The weekend box office for the opening of the 2018 “A Star is Born” remake reached a gratifying $43 million, not unexpectedly, or out of curiosity, it being Bradley Cooper’s directorial launch and Lady Gaga’s rare entry into films. A month after its initial release on Oct. 5, it has grossed a worldwide box office of almost $300 million, not bad for a movie done on a $36 million budget.
This movie is the 4th remake, not counting the first with a similar plot but under a different title. The 2018 version is critically acclaimed and, like its predecessors, is predicted to be nominated in the Oscars, at a minimum for Best Original Song. “Shallow” is a powerful ballad performed by the movie’s two stars at a momentous part in the film. The previous remake won the same award for Barbra Streisand, who sang “Evergreen” in the 1976 version.
All four films follow the same storyline, with some modifications. The first, done in 1936, wasn’t a musical. The 1954 ASIB starred Judy Garland and earned her raves for both her musical and acting skills. Barbra Streisand’s adaptation in 1976 casts her as an aspiring singer, discovered and groomed to stardom by Kris Kristofferson’s character, an alcoholic rock star whose fame is waning. Cooper and Gaga’s movie is a take on Streisand’s tale.
But the 2018 film was not without its hitches. A credited producer raised the ire of quite a few people. Famous Hollywood personality and ex-Sony Pictures head honcho Jon Peters is notorious for his sexual advances on his female staff and has been hauled to court five times by five different women, all under his employ. Long before the #MeToo movement came to being, Peters’ personal assistant Shelley Morita had sued him in December 2006 for maintaining a hostile work environment and repeated sexual harassment. She had endured them for a year and finally took legal action when Peters allegedly exposed himself to Morita and her two-year old daughter. In August 2011, a Los Angeles jury ordered Peters to pay Morita the sum of $3.3 million. The other cases were either settled out of court or dismissed.
Warner Bros. Entertainment explains that they are bound by a legal contract to include Peters’ name as producer since the movie is a remake of the 1976 version, which Peters had produced. Nevertheless, an article in Jezebel urges moviegoers to skip the movie, as a share of every dollar spent on a ticket will go to Peters.
For viewers who feel strongly about the #MeToo issue, watching the movie online for free and not in a cinema is an option. Technology has also made it possible to watch films that are not available in certain locations or countries and Surfshark does the job well. “A Star is Born“ is worth viewing, with critics saying it’s a shoo-in for an Oscar.
Down under, New Zealand’s Chief Censor David Shanks added a new warning to the film’s viewers. Initially rated M (unrestricted, suitable for 16 years and over,) the word “suicide” has been appended to “sex scenes, offensive language and drug use” after Police Victim Support reported that two vulnerable young people had been “severely triggered” by Cooper’s character committing suicide. Similar complaints were reported by the Mental Health Foundation to the Office of Film & Literature Classification which Shanks heads.
The concerns don’t matter though. Jon Peters was not actively involved in the making of this film, so viewers can rest assured that cast and crew were not in danger of being subjected to his disgusting acts. The censorship in New Zealand is a natural reaction to prevent potential tragic consequences to watching the movie but doesn’t prohibit people from seeing it.
In a way, these adverse issues may have contributed to the movie’s publicity and prodded more people to watch it. Which is why “A Star is Born” is still raking in the money at the movie houses.