Compass is pointing nowhere
US distributor New Line Cinema hoped that The Golden Compass would signal the start of a new franchise that could come close to matching the company’s massive success with the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
But while The Golden Compass had strong openings in Europe, earning $92 million (¤64 million) in 12 days, it has fallen short of expectations in the crucial US market, opening below target figures and suffering a steep 65 per cent drop in takings on its second weekend.
By last Sunday, the lavish production had taken just $40 million (¤28 million) after 10 days on US release – less than the $44 million (¤30 million) made by Alvin and the Chipmunks in its first three days, and well below the $77 million (¤53 million) taken by I Am Legend last weekend. The prospects look bleak for further films based on the Philip Pullman trilogy, His Dark Materials, which began with The Golden Compass.
Meanwhile, New Line and director Peter Jackson have settled all litigation regarding the Lord of the Rings trilogy. New Line and MGM have agreed to co-produce Tolkien’s The Hobbit and its sequel, with Jackson on board as executive-producer – shooting is tentatively scheduled for 2009.
Celebrating Ó Cadhain
Screened at the Dublin, Galway, Boston and Shanghai festivals this year, the film version of Máirtín Ó Cadhain’s novel Cré na Cille will have its world TV premiere on TG4 at 9.30pm on St Stephen’s Day.
Directed by Robert Quinn ( Dead Bodies) and produced by Ciarán Ó Cofaigh, the darkly humorous film takes place above and below ground in a Connemara cemetery.
In a spirited performance, Bríd Ní Neachtain heads the cast, which includes Macdara Ó Fatharta (who wrote the screenplay adaptation with Quinn) and Peadar Lamb.
The film, which is in Irish with English subtitles, will be preceded on TG4 by an hour-long documentary on Ó Cadhain to mark the centenary of his birth.
State of delay
Following Brad Pitt’s abrupt departure from the US remake of BBC series State of Play, and the consequent shift of shooting from
mid-November to early January, Edward Norton has withdrawn because of scheduling conflicts with his next project, playing the dual leading roles in Leaves of Grass for writer- director Tim Blake Nelson.
Ben Affleck will replace Norton as a politician caught up in a murder conspiracy, and Russell Crowe will take Pitt’s part as a journalist on the case in the thriller directed by Kevin Macdonald ( The Last King of Scotland).
The delayed start means that the producers have to accommodate Helen Mirren, who plays Crowe’s editor in the film and is set to join Joe Pesci in Love Ranch, directed by Mirren’s husband Taylor Hackford, and due to shoot early next year.
How to get into movies without really trying: Homayoun Ershadi was working as an architect in Tehran in 1996 and sitting in his car at a junction one day when he heard a knocking on the window.
It was the leading Iranian film director, Abbas Kiarostami, who introduced himself and said, “I want to do a film and I want you in it.” Kiarostami organised a screen test and cast him in the leading role of Palme d’Or-winning A Taste of Cherry, in which Ershadi spends most of his time driving.
And Ershadi, who was 50 at the time, began a second career as an actor. He has a key role in Marc Forster’s film of The Kite Runner, which opens here on Wednesday.
“The thing that is so amazing about him is that he’s so natural,” says Forster. “A lot of actors rely on their technique, and he only relies on his heart.”
Wilde about Fionnula
Fionnula Flanagan, the Dublin-born actress who has featured in more than 100 movies and TV shows as well as many notable stage productions, will receive a career achievement award at the annual “Oscar Wilde: Honouring the Irish in Film” party to be held in Los Angeles on February 21st.
Director James L Brooks, who won three Academy Awards for Terms of Endearment, and Cork-born actress Fiona Shaw will also be honoured at the party, organised by the US-Ireland Alliance.
A wonderful Christmas
There isn’t a Christmas movie to match Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, and Belfast audiences can savour it in the shared experience of a cinema at Queen’s Film Theatre this weekend. John Huston’s swansong, The Dead is also screening there this weekend, as is Vincente Minnelli’s enduring seasonal musical, Meet Me in St Louis, starring Judy Garland. www.QueensFilmTheatre.com Happy Christmas.