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Audiences believe in magic - USA TODAY 10/22/06

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  • Audiences believe in magic - USA TODAY 10/22/06

    'Prestige' uses magic to upset 'Flags'

    Updated 10/22/2006 10:49 PM ET

    Touchstone Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures
    Abracadabra: The Prestige, with Scarlett Johansson, left, and Hugh Jackman, right,
    conjured up $14.8 million under director Christopher Nolan.

    By Scott Bowles, USA TODAY

    Director Christopher Nolan worked his magic in theaters this weekend — primarily at Clint Eastwood's expense.

    Nolan's The Prestige, a drama about competing magicians, proved a surprise winner over Eastwood's World War II epic, Flags of Our Fathers.

    The Prestige did $14.8 million, according to studio estimates. The haul is about $4 million more than many analysts projected and marked the director's second straight No. 1 film. His first was last year's Batman Begins, which opened at $47.8 million.

    Flags opened in third place with $10.2 million, about $3 million below expectations, although Eastwood's movies tend to open modestly before marching to commercial and critical success.
    His Mystic River did $10.4 million when it expanded nationwide in October 2003 and went on to do $90 million. And 2004's Million Dollar Baby, which took the best-picture Oscar, did $12.3 million in its nationwide bow and went on to gross $100 million.

    "This is where we expected to be," says Jim Tharp, head of distribution for Paramount and DreamWorks, which released Flags. "He appeals to an older audience, which doesn't always get out there on the opening weekend. We're going to continue to roll out to more theaters in response to the strong reaction and good reviews."

    He concedes, however, that executives were impressed by the strong showings of The Prestige and Martin Scorsese's The Departed, which dropped only 28% from the previous weekend to take second place and $13.7 million.
    The Departed has taken in $77.1 million in 17 days.

    "That's a movie that's playing phenomenally," Tharp says. "It's got great word of mouth."
    Executives at Disney are hoping for the same reaction to The Prestige, which was sold more as a Nolan film than as a vehicle for its stars, Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale.

    "Chris just can't make a bad movie," says Chuck Viane, Disney's head of distribution. "You look at Memento, or Insomnia, and people respond to his movies because they know he's going to make them think."
    http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/...analysis_x.htm
    "If you don't know how to draw, you don't belong in this building" - John Lasseter 2006

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