Trade Round-Up: MSNBC Now More NBC Than MS

Seth Abramovitch · 12/23/05 01:10PM

· The 50-50 split ownership of failed cable news experiment MSNBC is no longer, as Microsoft sells its controlling stake back to NBC Universal. Bill Gates remains cautiously optimistic until the happy day he sees the letters NBC lopped off his company's name forever. [Variety]
· Studios hold their breaths as seven movies go into wide release this weekend, including Rumor Has It and The Producers. Or if laughs is what you're looking for, there's always Munich. [THR]
· Narnia grosses $5 million on Wednesday, eking out a midweek victory over Kong, and leaving Universal wondering if perhaps they shouldn't have added an Aslan resurrection-like coda to their little monkey's depressing downfall. [Variety]
· In a "nudge to Oscar voters," Fox will screen the director's cut of Ridley's Scott's Kindgom of Heaven, featuring 45 extra minutes of footage, at the Laemmle Fairfax. For those of us who never intended on seeing any version of the film, this amounts to a gift of 45 minutes with which to do whatever we please. Thanks, Fox! [Variety]
· NBC orders more episodes of their new hit game show Deal or No Deal; Howie Mandel and that guy pretending to be the banker's agents go into overtime renegotiating fat paydays. (The models get scale. They're just lucky to be there.) [THR]

Trade Round-Up: Still More Holiday Layoff Cheer

mark · 12/20/05 02:23PM

· More heads in Santa hats are rolling just in time for the holidays, as Paramount Classics gets ready to turn on the high-pressure hoses and wash away the bloody remains of the old regime. The good news, of course, is that new PC head John Lesher will soften the beheadings with a sincere hug. [THR]
· Babyfaced Fox Searchlight head Peter Rice (we're going from his headshot, we wouldn't recognize him if he crashed into us making an unprotected left) will head up a new, teen-focused division at Fox, and gets right into the role by talking the kids' language: "The way they are consuming movies is changing and we need to make incredibly cool things for them." Rad! First project in development: MySpace Presents Rainbow Party: The Movie. [Variety]
· Not even Oprah and Farrakhan can keep Dave Chappelle down, as Chappelle's Show: Season 2 Uncensored is the highest selling TV DVD title of the year. [THR]
· Var asks: "Is 'King Kong' a disappointment or a slow-building smash?" The shocking answer: We don't know yet. Thanks for clearing that up! If we demand one thing from our trade publications, it's a snap judgment based on incomplete data, and we're denied even that. [Variety]
· Hollywood Out of Ideas, Not To Be Confused with Are We There Yet? 2 Edition: Fox plans Johnson Family Vacation 2. [THR]

Trade Round-Up: Kong OK Overseas

mark · 12/19/05 02:41PM

· King Kong takes in a "respectable" $63.4 million at the international box office over the weekend, while the fourth Harry Potter seemingly mocks the ape by becoming the 20th film to cross the $700 million mark. [Variety]
· West Wing writers face a daunting task after John Spencer's sudden death, not helped by the fact that his character was featured in a flash-forward sequence taking place three years in the future earlier this season. (Correction: According to people who actually watch the show, Spencer's character didn't appear in the flash-forward, which apparently would've cause all manner of spoiler problems. We regret passing along faulty information.) [THR]
· Amazing! Even in limited release, Brokeback Mountain just might be succeeding with some non-gays! [Variety]
· Doomed third circle of development hell project Watchmen is picked up by Warner Bros, who likely will torture fans of the comic book with the prospect of production before ultimately stuffing it head-first into a hole with some disgraced popes. [THR]
· The Academy snubs Sin City in its visual FX nominations, which we believe was payback for Jessica Alba playing a stripper but showing nary a nipple. [Variety]

King Kong A "Little Monkey" On Opening Day

mark · 12/15/05 08:07PM

King Kong, the box office's presumptive simian savior, opened yesterday to just $9.8 million (soon-to-be universally known trivia: this was just the 21st best Wednesday bow on record), and if you're anything like us, you completely forgot that the movie's already been released until you read a story about the disappointing take. Confronted with the low first-day number, Universal's head of distribution displayed a breezy confidence in her studio's product:

Defamer Comic-Con Report: Jack Black, King Kong Of Geeks

mark · 07/18/05 03:08PM

The just-appointed Defamer Special Correspondent for Comic Book Conventions files this report from this weekend's Comic-Con geek-orgy, in which Oscar-winning stars like Adrien Brody and Jamie Foxx are forced to face Q & A panel humiliation while Jack Black is worshipped as a god: