``W.'' distributor Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. is betting the movie can break a box-office drought for political films. None of the five released in the weeks ahead of the Nov. 4 election has brought in more than half of the $55.3 million in sales generated by Walt Disney Co.'s ``Beverly Hills Chihuahua,'' the current box-office champ, since Oct. 3.
``A lot of eyes are on `W.,''' said Gitesh Pandya, editor of New York-based Box Office Guru LLC. ``There's certainly a lot of interest in it from the right and the left.'' The film ``has a shot at finding box-office success,'' he said.
The movie, which opens tomorrow, may take in about $34 million in its first four weeks in U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Los Angeles-based Cantor Fitzgerald LP's HSX Research, which tracks film performance.
An Arkansas TV reporter that had a bit part in Oliver Stone's movie "W" was found beaten unconscious in her Little Rock home on October 20 and in its report on the crime the Associated Press seemed to decide that she was beaten merely because she had appeared in the movie though this impression the AP seems to have is not supported by the police. One wonders why the AP decided to spend almost half its story focusing on her movie role when reporting this crime? Is the AP trying to say her connection with George W. Bush got her attacked? It sure seems like the AP is seized by another bout of Bush Derangement Syndrome with its unnecessary emphasis on this reporter's film role.
The APs obsession with the victim's movie role was odd, indeed. Even in its first few lines the AP ties KATV anchor Ann Pressly to her movie work saying in its first sentence that she "had a small part in the Bush biopic 'W.'" The AP takes pains to point out that in the movie, Pressly "speaks favorably of President Bush's 'Mission Accomplished' event on an aircraft carrier shortly after the start of the Iraq war." The report speaks about how she won the role in the film and then adds this odd sentence:
Entertainment Weekly's Joshua Rich reported on the weekend's box office returns for the latest releases on October 19 to let us all in on Hollywood's successes and failures, because, you know, Hollywood is important and all. We find that the Chihuahua movie is still going like gangbusters ($70 million in three weeks) and the horrid movie "Max Payne" led the weekend's receipts with $18 million. Oliver Stone's slamfest "W," though, earned a disappointing fourth place on its debut weekend.
So, what was EW's excuse for this disappointing finish? According to Rich, "W" is failing at the box office because of "tough economic times.” It’s curious, though, that people have spent $70 million on the Chihuahua movie in these same "tough economic times" -- and let us not forget that the latest Batman movie has made over $300 million. Still, the excuse for the fourth place finish for Stone's pseudo-biopic is "tough economic times," just the same.
But, Rich’s excuse is a claim that even Entertainment Weekly itself has recently disputed, at least as far as the box office goes. Only a few weeks ago, the weekend that right-wing comedy "An American Carol" debuted, the same Box Office Report column said that the "economy may be tanking, but the box office remains healthy, with probably the only year-on-year metric that's seen an uptick."
The film critic -- who gave the film just one and a half stars -- cracked that the script sounded like recycled Maureen Dowd cartoons and scoffed at the "uneven pleasure" of seeing "first-rate" actors portraying political figures they "don't respect" (emphases mine):
Its shortcomings are remarkably similar to those of its major characters. Near the beginning, Donald Rumsfeld ( Scott Glenn) proclaims that he doesn't do "nuance." Neither, alas, does Stone.
The "Today" show has yet to promote the conservative satire An American Carol, that spoofs Michael Moore but they did find time to invite on Josh Brolin to plug Oliver Stone’s George W. Bush biopicW. on Tuesday's show. Co-anchor Matt Lauer interviewed Brolin, who plays the title character, and noted critics were expecting "a political hatchet job" of the President, to which Brolin, defended Stone as he claimed the controversy surrounding the director of such factually murky films like JFK and Nixon, was "hogwash."
However Brolin admitted that one of the reasons Stone tabbed him to play Dubya was because there was something sort of "mean" about the actor. And in describing how he perfected his Bush impression Brolin observed there was an "apish quality," about the 43rd president.
The following is the full segment as it occurred on the October 14, "Today" show:
As part of the promotion of his new Bush-bashing drama ‘W,’ director Oliver Stone appeared on Tuesday’s CBS Early Show and co-host Harry Smith gushed: "And there are so many interesting portrayals in this, we don't have time to go into them all...Stunning, stunning, stunning ...Phenomenal, phenomenal stuff." Smith even suggested that some people saw the movie as sympathetic to Bush, though not Smith himself: "People -- I was in a screening of this movie just yesterday. This person was walking out, 'my gosh it seemed so sympathetic.' I didn't feel that way, but your hearing that yourself I'm sure."
In response, Stone replied:
I hear it but I think there's a confusion between sympathy and empathy. Empathy means understanding, and as a dramatist it's my job to understand, to walk in the shoes of George W. Bush as best as I can...Sympathize, no. I do think he's hurt this country. I'm a Vietnam veteran. We should not have gone into the Iraq war. We were in three wars, not only Afghanistan and Iraq, but really the war on terror is a major war. You know, we've had an economic meltdown because of it, partly because of the overreach. And this country is in a very dire place and I'm not happy about it...But, you know, people voted for him.
Liberal director and conspiracy theory-loving Oliver Stone was actually "fair" to President George W. Bush in his new film "W." Indeed, Stone is practically a "historian" when it comes to chronicling the life of the nation's 43rd president, that is if you ask Newsweek's Alan Brinkley. Of course when measured up against his prior films about American presidents, it's probably not that high a bar to clear.
From his October 11 movie review, "From Man to Mockery, and Back Again":
Through most of the undistinguished history of films about American presidents, concern for truth has been in short supply.
Oliver Stone, whose new film, "W.," is his third examination of a modern president, has aspired to be different.
Oh, it gets better. You see, "W." is "sunny and sympathetic":
President George W. Bush is choking on a pretzel in the White House and falls from a sofa. Saddam Hussein is there with him. Later Bush flies on a magic carpet over Baghdad as he bombs the city. Eventually Saddam returns to the White House to scream insults at him. These were actual sequences that were originally in Oliver Stone's 'W.' movie which is opening this Friday. However, since they were finally cut from the movie, Stone is now patting himself on his back for his forbearance.
While he told EW “he had to speculate” about dialogue, “Stone insist[ed] that every scene in 'W' will be rooted in truth.” Instead, the movie is a hodge podge of supposed eyewitness accounts, third-hand gossip and fantastical guesswork mixed with “awkward and goofy” caricatures. EW pointed out that “some accounts” “may have come from disgruntled former staffers.”
If the left frothed over ABC's “Path to 9/11” and the media criticized “its invented scenes, fabricated dialogue and unsubstantiated accounts,” then surely they'll immediately knock Stone for these scenes that could come directly from Will Farrell's old “Saturday Night Live” Bush skits (all bold mine):
There's a scene of 26-year-old Bush peeling his car to a stop on his parents' front lawn and drunkenly hurling insults at his father (''Thank you, Mr. Perfect. Mr. War Hero. Mr. F---ing-God-Almighty!''), while another scene set a few years later finds Bush nearly crashing a small plane while flying under the influence.
These people never learn. Other than some diehard BDS sufferers, who in their right mind is going to pay to see an Oliver Stone depiction of George W. Bush? Fair or not, the president suffers from low poll numbers and we've heard for some time that America suffers from Bush fatigue, so it's curious why any studio would greenlight such a project and begin filming while he's still in office.
Hollywood apparently has learned nothing with the seemingly endless string of antiwar flicks bombing, so now we'll get the moonbat look at Bush. One can only imagine how Dick Cheney, Donaly Rumsfeld and the nefarious cabal of neocons will be portrayed.
Bush has been the most scrutinized president in modern times thanks to the explosion of the blogosphere, so it's not as if Stone would be able to shed any new light on his life or presidency. You can be sure, however, he will be taking creative license.