'HELL' IS HOT AT THE BOX OFFICE
American moviegoers made Johnny Depp's latest movie, "From Hell," the box-office champion over the weekend, while Drew Barrymore's "Riding in Cars with Boys" settled for second place.
"From Hell," a slick take on the Jack the Ripper legend, scored an estimated $11.3 million. "Riding in Cars With Boys" collected an estimated $10.8 million.
Denzel Washington's police drama, "Training Day," continues to draw crowds, grossing $9.5 million in its third weekend. "Training Day" finished first in its first two weekends and has taken in $57.5 million in 17 days in release.
The Bruce Willis comedy, "Bandits" -- which fell short of box-office expectations when it opened last week -- took in $8.4 million in its second weekend, to finish fourth. One-time box-office champ Robert Redford managed only $7.1 million in his new prison drama, "The Last Castle," which opened in fifth place.
Overall, the U.S. box office collected 6 percent more in ticket sales than it did on the same weekend of 2000. Grosses for the year to date continue to run about 9 percent ahead of grosses to this point last year.
Major releases for the upcoming weekend include Kevin Spacey's new movie, "K-PAX," and two Halloween-themed movies.
"Thirteen Ghosts," starring Tony Shalhoub ("Spy Kids," "Men in Black") and Embeth Davidtz ("Bridget Jones's Diary") is a remake of the 1960 campy chiller, "13 Ghosts." It's directed by Steve Beck, who served as visual effects art director for "The Hunt for Red October" (1990), "The Abyss" (1989) and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989).
The other scary picture coming out this weekend is "Bones," starring rapper Snoop Dogg as a neighborhood leader who is double crossed by his closest allies, and spends 20 years in a funk before leading a campaign to bring the 'hood back to health.
On the following weekend, Nov. 2, the holiday movie season officially gets underway when Disney rolls out "Monsters, Inc." -- the latest offering from Pixar Animation Studios.
PUSHING 'HARRY POTTER'
In case you haven't already noticed, Warner Bros. is really cranking up the publicity campaign for "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," which opens Nov. 16 in something like 4,000 theaters around the United States.
The first screen version of British writer J.K. Rowling's publishing phenomenon will open on the same day in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and will eventually be released in more than 130 countries in 40 languages.
At that rate, anyone connected with the project would hope that director Chris Columbus' screen version has the goods. So far, only a handful of people have seen the finished product, according to a report in USA Today.
Apart from the filmmakers and some studio suits, the movie has been seen only by preview audiences in Chicago and London, said the paper.
The Chicago audience was invited to see a preview of a "family movie." Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution Dan Fellman told the paper that when the audience was told what the movie was, "there was 10 to 15 minutes of non-stop applause."
That was before the screening. Afterward, said Columbus, it was clear the audience liked what they saw.
"The readers were ecstatic," said Columbus, "and the non-readers loved the story and wanted to get the books."
The third trailer for "Sorcerer's Stone," scheduled to hit theaters Nov. 2, shows some of the most anticipated footage -- bits of the popular Quidditch game Harry and his schoolmates play as they soar and swoop on their broomsticks, chasing flying balls.
Columbus said it took six months to shoot the scene, which takes up nine minutes of the movie's 2-hour, 33-minute running time.
RESHOOTING PARTS OF CRUISE'S NEW MOVIE
Parts of the upcoming Tom Cruise movie, "Vanilla Sky," are being re-shot following recent screenings for test audiences, but a spokeswoman for Cruise said it's part of the plan, and certainly not a sign of concern.
The New York Post quoted publicist Pat Kingsley as saying that Cruise and writer-director Cameron Crowe "want to clarify something." Kingsley said "it was always their intention" to do two days of additional shooting.
In Crowe's remake of Spanish writer-director Alejandro Amenábar's 1997 movie, "Open Your Eyes," Cruise plays a womanizer who becomes horribly disfigured when a woman he has hurt in love crashes their car into a tree.
HOPKINS, KIDMAN JOIN CAST OF 'HUMAN STAIN'
According to a report in Daily Variety, Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman will star as a veteran college faculty member and the young woman he takes up with in director Robert Benton's upcoming movie version of Philip Roth's novel, "The Human Stain."
Several of Roth's books, including "Portnoy's Complaint" and "Goodbye, Columbus" have been adapted for the screen.
Benton won Oscars for best picture, director and adapted screenplay in 1979 for "Kramer vs. Kramer." He also wrote the screenplays for the Paul Newman movies, "Twilight" and "Nobody's Fool," and received writing credits on "Bonnie and Clyde" and "What's Up, Doc?"
'MCBEAL' CASTING NOTES
Following her well-publicized nervous breakdown this summer, Mariah Carey continues to rehabilitate her career with a deal to guest star on "Ally McBeal."
Plans call for Carey to appear as a woman involved in a lawsuit filed by a dissatisfied matchmaking service customer. The episode -- in which Carey will sing "Lead the Way" from her "Glitter" soundtrack CD -- is scheduled to air on Jan. 7.
The same episode will also feature Jon Bon Jovi in the first of several planned appearances on the Emmy-winning series.
Speaking of "Ally McBeal," James Marsden is joining the cast as a regular member this season. Marsden's fans know him best as the mutant Cyclops in "X-Men" and John Wilkes Booth in the current box-office hit, "Zoolander."
'THE RUNNER' STUMBLES
The network said Friday that, considering what the United States is going through right now, this wouldn't be the best time to air a show about a cross-country manhunt.
ABC Entertainment Television Group co-chairman Lloyd Braun said the decision to hold off until at least next season was unanimous among all those involved with the show.
"We had to really face the music and realize that this is not an environment where it's responsible to do this show," said Braun.
"The Runner" had been scheduled to premiere on Monday, Jan. 7 at 9 p.m.
AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS ADD 'INSPIRATIONAL' CATEGORY
Just as the proliferation of awards shows continues unabated, the expansion of categories also goes on.
Organizers of the American Music Awards announced Monday that the Jan. 9 ceremonies on ABC will feature the new category of Contemporary Inspirational. An award will be given to the Favorite Artist in the genre, covering both gospel and contemporary Christian music.
"In the late 80's we recognized the growth and impact of Rap/Hip Hop by adding that category," said American Music Awards executive producer Dick Clark. "Likewise for Latin Music in the 90's. The time has now come to include Contemporary Inspirational artists and recognize just how strong a force they have become in the world of music."
The addition brings to 21 the number of awards that will be given at the next American Music Awards. Nominees will be announced on Nov. 13.