Michael Moore on the Awful TruthIn my review for Michael Moore’s latest film Sicko, I referenced a segment from Moore’s short lived television show The Awful Truth. The segment featured a father who was being denied an operation by his HMO which could/would save his life. Moore confronted the HMO company Humana with the case, and when they didn’t respond, they held a public funeral for Chris in front of the HMO’s offices. I won’t ruin the end result, but I will say it’s a must watch, one of the best things Moore has ever done. This segment was the origin of the Sicko documentary. One of the /Film readers sent me a link to this segment on YouTube. Check it out after the jump.
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 In a summer full of big blockbuster movies, adaptations, sequels and threequels, you would think that Hollywood would have made some record scratch. Not so! According to the AP, attendance is running behind last summer’s and has even fallen below that of the summer of 2005. According to Media By Numbers, 279 million tickets had been sold thus far compared with 315 million at this same point in 2002.  But this is not what was supposed to happen. Industry analysts predicted the first $4 billion summer in history,  but we’re at the midway point and it’s not looking probable. As of this past weekend, Hollywood has made $1.9 billion since the first weekend in May. And $945 million of that number comes from just three movies (Pirates 3, Spider-Man 3, and Shrek the Third).

And there are a few biggies waiting in the bull pen: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Bourne Ultimatum, Rush Hour 3, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, The Simpsons Movie and Hairspray. But as you might notice, most of them are medium sized majors, not on the same level with a Spider-Man 3. Potter is likely to make $300 million domestically, but the rest probably won’t come close.

May-be the problem is that none of the huge releases really connected with the audiences. Most of the films resulted with bad reviews and bad word of mouth. And the good flicks (Ratatouille, Once, Sicko) got buried in the mix.

Sicko PosterThe numbers are in and Michael Moore’s Sicko has made an estimated $4.5 million in it’s first weekend on just 441 screens. This is well above expectations. The Weinstein Co has plans to expand the release in the coming weeks, beginning with the addition of 200 more screens on Tuesday. And with 93% of moviegoers saying they would strongly recommend the film (according the studio’s exit polls), this film could have legs. The film was leaked online weeks before it’s theatrical release. This could be the first case where movie piracy helped greatly in the promotion of a Hollywood release. Check out the studio’s release after the jump. Read More »

Movie Review: Sicko is a MUST SEE

 Sicko

I’ve always thought that Michael Moore doesn’t get the credit he deserves. People complain that his films aren’t documentaries because they only show one side of the story. These same people watch a film like Super Size Me or, well, see that’s the problem. There aren’t that many documentaries that are overtly accessible to the public.
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 Live Free or Die Hard

Live Free or Die Hard made an estimated $9.1 million on Wednesday, according to 20th Century Fox. Obviously, this number comes no where near the Wednesday Opening Day Record set by Spider-Man 2 ($40.4 million). Fox considers this a good number. Most people were projecting $8-$10 million. So it’s good but not great. You can now expect the film to take in around $35 to $40 million for the 5-day opening (Wednesday to Sunday).

But tomorrow, three new movies will challenge John McClane: Disney/Pixar’s Ratatouille, Michael Moore’s Sicko and Focus Features’ Evening. Ratatouille is tracking low for a Pixar film, and will probably take in anywhere from $40 – $50 million. Let’s hope for a bigger number, the film deserves it. Sicko is a limited release which I’m being told will be shown in almost 450 screens. At around $25,000 per screen, Moore’s film should be able to take in $10+ million. And if the film can pull that kind of number, expect The Weinstein Co to expand the release through out the month of July.

iPhone

The summer movie season is in full effect. I saw Live Free or Die Hard last night and loved it despite the many logic holes and ridiculous stunts (read my review here). Tonight I see License to Wed, which I don’t have much hope for (why does Mandy Moore keep picking the crappiest movies? I really want her to succeed). I would assume the studio also doesn’t have much hope for the film considering it’s being released against Transformers, possibly the biggest movie of the Summer. And before next week Sicko and Ratatouille hit theaters on Friday. I would venture to say that in this 7 day span you will be able to see at least 3 of the best movies of the year thus far (and I haven’t seen Transformers yet, so that could be four). So if there is anytime this summer to make the trip to the multiplex, I recommend you do it this or next week.

The hype for Transformers is now reaching epic heights. I’m seeing the movie on Thursday, but I’ve talked to quite a few people who saw it at the Los Angeles Junket and so far I haven’t heard one complaint. It looks like Michael Bay may have come through this time. I’m so excited for this film that the other day I decided to buy a new transformers movie toy. May-be it was just an attempt to relive my childhood, who knows. The huge Optimus Prime toy is more of a puzzle than a toy, and provided way more fun than it should have. Optimus Prime is now guarding my DVD collection until further notice.

It’s also pretty sweet to see that one of my favorite directors Kevin Smith quoted from my Die Hard review on his website. I’ve had a couple e-mail exchanges with Smith in the past over a story inaccuracy, where the director admitted that he’s been a long time reader of /Film. Anyways, Smith referred to me as “My man Pete at /Film” on his blog post, which is really cool.

And I’m going to try as much as I can not to buy an Apple iPhone on Friday afternoon. The verizon pocket pc I currently use really REALLY sucks. I recommend that no one ever buy a Windows Mobile phone. Windows was never meant to be an operating system for a phone. I’m a little put off by the whole Cingular/AT&T service provider change, but more importantly, the whole slower EDGE internet thing is what concerns me the most. The phone does have Wi-Fi enabled, but you can’t find an open wi-fi network everywhere, and while in transit it’s currently impossible. San Francisco is supposed to eventually (hopefully) get free wi-fi internet courtesy of Earthlink and Google, but that could be a year off. Now that would be cool.

Peter Sciretta
/Film Editor in Chief

Sicko Sells Out, Weinstein Expands Release

SiCKO PosterMore Sicko News (yes, it’s the week of release, so expect this to be the final ramp up): As we previously reported, Michael Moore’s film premiered this weekend on one screen at an New York City Upper West Side AMC/Lowes theater. The good news is that the film sold out ALL of its shows, and made $70,000. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, remember that’s just for one screen. To give you perspective, 1408 made around $7,500 per screen this weekend.

Apparently tons of moviegoers were turned away, and ticket scalpers were hawking tickets outside the theater. Michael Moore even showed up unannounced on Friday night. Sicko also sold out all of its sneak previews on Saturday night, which took place on 43 screens.

The Weinstein Co and Lionsgate were originally planning on releasing the documentary in 200-250 theaters, and that number was pre-internet leak. Many people assumed the company would downplay the release, but it seems like Weinstein was very impressed with this weekends results. The film will now be released on 300 to 400 screens, almost half the amount of Moore’s 2004 doc Fahrenheit 9/11.

Weinstein told Variety that he didn’t expect the film to sellout in places like Randolph, Mass., and Buffalo, N.Y., and that exit polls on the film were unusually high (ie people loved the flick). I saw the film a few weeks back and think it’s the best film of the year (so far).

Sicko on Building, /Film RenderingIn the wake of the internet leak, The Weinstein Co are doing all they can to promote Sicko. It makes me wonder if they hired new people since the Grindhouse disaster. The latest idea involves the movie trailer for Michael Moore’s latest to be projected on buildings across the country on Monday June 25th, beginning at sundown through 1:00am.

The trailer will be projected with full sound and subtitles on the outside of buildings near the headquarters of leading HMOs, insurance companies and hospitals in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Oakland. Sounds almost like one of those clever commercials by the anti-tobacco group Truth. Check out a full list of locations after the jump.
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