VARIETY – Scarlett Johansson action fantasy Lucy has made the best first-day bow of any Luc Besson film ever in the director’s native France.

Distribbed by Besson’s own EuropaCorp Distribution, Lucy nuked all opposition, taking a 43% market shasre and storming on Wednesday to 351, o54 tix sales off 615 copies, per CBO-BoxOffice.com: About $3.0 million in one-day gross box office. Figure does not include prior sneak-peak premieres.

Opening marks the best-ever first day for a Besson-directed movie – and many of the 55-year-old director’s titles have gone boffo in France – and the fourth-best first day of any film this year, only bettered by Fox’s How To Train Your Dragon 2 (427,234 admissions) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Dany Boon’s Superchondriac, distribbed by Pathe (367,153).

After Superchondriac, Lucy is the second best first day for any French film this decade.

Explanations for the boffo opening: Huge anticipation at Besson’s return to an action format, his first since 1997’s The Fifth Element; Johansson’s star turn; Lucy’s muscular U.S. debut.

“It’s a tremendous opening that confirms the good trend for French movies this year, after the huge success of comedies in the first semester (‘Serial (Bad) Weddings,’ and others), said Eric Marti at Rentrak.

“Lucy” will have to show long, long legs of course to equal Besson’s top-three hits in France with movies he’s directed, which are, per Rentrak: 1987’s Le gran bleu (9.2 million admissions); 1997’s The Fifth Element (7.7 million); 2005’s Arthur and the Invisibles (6.4 million).

Labels: Lucy, Projects

I’ve uploaded scans from the June issue of Empire to the gallery. I know, I’m more than a little late adding these but there is a nice feature on Lost in Translation featuring some behind the scenes photos of Scarlett and Bill Murray that I haven’t seen before now. Hopefully this is something new for you too. Enjoy.

Labels: Gallery Updates, Magazine Scans

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER – Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy opened to a winning $44 million at the North American box office, an impressive start for an action film featuring a female heroine. The movie, directed by Luc Besson, easily showed more muscle than Dwayne Johnson’s epic Hercules, which debuted at No. 2 to roughly $29 million for director Brett Ratner.

The pair of new offerings weren’t able to cure the ailing box office. North American revenue was once again down, this time by nearly 12 percent from the same weekend a year ago (the summer continues to be down by more than 20 percent).

Paramount and MGM, which partnered on Hercules, have much more at stake financially since the movie cost at least $100 million to make and had hoped it would do more domestically. However, the movie is making up ground overseas, where it took in $28.7 million over the weekend from its first territories, including a stunning $12 million in Russia. It has yet to open in much of Europe, Latin America or in larger Asian markets.

Lucy was produced by Besson’s EuropaCorp for a reported $40 million and is being released by Universal. The R-rated movie co-stars Morgan Freeman and features Johansson as a woman who ingests a drug that gives her extraordinary abilities. The movie only earned a C+ CinemaScore, although that didn’t seem to slow traffic on Friday.

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Labels: Lucy, Projects
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INDIEWIRE – Scarlett Johansson sure has come a long way since “The Nanny Diaries.” Thanks to a quartet of diverse performances over the past year in “Don Jon,” “Her,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Under The Skin,” Johansson has reached a rapturous peak in her twenty year career and has cemented her status as one of the most exciting actresses working today. On one hand, her integral work as Black Window in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has earned her global recognition as a bona fide ass-kicking heroine, an opportunity she’s seizing this weekend in Luc Besson’s “Lucy.” On the other, her eclectic tastes have kept her feet grounded in the independent film world. After rising to prominence in low budget hits “Manny & Lo” and “Ghost World,” the 29-year-old beauty has continuously stayed true to her independent roots despite countless mainstream efforts. The result is an actress who can confidently headline an R-rated action film while also circulating the latest Coen Brothers project. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Johansson is equal parts blockbuster babe and indie starlet. As “Lucy” sets its target on becoming the sleeper hit of the summer, we look to Johansson’s indie sensibilities with 11 directors who could do wonders with her various talents.

John Carney (“Once,” “Begin Again”)

The latest phase of Johansson’s career has been full of experimentation. From her transformative voiceover in “Her” to the silent improvisations of “Skin,” the actress has been rapidly growing with one risk after another. But while surprises are always welcome, Johansson should not abandon the conventional romantic comedy-drama altogether. Her playful smile is too winning not to be put to good use. It’s a shame the genre has become a tired cliché dumping ground when such contrivances can be so winning given the right cast and material. Enter indie-musical wunderkind John Carney. As proven in the acoustic “Once” and its more glamorized Hollywood sibling “Begin Again,” which has become an indie summer hit with nearly $10 million and counting, Carney can make clichés ripple with genuine feeling by creating relaxed, believable chemistry between his leads. Sappiness and predictability could have killed “Begin Again” if it wasn’t for the likable gravitation between Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightly. And if Johansson has mastered one thing, it’s effortless chemistry. Even in duds like “He’s Just Not That Into You” and Cameron Crowe’s “We Bought A Zoo,” Johansson’s earnest appeal and natural rapport with her costars have shined bright. And if Carney is looking to make a successful indie-musical hat trick, the actress has sultry singing pipes to spare, just check out her albums “Anywhere I Lay My Head” and “Break Up” for proof. If Johansson is ever in need of a wholesome romantic hit, Carney is her man.

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Labels: Articles and Interviews

TIME – This weekend’s Lucy—the action thriller starring Scarlett Johansson as a woman who has 10 times the brain capacity of other humans—may just turn out to be a hit. The film scored $2.7 million at the Thursday box office, beating out Hercules, which stars a traditionally macho hero, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. If the box office numbers continue to soar, Johansson will join the small pantheon of women who can carry an action film that isn’t based on a comic book or a young adult novel.

There are very few actresses who can accomplish that feat. Remember, we’re not counting Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games is based on the uber-popular YA series), Kate Beckinsale (the Underworld series was based on a comic), anyone who shared the screen with an equally formidable male action hero (Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2) or who starred in an action film that bombed (Jennifer Garner in Elektra). Who’s left? Angelina Jolie is probably the most well-known: she took top billing in Tomb Raider, Salt and Wanted (to varying degrees of success). Uma Thurman kicked ass in both Kill Bill movies. And Sigourney Weaver was a terrific warrior in Alien. That’s about it.

And none of those women starred in a tentpole superhero film. In fact, films focused on superheroines have historically crashed and burned (see: Halle Berry in Catwoman). But being able to carry an action film with no built-in fan base means that the people at Disney may finally feel comfortable with giving Johansson her own Black Widow film, where she plays the star, not the sidekick to Robert Downey Jr. as she does in The Avengers.

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Labels: Lucy, Projects

VULTURE – Over the last several years, Scarlett Johansson’s output has been impressive in its variety: The Avengers, Hitchcock, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on Broadway, Don Jon, Her, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Under the Skin. This weekend, she stars in the Luc Besson–directed action movie Lucy as a drug mule who finds herself able to access increasingly large portions of her brain’s capacity. Vulture spoke with Johansson about playing hyperintelligent beings, avoiding her own acting tics, and her favorite sandwich.

The first question I like to ask everyone I interview is: Why this movie now?
Why this movie now? [Laughs.] That’s interesting. When I first met Luc, I was doing a Tennessee Williams play that was visceral and raw and this project seemed so abstract. It was challenging in a different way because the character is in this constant state of transition and struggles to hold onto the nuances of herself and her life that make her who she is — that make her human, in her mind. In comparison to the work that I was doing when we met, it seemed like a totally different challenge. It just fit. I didn’t even know how to do it; I just felt I could.

As the movie goes on, you unlock more and more of your brain, and your performance becomes more muted and less emotional. What is going through your mind in these scenes where you’re having to be so elevated but also so restrained?
There’s so much going on inside of her. She’s having all these profound changes and realizations and these sudden “ah-ha” moments. But you still want to watch the person and see that there’s an inner life happening there. The goal is to not make it a story about revenge and not have the performance be monotonous or robotic. It very well might be. I’m not sure that I succeeded in making it anything else. [Laughs.] I was aware every moment of what her abilities were. I had a big chart. Okay, I’m at 40 percent. This is what I’m holding on to. This is what I know now. This is what I’m capable of. Okay, now I’m at 70 percent, so this is what I’m challenged by. She’s gaining all this ability and knowledge but she’s becoming almost childlike in some ways. That’s how I saw it.

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Labels: Articles and Interviews, Lucy

I’ve updated the gallery with our first batch of hi-res stills from Avengers: Age of Ultron, be sure to take a look if you haven’t already!

Labels: Avengers: Age of Ultron, Gallery Updates, Projects
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