Disney, the movie studio that can't buy a break these days, is about to have a very bad weekend.
Their big new $100 million-plus movie, "Around the World in 80 Days," opened on Wednesday to very little interest. Its take was about $1.5 million on over 2,700 screens.
According to boxofficemojo.com, the negatively-reviewed movie starring Jackie Chan had a $540 per screen average. That translates into about 50 people per theater.
"80 Days" finished at No. 7 on Wednesday. "Harry Potter," "Shrek 2" and "Garfield: The Movie" were the top three movies that night, and that's not a good thing since "80 Days" is being pegged as a family film. All of those others are family films, too, which means that over the weekend, families will likely be ignoring "80 Days" or viewing it as a fourth choice.
For Disney, the humiliation must be numbing at this point. They've recently released a series of expensive duds: "The Alamo," "The Ladykillers," and "Raising Helen."
The latter, which has barely made $33 million, will lose three-quarters of its theaters today, dropping to around 400 screens before it disappears completely.
Meantime, the No. 1 movie this weekend should be, deservedly, Steven Spielberg's "The Terminal."
The question is: How long can Disney's Michael Eisner continue to function this way? He's in public wars with Miramax and Pixar, the only Disney theatrical divisions that supply him with movies the public wants to see.
Without those two satellites, Disney is simply a company that no longer thrives on animated features and distributes live-action films that are piling up like so much detritus.
"80 Days," ironically, represents the second film in another Disney pact with a film supplier, Walden Media, which is owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz.
Walden's first Disney film, "Holes," based on the best-selling children's book, was a hit. Calls to Walden's Cary Granat last night were not returned, but Walden's next Disney venture is a remake, like "80 Days," of another Jules Verne classic, "Journey to the Center of the Earth."
Of course, the one hit film Disney could have had this summer, Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," is set for a blockbuster opening a week from today from Lions Gate and IFC Films. Look for a sneak opening on Wednesday, June 23 in New York to build what is already huge anticipation.
Could Monica Lewinsky have become another Susan McDougal? Insiders say Lewinsky's mother, Marcia Lewis, feared that her daughter could wind up going to jail like McDougal if she didn't give special prosecutor Kenneth Starr the information he demanded about former President Bill Clinton.
McDougal refused to help Starr by naming Clinton in the Whitewater scandal and wound up spending 18 months in prison. In the new movie "The Hunting of the President," which opens in New York today and which Fox Home Video will release on DVD later this summer, McDougal recounts with horror the treatment she received in prison. The movie is based on a bestselling book of the same name by Gene Lyons and Joe Conason.
The film, like the book, details what it claims was a complex conspiracy by very right-wing Republicans to fabricate the Whitewater scandal and smear the Clintons.
In the documentary, Claudia Riley, the widow of Arkansas' lieutenant governor, brings up McCarthyism and draws a parallel between Starr and the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
The McCarthy witchhunts produced propaganda that ruined people's lives, most infamously a publication called Red Channels. The Starr era produced a video called "The Clinton Chronicles," marketed and distributed by Rev. Jerry Falwell, which included some strong claims against Clinton. In "The Hunting of the President," however, Falwell, on camera, says he cannot back up "The Clinton Chronicles" now.
These are just some of the revelations in "The Hunting of the President." Most of the scandals that occurred during the Clinton administration are covered here, although the Lewinsky matter gets the briefest coverage.
Still, it's the treatment McDougal says she received in federal prison, as described in the film, that really hits home. She recalls that when she was transported to court, she would be placed in a cage in the center of a van and forced to wear the same red jumper as female child molesters and child killers. The male prisoners, she says, would expose themselves to her while she was in the cage.
This jibes with a similar description in her memoir, "The Woman Who Wouldn't Talk." "Everyone was laughing and cheering him on," McDougal wrote of one inmate who exposed himself. "A few weeks later I received a letter from the man, in which he apologized, and asked if I would send him an autograph."
Susan and Jim McDougal were both sent to prison. Jim died while incarcerated, while his ex-wife Susan was moved among seven different facilities over 18 months -- including one stint in solitary confinement in a soundproof, plexiglass box called the "Hannibal Lecter" cell.
No doubt Monica Lewinsky's parents didn't want the same thing for their daughter.
Lunching at Michael's yesterday in midtown: Kerzner Hotels music maven Jerry Inzerillo with MTV founder and Infinity Broadcasting head John Sykes, as well as TV producer Russ Kagan (about to be Emmy-nominated for "Caesar").
And this reporter was treated to lunch by Michael Flatley press agent Norah Lawlor, as well as Wenner Media PR guru-ette Lisa Dallos.
Everyone's favorite security chief, Mike Zimet, who did such a fine job handling this week's wild Michael Moore premiere at the Ziegfeld, stopped by to say "Hi."
Around the corner, on Fifth Avenue, famed photographer Annie Leibovitz was literally going to the dogs. She was photographing four incredibly stylish mutts for a Peninsula Hotel ad campaign.
"That one's great," I said, pointing to a very puffed up collie.
"I hate dogs," Annie replied. Oh my! Not everyone can be Meryl Streep, Annie...
Still smarting from my accidental meeting with Judy, wife of Michael Steinhardt, who didn't like my April report on their pal "Rabbi" Shmuley Boteach. Ouch!
Michael Steinhardt, son of a famous criminal, but himself a great philanthropist with his own petting zoo, turned out to be a gracious guy.
"But watch the wives," a friend of mine said later.
Indeed. Mrs. Steinhardt and I will each learn to separate church and state from now on....
Finally, here's the movie for you, Scott Rudin: Twenty-year-old heart-throb singer Peter Cincotti is best friends with Alex Goldman, a pitcher and shortstop for Skidmore College's baseball team.
I met the two good-looking young guys at my table the other night with the equally handsome MSNBC anchor Dan Abrams and his platonic companion, Court TV's Kimberly Guilfoyle, the beauteous wife of lucky, lucky San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom.
But get this: These lads have been friends since the seventh grade (they aren't gay, no implications please) but neither one of them likes the other's profession!
Call it "Bang the Drum Separately" or "Bat's Life." I see Michael Rapaport and Harry Connick, Jr., directed by Joel Schumacher, with Jennifer Garner as the girl who tore them apart....