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CNN Today

BAFTA Honors Best in Movies

Aired February 26, 2001 - 2:39 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Time to look at showbiz news, let's go to Laurin Sydney.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's. Good place.

LAURIN SYDNEY, CNN NEW YORK: Definite award season right now, even if it is across the pond, Natalie and Lou.

Good afternoon, everybody. Hollywood took its show on the road last night, and London got a taste of Tinseltown at Britain's annual BAFTA awards, but it was an epic ancient Rome -- about ancient Rome -- that was a hard one -- that took top honors.

"Gladiator" slaughtered the competition and took home five prizes, including the crown of best film from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. "Traffic" snagged the award for best adapted screenplay, and the movie's Benicio Del Toro won best supporting actor. And Julia Roberts landed best actress for her "Erin Brockovich" performance.

But the night's big moment belonged to the 14-year-old leading man who won best actor at the BAFTA ceremony, which was once considered Oscar's poor cousin, but it's becoming a welcome member of the awards season family.

CNN's Christian Mahne reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GOLDIE HAWN, ACTRESS: It goes to Jamie Bell.

CHRISTIAN MAHNE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The star of "Billy Elliot" crowns a remarkable year by winning best actor. In the movie game, they say timing is everything, and the same is increasingly becoming true of awards ceremonies, this year's BAFTAs being moved one month ahead of the prestigious U.S. Academy Awards.

STEPHEN DALDRY, DIRECTOR, "BILLY ELLIOT": I think that the Oscars have always been the big full stop of what is known apparently as the awards season, and I think it's probably just as well the BAFTAs are before and not after.

MAHNE: As a result, the stars were out in force, both to pick up another gong and to build momentum for their movies in the last weeks of voting before the Oscars.

ROBERT MITCHELL, SCREEN INTERNATIONAL: And anything that wins the BAFTAs that's nominated for the Oscars, for a start, you can expect, you know, big marketing campaigns using winner of so many, you know, BAFTAs, winner of best BAFTA -- best picture. TV spots will probably flood the American market for any of the BAFTA winners.

MAHNE: Success, though, is fleeting, as even a Hollywood veteran can tell you.

(on camera): Is it the taking part that counts, or the winning?

TOM HANKS, ACTOR: Well, you know, the day after, taking part has nothing to do -- but the great thing about, is for about six weeks, everyone's slapping you on the back, and, you know, wishing you good luck, and for six weeks, it's a great thing. But then, the next night, everybody forgets.

MAHNE: Thank you very much.

HANKS: You're welcome, you're welcome.

MAHNE: At a stroke, the BAFTAs have been transformed from a post-Oscar consolation prize to the last major handout before the Academy Awards.

But Britain's night of nights still has some way to go before it challenges the global dominance of the Oscars.

Christian Mahne, CNN Financial News, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SYDNEY: And back in U.S. theaters, audiences continue to find Hannibal Lecter delectable.

Michael Okwu has the returns in the weekend box-office race.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HANNIBAL")

ANTHONY HOPKINS, ACTOR: Is this Clarice? Well, hello, Clarice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL OKWU, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "Hannibal" continued to do killer box-office business, finishing first for the third straight weekend. The thriller starring Anthony Hopkins as the detestable Dr. Lecter took in a tasty $15.8 million, according to estimates. Analysts predict "Hannibal" will surpass the U.S. gross of its predecessor, "The Silence of the Lambs," early this week.

The comedy "Down to Earth" touched down in second place. The afterlife escapade starring Chris Rock rolled in an estimated $11.6 million. Audiences were still going out for "Recess: School's Out," the big-screen version of the popular cartoon collected an estimated $7.3 million for third place.

The only new movie in the lineup, "3,000 Miles to Graceland," rode into fourth place. The casino caper about a gang of bandit Elvises, led by Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell, rounded up an estimated $7.1 million.

And still sitting pretty in fifth, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" continues to breathe box-office fire. The martial arts drama earned an estimated $6.3 million for the weekend.

Michael Okwu, CNN Entertainment News, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SYDNEY: And now back to Natalie in Atlanta -- Natalie.

ALLEN: And Laurin, thank you.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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