Good Morning Hollywood, March 21: Gypsy, Hobbit & Lawyer

“The Lincoln Lawyer” gets a discount, “The Hobbit” sets off and Stephen Sondheim puts the kibosh on a Barbra Streisand/Tom Hooper “Gypsy”

"The Lincoln Lawyer" made $13.4 million at the boxoffice this weekend, but not all of that money came from moviegoers. A special 48-hour promotion with the discount-coupon email service Groupon sold about 190,000 tickets, according to Ben Fritz; the coupons enabled buyers to see the film for only $6 regardless of the theater price. Lionsgate made up the difference and claimed the full price in its $13.4 million estimate – "a practice," Fritz said, "that will slightly exaggerate the money generated by the picture." ("Paul," which reported $13.2 million, might want to make note of that.) That's not to say that all 190,000 coupons were cashed in over the weekend, though: about 20,000 of them were used on Friday and an unspecified number on Saturday and Sunday, according to the report.  (Company Town

Peter JacksonAnd they're off … After a director who quit, and labor problems and lots of delays, production has begun on the two movies that will make up Peter Jackson's version of "The Hobbit." Dave Trumbore has a bit of info, a press release and a couple of new photos (one of which is at left). You won't really need the plot synopsis if you've read the J.R.R. Tolkien book, though it’ll no doubt need significant padding to turn Tolkien's thinnest "Rings" story into four or five hours of cinema, and some creative padding to fit Cate Blanchett's Galadriel and Elijah Wood's Frodo into the story as well. Of course, both fans and foes of Jackson's first three "Lord of the Rings" films know that if there's one thing the guy can do, it's go big and long. (Collider

Tom Hooper hasn't announced what he'll direct for his first project after "The King's Speech" – before the Oscars, he told me that he wanted to wait until awards-season craziness was over rather than making a decision amidst the heat and pressure of the season. But it's possible that his next film would have been a version of the musical "Gypsy" in which Hooper would have directed Barbra Streisand, says Frank Rizzo. The story: Streisand wanted to do it, Hooper wanted to do it, and the musical's playwright and original director Arthur Laurents was amenable – and then he talked to lyricist Stephen Sondheim, who persuaded him that there was no point in doing a new version of the 1959 show, which became a 1962 film. Besides, said Sondheim, "the theater's greatest essence is that it is ephemeral." So now Laurents doesn't want another film version, and the project, says Rizzo, is dead.  (Behind the Curtain)

Moviegoing may be gradually migrating to the Internet and to a variety of smaller screens, but there's magic – or inspiration, or illumination, or revelation – in the act of seeing films on a large screens in a communal setting. That, at least, is the opinion of Arthur Knight, Clara Pafort-Overduin and Deb Verhoeven. So, inspired by a 60th anniversary film commissioned by the Cannes Film Festival in 2007, they asked 20 writers from around the world to write about their "state of mind in the moment as inspired by the motion picture cinema." The result is an array of short pieces on all aspects of the moviegoing experience. Wading through them, you'll hear that in Korea, film audiences are almost exclusively female, plus a few males on dates; in Argentina, on the other hand, cinemagoing is "an everyday practice that recognizes no gender, age or class distinction." There are tales of the emergence of "the quiet moviegoer" in Japan, and the active moviegoers (crying, laughing, covering their faces) in the Philippines. There's alternative cinema in Chile, a soup-drinking audience in Italy, and Beatle-style screams for an glimpse of Taylor Lautner in a trailer in Williamsburg, Virginia. (Don't worry, that happened a few years ago.) (Senses of Cinema)

The Cannes Film Festival doesn't start for more than a month and a half, but Anne Thompson has posted a preview which arrives three weeks before the announcement of the Cannes lineup and a few days before indieWIRE's annual wishlist of films they want to see at the fest. Speculation on possible entries, she says, has focused on Terrence Malick's "Tree of Life," Gus Van Sant's "Restless," Pedro Almodovar's "The Skin I Live In" and David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method," among others. Already in place: Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris," which will open the festival on May 11. (Thompson on Hollywood