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Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   May 6, 2002 at 2:20 PM   |   Comments

ENJOY IT WHILE IT LASTS, SPIDEY

The seats are still warm in multiplexes around the country from this weekend's record breaking opening of "Spider-Man," but already the entertainment press is turning its focus to the next big opening, "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones."

Conventional wisdom in Hollywood held that "Spider-Man" would open huge and dominate the box office for two weekends, until George Lucas' latest epic reaches the screen on May 16. That was before the Marvel Comics-inspired action picture broke a raft of box-office records -- grossing $114 million in its opening weekend.

Now, there is reason to suspect that "Spider-Man" will still be posting big numbers after it has to start sharing the multiplex turf with "Clones."

In its first weekend, "Spidey" collected more than three times as much as the combined grosses of the rest of the Top 12 movies, and accounted for more than 75 percent of tickets sold over the weekend. It shattered the previous record for a three-day opening -- $90.3 million, set in November 2001 by "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." It also shattered Potter's record for biggest one-day take ($43.7 million on Saturday to $33.5 million for Potter).

"Spider-Man" led the box office to a $165 million weekend overall -- 49 percent better than the same weekend in 2001, when "The Mummy Returns" opened with $68.1 million. So far, the U.S. box office is running 16 percent ahead of last year's pace.

The overall box-office numbers are expected to build considerably on that lead after "Clones" arrives in theaters next week.

Considering how much money movie fans spent on the No. 1 movie, "The Scorpion King" did well to add another $9.6 million to its running total -- now at $74.8 million after 17 days in release. "Changing Lanes" was third with $5.6 million and "Murder by Numbers" ($3.8 million) was fourth.

"The Rookie" and "Life or Something Like It" were tied for fifth with $3.3 million. The new Woody Allen comedy "Hollywood Ending" opened with $2.2 million, tied for 10th place with "Panic Room."


JENNIFER'S NEXT

Jennifer Lopez will produce and star in an updated movie version of "Carmen," Prosper Merimee's 19th century short story about a soldier who falls in love with a beautiful factory worker, and is undone when she does not return his love.

The screenplay is being written by Craig Pearce, who wrote "Moulin Rouge" with director Baz Luhrmann.


BLACK AND BUFFY WILL TOP MTV BILL

MTV has announced that Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jack Black will host this year's MTV Movie Awards.

Gellar is the star of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" on UPN, and one of the stars of the upcoming big-screen version of the classic TV cartoon "Scooby-Doo."

Black recently starred with Gwyneth Paltrow in the Farrelly Brothers' comedy "Shallow Hal," and shared the screen in 2000 with John Cusack in "High Fidelity." He is also one-half of the folk-rock recording act "Tenacious D."


JFK JR. MOVIE HEADED FOR SMALL SCREEN

CBS has acquired the rights for a TV movie based on the new John F. Kennedy Jr. biography, "American Son."

Ed Gernon, executive vice president of movies and miniseries for Alliance Atlantis -- which owns the rights to the book with True Entertainment -- told Daily Variety his company is now looking for a writer to adapt Richard Blow's book.

"I envision the script as a coming-of-age story of a young man whose life was in some sense mapped out by the society that worshipped his celebrity," Gernon said.

Plans call for casting a relative unknown as Kennedy, so viewers won't be distracted by the sight of a well-known actor playing a character who was so well known to the public.

"Ben Affleck in a JFK wig just wouldn't work," said Gernon.


SAG-TNT EXTEND AWARDS SHOW DEAL

The Screen Actors Guild and Turner Network Television have announced a new deal to keep the Screen Actors Guild Awards on TNT through 2005.

The "8th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards" attracted almost 9 million viewers on TNT in March.

The SAG Awards have been telecast on TNT every year since their inception in 1995.


STARS LINE UP FOR 'PASSIONS'

Grammy-winning singer-actress Janet Jackson will join an all-star line-up already in place for "AFI'S 100 Years ...100 Passions" on CBS next month.

Jackson will join Faye Dunaway, Harrison Ford, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Hugh Jackman, Mary Tyler Moore, Sydney Pollack, Rob Reiner, Neil Simon and Kathleen Turner -- in a tribute to some of the greatest love stories in American movies. The line-up also includes Carrie Fisher, Daryl Hannah, Garry Marshall, Ali McGraw, Anthony Minghella, Maureen O'Hara, Jerry Stiller and Kathleen Turner.

The special -- scheduled to air on June 11 -- is the fifth installment in the American Film Institute's ongoing celebration of American cinema. Previous tributes threw the spotlight on favorite movies, stars, comedies and movie thrills.


CHANGING THE ENDING

When the new Richard Gere-Diane Lane movie "Unfaithful" opens on Friday, audiences will see a different ending from the one seen by early preview audiences.

Director Adrian Lyne -- who changed the ending of "Fatal Attraction" in 1987 -- made a similar decision on "Unfaithful," but not for the same reason.

In the case of the Michael Douglas-Glenn Closer thriller, the original ending had Close's spurned lover committing suicide and leaving Douglas' character to live with the consequences of his adultery and her death. The substitute ending -- prompted by preview audience reaction -- had Douglas' character killing Close's character, more or less in self-defense.

In his new movie, Lyne said he was just going on a hunch when he swapped out one ending for another.

"Unfaithful" is the story of a marriage at risk when a woman takes up a passionate love affair with another man.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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