All posts by Michelle B. Kaplan

FILM REVIEW: WILLIAM FRIEDKIN’S ‘THE DEVIL AND FATHER AMORTH’

Film Review: William Friedkin’s ‘The Devil and Father Amorth’

William Friedkin films an exorcism, all to revive the mystique of his most famous movie. But is it real?

In The Devil and Father Amorth director William Friedkin , still hale and hearty and hectoring at the age of 81, returns to the subject of his most legendary film The Exorcist. The new movie is a documentary built around a video, recorded by Friedkin in 2016, of what purports to be an actual exorcism. If you think that sounds like material that’s ripe for a musty old episode of “Unsolved Mysteries,” you’d be right. But if you claim that you aren’t just a wee bit curious as to whether you’re going to get to witness something…demonic, you’re probably lying. The Devil and Father Amorth is Friedkin’s shot-on-the-cheap, reality-based version of a “Mondo Cane” stunt, yet for 68 minutes (it’s that short), it is often an oddly compelling tabloid foray, since it winds up shedding a crucial ray of light on the mad moment we’re in now. Whether or not you believe in the Devil, the film helps to color in how our culture got possessed.

Most of the movie takes place in Italy, where Friedkin walks around talking directly into the camera, in what sounds like scripted “off-the-cuff” narration (though it’s possible he improvised it). To call him blunt would be an understatement; there’s a distinctly Trumpian bombast to his in-your-face oratory — he sounds like an ambulance-chasing lawyer on a late-night commercial. He’s working hard to sell us something, though there’s no denying that he’s an arresting carny barker.

Friedkin serves up a shocking statistic: that 500,000 Italians, out of a population of 60 million, have undergone exorcisms. For them, it’s like Californians getting high colonics — either that, or the Devil is alive and working overtime in Italy. The director also returns to Georgetown, in Washington, D.C., where he shot The Exorcist” 45 years ago, and speaks to us from the famous concrete stairway where Father Karras met his death, as if something genuine had happened there. That’s a standard shlock-TV-news ploy, but in this case it has a resonance. The real theme of “The Devil and Father Amorth” is the degree to which people now believe that exorcism is real.

The belief didn’t begin yesterday. Friedkin sketches in how William Peter Blatty came to write his smash-hit novel “The Exorcist,” spinning it out of a 1949 case of demonic possession that he became obsessed with when he was a student at Georgetown. In hindsight, that case, along with the alien incident at Roswell in 1948 and the 1974 Amityville haunting, constitute a kind of popular triptych of the otherworldly: a testament to how the spirit of the uncanny got recast — re-mythologized — for a secular age. “Rosemary’s Baby,” in 1968, famously pictured the Time magazine cover that asked “Is God Dead?” This trilogy of incidents — and, beyond all of them, the film version of “The Exorcist” — answered that question by saying: “Yes, He is. But He’s now going to be reborn as occult tabloid sensationalism, with a patina of Old Time Religion.”

A lot of movie buffs, especially if thy saw “The Exorcist” at a certain age, will tell you that they think it’s the scariest movie ever made. I wouldn’t call it that (“Psycho,” in its day, was scarier), but “The Exorcist” is the movie that terrified people into believing. It made the Devil “real.” It has often been noted that the film proved to be an extraordinary recruitment tool for the Catholic Church (exorcism became a part of the Church’s brand), though the “presence” of the Devil on our ’70s multiplex screens didn’t hurt the rise of the Evangelical movement, either. “The Exorcist” was a cinematic earthquake that has never stopped giving off tremors.

“The Devil and Father Amorth” shows you how deep the mystique of the demonic goes. Friedkin introduces us to Gabriele Amorth, an Italian Roman Catholic priest who’s also an exorcist of the Diocese of Rome — essentially, the Vatican’s chief ghostbuster. Ninety-one when the film was shot (he died in September 2016), Father Amorth is an ancient bald elfin tribal ringmaster who understands that religion, like politics, can always use a dash of showbiz. His favorite movie is “The Exorcist” (though he thinks the special effects were a bit overdone), and if he seems more casual about his work than Max von Sydow’s Father Merrin did, maybe that’s because he’s performed hundreds of exorcisms and lived to tell the tale.

The woman he’s going to be exorcising is no stranger to the Devil. Her name is Cristina, she works in an architecture firm in a small town 200 kilometers from Rome, and this will be her ninth exorcism. Friedkin interviews her, and she’s a polite, self-aware, rather neurasthenic woman in her mid-thirties, officious in manner, with a slight aura of damage. Then, having agreed to the stipulation that he’ll bring no crew with him at all (no lighting or sound assistants — just himself and his small camcorder), Friedkin enters a rather humdrum-looking conference room to film the exorcism. Cristina is surrounded by 20 or so of her relatives, and we can see that this is, for them, a therapeutic ritual that they accept and believe in. It’s the spirit version of an intervention, only with screams and a dash of holy water.

What do we see? Cristina sits in a chair, as Father Amorth talks gently to her, places his hand on her head, strokes her knees, and listens as she — or could it be…Satan? — screams at him. Cristina certainly seems like she’s channeling another personality, one that’s fierce, raging, merciless, insane. Yet this doesn’t necessarily strike us as all that exotic; it could be footage from an old est seminar. A lot of us would probably agree with the team of Columbia University psychiatrists Friedkin interviews, who say that Cristina journeys to a place deep inside her, but not necessarily a demonic one. The most striking aspect of what goes on has to do with her voice, which hits a low register rather strikingly like that of Linda Blair’s Regan in “The Exorcist.” In fact, the voice sounds as if it’s been manipulated. By Friedkin? He’s not telling, but in a movie like this one the devil is in the details.

Watching the exorcism in “The Devil and Father Amorth,” what we see is that Italians, in the DNA of their consciousness, still carry around the seeds of a medieval culture. The Devil, and exorcism, is part of the psyche of this passionately Catholic country. But we also see something that Friedkin, with supreme irony, never acknowledges: the profound influence of his own movie. Whether or not Cristina’s deep dark Devil voice was tweaked in post-production, it seems more than likely that she is, in fact, imitating the sound and spirit of the Devil when he spoke through Regan MacNeil in “The Exorcist.” The movie has fed, like a loop, into religion, which is now feeding into the chaos of a world that, increasingly, needs the Devil to explain why everything appears to be spinning out of control. “The Devil and Father Amorth” is a rather tawdry charade. But it channels that force.

‘DEADPOOL 2’ FINAL TRAILER DIGS AT DC UNIVERSE

‘Deadpool 2’ Final Trailer Digs at DC Universe

Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool is forming a “super duper f—ing group” in 20th Century Fox’s final trailer for Deadpool 2

The action-packed footage, released Thursday morning, sees the Merc with a Mouth coming together with Zazie Beetz’s Domino and T.J. Miller’s Weasel to defeat the powerful Cable, played by Josh Brolin.

Deadpool doesn’t miss the opportunity to poke fun at Brolin’s villainous double-duty this summer in both Deadpool 2 and “Avengers: Infinity War.” (“Pump the hate breaks, Thanos,” he prods.)

Later, Cable calls Deadpool “a clown dressed up as a sex toy,” to which he responds, “So dark — are you sure you’re not from the DC universe?”

The new trailer also introduces audiences to Peter, who is looking to join Deadpool’s coveted X-Force team.

So what is his superpower? “I don’t have one,” the character, played by Rob Delaney, tells Deadpool and Weasel. “I just saw the ad.”

The superhero sequel — also staring Brianna Hildebrand, Morena Baccarin, Leslie Uggams, and Stefan Kapicic — follows Deadpool’s team of mutants as they protect a young boy (Julian Dennison) from Cable.

David Leitch directed the film from a script by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Reynolds. The original film went on to gross $783 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time.

“Deadpool 2” hits theaters on May 18. Watch the trailer above.

 

BILINGUAL YOUTUBE STAR MARIALE MARRERO SIGNS WITH CAA

Bilingual YouTube Star Mariale Marrero Signs With CAA

Mariale Marrero, a Venezuelan-born bilingual beauty and lifestyle influencer with more than 20 million fans online, has signed with CAA for representation in all areas.

The 27-year-old creator launched her main Spanish-language YouTube channel, Mariale, in 2010 — seeing the opportunity to reach an underserved Hispanic audience.

Today she’s a cross-cultural digital star, one of the biggest U.S.-based Hispanic YouTube personalities, and currently lives in Los Angeles. She has a fan base of 13.5 million subscribers across her three YouTube channels — Mariale, Mariale SinPatuque (“without makeup”) and the English-language Mar — and has large followings on Instagram (4 million), Facebook (1.8 million) and Twitter (934,000).

Her most popularvideo on  Youtube with nearly 12 million views: a “roast yourself” challenge in which she makes fun of herself in a music video set to Luis Fonsi’s smash hit “Despacito.” Among Marrero’s other top videos is one from July 2017 documenting her breast-augmentation surgery.

Marrero was nominated in the “Styler del Año” category at the 2017 MTV Latin America Millennial Awards  On her digital channels, she has partnered with brands like SmashBox Cosmetics, Revlon, Bliss, L’Oréal Paris, Lancôme, and TooFaced.

CAA will work to create opportunities for Marrero in all areas, including television, motion pictures, touring, digital distribution and partnerships, endorsements, personal appearances, publishing, and beyond.

Marrero continues to be managed by Kimberly Perplies and Vanessa DelMuro of James Grant Management Inc.

FORMER FIRST LADY BARBARA BUSH DIES AT 92

Former First Lady Barbara Bush Dies at 92

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Marty Lederhandler/AP/REX/Shutterstock (6538475a)
First Lady Barbara Bush visits the Children’s Aid Society at the Dental and Orthodontic Clinic in New York
Barbara Bush 1989, New York, USA

Former first lady Barbara Bush died in Houston on Tuesday. She was 92.

Bush served as first lady of the United States during the tenure of President George H.W. Bush from 1989-93.

The office of George H.W. Bush released a statement announcing her death. She has been battling congestive heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and had recently decided not to seek any further treatment.

Barbara Pierce was born in New York City on June 8, 1925. She met her husband, George H.W. Bush, at a dance in Massachusetts in 1941 when she was 16 years old. After dating for a year and a half, the couple got engaged before he went off to World War II to serve as a Navy torpedo bomber pilot. When he returned on leave, she dropped out of Smith College in Northampton, Mass. They got married two weeks later on Jan. 6, 1945, in Rye, N.Y.

For the first several months of their marriage, the Bush family moved around the eastern U.S. as Bush’s Navy squadron training required his presence at bases in the area. Over the following 13 years, the couple had six children: George W. Bush (born 1946), Pauline (1949-1953), Jeb (born 1953), Neil (born 1955), Marvin (born 1956) and Dorothy (born 1959). Mrs. Bush is survived by 17 grandchildren.

In 1959, Bush was elected Harris County Republican Party chairman, and in 1964 he ran for and lost as the U.S. senator from Texas. However, this loss put the Bushs on the national scene, and Bush was elected as a U.S. representative in Congress in 1966. Over the following years, Bush was either elected or appointed to several different positions in the U.S. Congress, executive branch, or other government-related posts. His increasing political service inspired Mrs. Bush to engage in her own projects, including several charities and women’s groups in Washington, D.C.

After Bush announced his candidacy for president in the 1980s, Barbara Bush alarmed conservatives when she revealed that she supported the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and was pro-choice on abortion. That same year, Bush became former President Reagan’s running mate after he received the presidential nomination. In the eight years Barbara Bush spent as second lady, she became interested in issues surrounding literacy. She wrote a children’s book in 1984 titled “C. Fred’s Story,” told by the point of view of her dog, and donated all the proceeds from the book to literacy charities.

She became the first lady after Bush was elected president in 1988, and continued to promote her cause of literacy. She eventually helped to develop the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, which seeks to improve literacy in the U.S. through programs directed toward pre-school children and parental literacy. She spoke regularly on “Mrs. Bush’s Story Time,” a national radio program that stressed the significance of reading aloud to children.

After leaving the White House, Mrs. Bush served on the boards of Americares and the Mayo Clinic, and headed the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.

In 1995, Mrs. Bush received the Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged, distributed annually by Jefferson Awards. She was honored with the Miss America Woman of Achievement Award two years later for her work with literacy programs.

She was portrayed by Ellen Burstyn in Oliver Stone’s 2008 “W.”

HARRY ANDERSON, ‘NIGHT COURT’ STAR, DIES AT 65

Harry Anderson, ‘Night Court’ Star, Dies at 65

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by NBC-TV/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5882810g)
Harry Anderson
Night Court – 1984-1992
NBC-TV
TV Portrait

Harry Anderson, the amiable actor who presided over the NBC comedy Night Court  for nine seasons, has died at his home in Asheville, N.C., according to a local media report. He was 65.

Anderson was found at his home by police officers early Monday morning, according toa report by WSPA TV ,the CBS affiliate in Spartanburg, N.C. No foul play was suspected, police told the station.

Anderson was a magician-turned-actor who was known as a rabid fan of jazz singer Mel Torme. The affection for Torme was woven into his TV alter ego, Judge Harry Stone, a quirky character who ruled the bench at a Manhattan night court. The sitcom was a mainstay of NBC from 1984 to 1992. Anderson earned three consecutive Emmy nominations for his work on the show from 1985-1987.

Anderson gained national attention after he guest starred as grifter Harry “the Hat” Gittes on NBC’s “Cheers” in the early 1980s. On “Night Court,” Anderson played a goofy but big-hearted judge who encountered a host of oddball characters and cases every week. The series also starred John Larroquette, Richard Moll, Charles Robinson, Marsha Warfield, and Markie Post. Anderson also directed two episodes of the series and wrote or co-wrote five episodes during its long run

After “Night Court,” Anderson co-starred as columnist Dave Barry in the CBS comedy “Dave’s World,” which ran for four seasons. Anderson moved to New Orleans in 2000 to open the nightclub Oswald’s Speakeasy, where he performed a mix of comedy and magic, and a magic and curio shop dubbed Sideshow.

Anderson logged a guest spot in FX’s “Son of the Beach” in 2002 and a 2008 appearance on NBC’s “30 Rock.” But for the most part, he stayed away from Hollywood. He moved to North Carolina in 2006 after New Orleans was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Born in Rhode Island, Anderson reportedly had a difficult childhood and moved frequently with his mother, who he once described in an interview with Playboy as “a hustler.” He moved to California at the age of 16 to be with his father. He became a street performer and reportedly ran a lucrative shell game on the streets of San Francisco for a time.

Anderson made his way to L.A.’s famed Magic Castle in the early 1980s, where he connected with an agent, according to TCM.com. He made several appearances on “Saturday Night Live” around this time. After “Night Court” made him a star, Anderson hosted “SNL” in 1985.

Anderson’s other credits included guest shots on “Tales From the Crypt” and HBO’s “Tanner ’88,” “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose,” and “The John Larroquette Show.” He starred in the 1990 ABC miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s “It.”

TV RATINGS: JAMES COMEY INTERVIEW NETS 9.8 MILLION VIEWERS, ACM AWARDS RISE

TV Ratings: James Comey Interview Nets 9.8 Million Viewers, ACM Awards Rise

Airing at 10 p.m. after “American Idol,” Comey’s interview averaged 9.8 million viewers in the hour, with Comey discussing his time working under President Trump and Comey’s new book that is highly critical of the President. It averaged a 1.7 rating in adults 18-49 and a 2.4 in the key news demo of adults 25-54. While still a fine night for ABC News, by comparison, the “60 Minutes” interview with adult film star Stormy Daniels–who allegedly had an affair with Trump–netted 22 million viewers and a 5.3 rating in adults 25-54.This Sunday’s “60 Minutes” also topped the Comey interview in total viewers with 10.4 million, though Comey was ahead in the demo. “60 Minutes” averaged a 1.7 in adults 25-54 for the night and a 1.1 in adults 18-49.

After “60 Minutes,” the ACM Awards show on CBS was the top program of the night in total viewers and adults 18-49. The awards show averaged a 2.1 rating and 12.1 million viewers. That is even with the low the show hit in the demo in 2017 but up in total viewers from the 10.9 million the show averaged last year.

Preceding the Comey interview, “America’s Funniest Home Videos” drew a 1.2 and 6.2 million viewers on ABC. “American Idol” hit a 1.3 and 6.3 million viewers, down in both measures from last Sunday and marking a new series low.

On NBC, “Dateline” (0.6, 4.1 million) was even. “Little Big Shots” (0.7, 5.5 million), “Genius Junior” (0.7, 3.9 million), and “Timeless” (0.5, 2.6 million) all took hits.

On Fox, Bob’s Burgers” (0.8, 1.8 million) and “The Simpsons” (1.0, 2.2 million) were even. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” averaged a 0.9 and 1.8 million viewers at 8:30 with a second episode at 9 drawing a 0.7 and 1.5 million. “Last Man on Earth” (0.6, 1.4 million) was down in the demo.

CBS won the night easily with a 1.8 and 11.7 million viewers. ABC was second with a 1.4 and 7.1 million viewers. Fox was second in the demo with a 0.7 but fourth in viewers with 1.7 million. NBC was fourth in the demo with a 0.6 but third in viewers with 4 million.

NETFLIX Q1 PREVIEW: ANOTHER BLOCKBUSTER QUARTER DESPITE PRICE HIKES?

Netflix Q1 Preview: Another Blockbuster Quarter Despite Price Hikes?

When Netflix reports first-quarter 2018 earnings Monday after market close, investors again will laser in not on revenue or profits — but on the number of net adds, a key indicator of the subscription streamer’s momentum.For Q1, Wall Street analyst consensus estimates are for 1.48 million net streaming U.S. subscriber adds, and 4.84 million internationally. That’s roughly in line with what Netflix’s forecast in January (1.45 million domestically and 4.90 million internationally).

The expected strong showing comes after Netflix raised the price of its streaming plans in the fourth quarter of 2017 for customers in multiple territories, a demonstration of its relative pricing power. In the U.S., for example, the standard two-stream HD plan rose from $9.99 to $10.99 per month,  still a great value, analysts observed.

“A steady stream of new content introduced throughout Q1 likely mitigated churn associated with higher pricing on standard and premium plans,” Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter wrote in a note issued last week.

Analyst consensus estimates for Netflix Q1 see revenue of $3.89 billion and earnings per share of 64 cents. Investors remain upbeat on the company, even as it doubles down on its heavy content-spending strategy (with content expenditures of up to $8 billion this year, vs. $6 billion in 2017).

Netflix’s cash burn (negative free cash flow) is expected to increase from $2 billion in 2017 to $3 billion for the full year 2018, Goldman Sachs’ Heath Terry wrote in a note last week. Terry raised his price target on the stock, from $315 to $360 per share, citing a strong originals slate, new distribution partners  and returns from increased marketing spending.

Over the past eight quarters, Netflix has on average topped its total net subscriber addition guidance by around 950,000, mostly on stronger-than-expected international additions, Pachter noted. However, a year ago, Netflix turned in subscriber metrics slightly below forecasts, delivering 4.95 million inQ1 2017

Is Netflix poised for a Q1 2018 beat? Thanks to its continued growth — and bullish analyst forecasts — Netflix’s stock is up 62% year to date, besting nearly every other company on the S&P 500 and outperforming the other stocks in the FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Alphabet/Google) cohort tracked by Wall Street.

Netflix has “an increasingly robust content slate,” Cowen & Co.’s John Blackledge wrote in a Q1 earnings preview. He estimated Netflix released some 483 hours of U.S. original programming in the first quarter, up 85% from a year earlier.

In the first quarter, Netflix debuted 18 new original series, including 11 returning series, and 14 new original movies. Those included season 2 of “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” and sci-fi series “Altered Carbon.”

But Netflix currently has a weaker originals lineup going into Q1, with nine original series (five returning and four new series), including “Lost in Space” and second seasons of “Dope,” “3%,” and “Marvel’s Luke Cage.”

Wall Street expects 5.2 million net streaming adds in Q2 2018, but that “may be on the high side,” RBC Capital Market’s Mark Mahaney wrote in a note. He cited “what doesn’t clearly appear to be a rock-star spectacular Q2 new content slate” as well as typically weak Q2 seasonality and “tough comps” with Netflix’s huge beat in the second quarter of 2017.

Two wildcards on Netflix’s Q2 content performance remain, according to UBS’s Eric Sheridan: When season 2 of popular teen drama “13 Reasons Why” will be released and whether Netflix “is enjoying success in its local-language content initiatives outside of North America,” he wrote in an April 11 note.

In addition, Netflix’s newly expanded deal with Comcast — under which the cable operator will bundle Netflix service with new and existing TV packages — could give Netflix a boost in Q2, which is historically weak for subscriber additions.

Meanwhile, Wedbush’s Pachter pointed to Netflix’s potential longer-term risk from losing content-licensing deals. It’s worth noting that the bulk of the viewing on the platform remains generated by licensed TV shows and movies — with licensed content estimated to account for 80% of Netflix’s U.S. streams for the 12 months ended September 2017, per a study by 7Park Data.

“[T]he combination of less content from Disney (pulling the majority of its newer content at the end of 2018) and a steady migration of Comcast, Time Warner, and 21st Century Fox content towards exclusive deals with Hulu will ultimately lead to lower subscriber satisfaction,” he wrote.

VITTORIO TAVIANI, AWARD-WINNING ITALIAN DIRECTOR, DIES AT 88

Vittorio Taviani, Award-Winning Italian Director, Dies at 88

Mandatory Credit: Photo by AGF s.r.l./REX/Shutterstock (4443677r)
Directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani
‘Maraviglioso Boccaccio’ film photocall, Rome, Italy – 20 Feb 2015

Italian director Vittorio Taviani, of the multiple award-winning Taviani brothers, has died at 88.

His daughter Giovanna told media he died in Rome after a long illness.

Vittorio was the older of the prolific Taviani brothers who emerged in the 1970’s as the revered filmmaking duo whose works blended neo-realism with more modern storytelling in works such as Padre Padrone which won the 1977 Cannes Palme d’Or, World War II drama “The Night of the Shooting Stars” (1982) and “Kaos” (1984) which is based on Pirandello.

Born in the Tuscan town of San Miniato, Vittorio and Paolo Taviani soon moved to nearby Pisa where as high-school students they became aspiring directors. “We walked into a movie theater called Cinema Italia, which no longer exists, and there was a film playing called ‘Paisà’ that we had never heard of”. That experience “really blew our minds,” they said.  “We had experienced the war as kids, and very deeply. But what we were seeing on screen made that reality so much clearer for us. This movie was telling us things about ourselves that we did not know. So we said to ourselves: ‘If cinema has this strength, this power to reveal to ourselves our own truths, then we will make movies!’

Years later, when they went to Cannes with “Padre Padrone,” the thought that they had started making movies thanks to Rossellini and that he was awarding them the Palme d’Or was for them “like the closure of a splendid luminous circle.”

More recently the Taviani brothers won the Berlin Golden Bear, in 2012, with “Caesar Must Die,” which is about high-security inmates acting Shakespeare, followed by “Wondrous Boccaccio,” (2014) an adaptation of “The Decameron” and “Una Questione Privata” in 2017, based on a novella by Italian author Beppe Fenoglio.

Italian president Sergio Mattarella in a statement said the country is in mourning and called Vittorio Taviani “a beloved protagonist of Italian cinema and culture.”

“Yesterday Milos Forman, today Vittorio Taviani,” tweeted Venice Film Festival chief Alberto Barbara. “We owe them a great deal of our cinematic formation…and will remember them always with gratitude.”

The Tavianis received a Golden Lion for lifetime achievement from Venice in 1986.

Giovanna Taviani said her father’s body would be cremated and there will be no public funeral.

‘RAMPAGE’ SNEAKS UP ON ‘A QUIET PLACE’ TO WIN WEEKEND BOX OFFICE

‘Rampage’ Sneaks Up on ‘A Quiet Place’ to Win Weekend Box Office

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Warner Bros/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (9627975a)
Dwayne Johnson
“Rampage” Film – 2018

After a weekend of fluctuating projections, Dwayne Johnson (just barely) owned the North American box office after all.

Though earlier estimates looked like the second frame of  A Quiet Place would take the weekend, Johnson’s Rampage  snuck up to take the top slot with $34.5 million from 4,101 theaters.

New Line Cinema and Warner Bros.Rampage opened under initial predictions  that estimated between $37 million to $40 million. Though the sci-fi actioner has an impressive A- CinemaScore and 80% audience approval on Rotten Tomatoes, “Rampage” will need to rely heavily on overseas to carry its costly $120 million budget.

Still, its opening was enough to just narrowly take the box office crown from A Quit Place” which earned $32.9 million in 3,589 locations. “A Quiet Place” has been riding high with rave reviews only dropping 34%. That brings its cumulative domestic gross to an impressive $100 million.

Also benefitting from the Friday the 13th weekend was Universal and Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare starring Lucy Hale and Tyler Posey. The supernatural thriller debuted in third place with $19 million from 3,029 theaters.

“This is an outstanding debut considering the competitive landscape,” Jim Orr, head of domestic distribution at Universal, said. “For original horror, Blumhouse has define the genre for many years. They built a model that is just terrific.”

The third frame of Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” made $11 million from 3,661 locations, lifting its domestic gross to $114.5 million.

Rounding out the top five is the sophomore weekend of Universal’s “Blockers.” Kay Cannon’s raunchy comedy starring John Cena, Leslie Mann, and Ike Barinholtz took in $10 million from 3,418 locations. In total, the pic has made $37 million.

The wide release of Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” made $5 million from 1,939 locations. The stop-motion animated film, which has grossed $18.5 million, opened in limited release at the end of March with the best per screen average of 2018 to date.

Another newcomer, Entertainment Studios’ canine-themed “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero,” made $1.1 million in 1,633 locations. Directed and co-written by Richard Lanni, “Sgt. Stubby”  features the voices of Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter and Gerard Depardieu.

The 2018 box office is down 2.4% compared to 2017. The same weekend last year, where “The Fate of the Furious” opened with $98.8 million, is down 15.5%

MILOS FORMAN, OSCAR-WINNING DIRECTOR OF ‘ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST,’ DIES AT 86

Milos Forman, Oscar-Winning Director of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ Dies at 86

ARCHIV -Archivbild (31. Januar 1997) zeigt den Hollywood-Erfolgsregisseur Milos Forman. Forman wird am kommenden Dienstag 18. Februar 1997 65 Jahre alt. Sein Film ‘Einer flog ueber das Kuckucksnest’ erhielt fuenf Oskars. Acht Oskars heimste 1984 das Musiker-Drama ‘Amadeus’ ein. (AP Photo/Archiv/Brian Diggs)

Czech-born director Milos Forman who won best directing Oscars for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and Amadeus has died. He was 86.

Forman died Friday in the U.S. after a brief illness, his wife, Martina, told the Czech news agency CTK. She said that “his departure was calm, and he was surrounded the whole time by his family and his closest friends.”

Forman was also known for directing “Hair,” “Ragtime” and “The People vs. Larry Flynt.”

Directors’  Guild president Thomas Schlamme said, “Miloš was truly one of ours. A filmmaker, artist, and champion of artists’ rights. His contribution to the craft of directing has been an undeniable source of inspiration for generations of filmmakers. His directorial vision deftly brought together provocative subject matter, stellar performances and haunting images to tell the stories of the universal struggle for free expression and self-determination that informed so much of his work and his life.“A member of the DGA’s National Board and a recipient of the DGA’s highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, Miloš actively championed artist’s rights throughout his career, speaking multiple times before Congress and world audiences about the importance of creative rights and artists’ protections against the violation of those rights. He stood up on behalf of his beloved fellow filmmakers time and again, and he believed with all his heart that creativity and artistic freedom could make a difference in the world. Now it’s up to us to prove him right. We will miss him.”

Having made just one American film at the time, the ironic comedy “Taking Off” (1971), which won critical acclaim but failed to connect with audiences, Forman seemed an unlikely choice to direct the adaptation of Ken Kesey’s countercultural novel “Cuckoo’s Nest.” But he brought a balance and objectivity to the film, which could easily have descended into histrionics. The critically lauded and immensely popular film starring the fast-rising Jack Nicholson struck a nerve in 1975, and on Academy Awards night it became the first film since 1934’s “It Happened One Night” to sweep the top five Oscar prizes: best picture, director, actress, actor and screenplay (adapted).

To shoot Amadeus,  Forman returned to his native Czechoslovakia in 1983 and used little-known theater actors to play Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Thomas Hulce) and his rival Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham), Forman created a compelling and cogent adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s award-winning stage play — helped in great measure by the magnificent Mozartian score. Again, Forman ruled the Oscars, taking another director trophy as the film also drew awards for picture, actor (Abraham), and screenplay, winning eight awards in all. The film was also his most financially successful after “Cuckoo’s Nest.”

With a style that film historian David Thomson said stressed the everyday over the melodramatic and a flair for improvisation, Forman had flourished as a young director in Czechoslovakia with such satirical films as 1966’s “Loves of a Blonde” and 1968’s “The Firemen’s Ball,” the latter of which was refused a showing in his native country because of its satire of bureaucratic thinking.

Forman was in Paris in August 1968 when Russian tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia, ending the Warsaw Pact country’s brief artistic renaissance. Soon thereafter he moved to New York, joining another celebrated Czech director, Ivan Passer, who had penned “Loves of a Blonde” with Forman and others. Forman’s first U.S. film, “Taking Off,” was similar in approach and style to his earlier work, and while it was praised by critics, it did little to establish him as an American director. He also took on “The Decathlon” episode of “Visions of Eight,” a compilation documentary of the Olympics by an octet of different helmers.

Over the years Forman directed few films, and his American track record was mixed. Though “Cuckoo’s Nest” transformed him into an A-list director, he waited four years before his next film, tackling another challenging piece of material, “Hair,” based on the ’60s smash hit musical. But 10 years later, the episodic piece seemed passe onscreen, and Forman’s simple approach was ill-suited for the musical material. He did better with 1981’s “Ragtime,” a mostly successful adaptation of E.L. Doctorow’s bestseller centered on intersecting lives in the early 20th century. The film did not score at the box office, however.

He attained commercial and critical success once more with “Amadeus” but never quite scaled those heights again.

Forman appeared next in 1989 with “Valmont,” an adaptation he co-penned of the French period novel “Les Liaisons dangereuses” starring Colin Firth and Annette Bening. While graceful and witty, the film suffered from comparison to the more melodramatic “Dangerous Liaisons,” released the previous year and starring John Malkovich and Glenn Close.

He didn’t direct again until he issued two other satirical pieces in the late ’90s, the first of which was “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” a well-reviewed comedy about the First Amendment controversy stirred up by Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, embodied in the film by Woody Harrelson. While reviews were strong, the film did only moderately well at the box office. But it brought Forman another director nomination in 1996.

The reception to his 1999 film “Man on the Moon,” about the offbeat comic Andy Kaufman, was mixed, though lead Jim Carrey pulled in great notices.

After an absence of seven years, Forman returned in 2006 with “Goya’s Ghosts,” in which he sought to wed the Inquisition, the life of the painter Goya and the Napoleonic Wars, starring Natalie Portman, Javier Bardem, Stellan Skarsgard and Randy Quaid.

In 2009 Forman directed, with his son Petr, the Czech-language “A Walk Worthwhile,” a remake of his earlier 1966 work for Czech television.

Forman collaborated with Vaclav Havel on the adaptation of a novel about the Munich Agreement, through which Hitler annexed Czechoslovakia’s Sudentenland in 1938, but the project did not come to fruition. He also had in development as a directing project the story of Charles Ponzi, the early 20th century fraudster who lends his name to the Ponzi scheme.

In addition to his directing chores, Forman was co-director of the film program at Columbia U. and appeared as an actor in such films as “Keeping the Faith,” “Heartburn” and “New Year’s Day.”

Born in the town of Caslav (also spelled Kaslov), near Prague, Jan Tomas Forman was raised by an uncle and in foster homes following the death of his parents in WWII concentration camps. After graduating from the Prague Film Faculty of the Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1957, he wrote sketches for the mixed media Laterna Magika, which was celebrated at the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels. After departing the group in 1961, he was hired by the Czech state film studio, where he came to attention with two medium-length films, 1961’s “The Talent Competition” and “If There Were No Music.” His feature debut in 1963, “Black Peter,” won the top prize at the Locarno Film Festival and led to such internationally acclaimed efforts as “Loves of a Blonde” and “The Fireman’s Ball.”

Forman was jury president at the Cannes Film Festival in 1985 and the Venice Film Festival in 2000.

In Czechoslovakia Forman was married twice, first to actress Jana Brejchova (sister of his lead actress in “Loves of a Blonde”) and then to Vera Kresadlova, who was the mother of his twin sons Peter and Matej. In 1998 he had another set of twins, Andrew and James, by his third wife, Martina Zborilova.