Wednesday, August 31, 2011
After a few rumored titles, we can now officially call it Heroes of Nanking, as Hero and House of Flying Daggers director Yimou Zhang has made “the most expensive movie ever made in China” with this epic. The drama, costing $94 million, stars Christian Bale as an American priest named John who takes refuge in a church with 13 prostitutes and a group of innocent schoolgirls during the fighting between Chinese and Japanese troops in 1937.
Variety now reports when we can expect the film in theaters here stateside, after it bows on December 16th in China. Zhang tells us that he will “make a decision at the Toronto Film Festival about the North American distribution,” after studios have already drummed up interest, including Universal and Fox. The director hopes it will see a Christmas release here in the US, which would make it eligible for awards consideration.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
The guessing game is on as to what will be shown during the 38th edition of the Telluride Film Festival, the only major such event in the world that doesn't announce its lineup ahead of time. Such is the confidence in the Labor Day Weekend event that Tom Luddy — now in league with Gary Meyer after years of running the Show with Bill Pence — has built up over the years that audiences trust him implicitly to deliver a program that is more than worth the effort to get to the remote Colorado mountain town to spend three-and-a-half days in the dark when it's usually so gorgeous outside.
Virtually from the beginning, Telluride has performed an exquisite balancing act: Between old and new, foreign and American, the esoteric and the accessible, the expected and the unknown. As at a great restaurant, it's best to just place yourself in the chef's hands and sample what's served up. Some dishes are better than others, of course, but you can rarely say something was bad or a waste of time. Because of its limited duration, Telluride can afford to be picky and discriminating, which only works to the benefit of the viewer.
Because of its maverick, rarified status, Telluride never felt much need to publicize itself. It's never courted press, although a few journalists go every year, and it doesn't crow about world premieres, even though it's had some big ones. However, mostly due to changes in the culture and release schedules, it’s served as a perceived lucky charm for some major films and has, through little will of its own, become the much-sough-after first domestic stop for specialized films with Oscar dreams.
One of the first instances of Telluride playing a crucial role in the Oscar race came way back in 1992, when an completely unheralded British film called The Crying Game played there and in Venice over the same weekend. It has since been documented that Miramax had no clue what to do with this tricky sexual and political thriller until the enormous reaction at Telluride suggested that it held potential gold — monetary and honorary — in its hands.
Monday, August 29, 2011
I will opt for a more softer tone than others who have glibly wrote about how this past weekend was the "Worst Box Office Weekend Of 2011" and irresponsibly reported that the industry is in a tailspin. Hurricane Irene, which swept up and through the East Coast, caused more than 40 fatalities across 10 states and left millions of people without power. Half of our Awards Circuit team were potentially in harm's way and thankfully, all of them came through the situation unscathed. Hurricane Irene did impact things significantly it appears overall, but if everyone is being honest, the selections for the final week of the summer box office were not projected to be strong performers and seldom, if ever, are. Attention has shifted to the fall - home to the prestige Oscar pictures - and the studios treated the past weekend's new arrivals as largely afterthoughts.
THE HELP MAKES IT 2 IN A ROW...
Topping the survey for a second straight weekend is the resilient "Help", which looks to perhaps have enough in its tank for a possible third consecutive weekend stay at the top of the heap. Dipping a mere 27 percent in its third weekend, "The Help" rolled along to a 19-day total of $96.8 million. Each weekend, Buena Vista has been adding more theaters and increasing the film's reach and "The Help" continues to deliver the highest per screen averages of any wide release. Curiously, the film has never played on 3,000 or more screens, almost a must for a film with this kind of appeal and success.
With the long-simmering thriller "The Debt" arriving in theaters nearly 9 months after it was originally set to be released, and the found-footage mockumentary "Apollo 18" and gauche "Shark Night 3D" arriving to deafening silence, "The Help" could make it a rare trifecta at the top. "Apollo 18" and "Shark Night 3D" are not being screened for critics, telling you likely everything you could ever want to know about their prospects this weekend.
Paul Rudd plays an "Idiot", Zoe Saldana opens her first film on her name alone, and one documentary continues to race circles around its competition. More analysis, The Weekend Breakdown, and The Top 40 Most Attended all after the cut!
Deadline has the exclusive:
Nick Nolte continues his recent career resurgence. He’s been set to join the cast of the Ruben Fleischer-directed Warner Bros. drama The Gangster Squad. Nolte will play Bill Parker, the new chief of police in Los Angeles, and the first in a while who hasn’t been corrupted by Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn).
The chief, a Purple Heart recipient at Normandy, is the one who starts the Gangster Squad, a crack team designed to bring down organized crime. Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Mireille Enos and Anthony Mackie star.
Nolte stars in the Gavin O’Connor-directed Warrior, and he just wrapped the Taylor Hackford-directed action film Parker for FilmDistrict opposite Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez and Michael Chiklis.
That’s what he says, though it could just be a goof. Deadline has more:
Ricky Gervais had Hollywood buzzing in January with his no-holds-barred hosting stint on NBC’s Golden Globes telecast. He ripped enough folks — from Charlie Sheen to Robert Downey to Johnny Depp to God — that few thought the host Hollywood Foreign Press Association would want him back for a third.
Apparently, though, NBC has other ideas about it: The British comedian said at the Edinburgh International Television Festival today that the network has asked him to host again, saying he is considering it “but I shouldn’t do it.” NBC declined to comment on the matter.
“I love NBC, I love the fact they stuck by me through it,” Gervais said, adding, “I don’t think I should do it. What am I going back as?” Gervais wasn’t done yet at the annual TV confab.
He also revealed that he was approached about hosting the Oscars, though it’s unclear whether that was before or after the Academy announced Brett Ratner and Don Mischer would produce the Oscarcast — normally the producers make the call on the host.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
After years of rumors, it appears that Ghostbuster 3 is finally moving forward and will likely do so with or without Bill Murray's involvement. Dan Aykroyd appeared on The Dennis Miller Show to discuss the project, dropping specific details about the sequel, hinting that the plan is to film in Spring of 2012 no matter what happens casting-wise.
"Yes, we will be doing the movie and hopefully with Mr. Murray," he says, "That is our hope. We have an excellent script. What we have to remember is that 'Ghostbusters' is bigger than any one component, although Billy was absolutely the lead and contributive to it in a massive way, as was the director and Harold [Ramis], myself and Sigourney [Weaver]. The concept is much larger than any individual role and the promise of 'Ghostbusters 3' is that we get to hand the equipment and the franchise down to new blood."
* Last week, Joey Magidson and I closed the book on the summer of ’11. How did you feel about the last three months?
* I previewed the final summer films almost certainly destined to fail in the wake of Irene’s destruction.
* Joey’s DVD Picks of the Week was one of his most joyous installments yet, with his two of his favorite films of the year so far hitting shelves.
*Finally, Mike Ward reported on The Help’s box office dominance and ponders how far it'll go at the multiplex.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Hurricane Irene could result in box office losses of as much as $30 million for the weekend as movie-going comes to a standstill up and down the East Coast.
Domestic box office revenues for the frame were on track to reach $120 million, but the massive storm could reduce that number by as much as 25%. By Friday afternoon, the news was grim. “Its horrendous,” one distribution executive noted.
Across the board, films were posting lower than expected results, including three new titles—the Luc Besson-produced action pic Colombiana, starring Zoe Saldana and distributed by TriStar, the Weinstein Co.’s R-rated ensemble comedy Our Idiot Brother headlining Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer, and the Guillermo del Toro-produced horror movie Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, distributed by FilmDistrict and starring Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce.
Kyle Chandler is one of those actors who is a journeyman, logging time on a number of television shows—“Homefront” and “Early Edition” among them—and appearing in small roles in a number of films before finally landing what would be his star-making turn in “Friday Night Lights.” The critically acclaimed show struggled for survival throughout its five seasons, but it was a launchpad for folks like Taylor Kitsch, Adrianne Palicki and Minka Kelly and for Chandler as well, it put him firmly on the radar thanks to his turn as Eric Taylor. J.J. Abrams made a great choice in slotting him in “Super 8” and now Chandler will see his stock rise with a role in another highly touted pic.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, yes:
Pals Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds are poised to reunite on screen.
Though Bullock's deal has not closed, the former Proposal co-stars are in talks to lead the voice cast of And Then There Was Gordon, from Reynolds and Allan Loeb's production shingle, Dark Fire, and 20th Century Fox TV.
The news comes one week after Dark Fire sold its first project, Guidance, a high school set buddy comedy starring Mad Love’s Tyler Labine, to Fox.
In this case, the animated comedy project is about an ordinary child surrounded by brainiac siblings. It received a presentation order from Fox, home to Sunday evening's animation domination block of such shows as The Simpsons and Family Guy.
Deadline has the exclusive:
In what shapes up as a reteam for the writer, director and star of the Oscar-winning The Departed, Leonardo DiCaprio is attached to star in The Gambler, a Paramount remake of the 1974 drama.
James Caan starred in the original as an academic whose gambling addiction begins to get the best of him.
William Monahan is writing the script as a potential directing vehicle for Martin Scorsese.
DiCaprio recently completed the Clint Eastwood-directed J. Edgar, and he’s playing Jay Gatsby in Baz Luhrmann’s remake of The Great Gatsby for Warner Bros, based on the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic. DiCaprio then takes a villainous turn in the Quentin Tarantino-directed Django Unchained for The Weinstein Company.
Friday, August 26, 2011
With the amount rumor running around Hollywood, it’s hard to believe a movie is actually getting made until a filmmaker calls “Action” on set. That said, it seems after considering a number of projects, Oscar-winning director Robert Zemeckis has settled on his next film and it’ll be one of the many he was previously attached to. That film is called Flight and stars Denzel Washington as a pilot who saves his plane after a malfunction and is labeled a hero (Think Sully Sullenberger). However, as the investigation moves on, it becomes apparently that he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol and he must then deal with keeping the secret and the guilt of being an undeserving hero.
As a result of choosing to direct Flight next, Zemeckis has dropped out of the Groundhog Day/Back to the Future influenced Replay.
Deadline broke all this Zemeckis news. Their article says the producers of Replay, which once had Ben Affleck attached, are trying sell the Jason Smilovic scripted project to another filmmaker. It shouldn’t be a problem with a premise that’s as great as this. I can’t be the only one bummed that Zemeckis is NOT doing this film:
The Hollywood Reporter has the exclusive:
Just as her action movie Colombiana opens across the country, Zoe Saldana has set up the supernatural thriller Dominion at Paramount.
The pitch hails from Dean McCreary and Chester Hastings and while plot details remain sketchy, the story centers on a woman (Saldana) who is half-human, half-angel.
Saldana will also serve as a producer on the project, alongside Robbie Brenner. Brenner is a producer on the Gerard Butler drama Machine Gun Preacher, and it was on that project where he first met McCreary and Hastings, who worked on the screenplay early on.
Hastings and McCreary, both repped by Gersh, co-wrote You’re My Angel, a thriller from 4 Horsemen Films that is in development. They also co-wrote Fanboy, a short film about a video store employee who is the world’s biggest Sam Raimi fan. The unreleased comedy features turns from Raimi and J.K. Simmons, who play themselves.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
The producers of The Last Exorcism are moving ahead with a sequel, tapping writer Damien Chazelle to write the follow-up to the surprise summer 2010 hit.
The PG-13 Exorcism, from production company Strike Entertainment (Children of Men) and directed by Daniel Stamm, grossed $62.5 million worldwide on a budget of $1.6 million. The found-footage Lionsgate release was written by Andrew Gurland and Huck Botko. A sequel was probably a given considering the profitability of the first film.
Studio Canal is financing the follow-up and production is slated to begin this fall.
Exorcism centered on an Evangelical preacher, played by Patrick Fabian, who, after years of performing exorcisms, decides to allow a documentary crew to film the last exorcism he plans to perform, in order to show his work is a fraud.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Information obtained via Box Office Mojo, The Numbers, Deadline, and other sources:
In a weekend full of nostalgic reboots and remakes, audiences shunned leftovers and opted instead for the buzzworthy movie of the moment as “The Help” held off all challenges to the #1 spot at the weekend box office. Taking that rare climb into the #1 spot, only the third film to achieve such a feat since December 2009, “The Help” saw a minimal decline in attendance (-23.1%) and earned a strong foothold in the marketplace as a formidable box office draw.
The subject of much controversy and debate, including this article by our own Robert Hamer, “The Help” began to generate discussions reminiscent of the box office breakout that “The Blind Side” experienced in the fall of 2009. Projected to be a mid-level achiever, “The Blind Side” blossomed and drew rave reviews from audiences across all demographic and geographic locations. Shot for a mere $29 million, “The Blind Side” concluded its theatrical run with a $256.0 million haul, earned nominations for Best Picture and Best Actress, and saw lead actress Sandra Bullock win her first Oscar.
Tracking to this point shows that “The Help” does not have that same far-reaching appeal…yet. Where “The Blind Side” gained audiences in its first few weeks, “The Help” has dipped slightly, amassing a 12-day total of $71.3 million stateside. “The Blind Side” had just left $100 million in the dust at the end of its 10th day in theaters.
Reports indicate that DreamWorks are settling in for a nice, long run into the fall with “The Help” and have already indicated steps are in place for a huge Oscar push targeting Best Picture, Director, Lead and Supporting Actress (but whom and where?), Adapted Screenplay, and technicals including Costume Design, Cinematography, Original Song, and Original Score. Those dismissive of the film's stability over the coming weeks should look forward. Doing so, you will find films that may find a tough time unseating the racially-themed drama.
Guillermo del Toro’s produced remake of “Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark” could draw a nice opening, but as this weekend proved, audiences have likely reached saturation with remakes and reboots and are seeking out fresher material. The Weinstein Company’s R-rated comedy, “Our Idiot Brother”, starring Paul Rudd is playing fine with critics but is suffering with a lackluster marketing campaign.. Elsewhere, Zoe Saldana’s “Colombiana” is drawing dismal buzz thus far and with two films, potentially not screened for critics, arriving in the first week of September (“Apollo 18” and “Shark Night 3D”), “The Help” might see robust success for some time.
For the second consecutive weekend, four films drop into theaters and this weekend, virtually all of them were met with disinterest from the populace. What happened, where and why they went wrong, as well as analysis regarding a handful of indies that are performing strong, The Weekend Breakdown, and Top 40 Most Attended Films after the cut!
Woody Allen is doing his version of the grand European tour.
His Midnight in Paris is still in theaters, the director is still shooting The Bop Decameron, set in Rome, but Allen is already making plans to head to Germany for his next project.
Bavaria studios in Munich is in negotiations with Allen to play the backdrop for his next, still-untitled project, which would shoot next summer.
Bavaria is set to come on board as a co-financier for the film, said to be budgeted at around $25 million.
As is always the case with a Woody Allen film at this stage in pre-production, plot and potential cast are top secret.
Allen's Midnight in Paris opened this year's Festival de Cannes to rave reviews and has gone on to become the director's most commercially successful film, earning more than $50 million in North America alone.
The Bop Decameron boasts an even-more impressive cast than Midnight headliners Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams, featuring Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Penelope Cruz and Alec Baldwin among its ensemble cast.
-Joey's Two Cents: It's no secret how much I enjoy Allen's work, so seeing where this newfound resurgence takes him is very intriguing to someone like me who finds even the least regarded Woody work to be worth my time...thoughts?
I must say, I do enjoy coming up with Paradise Lost casting headlines. Variety has the exclusive:
Djimon Hounsou is the latest heavenly figure to join the cast of Paradise Lost for Legendary.
Alex Proyas is on board to helm with Bradley Cooper and Ben Walker set to star.
Based on the 17th century poem by John Milton, the story revolves around the epic war in heaven between archangels Lucifer (Cooper) and Michael (Walker), including the latter's role in Adam and Eve's fall from grace. Hounsou will play Abdiel, the angel of death.
Legendary's Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni are producing with Vincent Newman via his Vincent Newman Entertainment banner.
Stuart Hazeldine developed the primary draft of the screenplay, originally written by Byron Willinger and Philip de Blasi. Lawrence Kasdan provided a polish as well as Ryan Condal, who delivered the most recent draft.
It looks like the Knocked Up spin-off This Is Forty will get getting another cast member from the original. Megan Fox posted a picture of her on the set in a swimming pool with co-stars Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids) and Jason Segel. As you’ll recall, Segel played one of the friends of Seth Rogen’s character in Knocked Up. He’ll be joining stars Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann who are reprising their roles as married couple Pete and Debbie in the Judd Apatow comedy, which Rudd recently said is a “companion piece” to Knocked Up and not a sequel.
Segel will also be starring alongside returning cast member Charlene Yi as well as Albert Brooks, Megan Fox, Chris O’Dowd, Lena Dunham, Melissa McCarthy, Ryan Lee, and Wyatt Russell. This Is Forty is set to open in December 2012. [Update: Apparently there have been set photos of Segel on set with Mann. I never saw those, hence this story.]
-Joey's Two Cents: I had always figured he'd pop up in this flick, but now that I know for sure, this is pleasing news...thoughts?
The Hollywood Reporter has the story:
Cloud Atlas, the ambitious literary adaptation being co-written and co-directed by The Matrix siblings Andy and Lana Wachowski and German helmer Tom Tykwer (Run, Lola, Run, The International) is set to begin shooting mid-to-late September at Germany's Studio Babelsberg. The mega project, which stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon, Ben Whishaw and Jim Broadbent, has been delayed slightly as Berlin-based producers X Filme close financing and contract negotiations with talent. X Filme topper Stefan Ardnt said the budget for Cloud will be "definitely lower" than then $100 million - $120 million that had been floated as an estimate in the past but he would not be drawn into giving an exact figure. Ardnt did confirm that the bulk of Cloud, "some 80 percent," will be shot in Babelsberg, Berlin and the surrounding area.
The film is based on David Mitchell's epic novel, which follows six story-lines, each set in a different place and era. The novel's timeline and geography stretches from 19th century Australia to a post-apocalyptic Hawaii.
In February, we reported that Disney and Pixar would be attaching a new Toy Story short to The Muppets. At this weekend’s D23 Expo, the film’s director, Angus MacLane (“BURN-E”), announced that the short will be titled “Small Fry” and like “Toy Story: Hawaiian Vacation”, the whole gang will be back. According to The Pixar Times, “attendees were treated to the short but substantial clip, which gave away a few plot points. Looks like Buzz Lightyear is left behind at a fast-food restaurant and must find his way back home. In doing so he encounters some less popular, happy meal-like toys. One of those toys, a Mermaid of sorts, will be voiced by Glee‘s Jane Lynch.”
Since I skipped Cars 2, I haven’t seen “Hawaiian Vacation”, but it’s tough to go wrong with the Toy Story crew, this premise sounds fun, and “BURN-E” is a quality short. You can check out “Toy Story: Small Fry” when The Muppets opens on November 23rd.
-Joey's Two Cents: As if I needed another reason to want to see some hot Muppet action...thoughts?