“Puss in Boots” steals second box office crown

Puss in Boots“Puss in Boots” snatched the domestic box office title from a band of working-class thieves in the new Eddie Murphy action-comedy “Tower Heist,” studio estimates released on Sunday showed.

“Puss in Boots,” an animated spinoff from the blockbuster “Shrek” movies, nabbed an estimated $48 million in global ticket sales during its second weekend in theaters.

That included an unexpectedly strong $33 million from U.S. and Canadian theaters, putting the 3D family film in first place domestically for the second week in a row.

This week’s win came as a surprise as industry watchers had forecast “Tower Heist” would steal the show. Domestic sales for “Puss” dropped just 3 percent from last week, far less than the typical decline of at least 40 percent after a debut weekend.

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Redbox to raise rates effective October 31st

In an e-mail sent to customers today, kiosk video rental company Redbox announced that it was raising rates on DVD movie rentals.  The increase — $1.20 a day vs. $1.00 a day — is necessary due to “to rising operating expenses, including new increases in debit card fees.”  The increase will not affect Blu-ray movies or video games rented from the company.

To soften the blow, from October 31 through November 30th, the company will discount the first day of a DVD rental to $1.00 with any additional days billed at the increased rate.

(For some reason, if you live in Maryland, the price increase will be 7 cents higher.)

Harry Potter to disappear from home video on December 29th

If you haven’t purchased your copies of the Harry Potter films on DVD or Blu-ray yet, you only have until the end of the year.

In a move similar to Disney’s periodic shelving of their classic titles, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group has announced that they will stop shipping new copys of the Harry Potter series to stores on December 29, 2011.

In a press release, the company announced:

Harry Potter, the #1 motion picture franchise of all time, will soon disappear from shelves, as Warner Bros. stops shipping all Harry Potter theatrical film titles (including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ – Part 2, and Harry Potter: The Complete 8-Film Collection) as of December 29, 2011 (moratorium does not include digital – Electronic Sell-Through & VOD – or games). The Harry Potter franchise has grossed more than $12.1 billion for Warner Bros. Entertainment – with $7 billion at the worldwide box office for Warner Bros. Pictures and $5.1 billion for Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

The latest (and final) entry in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, will arrive on store shelves on November 11.  A complete set, featuring all 8 Harry Potter films, will also be released that day.  With their disappearance guaranteed only a month later, Warner has virtually assured both releases – along with the back catalog – become hot sellers.  That is, until they release another set next year, I’m sure.

Ridley Scott to write and produce new “Blade Runner” film

For years now rumors of a new “Blade Runner” film have bounced around as various producers took hold of the license. In May, Alcon Entertainment, makers of “The Blind Side” among other projects, acquired rights to make either a prequel or sequel, and signed a deal with Warner Bros. to distribute whatever resulted. Well, now we know what that is.

Deadline is reporting that Ridley Scott, director of the iconic original “Blade Runner,” has signed a deal to direct a produce a new addition to the franchise. As of yet, nothing is known beyond that, particularly whether Scott will steer a prequel or sequel, or God forbid, a reboot. The other big question is whether they’ll reach out to Harrison Ford to participate; obviously with “Indiana Jones 4” the actor showed a willingness to return to classic roles.

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‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ dominates

Now here’s some monkey business that everyone in Hollywood will take seriously! ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ conquered the box office with a tremendous $54 million in its debut weekend. The $90 million Fox reboot/prequel exceeded all expectations and churned out the fifth-best August opening of all time. And it did it all without any of that pesky 3D!

‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ played primarily to an older male crowd. According to exit polling, 56 percent of the audience was male, while 59 percent were over the age of 25. Notably, 20 percent of the audience was at least 50 years old – perhaps fans of the original 1968 film. For the most part, viewers liked what they saw, as they gave ‘Rise’ a strong “A-” CinemaScore grade.

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‘Smurfs,’ ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ tie at box office

“Cowboys & Aliens” had the heft of two popular genres going for it.

The film, one of the most expensive movies to be released this year, also boasted two A-list actors in veterans Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig. And it had two Hollywood bigwigs behind the camera — Steven Spielberg as executive producer and “Iron Man’s” Jon Favreau as director, who in recent weeks has been exhaustively promoting the movie. And it was received well by the fanboy audience at Comic-Con International in San Diego, where it premiered late last month.

But rather than opening to twice the success, the film had disappointing ticket sales this weekend. In a surprise, “The Smurfs” — a critically panned live-action/computer-animated hybrid movie based on characters that originated more than 50 years ago — grossed far more than pre-release polling had indicated. As a result, on Sunday the studios behind the pictures estimated that each film would collect $36.2 million domestically by weekend’s end. Meanwhile, the weekend’s other new wide release, the adult romantic comedy “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” brought in a decent $19.3 million.

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George Lucas’ ‘Red Tails’ will finally hit theaters

George Lucas has been talking about Red Tails for a long, long time. If you look closely, you can find the film’s title mentioned in nearly every major article written about Lucas in over a decade.

Now, Red Tails finally has a release date: According to a press release issued by Lucasfilm, the film will open Jan. 20, 2012. Conventional wisdom says that late January is a strange time to release an epic war movie, but since when has George Lucas ever followed the conventional wisdom?

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Bono, U2 doc will open Toronto International Film Festival

A film about Bono and U2 will kick off the Toronto International Film Festival. Organizers on Tuesday announced that “From the Sky Down,” Davis Guggenheim’s documentary about the mega-band, will open the North American film showcase on Sept. 8.

Guggenheim, who won an Oscar for the environmental film “An Inconvenient Truth” and directed last year’s education-reform documentary “Waiting for Superman,” said that his new movie traces the arc of an act that has defied conventional wisdom. “In the terrain of rock bands, implosion or explosion is seemingly inevitable. U2 has defied the gravitational pull toward destruction,” he said in a statement.

U2 began life about three decades ago by making politically inflected rock songs and has reinvented its sound numerous times. It’s one of the all-time top-grossing acts, with Bono of course regarded as a prominent activist for numerous causes, particularly in the Third World.

The “Sky” choice is rare for Toronto, which in its 35 previous editions has never opened with a documentary and frequently opens with a Canadian film (last year’s opener was “Score: A Hockey Musical”). Organizers have not said whether Bono will come to the festival.

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‘Expendables’ Seizes Top Box Office Spot With $35M

Sylvester Stallone has proven that he’s not quite expendable yet at the box office.

Stallone and his pumped-up pals lifted Lionsgate’s 1980s-style action romp “The Expendables” to a No. 1 debut with $35 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

While the macho “Expendables” lured male audiences, Julia Roberts delivered a crowd-pleaser for women with Sony’s “Eat Pray Love,” which opened at No. 2 with $23.7 million.

The previous weekend’s top movie, Sony’s cop comedy “The Other Guys,” slipped to third place with $18 million, raising its 10-day total to $70.5 million. The Warner Bros. blockbuster “Inception” was fourth with $11.4 million, lifting its total to $248.6 million.

Opening in fifth place with $10.5 million was Universal’s graphic-novel adaptation “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” starring Michael Cera as a slacker caught up in duels to the death with his new girlfriend’s seven evil ex-boyfriends.

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Joss Whedon confirms he will direct “Avengers”

Joss Whedon confirmed at Comic-Con on Thursday that he is, indeed, directing “The Avengers.”

“It’s not an official thing, I think because Marvel couldn’t afford a press release,” the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator said during a panel with fellow fanboy favorite J.J. Abrams. “So can we make that an official thing? I’m directing ‘The Avengers.'”

The project is based on a Marvel comic all-star series that brought together Captain America, the Hulk and Iron Man, among others.

“I am still writing an outline. I’m still in that stage,” Whedon said. “I will say the thing I love about it, the thing that made me excited to do it, is how counterintuitive it is. These people shouldn’t be in the same room — and that is the very definition of family.”

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