EXCLUSIVE: In an unprecedented move this late in Oscar season, two-time Academy Award winning actress and director Jodie Foster, with the help of her film’s distributor Summit Entertainment, is sending DVD screeners of The Beaver (the Mel Gibson film she directed and …
Exclusive: Mel Gibson Finally Talks
The Cannes Film Festival premiere of the Jodie Foster-directed The Beaver just ended, and I’m told that there was a 10-minute standing ovation for the film and its star, Mel Gibson. Gibson missed the press …
Just as I hit the ground at the Nice airport today I ran smack into Jude Law, one of the main competition jury members of the 64th edition of the Cannes Film Festival (under President Robert De Niro), and he looked rarin’ to go as he arrived for all the hoopla and non-stop filmgoing over the next 11 days. We’ll see what he feels like after plowing through the 20 competition films as well as those out of competition such as Wednesday night’s opener, Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris, and the closer, on May 22, Christophe Honore’s 2-hour and 25-minute Les Bien-Aimes (Beloved), the longest of any film in the official competition — competing or not.
Workers were busily attaching huge billboards up on the big Croisette hotels when I cruised the tony neighborhood earlier today, but the world’s second-most-famous red carpet won’t be laid out until midday tomorrow just before Woody, Marion Cotillard, Owen Wilson and the cast of the director’s first French-set film make their way up those famous Palais steps for his love letter to Paree. It was hoped that co-star Carla Bruni, aka Mrs. Nicolas Sarkozy, First Lady of France, would be coming too, but I heard she’s not making the trip after all and neither is her husband. C’est La Vie.
Up and down the Croisette you are bombarded as usual by Hollywood product being hyped on any available space. The new Transformers film from that auteur (NOT) Michael Bay got the hot spot at the Carlton entrance right next to a display for Disney/Pixar’s Cars 2 on one side and Cowboys and Aliens on the other. Lording over them, though, are The Smurfs and all of those Pirates of the Caribbean, which plans to make a huge splash here Saturday as the prime-time film on one of the key nights of the fest. Star power will be in force, of course, with Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz driving the paparazzi wild, which is just what Disney wants for its global launch of the film that premiered last week at Disneyland and makes another stop in Moscow before hitting the Cote d’Azur. Cannes, though a serious-minded haven for cineastes, doesn’t mind the attention either.
Mighty ‘Thor’ Hammers $242M Global Cume; ‘Fast Five’ $324M; ‘Jumping Broom’ $13.7M; ‘Something Borrowed’ $13.1M
SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 6TH UPDATE: Welcome to the first of the big comic book-inspired movies on the Big Screen this summer, with Fox’s X-Men: First Class, Warner Bros’ Green Lantern, and Marvel’s Captain America to follow Marvel/Disney’s Thor distributed by Paramount. Total gross for all films is $161M but still off last year’s by 10% (when Iron Man 2 did $128M all by itself). Here are the following Top 10 North American grosses for Friday and Saturday and this domestic weekend in addition to international and worldwide cumes:
1. Thor (Marvel/Disney/Paramount) NEW [3,955 Theaters]
Friday $25.7M, Saturday $23.5M, Weekend $66M
International $176M, Global Cume $242M
Saturday brought in younger and family audiences to this latest in the Marvel Studios productions which earned a ‘B+’ CinemaScore overall, and an ‘A’ for ages under 18. Hollywood was predicting a $60+ million domestic weekend opening for Marvel/Disney’s Thor, with Paramount distributing. The PG-13 Norse God actioner had already made $133M from 56 territories so far with Finland and China opening this weekend. Now, in its second weekend of widespread release on the international circuit, Thor posted a formidable $46M from 12,476 positions in 60 markets for an overseas gross of $176M to date — or global cume of $242M outside the US and Canada — and in only 11 days has already outgrossed the final cume of X-Men 1, Fantastic Four 1 and the first Hulk movie from Marvel. In the U.S. and Canada, the film debuted as the No. 3 Marvel title — well ahead of X-Men and Fantastic Four and The Hulk, which all did around $55M, but nowhere near the $100M+ of Iron Man or Spider-Man. With Universal’s holdover Fast Five speeding to another strong weekend, Thor opened against such stiff competition, even with $3.25M in midnight box office compared with Fast Five‘s $3.8M midnights for its U.S. and Canada debut. But the Norse god took advantage of 3D’s higher ticket prices, including at 214 iMAX theaters domestically, for $6.6M and another 70 screens overseas. Reviews have been good, and British Kenneth Branagh’s direction and Aussie newcomer Chris Hemsworth in the title role of The Mighty Thor earned a 92% rating currently on Rotten Tomatoes. The good-looking Hemsworth allowed for heavy PR to drum up appeal among women with his shirtless clip a popular choice for talk shows with large female audiences who also were targeted with a Royal Wedding blitz. To solidify male appeal, Paramount had spots during the Super Bowl and NCAA Basketball, the UFC Marathon and UFC Fight Night Live Premiere. And, to appeal to the feeble-brained, Thor ads aired on the finale of Jersey Shore.
Thor launched in 1962 and has endured for almost half a century across comics, toys, animated series, and now a movie. Like Iron Man, Marvel thought Thor deserved to be made in its own right and lends a long history to The Avengers. (Aka Marvel’s Avengers Assemble strategy. Expect to see agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., previously seen in the Iron Man movies, foreshadowing the coming of The Avengers). The challenge for Paramount was to market a reverse superhero story: a hero becomes a man. “Our challenge was to emphasize what was unique about his character and define him for audiences,” a studio exec told me. So the TV ads reminded: “The world has many heroes but only one is a God.” This epic adventure spans the Marvel Universe from present day Earth to the realm of Asgard with the powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions reignite an ancient war. Thor is cast down to Earth and forced to live among humans as punishment. Once here, Thor learns what it takes to be a true hero when the most dangerous villain of his world sends the darkest forces of Asgard to invade Earth. Thor was produced by Marvel wunderkind Kevin Feige, with Alan Fine, Stan Lee, David Maisel, Patricia Whitcher and Louis D’Esposito serving as executive producers from a screenplay by Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz and Don Payne and a story by J. Michael Straczynski and Mark Protosevich.
2. Fast Five (Universal) Week 2 [3,644 Theaters]
Friday $10.6M, Saturday $12.8M, Weekend $32.5M (-62%), Cume $139.9M
International $184.8M, Global Cume $324.7M
The -62% domestic drop was primarily due to the loss of all IMAX screens and large-format screens which had only been booked for one week. But abroad Fast Five is the No. 1 film in the world for the second week in a row and the biggest international weekend in Universal’s history. It continued its international rollout with No. 1 openings in 44 more territories this weekend for 58 total. Fast Five set records for the biggest opening of the Fast franchise, and was the biggest opening day and biggest opening weekend in Universal’s history in 12 markets, including Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Netherlands, Malaysia, Thailand, Italy, France, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, India, Vietnam. International grosses were an estimated $86.6M at 6,979 dates in 58 territories and raised the international total to $184.8M. The worldwide total including the outstanding domestic box office of $139.9M will reach $324.7M today.
3. Jumping The Broom (TriStar/Sony) NEW [2,034 Theaters]
Friday $4.1M, Saturday $5.2M, Weekend $13.7M
Sony was only expecting TriStar’s Jumping The Broom this weekend to do somewhere between $8M to $10M on the film that was made for just $6.6M. Hey, if major studios keep making cheap movies like this that do double the predicted grosses, I’m going to have a tough time making fun of mogul tightwads. Pic received an ‘A’ CinemaScore straight across the board — women, men, all ages. “Exits show we hit our target as 70% of this weekend’s audience was female and 64% was over 35,” A Sony exec tells me. Aimed at older African-American women, the PG-13 film focuses on two “Uptown meets Downtown” families who meet for the first time at a weekend wedding on Martha’s Vineyard in what is billed as an ”insightful and inspirational” comedy. The key for Sony was reaching out to faith-based audiences. Bishop TD Jakes, who is a producer on the film, hosted screenings at religious conferences throughout the country. On the media front, Sony worked with TLC on special wedding programming and on tie-ins with Royal Wedding coverage in local markets. There also was strong BET promotion since both the director/executive producer of The Game, Salim Akil, directed the film, and a co-star of The Game, Pooch Hall, co-starred in this film as well.
4. Something Borrowed (Alcon/Warner Bros) NEW [2,904 Theaters]
Friday $4.8M, Saturday $4.9M, Weekend $13.1M
This run-of-the-mill rom-com based on the novel by the same title earned a ‘B’ CinemaScore: ‘B+’ among females, ‘C+’ males. Financed and produced by Alcon Entertainment (The Blind Side) with Warner Bros just distributing, the pic was counter-programmed against Thor and Week 2 of Fast Five and was always expected to open in the low teens. Luke Greenfield directed from a screenplay adaptation by Jennie Snyder Urman. Hilary Swank was one of the producers. Gee, Kate Hudson’s career looked interesting when she did Almost Famous. But a succession of mediocre romantic comedies like this one where two female frenemies fight over the same man (so anti-woman) have made her into yesterday’s news. Sad that.
5. Rio 3D (Blue Sky Studio/Fox) Week 4 [3,708 Theaters]
Friday $1.9M, Saturday $3.5M, Weekend $8.2M, Cume $114.9M
6. Water For Elephants (Fox) Week 3 [2,820 Theaters]
Friday $1.6M, Saturday $2.2M, Weekend $5.6M, Cume $41.6M
7. Madea’s Big Happy Family (Tyler Perry/Lionsgate) Week 3 [2,288 Theaters]
Friday $1M, Saturday $1.6M, Weekend $3.9M, Cume $46.8M
8. Prom (Disney) Week 2 [2,730 Theaters]
Friday $794K, Saturday $960M, Weekend $2.4M (-49%), Cume $7.8M
9. Soul Surfer (FilmDistrict/Sony) Week 5 [2,010 Theaters]
Friday $590K, Saturday $850K, Weekend $2.1M, Cume $36.6M
10. Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs Evil (The Weinstein Co) Week 2 [2,505 Theaters]
Friday $433K, Saturday $877K, Weekend $1.8M (-54%), Cume $6.7M
Meanwhile, Summit Entertainment and Participant Media platformed Mel Gibson’s comeback movie The Beaver directed by Jodie Foster in 22 theaters across the top ten markets in North America: weekend gross was $104K, with a paltry per theater average. Doesn’t bode well for pic which expands on May 20 and will be brought to Cannes.
Previous: Why Mel Gibson’s Movie Career May Revive
The Associated Press is reporting that Mel Gibson will appear in a Los Angeles court to cop to a misdemeanor battery charge stemming from a fight last year with his then-girlfriend. The agreement should keep the Oscar winner from serving jail time, which good news for Summit Entertainment: The distributor is handling …
After setting a spring release for the Mel Gibson-Jodie Foster re-team The Beaver, Summit Entertainment just released this trailer:
In these weeks leading up to Friday’s opening of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, the showbiz media is treating Oliver Stone much like any other Hollywood director. There’s little lingering taint from that July newspaper interview where he complained about Jewish influence in U.S. media and foreign policy, and pinned remembrance of the Holocaust on the powerful Jewish lobby in America. Several apologies later, Stone (who is part-Jewish) is now back in the ADL’s and Hollywood’s good graces. And not only will Wall Street 2 do well at the box office this weekend ($20+M), but it also has Academy Award talk. Clearly, Hollywood forgives the man and doesn’t forget the moviemaker at Oscar time. Witness the recent embracement of Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Elia Kazan etc. Which brings me to Mel Gibson.
My Deadline awards columnist Pete Hammond has picked up on Oscar buzz for Mel’s performance in The Beaver, the Jodie Foster-directed feature which Summit Entertainment is still contemplating whether to release this year, next year, or ever. It’s a difficult dilemma for the studio given Gibson’s domestic disputes and the alleged racial slurs and sexist epithets and alleged physical and verbal abuse of his girlfriend that’s come out from behind closed doors. Plus, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences members are known to hold grudges for a myriad reasons even under normal circumstances. The voters are supposed to judge the merits of the performance and not the man behind it. But the Hollywood concensus now is that Mel’s a louse. But isn’t showbiz filled with louses who are also great moviemakers?
It’s long been my stated belief that, if a litmus test were given for behavior, nobody would ever work in showbiz again. Since past is prologue, even here where institutional memories are purposefully short, weeks before the 79th Academy Award nominations came out, moguls whispered to me that Apocalypto was the most artistically brilliant film ”and I’ll deny it if you try to quote me”. Expectedly, the pic was blanked in the prestige categories. I’d predicted all along that Oscar voters would judge Mel the anti-Semitic drunk and not the moviemaker.
What didn’t help was that distributor Disney conducted a turd of an Academy campaign. Specifically, it asked Oscar voters “to look at Mel the artist and not Mel the man” and claimed that Gibson’s drunken anti-Semitic ranting was not as bad as Polanski having sex with an underage girl, or Allen having sex with his step-daughter or Elia Kazan’s naming names before the Hollywood Un-American Activities Committee. Nevertheless, Oscar campaigning that underscores the character flaws of other film directors ain’t kosher.
The bottom line is that Gibson’s Apocalypto grossed $120.6M worldwide (and cost 1/3 that). Mel may be meshugginah, but he’s still a moneymaker. As an actor, he’s been responsible for over $2 billion box office and, since 1984, he’s never had a bomb. He also, as my colleague Pete Hammond points out, has 2 Oscars at home for directing and producing 1995’s Braveheart, but has never been nominated for his acting.
So I don’t understand why Summit is so reluctant to release The Beaver with an awards campaign for it. What’s the worst that can happen?
Jodie Foster directed and co-stars with Mel Gibson in The Beaver and just made her first statement about him and her film since his rants against his ex-girlfriend became a matter of public record. Calling Gibson “a true and loyal friend’ in a “dark moment”, she told More magazine, “Of course, Mel is an undeniably gifted actor, and The Beaver is one of his most powerful and moving performances.” The big question now is when Summit Entertainment plans to release her film, which still remains officially undated, and if the studio will try to make an awards play. And the even bigger question is whether, after all his public travails, Mel Gibson could suddenly become a serious contender for a Best Actor Oscar nomination via a late-breaking qualifying run before the end of the year? As for Jodie, I’m told she just wants to do what’s best for the picture, which was a real labor of love for the two-time Oscar-winning actress/director. She simply doesn’t want it to be “swept under the rug”.
Three different sources who have seen the film and have a connection to it (none in a production capacity) all told me virtually the same thing: Gibson is “extraordinary”. One person said, “he gives an incredible performance. If you can forget what happened, and I didn’t have tabloid images racing through my mind watching him, it’s really something. I still don’t want to be his friend but he’s great in this.” Another told me today, “I don’t bullshit about these things. He’s amazing.”
Although Gibson has 2 Oscars at home for directing and producing 1995’s Braveheart, he has never been nominated for his acting. In the film, Gibson plays a father who walks around talking to a beaver hand puppet. It’s way out there but it apparently works, according to those who’ve seen it.
Among the movie’s insiders, there seem to be two distinct schools of thought about The Beaver’s release and, understandably, some nervousness. One side says go for it and get it out this year and into contention. The other side worries that there may be other shoes to drop in the Gibson domestic situation and the movie could get caught in the middle after Summit commited to a multimillion marketing campaign and possible Oscar run.
One strategist leaning towards the option of going out this year cites last month’s CBS News/Vanity Fair poll that found 76% of respondents saying Gibson’s personal troubles would have no effect on whether they would see one of his movies. Of course that poll didn’t specifically ask about The Beaver. Nor did it specifically survey Academy members. Whether Mel’s rants completely turned off Oscar voters no matter how brilliant he may be in the picture is something that will only be answered when Summit makes