New York, Sep 30 (AP/UNB) — The DreamWorks animated adventure "Abominable" topped the box office with $20.9 million in ticket sales over the weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday, while the Renee Zellweger-led Judy Garland tale "Judy" got off to a strong start.
"Abominable," the weekend's sole new wide release, is a co-production between Universal's DreamWorks and the Shanghai-based Pearl Studios. So the $75 million-film's performance when it opens Tuesday in China will be vital to its worldwide success.
The film, written and directed by Jill Culton, is about a Shanghai teenager (Chloe Bennet) who discovers a lost yeti on the roof of her apartment building. She and a pair of friends traverse China to return the creature, whom they name "Everest," home to the Himalayas. "Abominable" garnered positive reviews (80% on Rotten Tomatoes) and a warm reception from audiences (an A CinemaScore) eager for a family friendly option.
"Abominable" marks the seventh No. 1 film this year for Universal, or eight if you count "Downton Abbey," released by the studio's specialty label, Focus Features. "Downton," last week's top film, slid to second with $14.5 million. The big-screen encore for the British series has already grossed $107.1 million worldwide.
That gives Universal the most No.1 movies of any studio this year, passing Disney. Though Disney still commands an overwhelming market share of about 34%, Universal has had a strong year with a varied slate ("Us," ''Hobbs & Shaw," ''Yesterday"). The studio accounts for all three of the year's No.1-debuting original releases: "Abominable," ''Us" and "Good Boys."
"It's not going to be all superheroes all the time. That's not necessarily going to be everyone's cup of tea," said Jim Orr, distribution chief for Universal. "When we have films like 'Abominable,' 'Yesterday,' 'Good Boys,' 'Us,' we're bringing a lot of different people into the theaters and that's good for everyone. That's good for the entire industry."
It's been a good run for original films lately at the box office. The stripper drama "Hustlers," from STX Entertainment, continued to hold strong with $11.5 million in its third week, dropping just 32%. It's now made $80.6 million altogether. "Hustlers" potentially got a boost by having its star — Jennifer Lopez — announced this week as next year's Super Bowl halftime act, along with Shakira.
And one of the weekend's biggest successes was "Judy," which opened with $3.1 million on 461 screens. The film, directed by Rupert Goold, is about the final act of Judy Garland's life, when the "Wizard of Oz" star was plagued by drug addiction, health woes and financial troubles. The film's main draw is Zellweger's lauded performance as Garland, which has made her the best-actress Oscar front-runner.
Roadside Attractions rolled out "Judy" with a rare medium-sized platform release that the distributor has found success with before on films like 2012's "Mud" and this summer's "The Peanut Butter Falcon." The latter is a Mark Twain-inspired adventure starring Zack Gottsagen, who has Down syndrome, and Shia LaBeouf. This weekend, it became the year's top indie platform release with $18.1 million over eight weeks, passing A24's "The Farewell."
Howard Cohen, co-president and co-founder of Roadside, says the 16-year-old distributor has succeeded by seeking populist indies. ("Judy," for which the audience was almost 80% over the age of 35, will expand nationwide further next week.)
"It's a very challenging time in film distribution for indies and everyone but Disney, maybe," said Cohen. "We like movies that can draw an audience, that are crowd-pleasers. In a challenging environment, you have to give people a really strong reason to leave their house."
"The movies have to be properly released and promoted," he added. "But I think the audience is still there."
The two-and-half-month break from superheroes atop the box office is expected to end next weekend when Warner Bros.' "Joker" hits theaters, along with Fox Searchlight's "Lucy in the Sky" and Netflix's "Dolemite Is My Name."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included.
1. "Abominable," $20.9 million ($8.8 million international).
2. "Downton Abbey," $14.5 million ($10 million international).
3. "Hustlers," $11.5 million ($3 million international).
4. "It Chapter Two," $10.4 million ($11 million international).
5. "Ad Astra," $10.1 million ($18 million international).
6. "Rambo: Last Blood," $8.6 million ($9.5 million international).
7. "Judy," $3.1 million.
8. "Good Boys," $2 million ($1.5 million international).
9. "The Lion King," $1.6 million ($3.7 million international).
10. "Angel Has Fallen," $1.5 million ($1.5 million international).
Moscow, Sep 28 (AP/UNB) — Mark Zakharov, a renowned Russian theater and film director whose productions were widely acclaimed and loved by several generations of Russians, has died. He was 85.
Zakharov died in Moscow on Saturday, according to the Lenkom Theatre, which he had led for more than four decades. The theater's chief administrator, Mark Varshaver, said Zakharov died of pneumonia.
Born in Moscow, Zakharov graduated from the capital's leading theater school in 1955 and worked as an actor for a decade before he became a stage director. He served as the Lenkom Theatre's director from 1973 until his death.
Many of Zakharov's theater productions become iconic. He also gained fame as a film director.
In a condolence letter, Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed Zakharov as a "colossal personality" and praised the late director's "remarkable talent, freedom and dignity."
Plans call for Zakharov to be buried Tuesday at Moscow's Novodevichy Cemetery.
Los Angeles, Sep 27 (AP/UNB) — Spider-Man won't be leaving the Marvel Cinematic Universe anytime soon.
After a public fallout last month, Sony Pictures Entertainment and The Walt Disney Studios have found a way to work together. The studios said Friday that they would be teaming up once more to produce a third "Spider-Man" film starring Tom Holland.
Disputes over the profit-sharing structure put Spidey's future in the MCU in doubt, much to the chagrin of many fans who had enjoyed seeing Spider-Man fighting alongside The Avengers.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said in a statement that he's thrilled that the character's journey in the MCU is continuing. Producer Amy Pascal added that it has been a "winning partnership" for both studios.
The next Spidey film will hit theaters on July 16, 2021.
New York, Sep 19 (AP/UNB) — Podcasts are exploding and the world of theater isn't immune. Now comes a digital hub that aggregates all that theater talk — the Broadway Podcast Network.
The network , unveiled Thursday, is the brainchild of Tony-winning producer and filmmaker Dori Berinstein and podcast host/producer Alan Seale.
Their new hub is home to 30 podcasts with hosts that include Donna McKechnie, Tonya Pinkins, Justin Guarini, Kerry Butler, Josh Lamon, Jennifer Ashley Tepper and Ilana Levine.
It will be the place to find episodes of "The Ensemblist," ''The Fabulous Invalid," ''Broadwaysted," ''Josh Swallows Broadway" and "The Theatre Podcast." Some 1,200 podcast episodes are available.
The podcasts range from interviews with Broadway stars to audition secrets. Berinstein says the goal is "to create a must-visit daily destination for anyone and everyone who loves theater."
Dhaka, Sept 19 (UNB) – Thursday remarks the 48th birth anniversary of country’s one of the most loved superstar, the iconic and stylish actor of Bangladeshi cinema Salman Shah.
To celebrate the late superstar’s 48th birth anniversary, a weeklong festival titled ‘Salman Shah Jonmo Utsab 2019’ (Salman Shah Birth Anniversary Festival- 2019) had been inaugurated at Modhumita Cinema Hall, one of the iconic cinema halls in the capital.
Zunaid Ahmed Palak, State Minister of Information and Communication Technology, was present as chief guest in the inauguration ceremony. Renowned and celebrated actor Shakib Khan inaugurated the event who mentioned Salman Shah as his inspiration.
Shakib Khan also addressed the long-running demand of the fans of Salman Shah to name a floor or road in the name of the iconic hero, saying he will convey the demand to BFDC authority.
Gaan Bangla TV and newly launched cinematic venture TM Films chairman Farzana Munni, Bangladesh Film Journalists’ Association president Falguni Hamid, film actress Bubli, film directors Sohanur Rahman Sohan, Arun Chowdhury, Chhotku Ahmed, Redowan Rony and many more attended the opening ceremony as special guests.
Private media house Dhooli Communication and TM is jointly organizing the festival in which seven popular films of Salman Shah will be screened at Modhumita from September 20 to 26.
Among the films, ‘Keyamat Thekey Keyamat’ will be screened on September 20, ‘Tomakey Chai’ on September 21, ‘Maa-er Odhikar’ on September 22, ‘Chaowa Theke Paowa’ on September 23, ‘Tumi Amar’ on September 24, ‘Antorey Antorey’ on September 25 and ‘Sotter Mrittu Nai’ on September 26 on the concluding day.
Modhumita Cinema Hall management informed that four shows of ‘Keyamat Thekey Keyamat’, including morning show, will be screened on Friday (10am-12pm, 12pm-3pm, 3pm-6pm, and 6pm-9pm). The rest of the films will have three shows every day (12pm-3pm, 3pm-6pm, and 6pm-9pm).
From his first film ‘Keyamat Thekey Keyamat’, Salman Shah cemented his legacy as one of the heartthrob heroes in Bangladesh film industry. With having a career of only 27 films before tragically passing away on September 6 in 1996, the actor was considered as the ‘style icon’ and ahead of his contemporaries in the subcontinent.