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#1 ‘Sex’ Frenzied $55.7M Weekend For All-Time R-Rated Comedy; ‘Indy 4′ Beats Ultimate Chick Flick Saturday & Sunday; Warner Bros Already Planning Sequel

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SUNDAY AM: Here are the official box office numbers — Sex And The City finished its opening weekend No. 1 with North American domestic gross of $55.7 million in 3,285 theaters. The R-rated female romantic comedy posted a great $16,968 per screen average even though many multiplexes had it playing on 7+ screens. But after a female phenomenal Friday opening of $26.9M, the pic plunged 34% to make only $17.7 million on Saturday. And Sunday estimates expect another 37% downturn for $11.1 million. So on both Saturday and Sunday, the romantic comedy will be beaten by Paramount’s Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull which playing in 4,264 venues earned $12.2M on Friday, $19.8M Saturday and an estimated $13.9M Sun for a weekend total of $46M, which was -54% from its Memorial Weekend debut. But because of steady business, it’s made a cumulative $216.8M. That’s exactly what Hollywood pros had been warning about: that Sex And The City would be a one-day, and one-weekend, wonder with no legs. But it still opened as the biggest R-rated comedy motion picture (beating American Pie 2‘s $45.1M) and the 5th biggest R-rated film ever released (behind The Matrix, The Passion Of The Christ, 300, and Hannibal). The only female-driven movie to come close to SATC in box office was the Hannah Montana movie, but there’s no comparable R-rated chick flick.

So I’ve just heard that Warner Bros is already planning for the Sex And The Read More »

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‘SEX’ SELLS! Female Phenom $26.9M Fri; But Can It Sustain Through Sat & Sun?

SATURDAY AM: Here are Friday’s official North American numbers from the studios for the biggest romantic comedy debut – No. 1 Sex And The City truly shocked Hollywood pros by opening with a hanging-from-the-chandeliers $26.9 million from 3,285 theaters. The big question now is whether this staggering wanna-see among women for the HBO Films/New Line/Warner Bros female froth sustains through Saturday and Sunday showings so the weekend total can soar past $70M and maybe even $75M. I’m already hearing that studio moguls are looking through their film and TV libraries to see what else they can produce for the fortysomething-and-older female — a demographic that the entertainment industry generally ignores. Not any more — or is SATC a once-in-a-generation phenomenon? But younger women are also seeing the pic. As one tipster told me, “I saw the throngs of women waiting in line — starting at 9ish and still there at midnight when we got out of the movie. The thing I noticed: the women were all early 20s, not in their 30s or 40s at all. They were 18 to 25. So I’m not sure where people are getting this over-40 demo but I am pretty sure it’s the young girls who are the most excited for this flick.”

Paramount’s megahit Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull fell a slightly more than expected 59% for $12.2 million from 4,264 venues for No. 2. Then again, when it opened a week ago, most … Read More »

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Leight Leaves ‘Criminal Intent’ For HBO

Within days of USA Network renewing Law & Order: Criminal Intent with an order for 16 episodes, the series has just lost its showrunner. I’m told Warren Leight has left to be the showrunner of HBO’s In Treatment. It’s a big blow to Bonnie Hammer, promoted two months ago to head the newly created NBCU Cable Entertainment & Cable Studio. The former USA Network/Sci Fi Channel boss had been in the midst of hammering out a new deal with Leight, under whose leadership CI was the top drama series in basic cable primetime for the fourth quarter, more than doubling USA’s audience in the 10 p.m. Thursday slot from the same period the previous year. The first-run CI segments last fall averaged about 4.1 million viewers and about 2 million adults 18-49. By contrast, HBO’s In Treatment has struggled to find an audience since its January 28th premiere bombed with only 446,000 viewers. To drum up interest in the first time an HBO series has been stripped Monday-Friday, the pay channel has been putting full and free episodes on the Internet. So Leight will face quite an uphill battle. The Tony Award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and film director joined the staff of CI in its 2nd season on a tip from Theresa Rebeck to then executive producer Rene Balcer, who subsequently recommended Leight to takeover as the show’s executive producer and head writer in 2006 when Balcer left at the end … Read More »

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‘Sex’ Sell-Out & Blow-Out! Could Go As High As $28M Friday, $75M Weekend

11 PM UPDATE: Friday’s Sex And The City opened with great foreplay for the biggest romantic comedy debut. Really early box office numbers could be as high as $26 million to $28 million and for the weekend $65 million to $75 million. That’s stunning the Hollywood pros. “It could reach or exceed the high end if the final West Coast numbers match the East Coast’s. Those totals could be higher. Huge,” one rival studio exec exclaimed to me. ”It’s a true sensation. People thought it would do well. But nothing like this. The top end expected was $40M.” Still, some experts wonder if this is a front-loaded phenomenon and the numbers won’t hold on Saturday. But Sex And The City will certainly beat last weekend’s No. 1 blockbuster, Paramount’s Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, which made $12M today and should finish by Sunday around $37M-$39M: that’s -60%, but last Friday began Memorial Weekend. See my story, IS ‘SEX’ THE ULTIMATE CHICK FLICK?

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Director Rob Marshall Exits ICM For CAA

SUNDAY AM UPDATE: The helmer’s flack just emailed me to say that “Rob Marshall was concerned about your report that his departure from ICM had anything to do with Harvey Weinstein. Here is what Rob has to say, personally, about his decision to change agencies.” Hey, I went with what my excellent sources told me he said at the time in terms of Harvey Weinstein. After all, poor Rob has to work with Harv again. But because I love revisionist history, I’m happy to update with his statement:

“I’d like to take this moment to clarify personally the situation behind my move to CAA. It was a very difficult and thoughtful decision I made — one that I did not take lightly. My time at ICM has been incredibly rewarding and my partnership with Doug MacLaren was nothing but positive. He is an extraordinary agent and friend. I made the decision for a variety of professional reasons, none of which have to do with Harvey Weinstein. I am thrilled to report that everything on my film Nine is moving forward with great momentum. Daniel Day Lewis’ deal was closed last week and we are on schedule to begin rehearsals in London on July 28 with shooting to commence September 29.”

PREVIOUS: From what I’m told, Harvey Weinstein was the cause. Because Rob Marshall, the Oscar-nominated helmer of the Academy Award-winning musical Chicago for the old Miramax (and the old Harvey), was sick and tired of waiting, and waiting, and waiting, for … Read More »

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‘SEX’ NOW THE ULTIMATE CHICK FLICK! Biggest R-Rated Comedy Debut Ever; But Its Box Office Fell 34% Sat And 37% Sun; Female Frenzied $55.7M For Weekend #1; Warner Bros Already Plans ‘SATC’ Sequel

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SUNDAY AM: Here are the official box office numbers — Sex And The City finished its opening weekend No. 1 with North American domestic gross of $55.7 million in 3,285 theaters. The R-rated female romantic comedy posted a great $16,968 per screen average even though many multiplexes had it playing on 7+ screens. But after a female phenomenal Friday opening of $26.9M, the pic plunged 34% to make only $17.7 million on Saturday. And Sunday estimates expect another 37% downturn for $11.1 million. So on both Saturday and Sunday, the romantic comedy will be beaten by Paramount’s Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull which playing in 4,264 venues earned $12.2M on Friday, $19.8M Saturday and an estimated $13.9M Sun for a weekend total of $46M, which was -54% from its Memorial Weekend debut. But because of steady business, it’s made a cumulative $216.8M. That’s exactly what Hollywood pros had been warning about: that Sex And The City would be a one-day, and one-weekend, wonder with no legs. But it still opened as the biggest R-rated comedy motion picture (beating American Pie 2‘s $45.1M) and the 5th biggest R-rated film ever released (behind The Matrix, The Passion Of The Christ, 300, and Hannibal). The only female-driven movie to come close to SATC in box office was the Hannah Montana movie, but there’s no comparable R-rated chick flick.

So I’ve just heard that Warner Bros is already planning the Sex And Read More »

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SAG Finally Let In On AFTRA-AMPTP Deal

UPDATE: SAG was formally briefed “yesterday, at 1:15 PM, at the AMPTP,” according to an AFTRA spokesperson, by a delegation of AFTRA negotiations committee members and senior staff. (See my previous post written 12 hours before the briefing was arranged, AFTRA Skedaddled To Avoid Briefing SAG.) Now let’s all move on…

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Who’s Adopted This Orphaned Cash Cow?

It’s hard not to root for a Depression era kiddie movie that costs under $9 million, showcases good clean fun for little girls, and stars Abigail Breslin, the Hayley Mills of her generation, as well as a great supporting cast of very funny adults like Wally Shawn, Jane Krakowski, Joan Cusak and Stanley Tucci. So it sucks that the studio for Kit Kittredge: An American Girl opening July 2 has now been killed off. Can Picturehouse successfully release a film when it’s shutting down? In this case, apparently yes thanks to Hollywood greed. Orphaned Kit Kittredge has been adopted by Warner Bros and supervised by New Line and groomed by HBO. But it’s Warner Bros who now controls the American Girl franchise and is already developing the next one (as a musical set in the 1970s). So let’s look back at all the people who have fought to parent this little pic.

Yes, it was initially set up at Walden Media, which is when Anne Peacock (Narnia) was hired. But then Walden reneged on the initial P&A commitment, so a furious Mattell pulled American Girl and placed it with HBO Films/Picturehouse. Picturehouse, of course, was set up by New Line and HBO. Then, last November, Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne saw an early cut and had a secret meeting with Bill Nelson to essentially buy HBO out of the American Girl biz. HBO at the time was considering shutting down its film department so Nelson took the offer seriously. But Colin Calender became enraged and said absolutely no to any idea of a sale. It took all of one night for Nelson … Read More »

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Stifler Fires United Talent…

By | Friday May 30, 2008 @ 2:48pm PDT

Nothing more to say about American Pie‘s Seann William Scott exiting UTA.
(I just wanted to write that headline.)

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If You Liked the Los Angeles Times’ Awful WGA Strike Coverage, Then You’ll Love…

…The newspaper’s announcement today that Sallie Hofmeister is the new Business Editor. She’d overseen entertainment and technology stories, including the Los Angeles Times‘ embarrassingly weak coverage of the writers strike which new editor Russ Stanton effusively praises in this memo about her appointment. So let me clarify: reporting late on that strike’s many news developments, or ignoring altogether those that showed the Hollywood moguls in an unflattering light, is how to get ahead there.

As I reported during the strike, to the LA Times, the Michelin restaurant ratings were more important news than WGA strikers. lat-page-one.jpgThere was, for example, no Page One news article or photo of the 4,000-person WGA strike rally, the biggest in the guild’s history. The WGA march on Fox was reduced to a 655-word story on page 2 in the Business section. And the paper used an unofficial estimate of 3,500, not the WGA’s estimate of 4,000 or the LAPD’s estimate of 5,000. I’ve read articles three times as long about French wine-making. Instead of a photo of the strike on Page One, there was a generic shot of Benazir Bhutto, an article about Rudy Giuliani and Bernard Kerik, and a really urgent piece about Michelin ratings and LA chefs. And for the life of me, even seven paragraphs in, I still can’t figure out what the Column One story about “A Pioneer Refuses to Fade Away” was about.

I kept carping about the LA Times’ incredibly slanted coverage of this producers v writers dispute. But jeez – a business … Read More »

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Who’s Gonna Be The Boss Of ‘Gossip Girl’?

By | Thursday May 29, 2008 @ 10:07pm PDT

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I’m told that tonight MTV’s Tony DiSanto is still very busy denying to Hollywood that he is replacing Dawn Ostroff as head of The CW. I first heard from sources three weeks ago that Dawn was out, and Tony was in, following rounds of not-so-secret meetings with possible candidates for the network run jointly by Warner Bros and CBS. Then silence. The “explanation” making the rounds was that DiSanto, who’s been a very big deal at MTV for more than a decade, was still negotiating his CW deal. Well, DiSanto this week had a puff piece written about him where he said he isn’t leaving MTV. But today, this CW rumor went from a whisper to the talk of the town. So why? “Someone is really pushing this story hard,” says a CBS insider. ”But I believe the person who told me it’s not happening.” And the bigtime TV power-players also think it’s smoke, not fire. Perhaps it’s karma that DiSanto (EVP of series, development and animation for MTV and head of programming for MTV2), has to work overtime to dispel the chatter. After all, this is the guy responsible for some of the most-talked-about swill on MTV, like Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, Run’s House, The Hills, 8th and OceanThe Andy Milonakis Show, and TRL with Carson Daly (thus foisting that no-talent on all of us…). Whereas Ostroff got her job by the skin of her … Read More »

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AFTRA Skedaddled To Avoid Briefing SAG

First, I’ve got additional info about the AFTRA-AMPTP deal announced yesterday: I’m told the union’s New Media terms are the exact same offered by the networks-&-studios group to SAG on Day 1 of their negotiations last month. So AFTRA negotiated with the networks and studios for 16 days only to obtain what SAG flatly rejected. What heavy duty bargaining by AFTRA, eh? It’s also the same exact deal (minus the clips issue) which the AMPTP made with the WGA. .(For my reporting, see my previous, AFTRA Deal With AMPTP Caves On Clips.)

Also, I reported a month ago that the AMPTP plans to drag out its talks with SAG into mid-July. Today, finally, Variety has caught up. I also was amused by the way the trade completely spun AFTRA’s all-too-obvious clips cave-in.  I’ve  learned that SAG found out AFTRA had a deal only by reading it in Variety, which was tipped off by AFTRA and posted yesterday around dawn. Not a very classy AFTRA move to call the trade but not the other actors union.

I’m told that, after finding out a pact had been reached, SAG leadership asked AFTRA’s people for a briefing. AFTRA hemmed and hawed and finally said they could brief SAG, but only at 11:30 AM at 5757 Wilshire Blvd – the exact time SAG would be in negotiations with the AMPTP Wednesday. The only alternate date was sometime next week.

So SAG had a brief … Read More »

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Digital Big Media vs Prehistoric Hollywood

By | Wednesday May 28, 2008 @ 7:47pm PDT

I smirked while watching the highlight reels of Big Media moguls like Rupert Murdoch and Sir Howard Stringer and Jeff Bewkes being interviewed at the “All Things Digital” confab (aka D6 co-hosted by the Wall Street Journal‘s Walter Mossberg and Kara Swisher) taking place right now at the Four Seasons Resort Aviara in Southern California. And not just because of the stupid stuff that gets said. (For instance that Hollywood “ex”, Barry Diller, seemed very proud today of his Tinseltown putdown which I happen to endorse – ”Hollywood is a community that’s so inbred, it’s a wonder the children have any teeth” – while dissing both sides behind the WGA strike. ) No, what really amuses me is that while the people running the parent companies play at all things Internet, the guys back in Hollywood running the offspring networks and studios are tech-challenged.

Everyone already knows that Universal’s Ron Meyer won’t touch a computer. But not many are aware that Warner Bros’ Alan Horn also isn’t hands-on with a laptop or desktop. So he wastes his assistants’ time by having them print out his emails, collate them and prioritize them, and then input his replies. Horn, like Meyer, is still a phone guy, and he’ll never change the Hollywood way he does business no matter how prehistoric he looks to his Time Warner boss Bewkes. Which no doubt is why Horn insists on carrying a Blackberry even though I’m told it’s mostly just for show. C’mon, in any other arena, computer know-nothings would be asking, … Read More »

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David Bergstein/ThinkFilm Sued for Fraud

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A lawsuit was filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court by Boston-based Allied Advertising Ltd alleging breach of contract, fraud and deceit, and unfair business practices against David Bergstein and his ThinkFilm movie distribution company. It seeks more than $4.1 million in unpaid bills and contracts, plus damages, interest and a 5% penalty for all sums not paid in full within 30 days of a demand for payment. It is yet the latest twist and turn in what is obviously becoming a financial meltdown in Bergstein’s film production and distribution empire which includes ThinkFilm and Capitol Films. (See my previous, Capitol Films Cash Crunch: SAG Demands Meeting With Owner David Bergstein).

The lawsuit follows Bergstein’s reported yacht trip to the Cannes Film Festival , included in the complaint: ”Between January and May 2008, while most of the ThinkFilm debt to Allied was outstanding, defendants have gone on a lavish film licensing buying spree at various film festivals around the world, including a film about director Roman Polanski scheduled for release on the Home Box Office cable channel later in 2008.”

The facts claimed in the lawsuit point to a business deal gone sour for Allied Advertising, which is in the business of placing advertising and promotion for feature motion pictures owned, licensed or distributed by client production companies or distributors. On June 21st, … Read More »

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A Feuding Flack To The Very End…

By | Wednesday May 28, 2008 @ 3:21pm PDT

I’m told PR legend Warren Cowan left very specific instructions to ban certain people from his funeral and memorial service. Don’t you love Hollywood grudges?

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For All You ABC ‘Lost’ Fans Out There…

By | Wednesday May 28, 2008 @ 2:32pm PDT

I don’t get the popularity of this ABC series. But here’s a YouTube homage to Thursday’s Lost season finale. With action figure dolls. And Indiana Jones. ‘Nuff said.

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Kramer And Jacobs Boosted To UTA Board

EXCLUSIVE: David Kramer, a 16-year veteran who started in the mailroom, and Tracey Jacobs, a 10-year veteran who came over after a long career at ICM, have been promoted to members of United Talent’s governing board of directors. Agency head Jim Berkus is telling the tenpercentery about it right now. Both agents were in play, with Endeavor courting Jacobs hard, and CAA’s Richard Lovett calling Kramer twice a day.

Jacobs especially was hamstrung: she can’t leave UTA without also leaving a shitload of money behind her. Because in addition to Johnny Depp, she has two big TV stars that are integrally involved in UTA television packages: William Petersen in CSI and Vincent D’Onofrio in Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Harrison Ford, Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, and directors Lasse Hallstrom, Greg Mottola, Mike White. With these golden handcuffs on her wrists, no agency wants to write that huge check to free her. Kramer reps John August, Charlie Kaufman, Jonathan Dayton & Valeria Faris, Michael Goldenberg, Curtis Hanson, Ehren Krueger, Harold Ramis, Robin Swicord, Pam Brady, David Self, David Diamond & David Weissman. Kramer has also been a point man for Judd Apatow who has not yet decided on his agency future. (See my previous, Apatow Says He’s Still At UTA For Now.)

Today’s moves follow the recent shake-up within UTA after the agency rumbled … Read More »

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AFTRA Deal With AMPTP Caves On Clips; SAG Vowing To Fight Hard On This Issue

UPDATE: I’m told that AFTRA’s New Media deal terms are the exact same offered by the networks-&-studios group to SAG on Day 1 of their negotiations last month. So AFTRA negotiated with the networks and studios for 16 days only to obtain what SAG flatly rejected. So that was heavy duty bargaining by AFTRA, eh? It’s also the same exact deal (minus the clips issue) which the AMPTP made with the WGA. See also my AFTRA Skedaddles To Avoid Briefing SAG.

The AFTRA-AMPTP deal closed very early this morning (while I was still asleep). First, here is AFTRA’s press release and fact sheet about it, followed by the AMPTP’s statement and then SAG’s statement. But, in looking it over, I can see right away that AFTRA gave away major concessions when it came to the all-important clips issue by failing to do the heavy-lifting negotiating with the AMPTP and thus leaving all the power over it with the moguls for the next 3 years (and probably in perpetuity).

Just look at what AFTRA failed to wrought re clips in New Media. First, all AFTRA members must now “bargain for consent for the right to use non-promotional excerpts of traditional TV shows in New Media at the time of original employment” with the Hollywood studios and networks for programs produced made after July 1, 2008, which basically leaves AFTRA members powerless and unprotected. But also the new deal doesn’t even outline a formal … Read More »

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Capitol Films Cash Crunch: SAG Demands Meeting With Owner David Bergstein

EXCLUSIVE: The following email was sent this month by the Screen Actors Guild to David Bergstein, the owner of Capitol Films, whose financial meltdown has been crushing indie after indie while he reportedly was lounging on a yacht during the Cannes Film Festival. It confirms all my recent reporting:

To: David Bergstein
Screen Actors Guild
Subject: Request for Meeting
Dear Mr. Bergstein:
We understand that Capitol Films and Capco Group are intending to start principal photography on a film entitled Labor Pains on June 2, 2008, utilizing the services of Screen Actors Guild-covered performers. Capitol recently encountered difficulties meeting its contractual obligations to the Screen Actors Guild in connection with projects entitled Nailed, and Love Ranch. Screen Actors Guild performers have also been adversely affected on a Canadian production connected to your companies entitled Bad Meat. Our New York office advised that preparations for your film entitled An Invisible Sign of My Own have ceased. This appears to be a repeated and snowballing problem. It would be in the interest of all parties to meet as soon as possible regarding the financial assurances that Screen Actors Guild will require from Capitol and its related companies on future productions. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, Labor Pains. We would like to discuss these issues with you directly, along with any representatives you may want to include in the meeting. Please advise when you are available to meet with us at our national offices in Los Angeles. I look forward to hearing from

Read More »

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