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Moviegoers hungry for Catching Fire and family fun of Frozen

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

 

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Moviegoers craved a second or first helping of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” which edged “Frozen” for the top spot at the box office. 
 
Early numbers from Rentrak estimate it grossed $74,500,000 for Friday through Sunday and $110.2 million Wednesday through Sunday. “Frozen” was on fire with roughly $67 million for the weekend and $93 million for the extended holiday period of Wednesday through Sunday.
 
Top 10 just for the weekend: 
 
1. “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” — $74,500,0000, for an estimated $296,556,317 since release. 
2. “Frozen” — $66,713,000, for $93,356,000. 
3. “Thor: The Dark World” — $11,108,000, bringing its gross to $186,712,000.
4. “The Best Man Holiday” — $8,490,565, for $63,414,459 to date. 
5. “Homefront” — $6,970,000,” for $9,795,000.
6. “Delivery Man” — $6,931,000, for $19,453,000 since release. 
7. “The Book Thief” — $4,850,000 or $7,856,177 to date. 
8. “Black Nativity” — $3,880,000 or $5,000,000 so far. 
9. “Philomena” — $3,789,000, or $4,754,000 in limited release. 
10. “Last Vegas” — $2,785,000, bringing its total to $58,722,076. 
 
The combo of “Catching Fire,” “Frozen” and “Thor: The Dark World” should make for the most lucrative Thanksgiving holiday on record.
 
Looking at the five-day period encompassing Thanksgiving, here are the top earners according to Rentrak:
 
1. “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” —  $110.2 million. 
2. “Frozen” — $93.013 million. 
3. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” — $82.4 million. 
4. “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” — $81.3 million. 
5. “Toy Story 2” — $80.1 million. 
 
Below, Josh Hutcherson and Jennifer Lawrence in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." 
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Actor Paul Walker dies in car crash, fans stunned, in mourning

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

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Very sad news: Actor Paul Walker, 40, died in a car crash north of Los Angeles, the Associated Press and other news outlets report. He was a passenger in a friend’s car which crashed while he was attending a charity event on Saturday.

His Facebook page posted the news: It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide. He was a passenger in a friend's car, in which both lost their lives. We appreciate your patience as we too are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news. Thank you for keeping his family and friends in your prayers during this very difficult time. We will do our best to keep you apprised on where to send condolences. - #TeamPW

Walker is best known for the “Fast and Furious” franchise although he has a long list of other credits. I spoke to him in 2006 when he had a pair of very different movies in theaters and he was quite pleasant over the phone.

He was incredibly good looking but that will only get you so far in Hollywood where everyone is good looking; he was talented, too, able to tackle R-rated or family friendly material. He will be missed.

Here’s what I wrote in February 2006:

By Barbara Vancheri Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A word to the wise: Don't go to the box office and just ask for a ticket to the new Paul Walker movie.

You could get a seat to "Eight Below" when you want "Running Scared" or -- lordy -- you could end up in "Running Scared" when you want the Disney dog adventure.

"Running Scared" is what Walker acknowledges is a "hard R," in terms of its rating. Targeted largely at young men, it's filled with profanity. Walker had to work that out of his system before making the family film about the dogs fending for themselves in Antarctica.

"I was cleansed of my sins by doing 'Eight Below'; that's what it was about after doing this one, after seeing my mom cry," when she saw a "Running Scared" preview designed to help sell the movie. "She laid the heaviest guilt trip ever. I was baptized by 'Eight Below,' so I'm clean again."

In "Running Scared," directed and written by Wayne Kramer, Walker portrays a low-level employee of the Italian Perello mob in Grimley, N.J., which was created in Prague. Walker spent a week in the real Jersey for certain scenes that couldn't be faked.

Walker's surfer-boy good looks served him well in movies such as "Into the Blue" opposite Jessica Alba or "The Fast and the Furious" and its sequel, but they have worked against him, too.

"This isn't what people are offering me. I had to chase this one down," the 32-year-old native Californian said, during a Philadelphia publicity stop. "This is the kind of movie I like, this is what I like to see, this is a movie I've wanted to be part of for a long time but people see me as blond hair and blue eyes," and cast accordingly.

"Running Scared" proved to be challenging in every way, Walker says, with scenes shot in an ice rink requiring him to be face down, with a hidden tube spitting out a puddle of fake blood and a 350-pound man kneeing him in the back. A hockey puck fired at his face was computer-generated. Those sequences took seven days to film.

"We had more than an ambitious shot list every day, a ridiculous list. We had to get it. We knew there wasn't going to be someone to bail us out and give us more time at the end of it." It was challenging physically, mentally and emotionally, he says.

"I was ramped up. I was living on adrenaline almost this entire shoot. You can't fake that. You gotta match the moment, what's scripted. I went home exhausted. I had to show up at work with a full tank, and I was just barely making it home on the fumes. I'd get home and couldn't sleep because I was still trembling from the adrenaline."

Working with two young actors -- Alex Neuberger who plays his son, Nicky, and Cameron Bright as a neighbor boy -- helped keep things in perspective. "They just have a way of reminding you that, hey, look, if you can't have fun at the same time, there's no sense in really doing it."

He threw the football around with the pair, bought them guitars and jammed with them in the trailer and spent time playing Halo on Xbox, too. Walker probably did none of those things on "Flags of Our Fathers," Clint Eastwood's new Iwo Jima movie.

"I play Hank Hansen, a real guy," Walker says, and he had U.S. Navy and Marine Corps research to draw upon. "You'd be amazed at how much information they have on this guy: personality traits, nicknames, favorite color, you name it." Hansen was tall and lanky and had coloring similar to Walker's.

Eastwood is famous for doing just one or two shots, and Walker says, "I used to like take seven through eight. ... I've learned I come sharp, I come ready. You just got to know what you got to do. Basically on a Clint Eastwood movie, if you don't get it right, you're not going to be in the movie."

Walker will star opposite another Oscar winner -- Anthony Hopkins -- in a movie about Ernest Hemingway called "Papa" that starts shooting in the fall.

Walker's short publicity tour for "Running Scared" has taken him to New York, San Francisco and Philadelphia, and he says audiences react in identical fashion no matter the city. "It's the same beats every time," with applause for justice dispensed by Vera Farmiga, who plays his wife, and a cheer at the movie's final twist.

That is one thing both Walker films share.




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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire burns brightly at box office

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

 

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“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” burned up the box office, as everyone predicted, to the tune of $161,125,000, which is more than 11 times as much as “Thor: The Dark World.” 
 
The second movie in the “Hunger Games” franchise had the biggest November opening weekend, topping “Twilight: New Moon” which grossed $142.8 million in November 2009. 
 
Rentrak, which provided the stats and numbers below, also reports that “Catching Fire” is the second best debut of 2013, behind “Iron Man 3.” 
 
Here are the top 10 movies: 
 
1. “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” — $161,125,000.
2. “Thor: The Dark World” — $14,117,000, bringing its North American gross to $167,837,000
3. “The Best Man Holiday” — $12,521,535, for $50,391,125 to date. 
4. “Delivery Man” — $8,215,000.
5. “Free Birds” — $5,300,000 or $48,593,865 since release. 
6. “Last Vegas” — $4,400,000, bumping its total to $53,925,749.
7. “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” — $3,450,000, nudging it to $95,450,765.
8. “Gravity” — $3,305,000, for $245,502,604 so far. 
9. “12 Years a Slave” — $2,800,000 or $29,393,312 since release. 
10. “Dallas Buyers Club” — $2,769,989 from 666 screens (versus the 4,163 of “The Hunger Games”), for $6,449,603.
 
This was also the week “The Christmas Candle” opened on almost 400 screens and it landed at No. 14 with an estimated $980,456, bringing its total (it had been on five screens) to $1,060,437. This is the movie from EchoLight Studios with former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum as CEO. 
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When will It's a Wonderful Life air on TV?

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

It-s-a-Wonderful-LifeWhen will “It’s a Wonderful Life” air on TV?

There will be plenty of chances to see this Christmas classic on the big screen in Pittsburgh (without commercial interruptions) but NBC has scheduled it for 8 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14.

Jimmy Stewart stars as George Bailey, a Bedford Falls native, husband and father who becomes despondent when his dithery Uncle Billy loses track of a bank deposit.

George, who once dreamed of escaping his small town and seeing the world, knows what that could mean, just as his brother is returning as a war hero. He is granted the chance to see what Bedford Falls and its residents would be like had he never been born, and it’s not pretty.

There were reports and counter reports this week about whether a sequel to “IAWL” could be made. I think they should leave well enough alone and so does Paramount, which vows a fight if the follow-up goes forward.

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Dates, faces for Indie Spirit and SAG Award nominations

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

1353445372SA2012carpetpress - CopyThe awards train is pulling out of the station, as a couple of announcements prove. 
 
Patton Oswalt will host the 2014 Film Independent Spirit Awards on March 1 at 10 p.m. Eastern time. 
 
The ceremony, which last year honored “The Perks of Being a Wallflower, will be a daytime luncheon in a tent on the beach at Santa Monica with the show airing later that night. 
 
“Patton is an incredibly talented writer, actor and comedian whose irreverent humor is the perfect fit for our show,” said executive producer, Diana Zahn-Storey in making the announcement. 
 
The nominees will be announced at a Hollywood press conference on Tuesday by actresses Octavia Spencer and Paula Patton.
 
In other news, Sasha Alexander and Clark Gregg will announce the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 11 at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. 
 
The nominations will be telecast live on TNT at 9 a.m. Eastern time and webcast live on tntdrama.com and tbs.com. Stunt ensemble nominees will be unveiled during a live webcast at 8:50 a.m. 
 
The awards will be simulcast live on TNT and TBS on Jan. 18 at 8 p.m. 
 
Alexander also has been named social media ambassador for this year’s SAG Awards. Through posts on Twitter nd Facebook, she will give viewers access to behind-the-scenes moments, including updates on the production, presenters and fashion. She will also be posting from the red carpet on awards night. 

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