JK Rowling tells story of alter ego Robert Galbraith

per the UK Daily Guardian:


JK Rowling

Pottering no more … JK Rowling has revealed more about her pseudonymous detective novel. Photograph: Ian West/PA

JK Rowling chose her alter ego of Robert Galbraith by conflating the name of her political hero Robert F Kennedy and her childhood fantasy name “Ella Galbraith”, the Harry Potter writer has explained on her alternative persona’s official author website.


The author, who was outed last week as the writer of detective novel The Cuckoo’s Calling, also confirmed that she has “just finished the sequel” – the first of a projected series featuring sleuth Cormoran Strike – which is to be published in 2014.


Amid the FAQs on the official Robert Galbraith author website, Rowling declared “I successfully channelled my inner bloke!” when editor David Shelley, who first read the novel without knowing who its true author was, said, “I never would have thought a woman wrote that.”


The Cuckoo’s Calling, shot to No 1 in the hardback fiction charts last week, selling 17,662 copies after Rowling was revealed to be its author, charting above Dan Brown’s Inferno at number two, and Second Honeymoon by James Patterson at number three. In the overall UK book charts, it reached third place, behind paperbacks of John Grisham’s The Racketeer at No 1, and Rowling’s previous adult novel The Casual Vacancy, which also climbed rapidly following the news, at number two.


Writing on the Galbraith website, Rowling reaffirmed the line that the pseudonymous story “was not a leak or marketing ploy by me, my publisher or agent, both of whom have been completely supportive of my desire to fly under the radar. If sales were what mattered to me most, I would have written under my own name from the start, and with the greatest fanfare.”


The decision to choose a male pseudonym was driven by a desire to “take my writing persona as far away as possible from me”, Rowling said. By choosing as her hero a military man working in national security – taking a lead from former SAS solider and bestselling author Andy McNab – she created an “excuse not to make personal appearances or to provide a photograph”.


“When I was a child, I really wanted to be called Ella Galbraith, I’ve no idea why. The name had a fascination for me. I actually considered calling myself LA Galbraith for the Strike series, but for fairly obvious reasons decided that initials were a bad idea,” Rowling said.

“I know a number of soldiers and I’m close to two people in particular who were incredibly generous as I researched my hero’s background,” Rowling wrote. Her military contacts also helped to construct a fake CV for Robert Galbraith. “One of these friends is from the Special Investigations Bureau. So while Strike himself is entirely fictional, his career and the experiences he’s had are based on factual accounts of real soldiers.”


Rowling also reveals that lead character’s first name “was a gift from his flaky groupie of a mother, is unusual and a recurring irritation to him as people normally get it wrong; we sense that he would much rather be called Bob.”


The character of Strike’s assistant, Robin, a temporary secretary, grew “largely out of my own experiences as a temp, long ago in London where I could always make rent between jobs because I could type 100 words a minute due to writing fiction in my spare time.”


The book’s title is taken from A Dirge, the mournful poem by Christina Rossetti which is a lament for one who died too young.


Rowling was “yearning to go back to the beginning of a writing career in this new genre, to work without hype or expectation and to receive totally unvarnished feedback. It was a fantastic experience and I only wish it could have gone on a little longer,” she said. Most of the Harry Potter books are “whodunits at heart”, she added, saying that she “loves detective fiction”.


Its London setting was chosen above Scotland, where Rowling lives, because “you could write about London all your life and not exhaust the plots, settings or history,” she said.


Rowling’s identity as the author of The Cuckoo’s Calling was leaked last week by a friend of one of her lawyers. At that point, the book had sold 8,500 English-language copies across all formats (hardback, eBook, library and audiobook), and received two offers from television production companies.


“The situation was becoming increasingly complicated,” Rowling admitted, “largely because Robert was doing rather better than we had expected … but we all still hoped to keep the secret a little longer. Robert’s success during his first three months as a published writer (discounting sales made after I was found out) actually compares favourably with JK Rowling’s success over the equivalent period of her career.”



Pacific Rim flops the test against Monsters University and sun

per the UK Daily Guardian



Disney sequel is top at the UK box office as Pacific Rim fails to impress, and Andre Rieu’s live concert pulls in the profits


The winner

The third successive sunny weekend continued to see tough conditions for film exhibition in the UK, with significant drops for existing films, and below-expected numbers for new entrants. At least there wasn’t a historic Wimbledon final to contend with. Top title was Disney-Pixar’s Monsters University, with £3.46m, well ahead of rival new entrant Pacific Rim.

  1. Pacific Rim
  2. Production year: 2013
  3. Country: USA
  4. Cert (UK): 12A
  5. Runtime: 131 mins
  6. Directors: Guillermo del Toro
  7. Cast: Burn Gorman, Charlie Day, Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Ron Perlman
  8. More on this film

Disney cheerfully announced, “Monsters University Withstands the Heat as it Comes Top of the Class at #1 at UK Box Office,” adding that the film had achieved strong evening business, indicating a broad audience that extends beyond the family market. Fair enough, but that’s only the 11th best three-day debut of 2013, behind Iron Man 3Man of Steel,Despicable Me 2Fast & Furious 6Les MiserablesStar Trek Into DarknessThe Hangover Part IIIThe Croods and Disney’s own Wreck-It Ralph and Oz the Great and Powerful. Predecessor Monsters Inc debuted with a much more impressive £9.20m back in 2002, including previews of £2.71m.

In Disney’s favour are the strong legs often exhibited by animated features. For example, The Croods opened with £3.52m plus £1.85m in previews, and is now at an impressive £26.2m. Monsters University has posted a very similar three-day debut, and could easily end up with a comparable number, especially with the whole school summer holiday ahead of it.

Animation is so far proving particularly robust in 2013, with The Croods, Despicable Me 2 (£27.1m) and Wreck-It Ralph (£23.8m) among the top eight grossers so far. Despicable Me 2 is steadily rising up the all-time animation rankings, and now has Shrek (£29.0m), A Bug’s Life (£29.4m) and Chicken Run (£29.5m) in its sights.

Link to video: Monsters University

The disappointment

Critics and audiences bemoan Hollywood’s obsession with sequels and film based on established material such as comicbooks, TV shows and young adult fiction, but once again the numbers seem to support the studios’ risk-averse thinking. Pacific Rim, debuting with £2.19m is the latest film that is struggling to engage audiences, having been based on characters that lacked pre-existing awareness. The number would be less of a problem had the production budget not been a reported $180m (£118.5m).

Last summer, Battleship, derided at the time as a costly flop, opened with £2.25m plus £1.51m in previews. Thanks to director Guillermo Del Toro‘s credible reputation, Pacific Rim might hold up stronger in the coming weeks, especially as temperatures cool. But at this point it hardly looks a profitable endeavour for backers Warners.

The other big commercial disappointment of the summer so far is likewise based on an original story: M Night Shyamalan‘s After Earth, which debuted just ahead of Pacific Rim with £2.25m, and is now at £6.25m. Of course, critics may carp that the problem with Pacific Rim and After Earth is their familiarity, rather than their originality. The only 2013 release based on original characters that’s above £20m box-office is The Croods.

The live event

Dutch violinist André Rieu once again proved the potency of live events beamed into UK cinemas, with a stunning £449,000 on Saturday evening (includes some Sunday encore showings), according to distributor CinemaLive. The company adds that official data gatherer Rentrak has verified the result as the biggest opening weekend for an artist music concert at UK cinemas, ahead of May 2012’s Westlife farewell performance.

UK audience interest for Rieu’s concerts, beamed in from his home town of Maastricht, has been steadily growing since they began transmission here in 2010. His summer concerts in 2011 and 2012 grossed £55,000 and £153,000 respectively at UK cinemas, and his Home for Christmas 2012 pulled in £250,000, according to CinemaLive. A point to note: Rieu plays a week’s worth of concerts, and the cinema event has in fact been recorded several days before live satellite transmission.

The arthouse scene

Is your local arthouse playing mostly summer blockbusters? If so, it’s hardly surprising given the dearth of commercially viable specialised fare right now. With animation, action and comedies occupying the top eight places of the chart (respect to genre straddler Now You See Me, offering something a bit different and holding well in fourth place with £5.4m to date), and Bollywood flick Bhaag Milkha Bhaag in at number nine, the top release targeting non-mainstream audiences is The Bling Ring. Next comes Behind the Candelabra, now in its sixth week of release – the fact that it is still beating the numerous arthouse films released in the past month tells its own story. Everything else grossed less than £20,000 at the weekend, and the Other Openers chart below is mostly a sorry tale of woe.

Link to video: The Bling Ring

The future

Overall, the weekend box-office is 43% down on the equivalent frame from 2012, although, as so often, the devil is in the details. A year ago the market was boosted by two successive weekends of previews in England and Wales for Ice Age 4: Continental Drift, totaling £4.8m – whereas there were no previews to add in for Monsters University or Pacific Rim. Cinema owners will now be pinning hopes on a) an end to the heatwave and b) a nice big opening from The World’s End, which reunites Edgar Wright with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. There’s also serial killer investigation The Frozen Ground, with Nicolas Cage, John Cusack and Vanessa Hudgens; Swedish thriller Easy Money with Joel Kinnaman; and arthouse offerings including Breathe In and Wadjda.

Top 10 films

1. Monsters University, £3,463,917 from 525 sites (New)

2. Despicable Me 2, £2,225,543 from 539 sites. Total: £27,082,903

3. Pacific Rim, £2,193,500 from 494 sites (New)

4. Now You See Me, £1,142,376 from 478 sites. Total: £5,366,612

5. The Internship, £397,660 from 388 sites. Total: £2,263,505

6. World War Z, £382,975 from 366 sites. Total: £13,242,263

7. Man of Steel, £278,607 from 317 sites. Total: £29,190,336

8. This Is the End, £181,367 from 265 sites. Total: £3,677,230

9. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, 56 sites, £89,348

10. The Bling Ring, £76,540 from 75 sites. Total: £348,269



Pacific Rim washes up third as sequels dominate

per the UK Daily Guardian


Guillermo del Toro’s apocalyptic adventure can’t beat the combined might of Despicable Me and Adam Sandler sequels

Posted by

Monday 15 July 2013 07.23 EDTguardian.co.uk


Warner Bros‘ robots v monsters mash-up Pacific Rim arrived in third place at the North American box office this week on an estimated $38.3m. By most standards this would be a decent opening haul for the latest Guillermo del Toro movie. However in these days of engorged budgets and the close attention of a frantic US trade press desperate for headlines on a Sunday, it is simply not good enough.

  1. Pacific Rim
  2. Production year: 2013
  3. Country: USA
  4. Cert (UK): 12A
  5. Runtime: 131 mins
  6. Directors: Guillermo del Toro
  7. Cast: Burn Gorman, Charlie Day, Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Ron Perlman
  8. More on this film

Pacific Rim reportedly cost around $190m and that is a lot of lolly to recoup, especially when you add as much as $100m in global marketing spend on top of that. This was a big weekend at the box office and the potency of Del Toro’s film will have been neutered somewhat byDespicable Me 2 and the No 2 title Grown Ups 2 starring Adam Sandler.

Both the No 1 and No 2 movies are sequels boasting household names. Pacific Rim is neither: it’s hard to launch a new property with little brand awareness and a lack of A-list talent. Despite the opinion of some who say the effects are the real stars these days, you can never underestimate the allure of a celebrity.

Pacific Rim lacks one, with all respect to Charlie Hunnam, who will be familiar to US TV viewers through Sons of Anarchy, and the mesmerisingIdris Elba, a renowned TV actor on both sides of the Atlantic who you get the sense could be on the cusp of movie stardom. Maybe his lead role in the upcoming Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, will unlock the vault.Harvey Weinstein has the movie in the US and if he believes Elba has a crack at an Oscar, the British actor could not wish for a more influential advocate.

Still, the numbers are the only story the studios care about. On that note, it’s worth considering the movie’s international performance. Pacific Rim ventured into its first territories outside North America and the results were highly encouraging. Del Toro’s tentpole came within a hair’s breadth of kicking Despicable Me 2 off its perch, grossing an estimated $53m from a relatively light footprint of 38 markets, compared to the second weekend heroics of Despicable Me 2 on $55.5m.

Top brass at Warner Bros and their outgoing financing and production partner Legendary Entertainment will take heart from this. Legendary financed most of the movie so we’re not talking about a hit to the studio that will be anything like as severe as the one Disney is preparing itself for with The Lone Ranger. It’s possible Pacific Rim will become an international hit.

The 72% approval rating on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes could bode well for North America too if word of mouth gets out and the movie sticks around for a few weeks.

The aforementioned Harvey Weinstein released the acclaimed dramaFruitvale Station in seven US theatres at the weekend and it grossed an excellent $377,000. Weinstein snapped up the movie following its world premiere at Sundance last January and by eerie coincidence its themes echo those of the Trayvon Martin case that has gripped the US in recent weeks and concluded on Saturday. That could not have been Weinstein’s plan when he plotted the release date months ago, but the zeitgeist could fuel further admissions. This quietly devastating movie will play a part in awards season.

North American Top 10, 12-14 July

1. Despicable Me 2, $44.8m. Total: $229.2m

2. Grown Ups 2, $42.5m

3. Pacific Rim, $38.3m

4. The Heat, $14m. Total: $112.4m

5. The Lone Ranger, $11.1m. Total: $71.1m

6. Monsters University, $10.6m. Total: $237.8m

7. World War Z, $9.4m. Total: $177.1m

8. White House Down, $6.2m. Total: $62.9m

9. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain, $5m. Total: $26.4m

10. Man Of Steel, $4.8m. Total: $280.9m