The Skinny: This Morning Fix is being done on the road as my WiFi is down. I have faith that the good people at Time Warner Cable will get to the bottom of this soon enough. In the meantime, just admire the lengths I go to get you your headlines. Monday's news includes recaps of Adele's big night at the Grammys, a look at the weekend box office and more headaches at News Corp.'s British tabloids.
Photo: Adele cleaned up at the Grammys. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press.
The Daily Dose: I caught the Grammy Awards on a flight from New York to Los Angeles last night (thank you, Jet Blue). As has become habit, I played my favorite game of count-the-network-promos. The flight landed just before the final moments, so my tally is not official. That said, CBS must be doing very well financially to give up so much inventory for promos. There were at least 26 plugs for its shows on a night when the commercials were going for well over a half-million dollars for a 30-second spot.
Rumor has it. Adele was the big winner at Sunday night's Grammy Awards, taking home six trophies. The British singer also knocked the crowd out with her performance of "Rolling in the Deep." Other winners included the Foo Fighters and Kanye West. The show was bittersweet as it came just a day after the death of troubled singer Whitney Houston, who was memorialized several times during the telecast. Coverage from the Los Angeles Times and Billboard.
Keeping the Grammy's Safe. At the Grammy Awards Sunday night, performers including alternative-country duo Civil Wars, jazz artist Diana Krall and British singer Adele will take to the stage, along with the reunited Beach Boys and more than a dozen other musical acts.
Working behind the scenes to make sure that nothing goes wrong is Paul Holehouse, entertainment risk consultant for Fireman's Fund Insurance Company.
Holehouse, a former safety executive at Universal Studios, visits sets of movie and TV shows as well as big events like the Grammys to identify potential risks and avoid accidents that can cause injury, losses and delays.
"My job is to coordinate with them [the producers] and make them comfortable that any liability issues are addressed ahead of time so they can do their show without any concerns,'' said Holehouse, 63.
This week he was busy meeting with representatives of John Cossette Productions Inc., which is producing the Grammys, and with rigging crews and fire department officials, to review plans for the two-hour show to be held at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles and telecast on CBS.
"There's a whole spectrum of things we look for, from slip and fall hazards, to stunt effects, evacuation plans and the rigging on stages," Holehouse said.
At the 2010 Grammys, Holehouse was responsible for ensuring that Pink's high wire act, in which she twirled in the air wrapped in silk scarves while fastened to a harness, went off without a hitch.
In addition to the Grammys, Holehouse also worked on the halftime show at the Super Bowl, the popular music festival Lollapalooza and scores of TV shows and movies. In fact, Fireman's says it insures 80% of all films in the U.S., and 60% of all reality shows, providing coverage for everything from props and sets to actors who don't show up on set because of a death or illness. The company also issues so-called film completion bonds, which are guarantees that a film will be completed on schedule and on budget.
Taking the vow. Looks like the girls were controlling the box office, as the romance movie "The Vow" beat expectations and took in $41.7 million on what was basically Valentine's Day weekend. Coming in a close second was "Safe House," which made $39.3 million in its premiere. Overall, box office was up 30% compared with the same weekend a year ago. No word yet on whether chocolate sales also spiked. Box-office recaps from the Los Angeles Times and Movie City News. Moviegoers fell head over heels for "The Vow" this weekend, as the romantic drama posted the biggest opening of the year.
As a result of the robust ticket sales, weekend receipts were up 30% compared to the same period in 2011.
"The Vow" opened well above Tatum's last romantic picture, "Dear John," a movie based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks that debuted with $30.5 million around Valentine's Day in 2010. That picture, also from Screen Gems, was previously the film label's biggest opening ever -- a record "The Vow" shattered this weekend.
Financed by Spyglass Entertainment and Screen Gems for about $30 million, "The Vow" is about a woman trying to fall in love with her husband again after suffering amnesia due to a car crash. Audiences liked it, giving it an average grade of B, according to market research firm CinemaScore. (Moviegoers responded more positively to "Safe House" and the 3-D "Journey 2," which each earned an A-.)
The movie appealed mostly to women, as an overwhelming 72% of the audience was female. It helps that one of the film's stars is a heartthrob; young women have been buzzing about Tatum online for weeks.
"Safe House" marks the second-highest opening ever for star Denzel Washington, behind his 2007 hit "American Gangster," which launched with $43.6 million. In the 57-year-old's latest film, which also stars Ryan Reynolds, Washington plays a rebellious CIA agent who heads to South Africa on a mission. The movie attracted a slightly older crowd, 62% of whom were over the age of 30. Also, 38% of those who saw it were black and 31% were white.
Universal Pictures and Relativity Media spent around $85 million to produce "Safe House," and they could rake in even more overseas than in the U.S and Canada. Internationally, "Safe House" debuted with $10.2 million from 25 foreign countries this weekend. It has yet to open in a number of major markets abroad, including France, Germany and Japan.
A sequel to 2008's "Journey to the Center of the Earth," the second "Journey" film was financed by Warner Bros.' New Line division for about $79 million. The original debuted with $21 million and ultimately brought in about $100 domestically and $140 million overseas.
In "Journey 2," Dwayne Johnson replaced actor Brendan Fraser as the franchise's lead star. (Fraser dropped out of the sequel in 2010 because it was not being directed by the filmmaker behind the original, Eric Brevig.) Apparently, that was good for New Line, as 45% of those who saw the film this weekend said Johnson was the No. 1 reason they chose to attend.
The movie -- about a stepfather (Johnson) who goes on an adventure to try to find a secret island with his son ("The Hunger Games" star Josh Hutcherson) -- did well on 3-D screens. Of those who saw the picture, 74% opted to do so in 3-D.
It was a good weekend for 3-D films, as audiences proved they're still willing to shell out a few extra bucks to see movies in the pricier format. 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm's updated version of "Star Wars: Episode I" is the latest 3-D re-release to fare well at the box office, following the success Walt Disney Studios had recently reissuing two of its classic animated titles in 3-D.
Filmmaker George Lucas has converted six "Star Wars" films in 3-D and hopes to release them in chronological order, though Fox said on Sunday that no release plans for the next installment were official yet.
Of the four films that debuted this weekend domestically, "Journey 2" is doing the most robust business overseas. The film has been playing internationally for about a month, and this weekend collected $25.5 million, bringing its tally abroad to $74.7 million. This weekend, the film opened in China and performed well there, grossing an estimated $9.5 million.
Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office this weekend, with international grosses when available, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:
More headaches. Anyone who thought the ethics scandal at News Corp.'s British newspaper unit was starting to die down might want to think again. Over the weekend, more reporters and editors from News Corp.'s tabloid the Sun were arrested. It's not just hacking into phones anymore either. The latest busts have to do with paying off cops for information. Couldn't they just schmooze them with a beer like the rest of us? The latest on the arrests from the Guardian. Also, the News Corp.-owned Wall Street Journal asks whether the new developments will once again lead to calls for the company to unload its newspaper business, which is low on profits and high on headaches. Finally, if you missed it, here's Sunday's New York Times story about how a 2008 email could play a huge part in determining how high within News Corp.'s executive ranks the scandal will reach.
You don't say. "The Artist" continued its steady march to a big Oscar night by cleaning up at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards. The silent movie won awards for best film, director and screenplay. Yes, silent movies have screenplays too. A recap of the BAFTAs and what the show means for the Oscars from Variety and Hollywood Reporter.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: An appreciation of the late great Whitney Houston. And Jennifer Aniston dug for some loose change under her couch and bought a new home in Bel-Air that was listed at almost $25 million.
— Joe Flint
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