‘Contagion’ tops the box office

'Contagion' tops the box office

The thriller starring Matt Damon knocks “The Help” out of first place for the first time in three weeks.

“Contagion” infected enough moviegoers to catch the top spot at the box office. The Warner Bros. pandemic thriller directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring an A-list cast that includes Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow coughed up $23.1 million in its first weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The film’s contagious opening marked the beginning of the fall movie season by exceeding the studio’s estimates. “I think Steven Soderbergh made a compelling movie that tapped into that fear that many of us have about illnesses, viruses and pandemics,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. general sales manager. “It’s like a train or car accident. You can’t look away. You prefer not to think about it, but when it’s presented to you, you want to learn more.”

Despite the breakout success of “Contagion,” it was the lowest grossing weekend of the year so far for the film industry, according to Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com. Dergarabedian said that’s typical for the weekend after Labor Day and expected business to pick up in the coming weeks as the Academy Awards race begins.

“There are some great titles that are on the way,” said Dergarabedian. “I see several promising films — Oscar contenders like “50/5/” ‘The Descendants’ and ‘Ides of March,’ and even potential big moneymakers like “Real Steel”

“The Help” the acclaimed DreamWorks Pictures drama distributed by Disney about black Southern maids speaking out during the civil-rights movement, slipped to No. 2 with $8.7 million after three straight weeks at the top, bringing its domestic total to $137 million.

“Warrior,” the Lionsgate mixed-martial arts drama starring Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton, punched up a $5.6 million debut in the No. 3 position. David Spitz, head of distribution for Lionsgate, said he expects <“Warrior” to mirror the simmering success of “The Help.”

“The film has gotten unbelievable reviews,” said Spitz. “The audience reaction we’re getting on the movie is consistent. People like the film. It’s a slow burn. We think we’re going to be in theaters for a long time.”

Contagion: The Epidemic of Fear

Contagion: The Epidemic of Fear

Nothing spreads like fear.

Contagion follows the rapid progress of a lethal airborne virus that kills within days. As the fast-moving epidemic grows, the worldwide medical community races to find a cure and control the panic that spreads faster than the virus itself. At the same time, ordinary people struggle to survive in a society coming apart.

Contagion is directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Scott Z. Burns. The project was announced in February 2010 with the news that Matt Damon and Jude Law were cast in Contagion in their first collaboration since The Talented Mr. Ripley in 1999. Kate Winslet and Marion Cotillard joined the cast later in the month. Sodebergh received cooperation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and also worked with a group of scientific advisers for the film.

While the international medical community searches for a cure, confrontational freelance journalist Alan Krumwiede pursues an agenda of his own. Combining a genuine reporter’s instinct with a pathological distrust of all things official and a flair for the dramatic, he commits his popular blog to exposing the truth about the growing epidemic…as he sees it.

“His demand for the truth could be seen as heroic,” says Jude Law, starring as the man who claims—among other things—that there are more deaths than are being reported, and possibly an alternative cure being suppressed. “He believes people have a right to know and that information should be shared, especially when it’s something on this scale, and he was the first to break the story of a man dying on a Tokyo bus, who turned out to be one of the virus’ first victims. He has the courage of his convictions but his pride and ego often get in the way. He casts too broad a net for his stories and doesn’t always care about the repercussions of what he puts out there.”

Contagion: The Epidemic of Fear

“Krumwiede is not always wrong,” Soderbergh points out. But neither is he always right. And what he broadcasts takes on a life of its own as people desperate for answers turn to his blog. As the disease continues to proliferate, so does his subscriber base, from modest beginnings to 2 million, then 12 million people. “There are always conspiracy theories that percolate around significant events,” says Burns. “And just as a virus begins with one person and spreads, Krumwiede becomes the ‘index patient’ for what becomes a parallel epidemic of fear and panic.”

In developing the complex and undeniably charismatic character, Soderbergh recounts, “Jude and I talked about bloggers who take an anti-government, conspiracy theory approach—what they sound like, what they look like, and how they behave. We definitely wanted him to have a messianic streak.”

“What’s interesting is that you’re not really sure about him,” says Jacobs. “Is the government really hiding something and does the herbal remedy he’s talking about really work? I think we all suspect at one time or another that we’re not getting the whole truth, and in that sense Krumwiede represents the audience’s point of view.” “But,” Law confirms, “ultimately, he crosses the line.”

Representing one of Krumwiede’s prime targets is Elliott Gould, re-teaming with Soderbergh and his three-time “Ocean’s” co-star Matt Damon, as Dr. Ian Sussman, a San Francisco-based medical researcher working independently on a possible vaccine—against CDC orders. Monique Gabriela Curnen (“The Dark Knight”) also appears as a newspaper editor, Lorraine Vasquez, who dismisses Krumwiede’s bid for an exclusive just before the contagion breaks.

Contagion

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne, Jennifer Ehle, Anna Jacoby-Heron, Josie Ho, Sanaa Lathan
Screenplay by: Scott Z. Burns
Production Design by: Howard Cummings
Cinematography by: Steven Soderbergh
Film Editing by: Stephen Mirrione
Costume Design by: Louise Frogley
Set Decoration by: Cindy Carr
Art Direction by: Abdellah Baadil, Simon Dobbin, David Lazan
Music by: Cliff Martinez
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for disturbing content and some language.
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: September 9, 2011

Related Link: View Full Production Notes for Contagion Movie

Gwyneth Paltrow turns love of food into a book

Gwyneth Paltrow turns love of food into a book

Surely Gwyneth Paltrow can’t do everything well: She’s yet to enter the field of medicine or play professional sports, for example. But the list of things the Oscar-winning actress, mother, lifestyle guru, and newly minted singer can’t do seems to be dwindling. At a recent dinner party, she proved herself a master at yet another role — domestic goddess.

“I am just exploding with joy for her because this is something that gives her tremendous satisfaction,” said Paltrow’s mother, actress Blythe Danner, as she watched her daughter move about in an apron, playing host to a crowd that included A-list celebrity friends like Jay-Z, Jerry Seinfeld, Cameron Diaz and beau Alex Rodriguez, Martha Stewart and Paltrow’s husband, Chris Martin of Coldplay.

It was a dinner party Monday in celebration of her new cookbook, “My Father’s Daughter,” sponsored by One Kings Lane. The book is filled with family recipes and pays tribute to Paltrow’s dad Bruce, who passed away in 2002. She credits him with teaching her how to cook while cultivating her love for food.

Gwyneth Paltrow took a break from her hostess duties at the event to talk with The Associated Press about her culinary endeavor.

This book pays tribute to your father. What are some of your fondest memories of cooking with him?

Gwyneth Paltrow: Sort of just the togetherness of being next to him. We didn’t talk a lot when we were cooking. We were very concentrated. It was that proximity. Sometimes he would make a joke or just throw out some hilarious criticism but in a sweet way. It was just being next to each other.

What are some of your favorite cooking traditions that you shared with your father that you now enjoy with your own children?

Gwyneth Paltrow: I think the importance of eating together as a family and making homemade food that is nourishing and good for you. It is such a nice time because my dad used to really talk to us when we ate dinner and see what we thought about things and now I use that opportunity to do the same thing with my kids as well.

This has been a transformative year for you — singing on big platforms such as the Grammys and the Oscars, and now releasing this cookbook. Is it just about acting anymore?

Gwyneth Paltrow: It has been a surprise for me as well. I have just had a great time. I feel very lucky that I am being able to try these other things. The cookbook isn’t a career change for me. I am just a working mom and this is how I do it, so I made the collection of recipes for anyone who was interested to see just me as one example of a working mother kind of a thing.

People see you as this celebrity, but do you really cook?

Gwyneth Paltrow: I do. Every day. I think it is really important to make food yourself. I think it is so engrained. I don’t really think about it. I will just get a bunch of ingredients and cook whatever is around. I am kind of always on the fly making stuff. I think it is such a part of who I am that I don’t even think about it now.

You have your own website and now there are reports that you are coming out with your own magazine. Is this true?

Gwyneth Paltrow: It is not true at all.

Critics say: “Iron Man 2” is not a big blow!

Critics say: "Iron Man 2" is not a big blow!

“Iron Man 2” that Hollywood hopes will start a lucrative summer movie on Friday, but many American critics feel the long-awaited sequel does not have the punch of its predecessor-super hero.

Actor Robert Downey Jr. dons the costume of high technology once again to fight against the nature of evil that has contributed to “Iron Man” to earn $ 585 million in worldwide box office in 2008. Most critics agreed that Downey Jr’s performance as a selfish billionaire Tony Stark has helped to overcome the shortcomings of bigger, more noisy film is pretty good but not better than the original.

“This is the jumble Downey talent that adds grace notes that do something Iron Man 2” remember, “said Peter Travers of Rolling Stone. The film, which opened a week ago outside a high of $ 100.2 million at the box office, obtained a rate of 64 per cent approval rating on rottentomatoes.com film aggregator.

Hollywood Reporter reviewer Kirk Honeycutt said the element of fun that made the 2008 original so terrible had gone into its second output. “In its place,” Iron Man 2 “has replaced the noise, confusion, many villains, stunts and stories unimportant wrong,” said Honeycutt.

Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan echoed a widespread view when he commented, “As suites go, it is acceptable, nothing more, nothing less.”

But Bill Goodykoontz Arizona Republic turned into a much more gentle, giving the film three and half stars out of 5 and to call it, “Bigger, more and more stupid than its predecessor,” Iron Man 2 “is still a lot of fun.”

While Tom Long to the Detroit News estimated there are too many new characters, crossing the lines of history, not romantic enough, he said, “Who cares?” Iron Man 2 ‘still rocks.”

Yet for many films promoted action primarily young, male audience, rarely mentioned, and the film is considered raking in the cash over the weekend to come.

“Iron Man 2” is expected to more than 120 million dollars during the opening in the U.S. and Canada this weekend. He launched four months of movies featuring some of the summer’s biggest stars of the industry that Hollywood studios hope to make $ 4 billion at the box office in North America.

Nelated Link: Iron Man 2 Movie Full Production Notes