Posts Tagged ‘Release’

“Molly’s Game” Has Decent First Week in Full Release

 “Molly’s Game” Has Decent First Week in Full Release

After debuting as a “limited release” the week prior, the pseudo-poker film Molly’s Game went on full release last week. While those numbers were decent, there were a couple of signs of problems and the “second week curse” that usually hits films after their initial release.

First, the good news. The film, with a screenplay adapted by noted screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (who was also taking his first shot in the director’s chair), opened last week to another 1337 theaters beyond its initial 271 “limited release” locations right before Christmas. Bringing the total number of theaters to 1608 across the U. S., those locations brought in $ 6.8 million for its first full week in release to bring the total revenues of Molly’s Game to $ 14,073,138. That broke down to roughly $ 4264 per screen, a very respectable number for a film in its first week out.

Now for the less than encouraging news. The big winner for the week – and in its third week in the theaters – was the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson/Kevin Hart video game/action flick Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. The film (ever so loosely based on the original film that starred the late Robin Williams) took in $ 37.2 million to bring its three-week total to $ 245.6 million, by far the big winner of the holiday season. It was followed by a new debut, Insidious: The Last Key, which took in $ 29.5 million in its first week (and averaged $ 9,493 over its 3116 screens). Taking the bronze for the week was the latest in the Star Wars saga, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which took in $ 23.7 million for a four week take of $ 572.6 million.

Looking at those numbers, it does put a bit of a downer on the Molly’s Game thunder. What is worse is that there were two other films in their third week of release – Hugh Jackman’s musical The Greatest Showman and Anna Kendrick’s finale with Pitch Perfect 3 – that were in fourth and fifth for the week, respectively, with $ 13.7 million and $ 10.2 million in earnings. And to add a bit of a coup de grace, a film in its FOURTH week, the children’s film Ferdinand featuring the voice of World Wrestling Entertainment legend John Cena in the titular role, eclipsed Molly’s Game for the sixth-place slot on the list.

Because of the nature of the movie business, it is highly likely that Molly’s Game won’t even be in the Top Ten for this weekend’s box office. Normally a film will see a massive fall off in its take in its second, third or even fourth week of release. After going to full release last week, it is highly likely that the film with hit that second week doldrum that most films usually face.

There is also a very crowded market coming out this weekend. Along with Jumanji, Insidious, and Star Wars, there will be several newcomers that should take up people’s eyeballs. The new Liam Neeson thriller The Commuter, Taraji P. Henson’s badass mom/hit woman offering Proud Mary, and the children-targeted Paddington 2 will all try to knock off the Top Three. Toss in the Oscar-buzzed The Post starring American acting legends Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep going into full release (at over 3000 theaters) and the road looks tough for Molly’s Game to stay in the Top Ten.

Still, the reactions for Molly’s Game haven’t been awful. Reviewers have been glowing about the performances of Jessica Chastain in the lead role and Idris Elba as her attorney. Furthermore, Rotten Tomatoes (one of the biggest critics of films) has given the film an 81% favorable rating from 189 reviews. Sorkin is receiving his usual kudos for adapting a book into a riveting screenplay and all three have been nominated for awards for their work. If one of them were to win an award for their work on the film, it certainly would help draw more “butts to seats” if it stays in the theater.

If you haven’t had the chance to catch Molly’s Game yet, this might be the last weekend to do so. It should then make a quick transition to OnDemand (which is where I plan to catch the film) and, if the talk of the poker world is consistent, many others will partake of the offering there.

The post “Molly’s Game” Has Decent First Week in Full Release appeared first on Poker News Daily.

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Borgata “Chipgate” Perpetrator Still in Prison Despite Reports of Release

 Borgata “Chipgate” Perpetrator Still in Prison Despite Reports of Release

Others in the poker media have been reporting that the perpetrator of the Borgata “Chipgate” scandal from 2014, Christian Lusardi, has been released from prison. A little legwork from a valued member of the poker journalism community – and confirmed by this writer – shows that Lusardi is indeed still incarcerated in federal prison.

Reports from PokerNews poker journalist Katie Callahan indicated that Lusardi, who was sentenced in late 2015 to three to five years in federal prison for copyright infringement and trafficking in counterfeit labels (more on this in a moment), was released in July 2016 after only eight months in federal prison. Callahan, who attributed her information to Poker Fraud Alert, only discussed the issue peripherally with fellow PokerNews journalist and noted legal expert “Mac” VerStandig, who surmised it could be possible that any state charges he faced in New Jersey would have been dropped and, with only the federal case, could have been released because of cooperation in the federal investigation.

A deeper look into the Federal Bureau of Prisons and their Inmate Locator revealed the true story, however. Originally found by former Poker News Daily journalist and longtime poker industry member Jessica Welman, her investigation (as reported by revealed that “Christian Patrick Lusardi” is still a member of the federal prison system. He is currently incarcerated at the Edgefield Federal Corrections Institution in Edgefield, SC, with an expected release date of June 8, 2019. This writer’s own examination of the Bureau of Prisons website confirmed the information.

To this point, PokerNews has not updated their story.

The entirety of the Borgata “Chipgate” scandal reads like something out of a Marx Brothers comedy. During the 2014 Borgata Winter Poker Open, the inaugural event – a $ 500 buy in tournament with a $ 1 million guarantee – drew in well north of 2000 players to blow past the guarantee with ease. Lusardi was a part of this tournament and amongst the chip leaders after his Day One play (there were multiple Day Ones for the tournament), but he didn’t return for the second day of competition.

While the tournament staff frantically searched for Lusardi, the comedy of errors expanded. Harrah’s, located down the boardwalk from the Borgata, suffered a clog of its sewage system in the hotel and sent plumbers in to correct the issue. Upon entering the pipes, the plumbers found 2.7 million in counterfeit Borgata tournament chips stopping up the system. Researching their path, the plumbers figured out which room the chips came from – one that had been booked and used by Lusardi prior to the discovery.

Lusardi, instead of putting as much distance between him and Atlantic City as possible, was apprehended later that same day at another hotel on the beach. At that point, he confessed to creating the fake poker chips and, in a moment of panic, chucking them into the commode in his room at Harrah’s to attempt to hide his crime. He also confessed to introducing approximately 800,000 in fake tournament chips into the Borgata tournament, causing it to immediately be shut down.

As it turned out, Lusardi was no stranger to counterfeiting objects. The federal case against Lusardi alleged that he trafficked in Chinese bootleg CDs and DVDs and, as a sidelight, he created the false poker chips with the intent to defraud a Borgata tournament at some point in the future. The federal case took precedent over the state of New Jersey and the Department of Gaming Enforcement’s case against Lusardi; Lusardi plead guilty to the federal charges, receiving a five-year sentence with three years of probation. It isn’t known if the state charges in New Jersey were tied in with that sentence or whether the Borgata charges were dropped following Lusardi’s guilty plea in his federal case.

Instead of being a free man, Lusardi is still in jail and won’t see the outside of the prison in South Carolina until 2019. One might ponder if there are some times when, staring at the ceiling of his cell, Lusardi wonders if it was all worth it.

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