Time for another few newsbite quickies.
1. The Chronicles of Narnia grossed $67.1 million in its opening weekend, according to studio estimates. This is the 2nd-biggest December opening, after 2003’s The Return of the King; the 3rd-biggest opening of 2005, after Star Wars III and Harry Potter IV; and the 23rd-biggest opening weekend of all time.
Andrea Berloff’s script is about the true story of two Port Authority cops, John McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage) and William J. Jimeno (Michael Pena), who were buried under the rubble of the fallen World Trade Center towers on 9.11. It’s been reported that the ex-Marine who drove down to the WTC site from Connecticut and wound up digging the cops out and saving their lives (In The Bedroom‘s William Maptoher is portraying him in the film) was a born-again Christian who he believed he was doing the bidding of a higher celestial power in performing his rescue. But what hasn’t been reported is that a late ’04 draft of Berfloff’s script has a scene in which Jesus Christ appears in a hallucination that Jimeno “sees” as he’s slipping in and out of consciousness due to a lack of water, and Christ offers water to him. This scene could easily have been tossed or not filmed, but if it stays and makes the final cut, Paramount Pictures, distributors of the Stone film, will obviously have marketing hook to try and attract the crowd that supported The Passion of the Christ and are soon expected to turn out big-time for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
4. FilmStew.com reports that Sean Connery, 75, is “tackling a lifetime first” by lending his voice to an animated short film, Sir Billi the Vet, for his “first-ever voice-over role”. It seems to me, though, that Connery didn’t lend more than his voice to the fantasy film Dragonheart (1996).
5. The Hollywood Reporter says Scarlett Johansson has joined Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine and David Bowie in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige. She will play “a magician’s assistant named Olivia who is sent to spy on the competition.”