Here’s a fresh batch of news and reviews.1. Why did The Nativity Story do so poorly at the box office this weekend? New Line Cinema blames the weather, first in the Associated Press …Snow in the Midwest kept many movie-goers at home, undermining the film’s opening, said David Tuckerman, New Line’s head of distribution.”The storms in the middle of the country couldn’t have hurt us more,” Tuckerman said. “It’s a movie made for the heartland, and it killed us in… Read more

With the non-controversial The Nativity Story opening this week to low ticket sales, and with the controversial Apocalypto building up some good buzz in advance of its release next Friday, it may be a perfect time to take another look at the film that made both movies possible. I refer, of course, to The Passion of the Christ (2004), which is coming out in a two-disc “definitive edition” on January 30. The specs, as per DVD Active:Fox/MGM Home Entertainment has… Read more

The Globe and Mail reports:Just when you thought it was safe to get under the covers, researchers in Toronto have identified a new sleep disorder with a kinky twist. Called sexsomnia, it causes people to have sex or masturbate in their sleep — without ever waking up.Huh? “New”? Wasn’t this disorder the subject of a subplot in one of the earlier episodes of House M.D.? Read more

David Poland and Nikki Finke report that The Nativity Story grossed a mere $2.3 million yesterday, coming in fourth for the day, behind not only Casino Royale and Happy Feet but also Deja Vu, all of which dropped between 58% and 74% from last week.Finke estimates The Nativity Story will gross $7.8 million for the weekend. This is, admittedly, more than Thirteen (2003; $4.6 million) made in its entire run, and better than the $5.6 million that Lords of Dogtown… Read more

In one corner, today’s Variety:Disney is laying off about 160 employees, or 20% of the total staff, from its feature animation unit. . . .Cuts come as production is winding up on “Meet the Robinsons,” which will be released in June. A spokesman said that “the management team at Walt Disney Animation has determined that each film will dictate its own appropriate production schedule,” indicating that it will keep fewer animators on as permanent employees moving from film to film…. Read more

CanWest News Service, via the Vancouver Sun, posted yet another item on The Nativity Story today, and mentioned in passing:The Nativity Story, which chronicles the arduous journey of Joseph and the pregnant Mary to Bethlehem, cost more than $65 million US to make, and producers Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen are confident it’ll reap huge dividends when it opens today on 2,700 screens throughout North America.”I do think there is a desire for this kind of entertainment out there,” Godfrey… Read more

My review of The Nativity Story is now up at CT Movies. Read more

The Passion of The Christ was an independent movie, paid for entirely out of Mel Gibson’s pocket. The Prince of Egypt was an animated film that emphasized the common ground between Jews, Christians and Muslims. The Last Temptation of Christ was a low-budget art-house flick based on a heretical novel. You would have to go back at least as far as King David, the mid-1980s box-office flop starring Richard Gere, to find another live-action movie produced by a major Hollywood… Read more

Anyone wanna hazard any guesses about The Nativity Story’s box-office chances this weekend? I’m bad at making predictions of this sort — and even the “experts” who usually do so seem to be refraining from their prognostications this week — but I like number-crunching, so I just posted some thoughts on this here.In a nutshell:I fully expect the PG-rated The Nativity Story, which is opening on 3,183 screens, to do better than the R-rated thriller Turistas, which is opening on… Read more

Paul Verhoeven has been talking about making his own movie on the life of Jesus for years — indeed, decades. He certainly does have gospels on the brain; apart from being a member of the Jesus Seminar, he has also talked about the subversive Christ imagery in, say, Robocop (1987), to cite one of his better films.So when I hear that he told Empire magazine, in an interview that was picked up by WENN, which was passed on by Cinema… Read more

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