April 23, 2014

Tag Archives: Motion Picture Association of America

“Ted” and “Magic Mike” big box office opening

HollywoodNews.com: This weekend represented a shining example of the two best trends in mainstream moviegoing this year. As I wrote (here and here), we’ve seen a real upswing in both mid-to-low-budget mainstream fare that aren’t especially ‘tentpole-ish’ as well as a huge upswing in the number of R-rated films being released by the major studios.
As such, two of the four wide releases this weekend were both R-rated and all four were relatively small-scale and in 2D. That they mostly debuted to blockbuster numbers is an encouraging sign that not every movie need be a $150 million fantasy genre franchise entry. The top film of the weekend is also the best mainstream picture of the summer, as Seth MacFarlane’s Ted (review) debuted to a massive $54 million.
That’s the third-best debut for an R-rated comedy behind the $57 million opening of Sex and the City and the $87 million Fri-Sun debut of The Hangover part II. Among non-sequel/spin-off R-rated comedies, it topped the $44 million record debut of The Hangover and is the is among the top-ten best R-rated debuts of all-time. This is a massive win for all involved, bringing Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane serious film-making clout, further confirming that Mark Wahlberg is an actual ‘put butts in the seats’ movie star and giving Universal something to laugh about.
Speaking of Wahlberg, this is his second biggest opening behind the $68 million debut of Planet of the Apes back in 2001, and it needs only cross $133 million to supplant The Departed as his third-highest grossing film (Planet of the Apes and The Perfect Storm earned $180 million and $182 million respectively)
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos
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“The Avengers” sunk “Battleship” at the Box Office

HollywoodNews.com: Most box office write-ups written today or tomorrow will exclaim that ‘The Avengers sunk Battleship!’. The truth is that Battleship (review) sunk itself. The film was terrible, a mishmash of a thousand prior blockbuster films all meshed into a generic template that seemed like producers checking off a list of ingredients on a scientific formula.
More importantly, the marketing accurately conveyed this and audiences decided to either stay home or see something else. The assumption of global success, based on an arbitrary connection to a board game and $220 million worth of special effects surrounded by a stale concoction of used parts, was cynicism of the highest order. The fact domestic audiences soundly rejected it has to be cause for optimism. With John Carter and now Battleship (pity Taylor Kitsch, who stars in both but bears little responsibility), it appears that movie studios run the risk of indeed going broke underestimating the taste of the American public.
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos
Photo courtesy Universal Picturs
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NO MORE BULLYING: 13 million kids get bullied every year

HollywoodNews.com: Today is Twitter Tuesday! Dedicate your Tweets to Stop Bullying. NO MORE BULLYING: 13 million kids get bullied every year. It’s time to take a stand. RT to STOP Bullying. #BULLYMOVIE
“BULLY,” the highly anticipated anti-bullying documentary (in theaters March 30th), has sparked a protest and now a movement, as a number of major movie stars, theater owners, and Members of Congress have joined forces to protest the film’s R rating. In a clear triumph for the film, Gerry Lopez, CEO of AMC Theaters, one of the most prominent theater chains in the world, spoke out against the R-Rating, saying, “To ‘automatically default’ BULLY is a mistake. Automatic default to a rating, a category, a genre… doesn’t matter, is a mistake. The message, the movie and its social relevance defy that kind of formulaic, conventional thinking. AMC will show this movie, and we invite our guests to engage in the dialogue its relevant message will inevitably provoke.”
Mr. Lopez is one of almost 300,000 people to get behind a petition started by a junior in high school named Katy Butler. Ms. Butler, who has experienced severe bullying herself, started the petition on Change.org after the MPAA ruled by one vote that “Bully” should receive an R rating due to six swear words. When Mr. Lopez asked one of his sons about the film, curious as to whether the debate had reached the demographic the film is geared toward, his son had already signed onto Ms. Butler’s petition.
The support from Hollywood has been on a steady increase since Katy Butler launched her petition. On March 20, Meryl Streep and her daughter Mamie Gummer will co-host a screening of the film with and David Boies, one of the two attorneys responsible for overturning Proposition 8 in California, and his daughter, Mary Boies. The screening will be held in New York City.
Johnny Depp has also signed on to lend his support; Ellen DeGeneres has devoted time to the film on her television show; and in the sports arena, Drew Brees, quarterback of the New Orleans Saints, has also added his voice to the movement. Kelly Ripa and Anderson Cooper came on board as news anchor partners, hosting a screening in New York City last week, that was presented by Bing, the search engine from Microsoft. In addition to the screening in NYC, Bing will also be supporting the [...]

Bully: Harvey Fights Back – Bully to be released unrated

HollywoodNews.com: After a recent plea to the MPAA by BULLY teen Alex Libby and The Weinstein Company (TWC) Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein failed – by one vote – to get the film its deserved PG-13 rating, TWC is choosing to move forward with releasing the film unrated by the MPAA on March 30.
Furthering proof that the R rating for some language is inappropriate for a film that’s meant to educate and help parents, teachers, school officials and children with what’s become an epidemic in schools around the country, the fight against the rating continues on. The outpour of support by politicians, schools, parents, celebrities and activists for the film’s mission to be seen by those it was made for – children – has been overwhelming. Nearly half a million people have signed Michigan high school student and former bullying victim Katy Butler’s petition on Change.org to urge the MPAA to lower the rating.
Said BULLY Director Lee Hirsch, “The small amount of language in the film that’s responsible for the R rating is there because it’s real. It’s what the children who are victims of bullying face on most days. All of our supporters see that, and we’re grateful for the support we’ve received across the board. I know the kids will come, so it’s up to the theaters to let them in.”
“The kids and families in this film are true heroes, and we believe theater owners everywhere will step up and do what’s right for the benefit of all of the children out there who have been bullied or may have otherwise become bullies themselves. We’re working to do everything we can to make this film available to as many parents, teachers and students across the country,” said TWC President of Marketing Stephen Bruno.

For parents or teachers who are looking for more information or who may have concerns about showing children a movie unrated by the MPAA, please read Common Sense Media’s rating details of the film here: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/bully.
“While it’s often heartbreaking and deals with tough issues like suicide, the movie addresses bullying in a frank and relatable way that is age appropriate for teens and relevant for middle schoolers if an adult is present to guide the discussion,” said James P. Steyer, Founder and CEO, Common Sense Media. “The MPAA’s ratings system is inadequate when it comes looking at a movie’s content through the lens of its larger thematic issues. [...]

BULLY News: Powerhouses David Boies and Ted Olson spoke out against the MPAA’s R rating of the documentary film BULLY

HollywoodNews.com: Last night at The Paley Center for Media legal powerhouses David Boies and Ted Olson spoke out against the MPAA’s R rating of the documentary film BULLY, at a special screening. In front of a high-profile audience including cohost Meryl Streep and legendary activist Billie Jean King, Boies stated, “How ridiculous and unfair and damaging it is to have a film of this power and importance that is being censored by a rating system that has got simply no rational basis. You can kill kids, you can maim them, you can torture them and still get a PG13 rating, but if they say a couple of bad words you blame them. I hope, for heaven’s sake, that they find some rational basis before we have to sue them to revise the rating system.”
Olson, who served as President George W. Bush’s Solicitor General, followed Boies in agreement and stated, “Young people can be tough on one another but young people are also extraordinarily compassionate. And when they see the damage that is done to their brothers and sisters, they will speak out. They will decide to be courageous and say, ‘Don’t do that,’ or come to the defense of someone who’s being picked on. That’s why it’s important that everyone in America see BULLY to talk about it, but in particular, the young people. So Dave was right, this is an irrational decision, and I’ve heard it defended as ‘[The MPAA] really can’t do anything about it because if we make an exception here, they’ll be all sorts of people lined up wanting to have exceptions made with respect to their movies.’ What a reason for not doing something. So they better shape up, or here we come.”
The evening included appearances by Martha Stewart, Tiki Barber, Mariel Hemingway, Tom Brokaw, Katie Couric, and others. Attendees came to show their support for the film, which is being distributed by The Weinstein Company, and congratulate the film’s award winning director, Lee Hirsch, and producer, Cynthia Lowen, as well as cast member Kelby Johnson and activist Katy Butler, who started the petition to change the rating on Change.org which now has almost half a million signatures: http://www.change.org/petitions/mpaa-dont-let-the-bullies-win-give-bully-a-pg-13-instead-of-an-r-rating?utm_medium=email&utm_source=action_alert

About “BULLY”: Directed by Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker, Lee Hirsch, BULLY is a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary. At its heart are those with huge stakes in this issue whose stories each represent a different facet of [...]

“BULLY” MPAA Protest Becomes a Movement – Join the Cause CHANGE.ORG/petitions

HollywoodNews.com: “BULLY,” the highly anticipated anti-bullying documentary (in theaters March 30th), has sparked a protest and now a movement, as a number of major movie stars, theater owners, and Members of Congress have joined forces to protest the film’s R rating. In a clear triumph for the film, Gerry Lopez, CEO of AMC Theaters, one of the most prominent theater chains in the world, spoke out against the R-Rating, saying, “To ‘automatically default’ BULLY is a mistake. Automatic default to a rating, a category, a genre… doesn’t matter, is a mistake. The message, the movie and its social relevance defy that kind of formulaic, conventional thinking. AMC will show this movie, and we invite our guests to engage in the dialogue its relevant message will inevitably provoke.”
Mr. Lopez is one of almost 300,000 people to get behind a petition started by a junior in high school named Katy Butler. Ms. Butler, who has experienced severe bullying herself, started the petition on Change.org after the MPAA ruled by one vote that “Bully” should receive an R rating due to six swear words. When Mr. Lopez asked one of his sons about the film, curious as to whether the debate had reached the demographic the film is geared toward, his son had already signed onto Ms. Butler’s petition.
The support from Hollywood has been on a steady increase since Katy Butler launched her petition. On March 20, Meryl Streep and her daughter Mamie Gummer will co-host a screening of the film with and David Boies, one of the two attorneys responsible for overturning Proposition 8 in California, and his daughter, Mary Boies. The screening will be held in New York City.
Johnny Depp has also signed on to lend his support; Ellen DeGeneres has devoted time to the film on her television show; and in the sports arena, Drew Brees, quarterback of the New Orleans Saints, has also added his voice to the movement. Kelly Ripa and Anderson Cooper came on board as news anchor partners, hosting a screening in New York City last week, that was presented by Bing, the search engine from Microsoft. In addition to the screening in NYC, Bing will also be supporting the film in a number of ways, including hosting an additional screening in LA.
Iconic American designer Tommy Hilfiger will design an exclusive t-shirt inspired by the Bully movie poster which will [...]

Project X In Theaters Friday, March 2

HollywoodNews.com: “Project X” follows three seemingly anonymous high school seniors?Thomas, Costa and J.B.?as they attempt to finally make a name for themselves. Their idea is innocent enough: let’s throw a party that no one will forget, and have a camera there, to document history in the making? but nothing could prepare them for this party. Word spreads quickly as dreams are ruined, records are blemished and legends are born. “Project X” is a warning to parents and police everywhere.
Nima Nourizadeh makes his feature film debut directing a cast of newcomers who scored parts through a nationwide talent search. Todd Phillips (“The Hangover” films) produces the film, with Joel Silver, Scott Budnick, Andrew Rona, Alex Heineman and Marty P. Ewing executive producing. The screenplay was written by Matt Drake and Michael Bacall, based on a story by Bacall.
“Project X” stars Thomas Mann, Jonathan Daniel Brown, Oliver Cooper, Dax Flame, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Alexis Knapp and Miles Teller (“Footloose”).
The behind-the-scenes creative team includes cinematographer Ken Seng (“Step Up 3D”), production designer Bill Brzeski (“The Hangover” films, “Due Date”), editor Jeff Groth (TV’s “Entourage”), and costume designer Alison McCosh (assistant costume designer, “The Hangover” films).
Warner Bros. Pictures presents, a Silver Pictures production, in association with Green Hat Films, “Project X,” scheduled for release on March 2, 2012.
The film has been rated R by the MPAA for crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, drugs, drinking, pervasive language, reckless behavior and mayhem?all involving teens.
www.projectxthemovie.com
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Why getting a PG-13 for Bully is more important than fighting the MPAA on its lone ironclad rule.

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: You can’t have more than one ‘f-word’ in your movie and still get a PG-13. There have been a few exceptions over the years, but generally it’s one ‘f-word’ in a non-sexual context. Anymore than that, and its an automatic R-rating. We can debate the morality/practicality of that specific rule. Hell, I’d probably agree with you that it’s a silly arbitrary requirement, especially considering the sort of violent content that ends up in PG-13 movies. But at the end of the day, it’s one of the MPAA’s few ironclad rules. Thus I have little sympathy when Weinstein films keep trying to skirt that ‘one rule’ and still get their PG-13. Their new documentary Bully may indeed be must-see viewing for teenagers. It may shed light on a major problem, affect the national conversation, and save lives. But if Harvey Weinstein and director Lee Hirsch want that PG-13, they should just bleep out the offending f-words. Period. We may not like the rules, but those are the rules as they stand at the moment.
Furthermore, even if the MPAA does reserve their decision and grant that PG-13 rating to Bully, the Weintstein Company will still have missed a major opportunity. I wrote about this in August 2010, when the studio fought the same battle over The Tillman Story. Point being, I’m sure that altering or bleeping a few choice profanities will not irrevocably harm Bully’s impact as a probing study of the current problem with school-related harassment and assault. And I’d argue that eliminating said language would actually help the film achieve its goals, as such a film could actually be shown in schools where it could be the subject of in-class discussion and debate. This isn’t about artistic freedom. The film will be released in theaters on March 30th, be it with an uncut R-rated version or an altered-PG-13 cut. But, however we might disagree with said ratings guidelines, Weinstein and company surely knew what they were and made the choice to intentionally flaunt them while they were editing their finished product.
I may not agree with the MPAA’s stance on profanity, but I’d rather a film like Bully be able to be used as a teaching tool than be a ‘restricted’ title based purely on an unwillingness to budge. It’s not a [...]

Oscars: On “Shame,” and its NC-17 rating – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell
hollywoodnews.com: Steve McQueen’s frank, demanding “Shame” arrives in theaters on Dec. 2 – at the height of its Oscar campaign – with a dreaded NC-17 rating due to the film’s graphic nudity and cold, unflinching approach to sex. And while one of the film’s stars thinks its ludicrous that “Shame” is held to a different standard than nudity-happy teen sex comedies, the National Association of Theater Owners president John Fithian says he wouldn’t have it any other way.
First, there’s Carey Mulligan, who plays Michael Fassbender’s wayward sister in McQueen’s film and contributes to the NC-17 rating by appearing bottomless in one of the film’s scenes. There’s nothing sexual about her nudity, and Mulligan thinks the rating – which hurts the film’s distribution chances because no one under 17 is allowed to see the film – is unfair.
“You know, so many of the teen movies will have so much sex and so many people walking around in bikinis and bare-breasted, and that all seems to be okay,” she tells HitFix. “And then the minute you show it and it’s not funny, and it’s not sexy, and it’s actually unattractive, then it becomes a problem, which seems so odd.”
But Fithian, speaking to The Wrap following a recent “Shame” screening at AFI Fest, says he applauds McQueen and Fox Searchlight for not editing down what amounts to a masterful vision of sexual addiction, of cravings and destructive behaviors.
“It would have destroyed this film to cut it down to an R rating,” said Fithian. “Too many filmmakers and too many studios do that, and I applaud Steve McQueen and Fox Searchlight for sticking to their guns.
“This is the kind of film that the NC-17 is designed for, and I think we need more bold filmmakers and distributors to make content appropriate for the rating and release it that way.”
Now we need to see if audiences will show up. I hope they do, as “Shame” is one of the year’s finest films. But the NC-17 rating alerts them to what’s in store, because while “Shame” is honest, it’s also uncomfortable, which is a necessary component to McQueen’s vital message.
“Shame” opens in limited release on Dec. 2.
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Bizarre fine levied on Utah theater for screening “The Hangover 2”

By Kim Palacios
hollywoodnews.com: A Salt Lake City movie theater that serves alcohol and only admits viewers who are at least twenty-one was fined more than $1,600 for showing “The Hangover 2,” an R-rated film. The establishment—called “Brewvies”—issued a comment via manager Andy Murphy, who told The Salt Lake Tribune that Brewvies has always complied with the state’s liquor laws, and “doesn’t want to shake up anything.”
Though bizarre, the charge was 100% legal, according to Utah’s State Liquor Board; the ordinances at play prohibit the exhibit of sex acts, full-frontal nudity or even the “caressing” of breasts or buttocks, in any establishment in which alcohol is served. The law was initially targeted to strip clubs, which are not permitted to have nude dancers.
The “Brewvies” fine was prompted by a complaint sent to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and a citation was issued by an officer of the Utah Highway Patrol.
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