2M Fri, $4.6M Sat, and est $3.6M Sun. ($284.5M)
  • 6. No Reservations $4M Fri, $4.5M, and est $3.5M Sun ($12M)
  • 7. Ratatouille $2.2M Fri, $2.9M Sat, and est $2.2M Sun. ($179.8M)
  • 8. Live Free Or Die Hard $1.5M Fri, $2.2M Sat, and est $1.5M Sun. ($125.1M)
  • 9. I Know Who Killed Me $1.3M Fri, $1.1M Sat, and est $905K Sun. ($3.4M)
  • 10. Who’s Your Caddy? $950K Fri, $1.1M Sat, and est $850K Sun. ($2.9M)
  • Read More »

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    Comic-Con: The Ultimate Hollywood Orgy

    By | Friday July 27, 2007 @ 3:26pm PDT

    comicon.JPGI don’t do geek. But that doesn’t matter because this weekend most Hollywood studios are pushing ALL their movie and other entertainment product at Comic-Con in San Diego. It’s like, let’s throw mud against the wall and see what sticks. Read More »

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    Predictions/Tracking: Homer & Bart Big!

    By | Friday July 27, 2007 @ 1:07pm PDT

    simpsons-poster.jpgThe Simpsons Movie is still looking at a great opening this weekend with wide distribution domestically (3,922 theaters) and omnipresent marketing. My box office gurus are predicting at least a $50 million and maybe even a $60 million opening … Read More »

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    More Bad News For Murdoch’s DJ Deal

    By | Friday July 27, 2007 @ 9:48am PDT

    wallstreet2.jpgNow the Denver branch of the Bancroft family will vote against accepting News Corp’s $60-a-share offer, putting pressure on Rupert Murdoch to raise its offer, according to a news alert by the Wall Street Journal this morning. But News Corp … Read More »

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    Now A Subpoena! Bush Administration Helping Market Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’

    moore_bush_popcorn.jpgLast night Michael Moore was again a guest on The Tonight Show and announced that he’s been subpoenaed by the Bush administration investigating his filming trip to Cuba for his health care documentary Sicko. (Hey, I said the director was … Read More »

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    Reason No. 439 Why I So Hate Hollywood

    By | Thursday July 26, 2007 @ 6:48pm PDT

    redstone.jpgViacom shareholders are going to jump for joy when I tell them that recently Bob Evans’ deal at Paramount was renewed yet again. And best buddy Sumner  Redstone is the reason, even though Evans has had exactly one movie producer … Read More »

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    LA Times Fixes Its Fox/Film Critics Story

    By | Thursday July 26, 2007 @ 5:43pm PDT

    As I expected, the Los Angeles Times finally swallowed its pride and today posted a “For The Record” correction fixing several facts in its story about the Chicago Films Critics Association and 20th Century Fox. I’m told there will also be a follow-up story. Previous: … Read More »

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    UPDATE: ABC Is Wrong; Spielberg Not Thinking Of Quitting Beijing Olympics

    By | Thursday July 26, 2007 @ 10:16am PDT

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    Given how protective he is of his public image, it’s far from surprising that Steven Spielberg is increasingly public about his behind-the-scenes role to convince the Chinese government to influence its largest oil supplier Sudan to stop the Darfur genocide. “We’re making our voice heard,” Spielberg’s political adviser … Read More »

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    ABC’s Steve McPherson Bashes NBC’s Ben

    By | Wednesday July 25, 2007 @ 7:29pm PDT

    NBC’s Ben Silverman is traveling in the South Of France with his TV idol Norman Lear (someone emailed me claiming it was with American Idol‘s Ryan Seacrest) and therefore can’t defend himself. But ABC Entertainment chief Steve McPherson basically called Ben a big pussy today. Believe me, nothing on the networks … Read More »

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    Disney Ends Cigarette Smoking In Movies

    By | Wednesday July 25, 2007 @ 5:30pm PDT

    This isn’t exactly a surprise because Disney had been moving towards this since 2004 and even earlier when Joe Roth ran the movie division. But Disney CEO Bob Iger today issues a dramatic apology … Read More »

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    Is Mel Gibson Suddenly Keeping Kosher?

    By | Wednesday July 25, 2007 @ 5:08pm PDT

    See why I’m asking here.

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    ICM Makes Motion Picture Talent Changes

    By | Wednesday July 25, 2007 @ 3:28pm PDT

    I’m told that ”as part of the ongoing transition and restructuring” that stripped Ed Limato of his co-president title, veteran ICM agent Toni Howard is the agency’s new head of motion picture talent. icmnewlogo.JPGI understand senior agent Read More »

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    EXCLUSIVE: Chicago Film Critics Assn Says LA Times Story On 20th Fox Wrong

    By | Wednesday July 25, 2007 @ 1:35pm PDT

    chicagocritics1.jpgHere is a new and definitive letter from the Chicago Film Critics Association explaining all about its supposed beef with 20th Century Fox over screening and embargo issues. The end result is that the Los Angeles Times now … Read More »

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