April 19, 2014

Tag Archives: Michael Moore

Obama’s America $6.2 million doesn’t mean anything

HollywoodNews.com: Oh my, another film explicitly targeting an undeserved niche did exceptional business almost exclusively with that niche. In a sane industry that would be called smart business, but the studios tend to treat it as a *shock* and write it off as a fluke.
It was no shock to anyone paying attention during the week, especially when the film was announced to be expanding on over 1,000 screens this weekend. With the weak slate of new releases and little holdover interest, the market was primed for a solid debut for something preaching to a very devoted choir.
First as foremost, 2016: Obama’s America earned about 1/4 as much this weekend as Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 did over its opening weekend on about as many screens eight years ago.
As not-president John Kerry can attest, even the most obscenely successful political documentary of all time ($23 million opening weekend, $119 million domestic total) didn’t help John Kerry defeat George W. Bush in the 2004 election (even if we can dispute the results in Ohio, Bush won the popular vote by three million).
So no, the fact that a directly-targeted group of anti-Obama moviegoers gave 2016: Obama’s America $6.2 million doesn’t mean anything more than the piss-poor box office of last year’s The Undefeated (essay) in terms of predicting an upcoming presidential election.
To read more go to www.Mendelson’s Memo
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The Hunger Games opened this weekend with a scorching $155 million

By Scott Mendelson
Besting any number of opening weekend records, The Hunger Games (review HERE) opened this weekend with a scorching $155 million. That’s the third-biggest opening weekend of all-time, behind The Dark Knight ($158 million) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II ($169 million). Obviously by virtue of being number 03 on the list, it’s also the biggest opening weekend for a non-summer movie, a non-sequel. It’s of course the biggest debut in history for a film not released by Warner Bros. during the third weekend in July, for those keeping release-date score. It’s also Lionsgate’s highest-grossing film ever after just three days, besting the $123 million-debut of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. While it’s Lionsgate’s most expensive movie, it’s still an example of smart budgeting as it came it at $90 million before tax credits which brought the total exposure to just $78 million. Even if you factor in the hardcore marketing campaign over the last month, Lionsgate is surely in the black or will be by Friday, making everything after this pure profit. There isn’t too much to say because this record debut has been prognosticated to the point of tedium over the last two months, as one tracking report after another continually upped the predicted opening weekend number, to the point where the film would have been called a ‘flop’ if it hadn’t opened with at least $100 million (not by me, mind you). But yeah, Lionsgate pulled some of the best marketing in modern history (teaser/trailer01/trailer02), turning a relatively popular young adult book series into a mainstream media ‘event’, which in turn made the film adaptation into a must-sample event even for audiences who only had token knowledge of the series.
Here’s the breakdown. The film pulled in $19.75 million at midnight on Friday night, and then pulled in $68.3 million on its opening day (the fifth-biggest Friday ever). The film held surprisingly strong on Saturday earning another $51 million, or down 25% from the Friday total but actually up 5% from the $48.5 million that the film earned during normal business hours on Friday. By the way, that non-midnight Friday total was the third-biggest on record, behind The Dark Knight ($48.7 million) and Spider-Man 3 ($49.8 million) and ahead of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II ($43 million at midnight, $47.5 million [...]

Sarah Palin’s “The Undefeated” box office failure doesn’t mean a thing

HollywoodNews.com: However immature it may be, it can be fun to crow when your enemy fails. Thus we’ve had two weeks of various liberal bloggers jumping for joy at the financial under-performance of the Sarah Palin halo-agraphy The Undefeated. The film opened with $65,132 on ten screens for a mediocre $6,532 per-screen average. It expanded to 14 locations this past weekend but dropped 62%, earning just $24,662 for a $1,762 per-screen average. The film barely has $100,000 after ten days and has announced premature (?) plans to debut on Video on Demand and DVD release. This is frankly an out-and-out tank, a genuine bomb even when compared to other political documentaries that aren’t directed by Michael Moore (comparing all political documentaries to Moore’s work would be like expecting Punisher: War Zone to out-gross Spider-Man 3). Ben Stein’s Intelligent Design documentary, Expelled, ended up grossing $7.7 million in 2008. Even something as relatively low-key as The US vs. John Lennon opened with $11,523 per-screen on six screens and eventually grossed $1.1 million back in 2006. What does this mean for the political fortunes of Sarah Palin and/or those who endorse her ideologies? Absolutely nothing.
If you’re among the liberals licking their lips with glee that few if anyone came out to see Palin’s documentary, ask yourself: Would you rush out to see a similar documentary about someone more of your political persuasion? Raise your hands if you went to a theater and saw Going Upriver: The John Kerry Story back in October, 2004? I did, but I’m a movie nut who, especially when I was unmarried and without kids, try to see anything that may or may not inspire some kind of discussion (it’s why I most certainly checked out The Passion of the Christ over opening weekend in February 2004). But judging by the box office numbers, you probably didn’t. The film opened with $279,219 on 163 theaters and eventually grossed a whopping $614,138 in theaters. Would anyone of you take time away from work and family to race out to see a completely uncritical and overtly partisan documentary about Barack Obama? How about Russ Feingold or Alan Grayson? Anyone…? Sure, we might check out such a thing on television or on Netflix Instant, but there is a big difference between turning on our [...]

Michael Moore “should be ashamed” for “Fahrenheit 9/11″ lawsuit

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: It was a controversial documentary when it was released back in 2004. Nearly seven years later, “Fahrenheit 9/11” has filmmaker Michael Moore back in the news for negative reasons.
The Oscar winner is suing Harvey and Bob Weinstein, claiming that the brothers used “Hollywood accounting tricks” to cheat Moore out of nearly $3 million in profits, THR reports. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles, sues for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty, and makes constructive fraud claims stating that the Weinstein’s agreed to split profits 50-50, but then diverted funds so that Moore would receive less.
The Weinstein’s lawyer, Bert Fields, dismissed the claims, telling THR, “The Weinsteins have paid everything they should have paid. Mr. Moore has received a huge amount of money from this film and we believe he is overreaching. He should be ashamed of himself.”
In response, Moore’s lawyer, Larry Stein, issued the following statement:
“An independent auditor came in and discovered that the Weinsteins had re-routed at least $2.7 million dollars that belonged to Michael Moore from “Fahrenheit 9/11.” This is the first time Michael Moore has ever sued anyone in his 20-yr career as a filmmaker. That should be some indication about how serious this is. It’s very sad it had to come to this. Michael believes the Weinsteins have been a force for good when it comes to championing independent film — but that does not give them the right to violate a contract and take money that isn’t theirs. The $2.7 million is just the floor of what we believe is owed. When this goes to discovery I wouldn’t be surprised if the amount of what was taken goes much, much higher.”
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Harvey Weinstein up in arms as ‘The Tillman Story’ gets an R-rating

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: Distributor Harvey Weinstein, director Amir Bav Lev, and producer John Battsek is up in arms today because their upcoming documentary, “The Tillman Story,” has been slapped with an R-rating for ‘excessive language’. Apparently, the critically-acclaimed look into the death of Pat Tillman in Afghanistan and subsequent cover-up of the friendly-fire incident, contains three uses of the ‘F’-word. I get the outrage, but it’s a pretty simple idea. This isn’t the MPAA giving an R for intensity or overwhelming violence or a certain amount of sexuality. This is too many uses of the F-word, period, end of story. Everyone and their brother knows that at best you can have two of them and get a PG-13. The makers broke one of the MPAA’s few iron-clad rules for a PG-13 and are now complaining about it. If Weinstein and company want the PG-13, then just bleep one or two of them out.
I’m pretty darn sure that the film will lose little if any of its power by having two less uses of the word ‘fuck’. Either stick to your guns and go out with an R, stop whining, edit the word and get your PG-13, or do what Morgan Spurlock did with “Super Size Me” (originally PG-13 for profanity and drug references) and make an ‘educational version’ to be shown in class rooms. If “The Tillman Story” is supposed to be an educational tool, then it should be of certain importance that it be used for that purpose. I said the same thing last year about Michael Moore leaving in three ‘fuck’s in the R-rated “Capitalism: A Love Story.” If Moore wanted that film to be used as an educational tool, there is no excuse not to cut those two of those out (one of which was Moore himself grandstanding in voice over) and win a more kid-friendly PG rating (the movie has no otherwise objectionable content).
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos.
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‘The Hurt Locker’s’ Kathryn Bigelow elected to Academy’s Board of Governors

HollywoodNews.com: Director Kathryn Bigelow, film editor Anne Coates and documentarian Michael Moore have been selected to make up the year’s first-time electees to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors.
Coates received her award for the editing of “Lawrence of Arabia,” Moore won in the Documentary Feature category for “Bowling from Columbine,” and Bigelow received Oscars® this year in the Directing category and as one of the producers of “The Hurt Locker.” In addition, nine incumbents were reelected and three other filmmakers will return to the Board after a time away.
The reelected governors are Curt Behlmer, Sound Branch; Rosemary Brandenburg, Art Directors; Richard Edlund, Visual Effects; Leonard Engelman, Makeup Artists and Hairstylists; Charles Fox, Music; Jim Gianopulos, Executives; Hawk Koch, Producers; Marvin Levy, Public Relations; and Frank Pierson, Writers.
Returning to the board after a hiatus are John Bailey, Cinematographers; Ed Begley, Jr., Actors; and Jon Bloom, Short Films and Feature Animation. Bailey previously served on the board from 1996 to 2002; Begley and Bloom both were governors from 2000 to 2009.
Fourteen of the Academy’s 15 branches are represented by three governors, who may serve up to three consecutive three-year terms. Terms are staggered so that each branch elects or reelects one governor each year. The Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Branch is represented by a single governor.
Governors who were not up for reelection and who continue on the Board are Annette Bening and Tom Hanks, Actors Branch; Jim Bissell and Jeffrey Kurland, Art Directors; Caleb Deschanel and Owen Roizman, Cinematographers; Martha Coolidge and Edward Zwick, Directors; Rob Epstein and Lynne Littman, Documentary; Robert Rehme and Tom Sherak, Executives; Donn Cambern and Mark Goldblatt, Film Editors; Bruce Broughton and Arthur Hamilton, Music; Mark Johnson and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers; Robert G. Friedman and Sid Ganis, Public Relations; Bill Kroyer and John Lasseter, Short Films and Feature Animation; Don Hall and Kevin O’Connell, Sound; Craig Barron and Bill Taylor, Visual Effects; and James L. Brooks and Phil Robinson, Writers.
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Full Frame ‘10: Annual film fest a welcome dose of reality

BY SEAN O’CONNELL
Durham, N.C., is enjoying an unusually busy week. On Monday night, Duke University’s men’s basketball team, the Blue Devils, will compete for an NCAA National Championship against the Butler Bulldogs. Should Duke win, the Southern city likely will celebrate right up until Thursday, when the annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival picks up the torch and carries a wave of enthusiasm through the weekend.
Full Frame has become an essential springtime stop for documentary film lovers and celebrants of all things cinema. The four-day gathering has become a springboard for recent Oscar winners such as James Marsh’s “Man On Wire” (2008) or Alex Gibney’s “Taxi to the Dark Side” (2007). It’s also earning a reputation for luring documentary heavyweights to the intimate Southern setting, meaning you have a very good chance of bumping into Gibney, Morgan Spurlock, Charles Ferguson, Godfrey Cheshire, D.A. Pennebaker, Mira Nair, Steve James, Michael Moore or Martin Scorsese — all of whom have attended the film festival in the past — as you stroll from one intimate screening to the next.
This year’s fest runs Thursday to Sunday, April 8-11, and will showcase the last films by a number of the aforementioned talents (as well as some unexpected geniuses like Steven Soderbergh and Michel Gondry). And the schedule, as expected, overflows with highlights.
Pennebaker will open the festival Thursday night with “Kings of Pastry,” about the chefs who compete in the Meilleur Ouvrier de France for the chance to be recognized as the world’s top French pastry chef. Immediately after, Full Frame screens Gondry’s acclaimed “The Thorn in the Heart,” a personal reflection on family that has played a few festivals earlier this year.
On Friday, Gibney, who took the Enron crooks to task in “The Smartest Guys in the Room,” returns to Full Frame with his new film “Casino Jack and the United States of Money,” a searing portrayal of corrupt Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The rest of the day fills out with potential gems like “No Crossover,” a look at Allen Iverson’s impact on his hometown doen by “Hoop Dreams” director Steve James; “The Oath,” which chronicles the bond between brothers-in-law who served as Osama Bin Laden’s bodyguard and personal driver; and the titillating “Live Nude Girl UNITE,” about strip club workers forming a union. Later that evening, Robert Patton-Spruill’s Do It Again” documents journalist Geoff Edgers’ attempt to reunite the British rock band The Kinks. [...]

Michael Moore on making ‘Capitalism’, capital, and social commentary

Michael Moore is one of the most important, and polarizing, figures in contemporary filmmaking. He helped turn documentaries into blockbuster business, and put politics front and center in his films. Previously, Moore tackled corporate greed, school shootings, 9/11, the Iraq war, and America’s healthcare system, offering plenty of powerful facts amidst the spectacle of his singular personal hijinks. His latest film, Capitalism: A Love Story, was released in theaters late last year; sort of combining threads of all of his previous efforts into one encyclopedic chronicle of the ways in which the United States lost its way, Moore offered his grandest, most ambitious film to date, and it arrives on DVD next week with continued relevance as our country continues to suffer through one of the worst economic times in American history.
Hollywood News spoke to Moore earlier this week via telephone to discuss the film. In addition to talking about the origins of Capitalism, he addressed criticisms of his own capitalistic tendencies, and reflected on the challenges of becoming a filmmaker whose projects can sometimes be obscured or dismissed because of his public persona.
Hollywood News: What was your original idea for Capitalism, and how did you shape it into a narrative?
Michael Moore: Well, I’ve probably been thinking about this movie for 20 years because it’s ultimately why I made Roger & Me 20 years ago. But it’s not a movie about General Motors or Flint, Michigan, it was a movie about economic restrictions that at that time I thought was unfair, unjust and not democratic, and included a system by which companies like General Motors could just fly out of control and do a lot of harm to the country. That’s what I thought 20 years ago, and then I made a number of films about different subjects, whether it was healthcare, the Iraq war, and I just felt like 20 years later, I’m tired. I just want to get right to the core of the problem here. Part of the problem is that this economic system is set up so that the richest one percent control more financial wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined. Tell me how [that happens] in a democracy that is called a free society where everybody has a say in what’s going on.
Hollywood News: Forgive me if this is a mischaracterization of how you might describe your films, but as more of an advocate [...]

WGA Screen Nominees Announced

The Writers Guild of America have announced the nominations for the 2010 Writers Guild Awards on Saturday, February 20, 2010.
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
(500) Days of Summer, Written by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber; Fox Searchlight
Avatar, Written by James Cameron; 20th Century Fox
The Hangover, Written by Jon Lucas & Scott Moore; Warner Bros.
The Hurt Locker, Written by Mark Boal; Summit Entertainment
A Serious Man, Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen; Focus Features
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Crazy Heart, Screenplay by Scott Cooper; Based on the novel by Thomas Cobb; Fox Searchlight
Julie & Julia, Screenplay by Nora Ephron; Based on the books Julie & Julia by Julie Powell and My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme; Sony Pictures
Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire, Screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher; Based on the novel Push by Sapphire; Lionsgate
Star Trek, Written by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman; Based upon Star Trek, Created by Gene Roddenberry; Paramount Pictures
Up in the Air, Screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner; Based upon the novel by Walter Kirn; Paramount Pictures
DOCUMENTARY SCREENPLAY
Against the Tide, Screenplay by Richard Trank; Moriah Films
Capitalism: A Love Story, Written by Michael Moore; Overture Films
The Cove, Written by Mark Monroe; Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions
Earth Days, Written by Robert Stone; Zeitgeist Films
Good Hair, Written by Chris Rock & Jeff Stilson and Lance Crouther and Chuck Sklar; Roadside Attractions
Soundtrack for a Revolution, Written by Bill Guttentag & Dan Sturman; Freedom Song Productions and Louverture Films
Below are the requirements for the films to be nominated:
“Feature films eligible for a Writers Guild Award were exhibited theatrically for at least one week in Los Angeles in 2009 and were written under the WGA’s Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) or under a bona fide collective bargaining agreement of the Australian Writers Guild, Writers Guild of Canada, Writers Guild of Great Britain, Irish Playwrights & Screenwriters Guild or the New Zealand Writers Guild.
Documentaries eligible for a Writers Guild Award featured an on-screen writing credit and were exhibited theatrically in Los Angeles or New York for one week in 2009. While credited documentary writers were required to join the WGAW’s Nonfiction Writers Caucus or WGAE Nonfiction Writers Caucus to be considered, scripts need not have been written under WGA jurisdiction to be considered.”