- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 19, 2009

‘Twilight’ exclusive

There’s no doubt this is the summer of sequels - and The Washington Times has an exclusive look at the poster art for “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” one of fall’s most anticipated offerings.

What’s becoming less clear, though, is how the films Hollywood normally considers cash cows are going to fare in a year packed full of them.

“Angels & Demons” opened this past weekend to just $48 million at the box office. That means it barely beat “Star Trek” for the top spot, coming in a close second with $43 million in box office earnings for its second weekend.

“Angels,” however, was expected to do a lot better. The sequel to the smash “The Da Vinci Code,” based on the book by Dan Brown, brought back star Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard. But “Angels” made almost 40 percent less: “Da Vinci” opened in 2006 to $77 million.

The summer’s first big franchise follow-up did a lot better but still couldn’t top its predecessor. “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” opened the first weekend of May with $85 million, less than the last movie in the series, “X-Men: The Last Stand,” which bowed to nearly $103 million.

With the sheer number of big-budget movies audiences have to choose from this summer and fall, it’s hard to say which will meet expectations and which won’t. “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” opens Friday, with other franchise flicks, including “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” to follow.

Certainly one of the most anticipated is “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” opening Nov. 20, and today’s edition of The Washington Times is the only District newspaper in which you’ll find the film’s newly unveiled poster art (above).

“Twilight,” the first of a projected four films, opened last fall to nearly $70 million.

This franchise has some things going for it that the others don’t. It’s based on the best-selling books by Stephenie Meyer that caused a “Harry Potter”-like frenzy, and its fan base of young girls and women are a devoted bunch. In fact, hunky star Robert Pattinson has been followed around by the paparazzi ever since he was cast in the first “Twilight.” And, the first film in this franchise was a lot better-reviewed than “The Da Vinci Code” was - which could ensure more viewers come back for seconds.
— Kelly Jane Torrance

Record breaker

Endurance records come and go, and Prasanna Gudi of India has just lost his five-month-old title for the longest-ever solo concert to Canadian musician Gonzales.

Mr. Gudi played raga for 26 hours and 12 minutes in December, Agence France-Presse reports. On Monday in Paris, Gonzales, 37, set a new Guinness world record by playing the piano in a theater in Paris’ Montmartre section for 27 hours, 3 minutes and 44 seconds. Under Guinness rules, Gonzales was allowed a 15-minute break after each three-hour set and a 30-second pause between songs. So much better for the concentration.

On the stage, Gonzales (born Jason Beck in Montreal) sat at his upright piano next to a large digital clock tracking his performance. He chose 300 musical pieces from Gershwin’s “Summertime” to Britney Spears’ “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and “Eye of the Tiger” from the film “Rocky III.” Gonzales’ attire varied from jeans and T-shirt to blue-and-white striped pajamas.

Settlement reached

Filmmaker Woody Allen agreed Monday to a $5 million settlement in his lawsuit accusing a trendy clothing company of using an image parodying him as a rabbi without his permission.

Both sides announced the settlement - to be paid by American Apparel’s insurance company - on the morning a trial was to start in federal court in Manhattan, Associated Press reports. Mr. Allen, 72, sued the clothier last year for $10 million after the ads turned up on billboards in Hollywood and New York and on a Web site. The ads used a frame from the film “Annie Hall.”

Court papers filed on Mr. Allen’s behalf described the actor-director as one of the most influential figures in the history of American film, and said he believed maintaining strict control over his image was critical to his success.

“SATC’ star engaged

Cynthia Nixon, who played attorney Miranda Hobbes in “Sex and the City” on TV and the movie, is engaged to her partner, Christine Marinoni.

Charlotte Burke, a representative for the the Tony-winning actress, confirmed the engagement. No other details were given, Associated Press reports.

Miss Nixon showed off an engagement ring at an Action=Marriage Equality rally in midtown Manhattan on Sunday. She has two children from her relationship with photographer Danny Mozes.

Simply ‘the best’

Denmark’s master of scandal Lars Von Trier, 53, stunned the film world Monday in Cannes with his latest, “Antichrist,” a thriller on love and madness littered with graphic close-ups of sex and mutilation.

Willem Dafoe and France’s Charlotte Gainsbourg provide powerful performances in this visually exquisite film about a couple who retreat to an isolated log cabin to try to overcome grief at the death of their baby son, Agence France-Presse reports.

“This is a very dark dream about guilt and sex and stuff,” Mr. Von Trier, 53, told a packed and rather hostile news conference. He said he shot the film as a form of therapy after having a mental breakdown two years ago, and it is the most important of his career.

Asked why he made such a visually violent work, he responded: “I don’t think I owe anyone an explanation. I made it for myself… It’s the hand of God. And I am the best director in the world!”

Compiled by Richard Slusser from staff, wire and Web reports

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