New York, Sep 24 (AP/UNB) — The gothic family fantasy "The House With a Clock in Its Walls" exceeded expectations to debut with an estimated $26.9 million in ticket sales at the weekend box office, while audiences showed considerably less interest in Michael Moore's Donald Trump-themed documentary, "Fahrenheit 11/9," than his George W. Bush-era one.
"The House With a Clock in Its Walls" was easily the biggest draw on a quiet weekend at North American movie theaters, where the other three new wide releases all disappointed or downright flopped.
"Fahrenheit 11/9" opened with $3.1 million in 1,719 cinemas — a huge debut for most documentaries but a fraction of the $23.9 million opening generated in 2004 by Moore's record-breaking "Fahrenheit 9/11." That film went on to make $222.4 million worldwide, a record for documentaries.
Moore's new film, which examines the rise of Trump and other developments like the water crisis in his hometown of Flint, Michigan, was the first release from former Open Road chief executive Tom Ortenberg's new distributor, Briarcliff Entertainment. It had been predicted to open with $5 million to $8 million.
But despite a surge in success for documentaries at the box office — including "RBG," ''Won't You Be My Neighbor" and "Three Identical Strangers" — "Fahrenheit 11/9" didn't catch on.
Dan Fogelman's "Life Itself" and the home invasion thriller "Assassination Nation" both barely made a blip in nationwide release. Though Fogelman's "This Is Us" is one of TV's top-rated series, his "Life Itself" bombed with $2.1 million despite a starry cast including Olivia Wilde, Oscar Isaac and Antonio Banderas.
The film — an unabashedly sentimental tale of destiny across generations — drew some of the most scathing reviews of the year, landing it a 13 percent "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
In an interview last week, Fogelman blamed "primarily white male critics who don't like anything that has any emotion," prompting many female critics to point out that they, too, thought "Life Itself" was, as Variety's Jessica Kiang wrote, "manipulative and contrived."
The Amazon Studios release, which opened in 2,609 theaters, was one of the worst performing wide releases of the year, as was Sam Levinson's "Assassination Nation." The Neon thriller grossed just $1 million in 1,403 theaters.
But Universal Pictures' "The House With a Clock in Its Walls," based on the classic book written by John Bellairs and illustrated by Edward Gorey, capitalized on a recent dearth of child-friendly options. The film, directed by the horror veteran Eli Roth with a budget of $40 million, stars Jack Black and Cate Blanchett.
"This was on the high end of any expectations," said Jim Orr, head of distribution at Universal. Orr credited the studio's producing partners at Amblin Entertainment as well as the release date in a normally slow month. "We really saw an opportunity in late September to kick off the fall season with this PG family film, and obviously it was well-positioned."
With the fall movie season getting started, a few specialty films hit theaters, drawing packed theaters in limited release.
Bleecker Street's "Colette," starring Keira Knightley as the iconic French author, debuted with $156,000 in four theaters, good for a per-screen average of $39,000. Jacques Audiard's dark Western "The Sisters Brothers," starring Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly, opened with $122,000 in four theaters for a $30,500 per-screen average.
Last week's top film, "The Predator," slid fast with a 65 percent drop, earning $8.7 million in its second week. Holding stronger was Lionsgate's "A Simple Favor." Paul Feig's suburban noir, starring Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick, dropped only 35 percent for a $10.4 million second weekend.
"Fahrenheit 11/9" may have decent weeks ahead leading up to the November midterm elections. ComScore's PostTrak survey found that 82 percent of viewers gave it four out of five stars. It landed an A CinemaScore.
"Those who did see it really enjoyed it," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. "People have said: Should they have gone limited? Should they have gone wide? I think they needed to get it out there nationwide with midterms six weeks away. But it's very easy to second-guess how to release a documentary like this. It's one of the most difficult types of films to release."
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 also are included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. "The House With a Clock in Its Walls," $26.9 million ($8.7 million international).
2. "A Simple Favor," $10.4 million ($5.2 million international).
3. "The Nun," $10.3 million ($35.4 million international).
4. "The Predator," $8.7 million ($15.2 million international).
5. "Crazy Rich Asians," $6.5 million ($5.1 million international).
6. "White Boy Rick," $5 million.
7. "Peppermint," $3.7 million ($1.6 million international).
8. "Fahrenheit 11/9," $3.1 million.
9. "The Meg," $2.4 million ($3.4 million international).
10. "Searching," $2.2 million ($3.6 million international).
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:
1. "The Nun," $35.4 million.
2. "Golden Job," $23.2 million.
3. "Johnny English Strikes Again," $17.2 million.
4. "The Predator," $15.2 million.
5. "L Storm," $9 million.
6. "The Great Battle," $8.9 million.
7. "The House With a Clock in Its Walls," $8.7 million.
8. "Incredibles 2," $8.3 million.
9. "Mission: Impossible — Fallout," $8 million.
10. "Ash Is the Purest White," $5.9 million.
Minneapolis, Sep 24 (AP/UNB) — Actor James Woods has been locked out of his Twitter account over a tweet he sent out months ago that was found to be in violation of Twitter's rules.
The tweet was posted July 20 and includes a hoax meme that said it came from Democrats and encouraged men not to vote in the midterm elections. Woods got an email from Twitter on Thursday saying the tweet "has the potential to be misleading in a way that could impact an election." The email says Woods can use his account again if he deletes the tweet.
In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, Woods said this means he'll be allowed back on Twitter only if he decides to do what Twitter says. He says he won't do that, and he won't delete the tweet.
"Free speech is free speech — it's not Jack Dorsey's version of free speech," Woods said, referring to Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey.
Twitter said it doesn't comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons. A spokesman for the social media platform said by email that he had nothing more to share when asked if Dorsey would respond directly to Wood's comments.
"The irony is, Twitter accused me of affecting the political process, when in fact, their banning of me is the truly egregious interference," Woods said. "Because now, having your voice smothered is much more disturbing than having your vocal chords slit. If you want to kill my free speech, man up and slit my throat with a knife, don't smother me with a pillow."
Woods said if he deletes the tweet, it would force him to watch his step with everything he says in the future, chilling free speech. The email Woods received from Twitter said Woods would be suspended from the social media platform permanently if there are repeated abuses.
He noted that his original tweet was reposted by his girlfriend on Friday and had been retweeted thousands of times by Sunday. His girlfriend's account wasn't locked, which he said was proof that he'd been singled out because of his large Twitter following.
Woods, who has more than 100 acting credits to his name and starred in several movies including "Salvador," ''Ghosts of Mississippi" and "Casino," has more than 1.7 million Twitter followers and is known for his conservative political views. His Twitter page is still online, though he can't access it. Many of his recent tweets include his views of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her decades ago.
The meme that Woods posted in July said #LetWomenDecide and #NoMenMidterm. It claimed to be from a Democratic group, but it was determined to be a hoax campaign to encourage liberal men not to vote in November, according to the website knowyourmeme.com.
Woods called it a parody. In his tweet, he acknowledged the meme likely wasn't real, saying: "Pretty scary that there is a distinct possibility this could be real. Not likely, but in this day and age of absolute liberal insanity, it is at least possible ..."
The tweet is considered to be material that would suppress votes or deliberately deceive, and was found to be in violation of Twitter rules.
Social media companies like Twitter have come under pressure to get hate speech and posts that could influence elections offline, learning quickly that they can't please everyone as they try to act as gatekeepers of discourse. Dorsey testified before the GOP-led House Energy and Commerce Committee earlier this month, as the committee examined whether Twitter has censored conservatives.
The AP reached Woods on Sunday through his girlfriend's Twitter account. After he shared information over messaging, he agreed to have a FaceTime conversation so the AP could verify his identity.
Woods said he wants open discourse, and called the situation a dangerous one for free speech.
"I wish this were about an unknown Twitter user so that I could be even more passionate about it," Woods said. "This is not about a celebrity being muzzled. This is about an American being silenced — one tweet at a time."
Dhaka, Sept 23 (UNB) - Bangladeshi filmmaker Mostofa Sarwar Farooki's film Doob (No Bed of Roses) is going to represent Bangladesh in the foreign movie category of the 91st Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars.
Chairman of Bangladesh Federation Film Societies Habibur Rahman Khan announced the news in a press briefing held in a city hotel.
Internationally acclaimed Indian superstar Irrfan Khan, who acted in Hollywood productions like Jurassic World and Life of Pi besides many Indian blockbusters, played the lead role in the film Doob. He also co-produced the film.
The cast also include Nusrat Imroz Tisha, star of Farooki's Third Person Singular Number that was Bangladesh's entry to the 2011 Oscars and of Television that was Bangladesh's entry to the 2014 Oscars.
Bangladeshi production house Jaaz Multimedia produced the film alongside India's Eskay Movies with Khan's IK Company on board as co-producer.
Mostofa Sarwar Farooki and Nusrat Imroz Tisha were also present at the press conference.
The 91st annual Oscars will be held on February 24 in 2019.
San Sebastian, Sep 23 (AP/UNB) — Actor Danny DeVito has been honored with a lifetime achievement award at Spain's most prestigious film festival in the northern coastal city of San Sebastian.
DeVito, 73, received the award from the San Sebastian International Film Festival during Saturday's gala. The American comic film star is promoting the animated children's film "Smallfoot" at the festival.
DeVito won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his role in the 1970-80's TV sitcom series "Taxi." Other career highlights include leading roles in the hit 1980s comedies "Throw Momma from the Train" and "Twins" and scores of endearing supporting parts.
He also shared an Oscar nomination for best picture as a producer of "Erin Brockovich" in 2000.
He currently stars in the TV series "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."
Texas, Sept 22 (AP/UNB) – Every dog might have its day, but not many ever had a night like this.
Cheered on by a roaring, packed crowd at Madison Square Garden, the playful beagle responded like a true champ.
"Ah-roo!" Uno bayed that evening, a decade ago. "Ah-roo!"
Uno, who became perhaps the most popular pooch to step into a dog show ring, has died. He was 13.
From a president to parades to ballparks, Uno charmed admirers wherever he wandered.
"He lit everyone's fire," longtime dog expert David Frei said. "It's because he was exactly the kind of dog everyone could imagine on the couch next to them."
Uno died Thursday at the 200-acre ranch where he lived in Austin, Texas. He was in good health until the last month or so when cancer advanced.
"Everybody loved him," said Dan Huebner, who manages the ranch for Uno owner Caroline Dowell.
No beagle had won the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club dog show until Uno did good ol' Snoopy proud, barking his way to the prized silver bowl in 2008. He was clearly the crowd favorite and fans exulted when he was picked, giving the 15-inch champ a standing ovation.
Uno soon was the first Westminster winner to visit the White House, with President George W. Bush and wife Laura meeting him in the Rose Garden and presenting him with a red, white and blue collar.
The tri-color package of personality later rode in a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, took part in first-pitch ceremonies at Busch Stadium and Miller Park and even had his own bobblehead.
Uno spent years traveling, welcomed at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and hospitals across the country as a certified therapy dog.
He also enjoyed celebrity status with a good seat on Midwest Airlines — in St. Louis, the computer once selected him for additional screening, and security guards waved a wand over him.
Frei, the television voice of Westminster for more than a quarter-century, was Uno's frequent companion on the road. Over his years, he saw about 70,000 dogs judged on the green carpet of the Garden.
"There was never one like him," Frei said. "That's no disrespect to all the other great dogs. But when Uno won, I said I'd have to rent out an apartment in New York City for him because I'd be traveling with him all year, so many people would want to see him. And that's what happened, he was such an all-American dog."
Owning a champion's name of K-Run's Park Me in First, it was an easy stretch to call him Uno. He lived up to that, as the No. 1 beagle to win Westminster (Miss P the beagle won in 2015).
As for Uno puppies, there weren't any. He was sterile.
"It has never bothered me a bit," Dowell said several years ago. "To tell you the truth, it was a blessing in disguise. I just wanted him as a pet."
In later years, as Uno's brown and black began to fade to white, he spent his days playing outdoors with a neighbor's potbellied pig and romping around his house in Texas with other beagles.
"He just had a blast," Huebner said. "He had it made in the shade."