Fri, Jun 03, 2005 - Page 17 News List

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Author Dan Brown poses with his book, The Da Vinci Code. The bestseller, which has been condemned by the Vatican, is being made into a movie


The Ministry of Justice presented three anti-drug films on Wednesday as part of the government's efforts to fight drug abuse.

According to a ministry official, one of the three films features the stories of drug addicts in Malaysia and Thailand shot by a preacher from Malaysia who was also a drug addict but kicked the habit more than 20 years ago.

At a press conference the preacher, surnamed Chen, expressed hope that the story of his life with drugs will help other people say no to drugs.

Crimes related to drug abuse and trafficking have risen significantly in the last three years, according to the ministry, with the amount of seized drugs last year reaching a 10-year high.

Honoring one of the world's most important cinema nations, the accent will be on Japan at Munich's 23rd annual film festival this year.

In a special section, New Asian Cinema, initiated at last year's festival to honor the artistic qualities of East Asian movies, no less than 18 films from Japan will unspool during the eight days of screenings from June 25 to July 2.

And as part of the special fest, organizer Andreas Stroehl and his staff have lined up two retrospectives featuring films from Keisuke Kinoshita and Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

Star Wars had an out-of-this-world long weekend at the North American box office, raking in another US$70 million which brought its two-week earnings to US$270.4 million.

Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas' final installment of the six-part Star Wars franchise outgunned two high-performing new films to take top spot at the US and Canadian box offices over the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The animated family film Madagascar earned US$61 million and took second spot, and prison remake The Longest Yard, came in third with US$58.6 million, box office trackers Exhibitor Relations Co Inc said.

The romantic comedy "Monster-

in-Law" starring Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda dropped to fourth place, bringing in US$12.7 million in ticket receipts.

The screwball soccer comedy Kicking and Screaming was fifth with US$6.5 million, followed by Crash with six million.

Political thriller The Interpreter, starring Nicole Kidman, was seventh with US$2.6 million, followed by Jet Li's Unleashed, with US$2.4 million.

Crusade epic Kingdom of Heaven was ninth with US$2.2 million while House of Wax rounded off the weekly top 10 with US$1.6 million.

The top 12 films grossed US$225.4 million over the four-day period -- the second-highest ever for the holiday -- but was 5.5 percent lower over last year's Memorial day weekend when earnings hit US$238.6 million.

India has banned smoking scenes in movies and on television, saying they glamorise the use of cigarettes but the move has angered filmmakers in the prolific

Bollywood movie industry.

In tough new regulations, the health ministry said distributors and directors would have to show health warnings on screens in old movies and TV shows, whether Indian or foreign, that showed actors smoking.

"[There would have to be a] mandatory display of a prominent scroll containing a health warning in programs containing scenes with smoking situations that have been produced before this notification," a ministry statement said.

Producers of the upcoming movie based on the blockbuster novel The Da Vinci Code were not allowed to film in London's Westminster Abbey after church officials denounced the book as "theologically unsound".

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