News Column

Philadelphia Daily News Howard Gensler column

July 22, 2013


July 22--IF YOU PICKED "The Conjuring" to gross $41.5 million this past weekend and finish No. 1 at the box office, perhaps you should be running a studio.

The truth-based haunted-house horror, starring Vera Farmiga, Lili Taylor, Patrick Wilson and Ron Livingston, unseated three-week champ "Despicable Me 2," which dropped to second place with $25 million.

"The Conjuring" was among four new releases this weekend. The newest animated offering, "Turbo," opened with $21.5 million, good for third place.

But big-budget crime caper "R.I.P.D." opened with a disappointing $12.76 million. The film reportedly cost more than $130 million to make.

"R.I.P.D." joins other big-budget summer flops such as "Pacific Rim," "White House Down," "After Earth" and "The Lone Ranger."

"Despite the fact there have been some high-profile, high-budget flops, the summer to date is up 12 percent from last year," Paul Dergarabedian of said. "For mid-July, to have a modestly budgeted horror film top the weekend tells you how important it is for audiences to have options."

The Adam Sandler-produced "Grown Ups 2" held onto fourth place in its second week of release, earning $20 million.

"Red 2," which stars Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren as retired CIA operatives, debuted in fifth with $18.5 million.

'Glee' update

"Glee" executive producer Ryan Murphy is planning a tribute episode to honor the series' deceased star, Cory Monteith.

In remarks to news outlets, Murphy said the tribute would address the death of Monteith's character, Finn. That show will be the season's third episode, following two episodes that had already been written.

Then the series will go on hiatus to reassess its direction, Murphy said.

Murphy said he had helped stage an intervention in his office for Monteith last March.

"He wanted to continue working and we said, 'That's not an option. No. The TV show doesn't matter, your life matters,' " he told Eonline. Monteith's rehab began soon thereafter.

Comic-Con recap

"Man of Steel" director Zack Snyder made a surprise appearance Saturday to announce he is making another Superman film and it will include Batman -- the first time the two superheroes will be united on the big screen.

He declined to reveal many details, saying the script is just being written. He then invited an actor onstage to read a passage to hint at the storyline.

"I am the man who beat you," read Harry Lennox, before an image of the Superman logo, backed by the Batman symbol, flashed on the screen.

Saturday's announcement about the film follows DC's debut last month of the Greg Pak-written Batman/Superman comic, an ongoing monthly comic illustrated by Jae Lee that was the top-selling title in June.

The book pairs the two characters together at a time in their lives when they're both young and still adapting to being superheroes.

Production on the Superman sequel is set to begin next year. The film is expected to be released in summer 2015.

--The cast of "The Hunger Games" made its Comic-Con debut, along with the trailer for "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire."

Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth and Lenny Kravitz were among the film's stars who watched the trailer for the first time Saturday with more than 6,000 fans.

Lawrence and Hutcherson also talked about their kissing scenes in the film. She said they involved "a lot of slobber."

Hutcherson said, "It will be really hot if you're into snot."

--Ian McKellan, Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, Hugh Jackman and other "X-Men" mutants thrilled fans by uniting on stage Saturday in Comic-Con's largest hall.

Director Bryan Singer also gave fans a first look at "X-Men: Days of Future Past," which is currently filming in Montreal.

McKellan said he was happy to be back in California at Comic-Con.

"I feel safe here now that you got rid of Prop. 8," he said, referring to the recently abolished law that prohibited same-sex marriage.

"I'm looking for a husband," he said. "It's great to meet you, Michael."

Fassbender blushed.

- Daily News wire services contributed to this report.


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