‘Fate of the Furious’ races to biggest global box office opening ever

“The Fate of the Furious” crossed the finish line on Sunday as the biggest global opening in movie history.

The eighth film in the popular “Fast and Furious” franchise raced to an estimated $532.5 million box office opening around the world this weekend, according to its studio Universal Pictures.

That total beats the global record held by Disney’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which made $529 million worldwide its opening weekend in 2015.

There’s one caveat: “Force Awakens” didn’t have the benefit of opening in the world’s second largest movie market, China, until a month after it was initially released.

“Fate,” meanwhile, opened in North America and 63 international markets, including China, the U.K. and Mexico.

“Fate” also broke box office records for bringing in the biggest international opening in movie history. The film made an estimated $432.3 million overseas, which lapped the record $316 million that “Jurassic World” made abroad in 2015. Domestically, “Fate” made an estimated $100.2 million over the weekend.

Final numbers will come in Monday, and they could fluctuate. But for now, “Fate” holds the record.

The film, which stars Vin Diesel and was directed by F. Gary Gray, is the highest-grossing opening for an African American director ever, according to Universal.

The film also drove past records in China, a growing movie market. It nabbed the country’s biggest three-day opening of all time.

The record-breaking weekend of “Fate of the Furious” is good news for the future of 16-year old series. Universal has already announced a ninth and tenth installment for 2019 and 2021.

“This is an astonishing feat for a decade and a half old franchise that launched as a marginalized car culture movie with no stars and no imaginings of a long-term franchise future,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore.

Follow this story

Tina Fey to white college-educated women: ‘You can’t look away’

Comedian Tina Fey is not amused by the college-educated white women who voted for President Donald Trump. Fey called out that particular demographic during a discussion Saturday on access to reproductive care hosted by the American Civil Liberties Unio…

Follow this story

Tina Fey to white women who voted for Trump: ‘You can’t look away’

Comedian Tina Fey is not amused by the college-educated white women who voted for President Donald Trump.

Fey called out that particular demographic during a discussion Saturday on access to reproductive care hosted by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“The thing that I kinda keep focusing on is the idea that we sort of need to hold the edges, that it’s sort of like a lot of this election was turned by kinda white college-educated women who would now maybe like to forget about this election and go back to watching HGTV and I would want to urge them to like ‘You can’t look away.’

“Because it doesn’t affect you this minute but it’s going to affect you eventually,” she said.

Exit polls suggested that 44% of white female college graduates voted for Trump in the November election.

“I personally will make my own pledge as a college-educated white woman to not look away, to not pretend that things that are happening now won’t eventually affect me if we don’t put a stop to it,” Fey said.

Trump and Pence

Fey said the organization’s ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project had “our back in the fight for gender equality.”

“Women’s rights have come a long way in the last century but there’s still a long, long way to go. Did you know that women still only make one Ghostbusters movie to every two made by men? And men average Oceans 11 for every Oceans 8 that goes to women. That is simply unacceptable,” she joked.

Fey said the battle now was not just for progress.

“Gains that we’ve made over the past 100 years are under attack. Luckily Mike Pence isn’t allowed to go down and shut up Planned Parenthood unless his wife goes with him. So you know, if we can just keep Karen busy scrapbooking — we can all still get pap smears,” she said.

While In Congress, Pence was at the forefront of a conservative effort to block any federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood because the organization — which provides women with cancer screenings, counseling services and tests — also provides abortions.

On Thursday, he cast the tie-breaking vote for a measure that would repeal an Obama-era rule that was designed to prevent states from blocking Title X funding from going to health care providers that perform abortions.

Fey also jabbed at the President: “Earlier tonight in what is surely an April Fools’ joke, the President proclaimed that next month will be national sexual assault and awareness prevention month … so now we know what he gave up for Lent, that’s good,” she said.

A number of women have accused Trump of sexual harassment. In October, he apologized after a previously unaired taping of “Access Hollywood” surfaced in which Trump bragged about being able to grope women because of his “star” status

Follow this story

Dazzling ‘Ghost in the Shell’ is lost in translation

“I’ve been having glitches,” Scarlett Johansson’s part-human, mostly cyborg robot says in “The Ghost in the Shell.” “It will pass.”

Rupert Sanders’ remake of Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 influential anime classic, from Masamune Shirow’s Japanese manga comics, is a dazzling dystopia. Yet like its sleek, cybernetic protagonist, it’s haunted by a fundamental defect — a bug in the system — that can’t be dispelled, that doesn’t pass, despite the considerable cyberpunk splendor of Sanders’ eye-popping visual feast. It’s the rare movie to earn its “Blade Runner” comparisons. But it also earns its controversy.

Oshii’s anime film — from which the Wachowskis plundered for “The Matrix” — was a moody, mysterious futuristic tale with striking imagery and a buzzing existential drone. Sanders (“Snow White and the Huntsman”), working from a script by Jamie Moss, William Wheeler and Ehren Kruger, streamlines much of the tale and builds out the backstory with a more conventional narrative of self-discovery for the Major (Johansson), whose body (her “shell”) we see majestically assembled around a human brain (her “ghost”) in the opening credits.

The result doesn’t have the same eerie chill as the original, but preserving just a sliver of the hard edge to Oshii’s film would still make “The Ghost in the Shell” more extreme than most any other of today’s franchise hopefuls. Yet casting Johansson in the lead role (earlier dubbed Major Motoko Kusanagi) in a quintessentially Japanese story makes for a perpetual disconnect “The Ghost in the Shell” can’t resolve, though it tries to. Her body may be a robotic artifice but the history of Hollywood whitewashing Asian characters is all too real. There are defenses to her casting, and “The Ghost in the Shell” is, after all, about the erosion of self, not its makeup, ethnic or otherwise. But the black-haired Johansson, while totally game, often appears just as much the tourist in Tokyo as she did in Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation.”

Still, it should also be noted that the original film, in which Major fights in a nude bodysuit, is not without its own issues of representation. Here, the suit, which has the power of invisibly cloaking the Major, is more intentionally unnatural looking. It’s gratuitous nudity, neutered.

Major is an asset, a weapon for the Hanka Corporation, and part of a counter-terrorism force that includes her partner Batou (the up-and-coming Danish actor Pilou Asbaek) and is overseen by Chief Daisuke Aramaki (the Japanese veteran actor and filmmaker Takeshi Kitano). They soon begin pursuit of a hacker named Kuze (Michael Pitt), and track him through the crime scenes and the data trail he leaves behind. The closer she gets, the more glitches begin obscuring the Major’s vision.

New Port City is the futuristic Tokyo-like setting, and though everyone is infused with robotic and digital enhancements, the Major is a one-of-a-kind hybrid. Feeling ever more removed from her “ghost,” she’s cut off from her memories. But the metropolis itself is an altogether glorious amalgam of computer and concrete. Iridescent advertising banners and bubbles crowd the street-level and 3-D holographic designs tower between buildings. Cinematographer Jesse Hall and production designer Jan Roelfs paint a shimmering collage of color that glitters most when water glistens and glass shatters. Some shots have been precisely copied from the original.

In a way, Johansson is very much at home here. As in Jonathan Glazer’s “Under the Skin,” in which she played an alien who disrobed to lure her prey into an infinite blackness, her beauty is utilized for otherworldly means. But it’s the supporting performances from the notably international cast that stand out — particularly Kitano, Batou, Pitt and Juliette Binoche, who plays the scientist who created the Major.

They and the design work make “The Ghost in the Shell” an unexpectedly alluring world, the kind that — not to sound too much like a Hollywood executive — feels rife for further exploration. So if there is a next time, how about this: Giving the Major a new, more authentic shell. Then, we might really have something.

“Ghost in the Shell,” a Paramount Pictures release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “intense sequences of sci-fi violence, suggestive content and some disturbing images.” Running time: 106 minutes. Two stars out of four.

Follow this story

Harrison Ford called himself a ‘schmuck’ after plane mishap

Actor Harrison Ford described himself as a “schmuck” after he mistakenly landed his small plane on a taxiway at a Southern California airport last month.

In audio recordings released by the Federal Aviation Authority, Ford said he was distracted by two jets during the airport runway mishap on February 13.

The veteran actor was flying a small plane that mistakenly landed on a taxiway of a Santa Ana airport, flying directly over a waiting American Airlines Boeing 737 commercial jet that had 116 people aboard, federal officials said.

“Yeah, hi, it’s Husky Eight-Niner Hotel Uniform (call sign) and the schmuck that landed on the taxiway,” Ford is heard saying on the FAA audio recording.

When the air traffic controller said it’s “no big deal,” Ford responded that “it’s a big deal for me.”

His Aviat Husky single-engine propeller plane was cleared to land on Runway 20L at John Wayne Airport in Orange County. The FAA said the pilot repeated the approved landing clearance back to the air traffic controller.

It is not the first aviation-related incident for the star of the “Star Wars” and the Indiana Jones film franchises.

In 1999, he made a hard emergency landing in a California riverbed while flying in a helicopter with a flight instructor. And in 2000, he reportedly slid off the runway while landing a plane in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Over a decade later, while flying a two-seat, single-engine 1942 military trainer, Ford tipped a treetop and skidded down onto Penmar Golf Course near Santa Monica Airport in 2015. He suffered serious injuries after he was forced to land the vintage WWI plane after its engine failed.

After the 2015 incident, Tom Haines with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association told CNN that he had flown with Ford in the past.

“He’s a very skilled pilot. He’s very safety-conscious and goes to training routinely for all of his aircraft,” Haines said.

In 2010, Ford was honored with the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy, one of aviation’s highest honors from the National Aeronautic Association.

Follow this story