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Film News Roundup: Peter Jackson’s ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’ Sets Record With $3.4 Million

In today’s film news roundup, Peter Jackson’s World War I documentary is performing well, Joan Meyerson is honored and a documentary about President Trump’s mental fitness is in the works.

BOX OFFICE

UPDATED: Peter Jackson’s World War I documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old” broke its own record with $3.4 million at 1,007 theaters in North America on Thursday, according to industry estimates.

They Shall Not Grow Old” has now taken in $5.7 million in two days of showings in North America. It debuted on Dec. 17 and pulled in $2.3 million at 1,142 theaters for Warner Bros. and Fathom Events — the largest single-day gross for a Fathom documentary in the U.S. Fathom specializes in event cinema and is jointly owned by AMC, Cinemark and Regal. Fathom said that some locations sold out of tickets more than a week ago.

“The success of this release is a result of tremendous teamwork between Fathom Events, Warner Bros. and our exhibition partners,” said Ray Nutt, CEO of Fathom Events. “Peter Jackson has created a film of remarkable technical achievement that is also a deeply emotional and truly unforgettable experience for anyone who sees it. It has been an honor to be part of Mr. Jackson’s cinematic achievement.”

Warner Bros. will launch a theatrical release in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC, on Jan. 11 and plans to expand to 25 markets on Feb. 1.

Jackson began developing the project in 2014 and decided to use the voices of 120 actual British soldiers who were recorded in the 1960s and colorize actual footage from World War I. The film, which aired in the U.K. on the Armistice Day centennial, was commissioned by 14-18 Now, the U.K. arts program for the First World War centenary, and the Imperial War Museum, in association with the BBC.

Jackson also culled the World War I footage from 100 hours that were in the archives of the Imperial War Museum. It’s estimated by historians that nearly 20 million soldiers and civilians perished during the war, which began in 1914 and ended on Nov. 11, 1918.

WGA HONOR

Joan Meyerson, writer of more than a dozen PBS Memorial Day concert specials, has been named the recipient of the Writers Guild of America West’s Morgan Cox Award in recognition for service to the guild.

Meyerson will be honored at the upcoming Writers Guild Awards L.A. show on Feb. 17 at the Beverly Hills Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif.

“I had the pleasure of serving on the Board of Directors with Joan for many years, and no one better exemplifies dedication to our Guild and its members than she does,” said WGA West President David A. Goodman. “She is one of our most valued, hard-working and selfless leaders, and the current Board and I are thrilled we have the opportunity to honor her service.”

Meyerson has served five terms on the WGA West’s board (1991-95, 2002-04, 2005-09) and 2004 Negotiating Committee, and numerous other guild committees. She’s been a guild member since 1972.

Meyerson’s earned two Writers Guild Awards in 2007 and 2011 for the Memorial Day concert speicals. She began her career in television during the 1970s at David L. Wolper Productions, where she wrote and produced “The Explorers” series, as well as serving as associate producer of the John Glenn special, “On the Trail of Stanley and Livingston,” and the Academy Award-nominated documentary, “Say Goodbye.”

Her other credits include “Things That Go Bump: Facing Our Fears,” “Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses,” “History’s Mysteries, Legends, Icons, & Superstars of the 20th Century,” “Last of the Wild,” and “Untamed World.” Previous recipients of the Cox award include Dan Wilcox, Del Reisman, Frank Pierson, Carl Gottlieb, Patric M. Verrone, Daniel Petrie, Jr., Jeff Melvoin, and Arthur Sellers.

TRUMP DOCUMENTARY

Director/producer Dan Partland and producer Art Horan have begun production on “#UNFIT: Malignant Narcissism Comes to Washington, DC,” a documentary on the mental fitness of President Donald Trump.

To complete the film for a release in 2019, the filmmakers have recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, which has received pledges for $18,462 from 431 backers for its $54,500 goal with a Jan. 17 deadline.

“Unfit” follows the findings and assessments of doctors and mental health experts under the overall guidance of Dr. John D. Gartner working in collaboration with the group A Duty to Warn Coalition grass-roots organization of mental health professionals. They believe it is their ethical responsibility to sound the alarm about Trump’s behavior. Gartner also serves as executive producer of the documentary.

Gartner said, “Donald Trump’s mental instability and severe psychopathology pose a grave risk to both to our nation and the planet. We have no choice but to break our silence. Mental-health professionals are ‘mandated reporters’ with a duty to warn the community if there is a potential danger. We are working with documentary filmmakers to amplify our voices and share vital, non-partisan professional perspectives with the public.”

Partland’s credits include the series “Intervention” and the documentary “The Ballad of Ramblin’ Jack.” Horan was an exec producer on “The Ballad of Ramblin’ Jack” and “The Usual Suspects.”

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