Newsbites: Borat! Passion! Abu Ghraib!

Newsbites: Borat! Passion! Abu Ghraib! November 5, 2006

Here’s another quick batch.

1. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan topped the box office with revenues of $26.4 million this weekend, despite opening in only 837 theatres. The last film to be #1 with less than 2,000 screens was Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which opened February 25, 2005 on 1,483 screens and grossed $21.9 million for the weekend. And the last film to be #1 with less than 1,000 screens was Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, which opened June 25, 2004 on 868 screens and grossed $24.1 million for the weekend. Borat opened on slightly less screens and made slightly more money. And FWIW, I’ve checked back as far as January 2000 and can’t find another movie that was #1 with less than 1,000 screens.

NOV 6 UPDATE: After numbly clicking on the “last weekend” button at for several minutes, I finally found another film that was #1 with less than 1,000 screens: Four Weddings and a Funeral rose to the top in its sixth week April 15, 1994, and grossed $4.2 million on 721 screens. Prior to that, you have to go all the way back to The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, which opened January 10, 1992 on 766 screens and grossed $7.7 million for the weekend. And prior to that, Cape Fear opened November 15, 1991 on 924 screens and grossed $10.3 million for the weekend. And prior to that, Dead Again was #1 in its second and third weeks in September 1991 on over 700 screens. And prior to that, Driving Miss Daisy was #1 in its seventh and eighth weeks in January and February 1990 on 895 screens.

2. DavisDVD reports that a two-disc “definitive edition” of The Passion of the Christ may be coming out in February. No word yet on whether this will include the original theatrical version of the film, the Recut version, and/or some new version. Two years ago, Fr. William J. Fulco said Mel Gibson was preparing a DVD with 15 hours of bonus material, so it will be interesting to see just how much of that material ends up on the new disc; and it will also be interesting to see whether Gibson’s recent quest for forgiveness from the Jewish community will be reflected on this disc.

3. The Hollywood Reporter, via Reuters, says Errol Morris “is developing a documentary about the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq.” Not sure how that particular, and rather serious, choice of topic will fit with Morris’s usual quirky style, but we shall see.

4. On a somewhat related note, Variety reports that Christopher McQuarrie, co-writer of The Usual Suspects (1995) and director of The Way of the Gun (2000), will start filming Stanford Prison Experiment in April. It seems this film will be a more-or-less historical account of the experiment, rathen than a work of fiction like Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Das Experiment (2001), which is currently being developed into an English-language remake.

5. Variety reports that Thai officials are asking the makers of Rambo IV: In the Serpent’s Eye to keep the violence “reasonable”. Good luck, guys! In related news, Variety also has an item on the promotional efforts surrounding the upcoming Rocky Balboa.

6. The New York Times probes the religious backgrounds and spiritual reawakenings of the Hollywood players behind The Nativity Story, which comes out in four weeks, on December 1.

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