Oops, I passed on an urban legend.

That story about Mike Figgis “shooting a pilot”? Didn’t happen.

Spider-Man 3 — the review’s up!

It might seem like old news now, but my review of Spider-Man 3 is now up at ChristianWeek; a slightly longer version is in the current issue of BC Christian News, which is not yet online.

Christian themes in Africa — the article’s up!

Josh Hurst is taking a break from his Reel News column for CT Movies this week, so I contributed this week’s item, which synthesizes various stories I’ve linked to here before regarding films made in Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda.

Canadian box-office stats — June 3

Here are the figures for the past weekend, arranged from those that owe the highest percentage of their take to the Canadian box office to those that owe the lowest.

Away from Her — CDN $711,944 — N.AM $3,253,000 — 21.9%
Georgia Rule — CDN $2,310,000 — N.AM $18,109,000 — 12.8%
Fracture — CDN $4,800,000 — N.AM $38,052,000 — 12.6%

Spider-Man 3 — CDN $31,910,000 — N.AM $318,264,000 — 10.0%
28 Weeks Later — CDN $2,620,000 — N.AM $26,577,000 — 9.9%

Shrek the Third — CDN $22,040,000 — N.AM $254,611,000 — 8.7%
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End — CDN $16,280,000 — N.AM $216,527,000 — 7.5%
Knocked Up — CDN $2,110,000 — N.AM $29,284,000 — 7.2%
Mr. Brooks — CDN $579,454 — N.AM $10,020,000 — 5.8%

A couple of discrepancies: The Canadian figure for Spider-Man 3 combines the regular release ($29,650,000), which came in at #4, with the IMAX release ($2,260,000), which came in at #7 — so I do not know what film would have been #10 in Canada if those figures had been combined. I believe the American figure for Spider-Man 3 has already combined the regular and IMAX revenues. Georgia Rule, Away from Her and Fracture were #8, #9 and #10 on the Canadian chart, respectively (they were #12, #15 and #13 in North America as a whole), while Waitress, Gracie, Bug and Disturbia were #6, #7, #8 and #10 on the North American chart, respectively.

UPDATE: The Canadian Press reports slightly different figures, and has only one figure for Spider-Man 3. It also reports that Wild Hogs was #10 on the Canadian chart (it was #11 in North America as a whole). The CP gives weekend figures only, and not the cumes, so I don’t have enough info to revise my list.

Out of Africa / Christian themes and filmmakers make their mark in Nigeria and other parts of Africa

After India and the United States, can you name the country with the third-largest film industry in the world? The answer is Nigeria, where up to 1,200 low-budget straight-to-video movies are produced every year — many of which have Christian themes or are produced by churches.

Despite its prodigious output, no Nigerian film had been released theatrically in its native country since 1979 — but Variety reported last week that that changed recently thanks to a film called The Amazing Grace, which shows “how British slave trader John Newton’s voyage to Nigeria in 1748 led to him writing the famous hymn.” The film, which stars British actor Nick Moran as Newton, was made for $400,000 — an astronomical figure by “Nollywood” standards — and has grossed almost double what the previous box-office champ, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, earned in Nigeria. (Newton, of course, was also played recently by Albert Finney in the similarly-named British-American co-production Amazing Grace.)

[Read more...]

The Governator on Hollywood and Vancouver

Seven years ago, I attended a press conference with Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had made a point of coming back to Vancouver to promote The 6th Day (2000; my review) in the city where this, his latest sci-fi action movie, had been shot.

Someone asked him how he felt about “runaway productions” — i.e. Hollywood films that are shot outside of California, usually for budgetary reasons — and Arnold, in his smooth-talking way, pooh-poohed the people who made such a huge stink over the issue, and said that it was only fair for Hollywood studios to spend their money in places like Vancouver because, after all, Hollywood movies were dominating Vancouver theatres and claiming almost all the money at our box offices.

Then, two years later, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003; my review) was supposed to be filmed in Vancouver, but it was yanked at the last minute and filmed in Los Angeles, instead — supposedly because free space had suddenly turned up in a studio down south, though to some folks up here, it seemed like a more nakedly political move. And then, sure enough, the following year, Arnold ran for Governor of California and openly campaigned on the fact that he had moved Terminator 3 to Los Angeles, and he pledged to lure even more productions back to California.

So it was interesting to read about Arnold’s latest visit here in last Friday’s Vancouver Sun:

Vancouver’s struggling movie industry got no sympathy from California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Thursday.

In fact, Schwarzenegger vowed during his visit to the city to do what he could to prevent runaway productions from going to Vancouver, adding this is a top priority for him.

Looking buff and tanned, basking in the glow of camera lights, the 60-year-old former actor reminisced about his days shooting movies here and praised the city as being one of the finest on Earth.

While wanting to become a partner with B.C. on the environmental front, he made it clear in an interview with The Vancouver Sun that he wants filmmaking kept in Hollywood. He acknowledged there is still a lot of work to be done to keep in that way.

“Yes, it’s a big concern of mine,” he said. “So we would like to bring back more productions to California and we also would like to protect the product that they are producing, so it doesn’t get filmed (by pirates).”

He added: “We still have to figure out a way of how to create some revenues, some money, for the movie industry so we can have incentives to stay in town . . . and, you know, be competitive with other states.”

Meanwhile, local filmmakers have been sounding the alarm over the rising Canadian dollar, saying it is pushing movie production elsewhere and imperilling Vancouver’s billion-dollar film industry. . . .

In other words, the runaway productions are now running away from us, too. Live by the dollar, die by the dollar, and all that.

And that about exhausts the Arnold portion of the article.