AUGUST 2004 NEWS
Box Office News - KING ARTHUR:
For a Jerry Bruckheimer film that has struggled to around $51 million in the U.S., King
Arthur is proving to be a far more valiant performer overseas... The knights' tale
commanded the top spot in Germany... "It's a good, historical action film that may
have gotten lost in the U.S. but may draw more interest here," said one German
booker. In Spain, one exhib noted, "It's had a good marketing campaign, and it makes
sense that it should attract more audiences in Europe than in the U.S." King
Arthur has minted $95 million in 32 territories through Aug. 24 and over the weekend
will rank as the 16th title to surpass $100 million abroad this year. With Greece, Brazil,
Italy and China ahead, the adventure has a shot at reaching $150 million.
Office News - EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING:
After ten days the film has grossed almost $31 million. That at least pays for Paul
Schrader's version! Over the weekend ticket sales were higher for new openers, Hero
and The Hunt for the Blood Orchid, but both failed to make as much as the opening
weekend for Exorcist. With weekend openers Suspect Zero and Superbabies:
Baby Geniuses 2 only making about $3 million each, Exorcist topped them at
the box office with $6.7 million.
A week later EXORCIST:
THE BEGINNING continues in 3000 theatres across the country! Be
sure to check out all the
praise on Stellan's performance by
film critics. Interesting to note that King Arthur made $3 million less than Exorcist
on its opening weekend.
Swedish publication, Göteborgs-Posten, had a video clip covering Exorcist
and its L.A. premiere. In an inteview Stellan talks about the film - "it turned into
two different movies, two different genres, with two different temperaments of directors.
Now I see it as two movies. I got two paychecks, but, unfortunately, I had to wear the
same clothing twice."
some of Stellan's comments from the
issue of Interview magainze, in which he interviews Mexican star,
Diego Luna. You can also read his interview with Paul Bettany in their
December 2003 issue where Stellan observes that
"Reality's constantly simplified by politicians, journalists, and in fiction. I think
it's our duty to complicate the characters we're playing."
According to the Norwegian publication, Verdens Gang (8/19/04),
Kate Winslet's desire not to disrupt her oldest child's schooling has forced Norwegian
director Liv Ullmann to delay the production start of her film, A DOLL'S HOUSE.
Shooting was to begin in January but has now been pushed to June 2005. There was a denial
that the production would be cancelled as some reports have suggested. However, no final
contracts have been signed pending a finalized budget. Ms. Ullmann said Kate (who plays
the main character Nora) made a polite request, and "since other members of the cast
could reschedule, we agreed to the postponement". Kate and Stellan (playing the role
of Dr. Rank) will be joined by John Cusack. The production is slated to be filmed on
location in the west coast city of Alesund. The photo shows Ms.Ullmann with producers
Tomas Backstrom and Petter Borgli.
Jo Tucker of Reel Talk Reviews wrote a wonderful review highlighting Stellan's
role as Father Merrin - here are some excerpts:
Some priests perform exorcisms by choice; others have exorcisms thrust upon
them. Such is the lot of Father Lankester Merrin, an intriguing character moviegoers first
discovered over thirty years ago in The Exorcist, one of filmdoms most
popular horror movies. Fans whove been wondering how this courageous priest became
an exorcism specialist finally have their answers in Exorcist: The Beginning, a
prequel starring Stellan Skarsgård in the role originally played by Max von Sydow. This
prequel gives Skarsgård a chance to deliver a moving performance as a disenchanted
man of the cloth who must go through fire and brimstone before regaining his faith...
Director Renny Harlin brought on board to infuse the film with more action and thrills
than presented in Paul Schraders version of the prequel, manages to create a hint of
Indiana Jones-like atmosphere in several sequences showing archeologist Merrin (who, in
1949, says hes no longer a priest) searching for a particular artifact in a buried
African church. Surprisingly, the flashbacks depicting why Merrin lost his faith come
across as the most frightening part of this horror movie...
Although the movie belongs to Skarsgård, cast members Izabella Scorupco, James
DArcy and Remy Sweeney are more than satisfactory in their supporting roles... As I
watched Skarsgård play a man struggling with his Catholic faith, I became more involved
with that aspect of this film than with its special effects and horror elements.
Heres an actor who knows how to show compassion for others while expecting none for
himself, who can express determination despite impossible odds, and who makes us believe
the changes his character goes through as he deals with evil - whether in the
form of his own cynicism, the behavior of others, or demonic possession. Because of
Skarsgård, I forgot about The Exorcist and concentrated on his mesmerizing
interpretation of Lankester Merrin. Its truly one of the years most
IMDB is no longer listing Stellan in the GOAL! soccer trilogy (info in
the 8/18 update below) so I assume he has dropped out of this production, although I can't
confirm this. In the July 17th edition of Sweden's Helsingborgs Dagblad, the
article describes how Stellan is enjoying an interval of rest in his homeland before
leaving for the USA in August, not only to attend the Exorcist premiere, but to
also work on a short film by British director Benjamin Ross [Torte Bluma, a
not-for-profit short about the Holocaust set in the Treblinka concentration camp, was shot
in NYC August 1-14].
When Stellan was asked about his favorite co-star, he named Holly Hunter. They
have previously starred together in two other films - Harlan County War and Time
Code. And Stellan is often likened to William Hurt. In a June 4, 1998 article, the Montreal
Mirror predicted that "Skarsgård was fast becoming a William Hurt-type
hunk around international casting circles."
EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING debuted as the No. 1 weekend movie with
$18.2 million. Obviously, the film had solid appeal for horror fans, who
typically turn out in droves on opening weekend. Box-office tracker Paul Dergarabedian
reports that "there's just this built-in audience base that loves this genre."
The opening was better than expected according to Dan Fellman, distribution president at
Warner Bros. Pictures handling the release on behalf of Morgan Creek Productions. How long
the film stays in theatres is another matter. By the way, check out
more pics from the premiere.
During an interview at Wednesday night's premiere, Stellan was asked if he
thought the Exorcist production has been cursed. He replied, "I
don't believe in curses." (Finally, a sane person!) and then went on to say,
"I think it's visually a very strong movie and hopefully a scary movie."
The 1973 version inspired us by showing heroic priests facing ultimate evil armed only
with faith, and The Beginning gets that right too. By now you've probably heard
or read that the film has been unmercifully flogged by critics, some disgruntled enough to
bushwhack the film by revealing every scenario including the climax! Is there some
exemption that comes with horror genre films that makes reviewers think they should
disclose every nugget of surprise for the cinema audience???
Bla, bla, bla...
Not to mention that this film has been mounted extravagantly is a blatant
omission from any reviewer, regardless of whether they panned the script, the satanic
hyenas, the upside-down crosses, blah, blah, blah. Stellan's reputation
surely rises above all this blather, and I salute every film critic who
mentioned his performance with due praise. David Germain, AP writer whose Exorcist
review is picked up by hundreds of newspapers across the country - shame on you! Stefano
Ortolanis set designs are evocative and the great Italian cinematographer Vittorio
Storaro's (Last Tango in Paris, Apocalypse Now) imagery is moody and atmospheric
with shades of some of his previous films, namely, The Sheltering Sky (a
favorite of mine). Personally, I would have preferred a more complex portrait of Merrin's
inner struggle with his relationship to God and his acceptance of evil in the world. Evil
is always a particularly fascinating subject for me, not evil manifested by scary images,
but more frighteningly in ordinary, unpossessed humans. (Why does Scott Peterson come to
mind?) The flashbacks to the Holocaust were probably the most powerful scenes of the film,
reminiscent of Spielberg's Schindler's List. Perhaps Paul Schrader's version will
be more satisfying in the genre of psychological thriller. Anyone who has written Raging
Bull and Taxi Driver, and also written and directed Affliction, is
a person with worthy credentials! Guess we'll all have to wait until the DVD comes out.
EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING OPENS TODAY!
From ALL MOVIE GUIDE...
"Renowned for giving measured characterizations that draw their
strength from a delicate complexity, Skarsgård is one of those rare actors who is able to
do strong work regardless of the quality of the material he is in, displaying the sort of
quiet fortitude that allows him to survive even the worst screen fiascoes."
Exorcist premiere on Wednesday
evening, Stellan answered a few questions regarding the two versions of the film.
"The first one we did was more of a psychological thriller, basically about a man in
crisis. For the Renny Harlin movie... I changed the performance. I even changed the makeup
actually. You have to adapt to the material and the kind of film you're doing. I think I
went much darker in the Schrader version." Me thinks I would prefer the darker
Click here to read another brief
interview regarding the two versions. There were no advanced copies sent out so reviews
will slowly trickle in this weekend. Now excuse me while I head for the nearest movie
of the Day: Has Max Von Sydow and Stellan ever appeared in a film together?
Actress Izabella Scorupco has previously acted with Stellan's oldest son, Alexander, in
the 2000 film Dykaren.
The creation of
Stellan Skarsgård Online continues, but I have to admit it's been slower
than expected with all the news flowing in resulting from two blockbusters hitting
theatres this summer. It's been a bit overwhelming... The "press" and
"images" sections are beginning to expand - check them out now and then. There
is great satisfaction realizing how much the world respects and honors this gifted Swedish
EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING will take possession of
the big screen! Last evening the
film's premiere was
held at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. Paparazzi cameras clicked away taking
several poses of Stellan, co-star Izabella Scorupco, director Renny Harlin & his
girlfriend Martina. The only television coverage I saw was on Extra with Harlin
saying a few words about the film, and then a brief shot of Stellan standing alone among
the photographers. Court TV's Hollywood Heat did a ten-minute segment on the
film, which showed some production video of Stellan on location, as well as several movie
scenes of him never shown before.
are two Swedish videos (via Real Player) of Stellan available at the Sveriges
Television web site. These are interviews that were used in the promotion of his
film King Arthur. The
features a few of Stellan's scenes from the film, as well as clips from the 1968 TV
mini-series, Bombi Bitt och jag, showing the teen-aged Stellan, but
remarkedly quite recognizable. There are shorter clips of Deep Blue Sea, Aberdeen and
Den Enfaldige mördaren (The Simple-Minded Murder), for which he won the
1982 Silver Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival. The
also includes the same clip from Den Enfaldige mördaren as well as
footage from King Arthur - "Finally, a man worth killing."
September's issue of Interview magazine features a
piece on Mexican star, Diego Luna. The interview was conducted by none other than Stellan.
Not that surprising since he is co-starring with Diego in GOAL!, a
trilogy that charts the rise of a young Latino from the barrios of East Los Angeles who
goes on to become an international soccer star. In the first movie, he breaks through with
British team Newcastle United. In the second, a couple of years later, he gets transferred
to Euro champs Real Madrid in Spain. The trilogy climaxes with his going for the 2006
World Cup in Germany. Production was stalled when director Michael Winterbottom quit the
$100 million franchise in May citing "creative differences". Stellan will star
in the first film playing the coach of Newcastle United. [updated - Stellan has dropped
out of this production]
info on Exorcist had some great
notes in which Ms. Scorupco speaks so kindly of Stellan - "What
convinced me to fly to Rome with a four month-old baby was the chance to work with Stellan
Skarsgård. I am from Sweden and hes one of our biggest, most respected actors. It
is just the most beautiful gift to be a part of the production where he is and be around
him and his energy."
Trivia: Though Stellan is 51 (in real life) when he plays the
younger Father Merrin, Max Von Sydow was actually only 44 years old when he played the
older Father Merrin.
issue of horror magazine Fangoria features Stellan on the cover. Evidently, the
mag has a slew of dark and gory photos from
BEGINNING. Director Paul Schrader's version was intended to be a more subtle,
psychological thriller, whereas the final version by Renny Harlin will have satanic
creatures, blood-stained walls, possessed children and more.
"The Curse of the Exorcist" was shown on E! True Hollywood
Story. There are encore viewings on 8/17 and 8/26. Check your local TV guides for
exact times. In the last twenty minutes of this two-hour presentation, the prequel was
discussed. Included were interviews with the producers as well as with directors Paul
Schrader and Renny Harlin. There was some footage of scenes being shot with Stellan and
some footage showing Stellan off-camera. He was never interviewed nor was there any
dialogue. He looks terrific either in his priestly garb or safari clothing. The producers
indicated they would also release Schrader's version ($30 million), recouping some of
their money by distributing it to DVD, cable, network and syndication. Except for some
preliminary location shots in North Africa, the premiering version ($60 million) will not
include any scenes from the first version. The end result is that Skarsgård fans can look
forward to two movies in his role as Father Merrin instead of one! The film debuts in the
US on 3000 screens this Friday! Sweden theatre-goers will have to wait until November 5th.
Most other countries can expect an October or November premiere.
here for the extended international trailer.
information on the two versions of this film, read this week's LA Weekly
article, "Exorcist: The Beginning, a story of
I agree with
some of Larry Carroll's comments (Countingdown.com) during early production - "I like
the fact that Liam Neeson has been replaced with Stellan Skarsgård, a fine actor whose
ability to throw around intense, world-weary glances is unequalled. Skarsgård is not only
physically appropriate to portray a younger Merrin, but he also doesn't carry the same
'star' baggage that Neeson would have had with audiences."
Last month audiences were entertained by
ARTHUR when Clive Owen and Stellan both stood on the battlefield ready to
wage war against one another. Unbeknownst to most audiences, these two actors were on much
friendlier terms when they previously co-starred in a brilliant short film called
POWDER KEG, one of eight films in "The
Hire" series that BMW produced to promote their cars back
in 2001. Bruce Bildsten, creative director at Fallon Minneapolis, noted
that the primary goal of casting was to find top-notch actors, not necessarily household
names. "Stellan is one of those great actors you see in film over the years, whether
it be in U.S. or European movies. He looked the part; he felt the part, he delivered the
In the July 9th
issue of Swedish newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, Stellan comments on his role
in King Arthur as the hairy Saxon chief saying it took half a kilo of glue to
keep his wig and beard on!
Quote - Acting and God:
"To me, what's fun with acting is inventing people. It's almost as close to being
God; you know, creating life like that? (pause) I've got six kids. That's closer to