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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Jon Landau talks Avatar 2, Battle Angel, The Dive

By Siewaun

With James Cameron's sci-fi movie Avatar scheduled for December 16 release, producer Jon Landau has already made a statement regarding the possibility of
sequel to Avatar.

Interviewed by Le Film French, he was quote as saying,"If the public likes Avatar, it's a possibility. After all, here we are as exploring the surface of the planet Pandora. The interior remains to be seen".

But still it will have to depend on the outcome of Avatar's December release. The success of Avatar will almost certainly implies that there'll be a sequel.

Though, as James Cameron has put more than ten years to give birth to the Avatar Project, do we have to wait another ten years before we can even see the sequel?

Jon Landau also confirmed in the interview that James Cameron is concentrating on 2 other projects; the adaptation of Yukito Kishiro manga series - Battle Angel Alita, and The Dive: based on true story of legendary free-divers and lovers.


George Clooney movies going head to head

Source: hollywoodreporter

'Men Who Stare at Goats,' 'Up in the Air' release dates set

The always-crowded holiday movie season has its first controversy, with rival studios each slotting a George Clooney movie within a week of one another and nobody happy about the situation.

At this point, Overture has "The Men Who Stare at Goats" -- a war-themed dark comedy -- set for wide release on Nov. 6. One week later, Paramount has a limited opening penciled in for "Up in the Air," a dramatic comedy that generated big positive buzz at the recent Toronto International Film Festival.

Clooney numbers among producers on "Goats," directed by multihyphenate Grant Heslov. Perhaps for that reason, it appears its release date is sticking, while "Air" is almost certain to move from its Nov. 13 slot.

"We're on Nov. 6 and have no plans to change that," Overture exec vp distribution Kyle Davies said. "We're confident in our movie and confident in the date."

Par had no comment on the situation. But precise plans for its Clooney pic appear, well, up in the air.

Informed speculation suggests "Air" is likely to move back a couple weeks to a limited release on Nov. 27 and a wide expansion during the Christmas period. Alternately, the Jason Reitman-helmed film could get a wide bow in late November.

Either of those moves would avoid an awkward overlap of the pics' respective advertising campaigns. A later date for "Air" also would allow a more orderly transition for Clooney in his tubthumping for the films.

"Air" is considered the more commercial of the two movies, but either could figure in award-season campaigning. “Air” was originally set for a December release but was moved up in a previous round of slot jockeying.
George Clooney movies going head to head
'Men Who Stare at Goats,' 'Up in the Air' release dates set

By Carl DiOrio

Sept 29, 2009, 05:10 PM ET
The always-crowded holiday movie season has its first controversy, with rival studios each slotting a George Clooney movie within a week of one another and nobody happy about the situation.

At this point, Overture has "The Men Who Stare at Goats" -- a war-themed dark comedy -- set for wide release on Nov. 6. One week later, Paramount has a limited opening penciled in for "Up in the Air," a dramatic comedy that generated big positive buzz at the recent Toronto International Film Festival.

Clooney numbers among producers on "Goats," directed by multihyphenate Grant Heslov. Perhaps for that reason, it appears its release date is sticking, while "Air" is almost certain to move from its Nov. 13 slot.

"We're on Nov. 6 and have no plans to change that," Overture exec vp distribution Kyle Davies said. "We're confident in our movie and confident in the date."

Par had no comment on the situation. But precise plans for its Clooney pic appear, well, up in the air.

Informed speculation suggests "Air" is likely to move back a couple weeks to a limited release on Nov. 27 and a wide expansion during the Christmas period. Alternately, the Jason Reitman-helmed film could get a wide bow in late November.

Either of those moves would avoid an awkward overlap of the pics' respective advertising campaigns. A later date for "Air" also would allow a more orderly transition for Clooney in his tubthumping for the films.

"Air" is considered the more commercial of the two movies, but either could figure in award-season campaigning. “Air” was originally set for a December release but was moved up in a previous round of slot jockeying.


'Summer' director looking for 'Love'

Source: hollywoodreporter

Marc Webb in talks to helm remake of Danish thriller

Marc Webb is feeling the love.

The up-and-coming director of "(500) Days of Summer" is in negotiations to direct "Just Another Love Story," the remake of the Danish thriller that's been set up Mandate Pictures.

Ole Bornedal directed the original, which broke out at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008. The film tells of a crime photographer who pretends to be the boyfriend of an amnesiac, only to face the wrath of the actual boyfriend when he finds out about the deception. James Mangold, Kathy Conrad and Nathan Kahane are exec producing. Nicole Brown is overseeing for Mandate.

The Gersh- and Anonymous Content-repped Webb has been a hot commodity since his tale of offbeat love broke out with $32 million in domestic boxoffice this summer. He has been in talks to helm a reboot of rock musical "Jesus Christ Superstar" for Marc Platt and Universal, and he signed an exclusive deal with Twentieth TV to direct a pilot in the coming season.

Webb, who first gained fame as a music-video director, also has signed on to develop the dystopian thriller "Age of Rage" at Searchlight.

The helmer also directed an English-language remake of his own 1994 Danish thriller "Nightwatch" at Dimension.

Foreign-language remakes have come into vogue, with "Cache," "The Debt" and "Jar City" among those being given English-language redos.
'Summer' director looking for 'Love'
Marc Webb in talks to helm remake of Danish thriller

By Steven Zeitchik

Sept 29, 2009, 11:00 PM ET
Marc Webb is feeling the love.

The up-and-coming director of "(500) Days of Summer" is in negotiations to direct "Just Another Love Story," the remake of the Danish thriller that's been set up Mandate Pictures.

Ole Bornedal directed the original, which broke out at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008. The film tells of a crime photographer who pretends to be the boyfriend of an amnesiac, only to face the wrath of the actual boyfriend when he finds out about the deception. James Mangold, Kathy Conrad and Nathan Kahane are exec producing. Nicole Brown is overseeing for Mandate.

The Gersh- and Anonymous Content-repped Webb has been a hot commodity since his tale of offbeat love broke out with $32 million in domestic boxoffice this summer. He has been in talks to helm a reboot of rock musical "Jesus Christ Superstar" for Marc Platt and Universal, and he signed an exclusive deal with Twentieth TV to direct a pilot in the coming season.

Webb, who first gained fame as a music-video director, also has signed on to develop the dystopian thriller "Age of Rage" at Searchlight.

The helmer also directed an English-language remake of his own 1994 Danish thriller "Nightwatch" at Dimension.

Foreign-language remakes have come into vogue, with "Cache," "The Debt" and "Jar City" among those being given English-language redos.


Jessica Alba in talks to join 'Parents'

Source: Variety

Jessica Alba is in talks to join the cast of the third installment of the "Meet the Parents" franchise, which is being prepped by director Paul Weitz for Universal Pictures and Tribeca Productions.

Alba will play a key role alongside Ben Stiller, Teri Polo, Robert De Niro, Blythe Danner, and Owen Wilson.

Jane Rosenthal and Jay Roach are producing. John Hamburg rewrote an original script by Larry Stuckey.

Alba will next be seen in the Garry Marshall-directed ensemble romantic comedy, "Valentine's Day." She most recently completed filming roles in "Machete," the drama that Robert Rodriguez is co-directing, and "The Killer Inside Me," the Michael Winterbottom-directed adaptation of the Jim Thompson book.

Alba is repped by WME, Thruline Entertainment and attorney Warren Dern.


Thurman plans 'Ceremony'

Source: Variety

Uma Thurman will star in "Ceremony," a Max Winkler-directed comedy produced and financed by Nala Films.

Michael Angarano is set to play a young man who falls for an older woman (Thurman) who is about to get married.

Nala Films' Darlene Caamano Loquet and Emilio Diez Barroso will produce along with Polly Cohen Johnsen and Matt Spicer. Jason Reitman and Dan Dubiecki will be executive producers.

Winkler wrote the script. He most recently co-wrote, with Jonah Hill and Spicer, the Universal comedy "The Adventurer's Handbook."

Production on "Ceremony" begins Oct. 21 on Long Island.

Nala most recently wrapped Julianne Moore-Jonathan Rhys Meyers starrer "Shelter." The supernatural thriller was directed by Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein.

Thurman just finished playing the role of Medusa in "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief."


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Kannagi" director does first live-action film

Source: Tokyograph

Yutaka Yamamoto, known for directing several hit anime series such as "Kannagi" and "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya," is working on his first live-action movie. Titled "Watashi no Yasashikunai Senpai," the film stars Umika Kawashima (15) of the teen idol group 9nine.

The story is adapted from the novel of the same name by author Akira, which won in the 1st Renai Shousetsu Contest in 2004.

Kawashima plays Yamako Iriomote, a high school student on a tiny island in Kyushu. She finds herself unable to confess her love for the upperclassman Minami (Jingi Irie), despite countless attempts at writing a love letter. Unfortunately for her, her letters get discovered by the "smelly, disgusting, and annoying" upperclassman Fuwa (Satoshi Kanada of comedy duo Hannya), turning her quest to confess into a major ordeal.

The rest of the cast includes Kinuyo Kodama, Mei Nagano, Natsumi Ogawa, and Nobuhiko Takada. The film is scheduled for a summer 2010 release.


Two more working on 'Three Days'

Source: hollywoodreporter

Olivia Wilde, Jonathan Tucker cast in thriller

Olivia Wilde and Jonathan Tucker have joined the cast of "The Next Three Days," Paul Haggis' thriller at Lionsgate.

Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks topline the movie, which revolves around a woman imprisoned for a murder she claims she didn't commit and her husband who tries to vindicate her.

Wilde will play a young mother who befriends the husband; Tucker will play a street tough running a meth lab.

Shooting begins this week in Pittsburgh.

Haggis, his Highway 61 Films partner Michael Nozik and Fidelite's Marc Missonnier and Olivier Delbosc are producing.

Wilde is in the cast of Fox's "House," which returned to high ratings last week, and stars opposite Garrett Hedlund in "Tron Legacy." She is repped by WME and Kass & Stokes Management.

Tucker, repped by WME and Booh Schut Co., starred for Haggis in "The Black Donnellys" and "In the Valley of Elah." He also has appeared in a series of indie dramas including "Flying Lessons," "Meskada," "Veronika Decides to Die" and "An Englishman in New York."


Fox Int'l teams for Chinese-lingo laffer

Source: Variety

Fox Intl. Prods. is set to produce and distribute its first Chinese-language pic, romantic comedy "Hot Summer Days," in collaboration with Star Television Asia and China's Huayi Bros. Media.

"Days" will be co-directed by first-timers Wing Shya and screenwriter Tony Chan. Director Fruit Chan and veteran filmmaker Paul Cheng are co-producers of the movie, budgeted at $4 million.

Starry cast from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan includes Jacky Cheung ("Perhaps Love"), Nicholas Tse ("Bodyguards and Assassins"), Daniel Wu ("Protege"), Barbie Hsu ("On His Majesty's Secret Service") and Gordon Liu ("Kill Bill"). Surprise cameos are also planned.

"China is undoubtedly one of the most exciting markets in the world today," said Fox Intl. Prods. prexy Sanford Panitch. "We hope this is just the beginning for Fox to make movies in the region."

Set during a summer of record-breaking temperatures, "Days" tells six intertwined stories of love.

The film began principal photography on Aug. 12 and is shooting in Beijing, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. It will wrap production in October and is scheduled for an early 2010 release in China by Huayi, in time for Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day, and by 20th Century Fox elsewhere.

Star holds pay TV rights to the film in Asia excluding China.

FIP and Star are both units of News Corp., and Huayi is the largest privately owned media and entertainment group in China.


Columbia picks up 'Supermax' spec


Columbia has picked up the spec script "Supermax" from actors-turned-writers Mitch Rouse and Christopher Nelson. Todd Garner will produce via his Broken Road Productions banner.

The spec is an action horror tale set in a maximum-security prison for the supernatural. The story centers on a skilled prison guard who is re-assigned to Supermax. After a riot erupts, he must join forces with one of the prison's monstrous inmates in order to survive and fight his way out.

Sony's Doug Belgrad and Devon Franklin will oversee for the studio. Sean Robbins is executive producing for Broken Road.

The deal was in the mid-six-figures.

Garner has the Nicolas Cage starrer "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" coming from Disney next year and is about to begin shooting "Wichita," starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.

Rouse has appeared as an actor in "Reno 911!" and "According to Jim." He co-created "Strangers With Candy" and written on several movies, including "Without a Paddle." He is repped by Gersh and 3 Arts Entertainment.

Nelson, repped by Lighthouse Entertainment and Stone Manners, appeared as Uma Thurman's groom in "Kill Bill-Vol. 1" and had bit parts in "Bicentennial Man" and "Batman & Robin."

The project is unrelated to Warners' "Super Max," which is based on DC Comics hero Green Arrow.


Box Office Sept. 25-27 Results

1 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - $24,600,000
2 Surrogates - $15,000,000
3 Fame - $10,033,000
4 The Informant! - $6,915,000
5 Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All by Myself - $4,750,000
6 Pandorum - $4,408,000
7 Love Happens - $4,327,440
8 Jennifer's Body - $3,500,000
9 9 - $2,832,053
10 Inglourious Basterds - $2,722,000


Monday, September 28, 2009

"The Hole" a 3D horror movie with a lesson

Source: Reuters

By Natasha Senjanovic

VENICE - Joe Dante returns to coming-of-age horror with the 3D film "The Hole," which is essentially a psychological thriller imparting a lesson.

Luckily, Dante and writer Mark L. Smith ("Vacancy") never get too preachy with their message.

"The Hole" needs strong marketing to find its audience, however. Today's adolescents, at whom the film is aimed, have grown up on more hardcore stuff and probably aren't familiar with the director's biggest hit, "Gremlins." On the other hand, older Dante buffs may be turned off by a teen movie. But the ride is enjoyable, and there is enough camp, warmth and chills to make this a family film.

After their latest move around the country with their mother (Teri Polo), brothers Dane (Chris Massoglia) and Lucas (Nathan Gamble), along with their neighbor Julie (Haley Bennett), discover a bottomless pit in the basement of their new house. In reopening it, they unleash a mysterious, evil force that seems to haunt only those who have looked inside the hole.

Adults should figure out why before the kids do, as each character is forced to face his or her innermost demons. A moody teen terrified with unresolved family issues, Dane will have to protect the little brother he usually shuns, and Julie will make amends with a tragedy from the past. Gamble draws the short straw in his climax, in a sequence with a clown that never scares. Then again, a 10-year-old's fears can only run so deep.

The young stars do fine with their material though they don't always hit all the emotional notes. But that's to be expected with the kind of life-changing catharses that can only happen in the movies. Massoglia looks like a young Zac Efron, if that's not a contradiction in terms, and ably carries the film, while Bruce Dern is great in his cameo.

The 3D is used to good effect, though maybe not enough. It's great when we're in the hole looking up at the characters or when a baseball is tossed in our faces, but "The Hole" would probably work just as well in 2D. The film's finale benefits the most from the technique, in an off-kilter set straight that looks like a video game of "Alice in Wonderland."


"Cloudy" retains box office lead with Surrogates in second


"LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The family cartoon "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" led the North American box office for a second weekend on Sunday while another slew of newcomers bombed amid crippling reviews and moviegoer apathy.

"Cloudy," a 3D animated feature based on a popular children's book, earned $24.6 million during the three days beginning Friday. The 10-day haul for the Columbia Pictures release stands at $60 million.

The Bruce Willis robot thriller "Surrogates" opened at No. 2 with $15 million. The film's Touchstone Pictures distributor had hoped it would open at No. 1 but "Cloudy" enjoyed a bigger-than-expected hold. The cartoon lost just 19 percent of its audience, compared to a standard drop of about 50 percent.

"Fame," a family-friendly remake of the 1980 musical, opened at No. 3 with $10 million. The low-budget film was released by cash-strapped studio MGM, which had hoped for an opening in the $15 million range.

The Dennis Quaid sci-fi film "Pandorum" did even worse, opening at No. 6 with $4.8 million. Industry observers had expected an opening in the high-single-digits for the Overture Films release.

The sub-par performances come a week after another bunch of newcomers -- "The Informant!," "Love Happens" and "Jennifer's Body" -- all suffered disappointing openings. Early fall is traditionally a quiet time at the box office as the studios quietly clear out their weaklings while laying the groundwork for their awards-season hopefuls.

Columbia Pictures is a unit of Sony Corp. Touchstone Pictures is a unit of Walt Disney Co. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc, which is closely held. Overture is a unit of Liberty Media Corp."


David Cronenberg is remaking 'The Fly' remake by David Cronenberg... again

Full disclosure: about four years ago, I went in and took a series of meetings about possibly rewriting "The Fly." At that point, the original short story by George Langelaan was Fox's main interest. They wanted to start there and then build something that was radically different than either the 1958 film or the 1986 film.

So of course, today, in an effort to guarantee that they don't do anything remotely similar to either of those films, they hired David Cronenberg to direct the new version.

I'm not automatically opposed to the idea. I think Cronenberg is one of the greatest directors who ever worked in the horror genre, a fiercely independent voice whose 1986 version of "The Fly" is a tremendously affecting horror film and also one of the greatest AIDS-era movies about living with someone as they deteriorate before your eyes.

I guess I'm a little confused, though. Cronenberg has always seemed downright hostile about another remake of this story. He recently toured the world with an opera version of the story, co-written with Howard Shore, and I figured that was his last word on it.

Now I'm reading that technology is a factor in getting him to sign on for another version, and that just baffles me. Really? CGI is what's going to get Cronenberg to saddle up again? Somehow, that doesn't seem right.

[more after the jump]

The thing about that short story is that no one's done it on film yet. Not the original movie. Not the sequel to it. Not the remake. They've barely touched the source material. And there's still a lot of greatness in there if they go digging. Or if Cronenberg has a brand-new angle that he thinks makes the material relevant again, I'm interested. This isn't the sort of film I want to dismiss over some knee-jerk reaction.

But it's been a discouraging month for me on the movie side of things, and I am reaching a point where I really truly actively hate our business. I love individual movies as much as I ever have, but the industry right now is a rancid, bloated corpse, and Hollywood keeps poking it with a stick, hoping it'll explode and just hoping none of it ends up on them. We are eating our tail, and when an artist as singular and personal as David Cronenberg ends up remaking a movie HE ALREADY REMADE, we are truly in the end days.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

China's first 3D animated film opens

Source: english.cctv

China's first 3D animated film, "Prequel of the Monkey King" has premiered in Beijing. By wearing a pair of 3D glasses, you might get a chance to shake hands with the legendary Monkey King. So get your 3D glasses and lets take a look.

After two and a half years in production, "Prequel of the Monkey King," has hit the big screen. The film was produced by country's best minds in the field of 3D animation. The prequel is loosely based on the first five acts of, Journey to the West, by the famous Qing Dynasty writer Wu Cheng'en. Apart from a few imaginative touches, the film grabs the most attention with its use of 3D technology.

Cheng Yang, a manager from the China Film Group, calls the film a hallmark, for the using 3D technology to tell the story of a classic Chinese novel.

"Prequel of the Monkey King" hits the big screen nationwide on Tuesday. The film's characters, a dragon king and a little monkey, appears to leap off the screen. Audience members will even get the chance to shake hands with the characters, adding to the excitement.


Nanjing Massacre Film Wins Top Prize in Spain


Chinese director Lu Chuan's film "City of Life and Death", a heart-wrenching reprise of the Nanjing Massacre during World War Two, has won the top prize at Spain's San Sebastian Film Festival.

The jury, led by French director Laurent Cantet, on Saturday presented the Golden Shell award to Lu, and praised his focus on "the minute ethical dilemmas demanded by surviving in wartime."

The black-and-white film also garnered the jury prize for best cinematography, for the efforts of Cao Yu.

The Nanjing Massacre, which occurred in late 1937 when invading Japanese troops occupied Nanjing (then Nanking) and slaughtered more than 300,000 lives, has been recounted many times in film, print and television. One famous version is Chinese-American author Iris Chang's best-seller "The Rape of Nanking".

Director Lu told the story for the first time from the perspective of a Japanese soldier. "The film alternates Japanese and Chinese points of view to brush a compelling portrait of day-to-day life in a devastated city," according to the jury.

The annual San Sebastian Film Festival is one of the best-known film festivals in Europe. Other award winners this year included Lola Duenas, who was named best actress for the Spanish film "Yo Tambien", and Pablo Pineda from the same film, who was awarded best actor.


China picks 'Forever Enthralled' for Oscars

Source: hollywoodreporter

BEIJING -- The People's Republic of China selected director Chen Kaige's Peking opera biopic " Forever Enthralled" to represent it in the annual run for the best foreign language Academy Award, China's Film Bureau announced Saturday.

Chen's ("Farewell My Concubine") biopic of China's most famous Peking opera performer stars Beijing-born pop star Leon Lai in the title role as Mei Lanfang. The film also stars Zhang Ziyi. It is a co-production between China Film Group and Taiwan's China Magnetics Corp. Co.

This will be Chen's third time representing China at the Oscars, having been previously nominated for "Farewell My Concubine" and "The Promise." No Chinese mainland film has ever won the best foreign language award, although Ang Lee's Mandarin-language "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," entered on behalf of Taiwan, won in 2001.

"Forever" faces two other Mandarin-language entries this year: Hong Kong's pick, Yonfan's "Prince of Tears"; and Taiwan's official selection, Leon Dai's "No puedo vivir sin ti."

Mei, who died in 1961, made his name playing dan, or female roles, and was the last great male performer to do so after Peking opera was sexually integrated in the early part of the 20th century.


Friday, September 25, 2009

'Star' remake has legs

Source: hollywoodreporter

Will Fetters tapped to pen draft of script

NEW YORK -- Warner Bros.' remake of "A Star Is Born" could finally be moving toward a due date.

The studio has hired up-and-coming writer Will Fetters to do a draft of the script with the aim of pushing the long-gestating project forward. A number of scribes have written previous drafts, including "Ali" writers Stephen Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson and "Notorious" scribe Reggie Rock Bythewood.

Jon Peters, Billy Gerber and Basil Iwanyk are producing the new take, with Courtenay Valenti overseeing for Warners.

"Star" centers on a showbiz ingenue who falls for an established male star, only to see their careers move in opposite directions.

Beyonce's name has surfaced in connection with the lead role, though the pop star is not officially involved at this point. Beyonce starred as a rags-to-riches pop star in "Dreamgirls."

Three previous versions of the project have been made, most recently in 1976, with Frank Pierson helming a version with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. That pic took the original Hollywood setting and re-set it in the music business. This version also will be set in the record industry.

Studio observers have said that the modern era of celebrity, with its 24-hour media coverage and scrutiny, makes the time ripe for a new "Star Is Born."

Fetters, repped by WME and Underground Management, is writing the Nicholas Sparks adaptation "The Lucky One" for Warners and also penned the Rob Pattinson-toplined drama "Remember Me" for Summit, which recently wrapped.


Platinum, Krantz to take a 'Chance'

Source: Variety

Platinum Studios has joined forces with producer Tony Krantz to develop a live-action feature from Platinum Studios graphic novel "Mal Chance," with Scott Murphy to adapt.

Krantz, best known for "24" and "Mulholland Drive," will produce with Platinum Studios CEO Scott Mitchell Rosenberg.

"Mal Chance" tells the story of Lola, part of an ancient clan of assassins targeted for death by a powerful gangster. Her only recourse is to bring down the gangster's entire operation with the help of an honest FBI agent who is unaware of her true identity.

Pic will be exec produced by the Greenberg Group's Randy Greenberg and Ross Dinerstein of Flame Ventures. Greenberg recently brought in the financing for Platinum Studios' recent film, "Dead of Night," done with Hyde Park Entertainment and Omnilab Media.

"Mal Chance" is a "wonderfully visual world steeped with contemporary and complex characters, all playing on the edge of life and death decisions," Krantz said.

Platinum Studios, whose library of 5,600 comicbook characters makes it one of the largest independently held publishers of comicbooks and graphic novels, most recently set "Cowboys and Aliens" with DreamWorks, Universal and Imagine; Jon Favreau will direct, and Robert Downey Jr. is likely to star. Among other film projects, Platinum is developing "Unique" at Walt Disney Pictures with producer David Heyman and "Atlantis Rising" with DreamWorks, Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci and director Len Wiseman.

Krantz is producing and directing Antonio Banderas starrer "The Big Bang" with Flame Ventures.


Ron Howard on his first comic-book film project: 'This is new territory for me'

Source: latimesblogs


After releasing two films this year, Ron Howard is planning his next move, and this week he sounded most excited about directing a big-budget adaptation of "The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft," based on the Image Comics series.

"It very cleverly uses H.P. Lovecraft in a fictional way, but there's some loose biographical elements. But it certainly has the flavor and the tone of Lovecraft," Howard told me during an interview for an upcoming story on a different topic. "The character is a very young Lovecraft."

I told the two-time Oscar winner that I had already seen the comics (conceived by Mac Carter with Adam Byrne as producer and cover artist) and liked them, and he got excited. "Oh you did! Oh, good, good. I haven't talked to that many people that have seen it so it's good to get that feedback."

"Look, it's challenging, but if we get it right, it could be really original and psychologically interesting and scary in a great way. And it's a graphic novel, this is new territory for me."

The comics present a somewhat timid writer transformed by cosmic creepiness into a reluctant player in the machinations of ancient evil. The young action-hero vision of Lovecraft feels not that far removed from the new-look detective in the Guy Ritchie version of "Sherlock Holmes" or perhaps a not-so-distant relative to the occult-savvy characters portrayed by Johnny Depp in the period pieces "From Hell" and "Sleepy Hollow." As far as real-life authors being used as fictional characters in tales of the fantastic, there's plenty of tradition there, with some close cousins to this project being the William S. Burroughs adventure in Interzone in "Naked Lunch" or the upcoming "Drood," Guillermo del Toro's planned film adaptation of the novel that takes Charles Dickens into dark corners of Victorian England.

"It is kind of fun, but you know Freud has been used that way and Einstein in the past," Howard said. "I'm very encouraged by it so far, the approach and the possibilities."

Howard showed he could delve into ominous antiquities and deliver crowd-pleasing films with his two Dan Brown adaptations, and as for fantasy visions, don't forget that he directed "Willow," "Cocoon," "Splash" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," all forays into the fantastic with very different textures and, he would probably admit, varying levels of success. But where exactly is "Lovecraft" on Howard's presumably long list of things to do?

"It's a really fascinating time because I worked on three movies in basically three years," Howard said, referring to "Frost/Nixon" (which earned a best-picture Oscar nomination) as well as "Angels & Demons" and "The Da Vinci Code," which stand as the two highest-grossing movies in Howard's 27-year directing career ( $1.2 billion in combined global box office).

"During that time, I didn't really get to attend very much to my development [of new projects] but I did initiate a lot of things. So what happened is, I didn't have finished scripts ready to go, but I have a lot of things that are sort of two-thirds of the way through and a really wide variety of them, including this Lovecraft project. So I've got literally half-a-dozen projects where essentially I'm waiting for [script] drafts to come in, and there's something I love about all of these ideas. We'll just have to wait to see what comes to fruition. I sort of can't bear the thought of letting any of them go. So maybe I've got the next five years spoken for."

Some of those projects Howard will likely hand off to other directors as some point after a chat with his producing partner, Brian Grazer. "Here at Imagine, I develop a lot of things full-throttle for me to direct and then, occasionally, my schedule doesn't cooperate or circumstances shift, and Brian will come to me and say, 'Hey there's this other director and he wants to do this,' and I usually take a producing credit then."

It didn't sound like "Lovecraft" would be slipping into that category, and, just based on Howard's enthusiam, I'm guessing the comic-book adaptation will be the next movie set for the 55-year-old Oklahoma native. "You just never know," Howard said, "development is a minefield or a high-wire act or whatever you want to call it, but yeah, hopefully that it moves along and I will be directing that one."

-- Geoff Boucher


Dano, Cruise, Diaz join "Untitled Wichita Project"

Written by siewaun
Reference: Variety

According to Variety, Paul Dano has joined Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in the James Mangold directed untitled action comedy. The movie was formerly titled "Wichita", now referred to as "Untitled Wichita Project."

Cruise is to play a secret agent who teamed up with a lonely single woman (Diaz)to protect a powerful battery that holds the key to an infinite power source. Dano will be playing the scientist who invented the battery.

According to media reports, shooting is to start next month in Worcester, 45 miles west of Boston. 20th Century Fox reportedly aiming a summer 2010 release for the movie.

Producers for the movie are Steve Pink, Joe Roth, Cathy Konrad & Todd Garner.


De la Iglesia to direct 'Balada'

Source: Variety

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain -- Alex de la Iglesia will direct tragicomedy "Balada triste de trompeta," which is set up as a co-production between Spain's Tornasol Films and France's La Fabrique du Film.

The same two companies were behind De la Iglesia's 2008 hit "The Oxford Murders," which starred Elijah Wood. Distribbed by Warner Bros., "Murders" took Euros8.2 million ($11.7 million) in Spain, making it the highest-grossing Spanish film of last year.

Defined by De la Iglesia as a "grotesque tragedy," the Spanish-language "Balada" turns on two clowns who fall in love with the same femme trapeze artist at a circus in Spain in 1973.

"Balada" will shoot from January from a De la Iglesia screenplay in Madrid and at Alicante's Ciudad de la Luz studios. Its ensemble cast includes Antonio de la Torre ("Gordos") and Carlos Areces (Muchahada Nui") as the clowns and Carolina Bang ("Pluton B.R.B. Nero") as the trapeze artist.

Carmen Maura ("Volver"), Juan Luis Galiardo ("Miguel and William") and Enrique Villen ("Seven Billiard Tables") will take character roles.

"Balada" is one of 29 feature films that pubcaster RTVE has pre-bought for Spain this year, Gustavo Ferrada, head of cinema at RTVE's TV arm, TVE, announced Thursday at San Sebastian during a press conference jointly hosted by TVE and Spanish producers' association Fapae.

Further pre-buys include Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Javier Bardem starrer "Biutiful" and "Black Thorn," the second directorial outing from Mateo Gil, who co-wrote many of Alejandro Amenabar's pics with the director, such as "Abre los ojos" and "The Sea Inside." Pic will shoot first half 2010, and is produced by Ariete and Arcadia Motion Pics.

TVE director Javier Pons announced that La 2, TVE's culture channel, would program a movie every day of weekday primetime. Four nights would be dedicated to Spanish-language movies, he added.

Praising TVE as "Spain's biggest source of support for Spanish cinema," Fapae prexy Pedro Perez announced that revenues from the international sales of Spanish movies dropped 29.3% last year to Euros40.4 million ($57.7 million). TV exports in contrast rose 4.4% in value to $52.3 million.

Spanish films market share for this year is 12.3% down on 2008. However, with Amenabar's "Agora" and toon pic "Planet 51" to bow later in the year, Perez said he was confident 2009 would finally be up on 2008.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

'The Message' Well Received


The highly anticipated Chinese spy thriller "The Message" lived up to expectations Wednesday when lengthy applauses wrapped up its first public screening.

The film's Beijing premiere, held at a 1,000-seat hall at the Beijing Film Academy, attracted a jam-packed house. Lasting applause burst from the audience at the end of the screening, reports.

This was the first time the WWII suspense movie was screened in front of the public in full length.

Producer Wang Zhonglei excitedly told Sina at the premiere, "My goal throughout the production had been helping our cast and crew members win applause just like now."

"The Message", set in Japanese-occupied China in the 1940s, tells the story of a Japanese spy chief who, by using cruel interrogations, tries to identify a Chinese agent from a gathered group of suspects.

Li Bingbing and Zhou Xun, two of China's top actresses, are among the film's star-studded cast. They play two of the suspects, and both have said they suffered emotional ups and downs while portraying their characters. The actresses agreed "The Message" will become their new representative work.

Taiwan director Chen Kuo-Fu and Chinese mainland's Gao Qunshu co-directed the film, with Oscar-winning Timmy Yip designing the costumes.

The film will officially hit theaters on September 30. By then, it will join a long list of tribute films marking the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.


Sam Raimi to produce 'Refuge'

Source: Hollywoodreporter

Sam Raimi is taking "Refuge."

The genre maestro has signed on to produce a supernatural horror pic of that name, based on a pitch from up-and-coming British director Corin Hardy. The project has been set up at Mandate, where Raimi's Ghost House Pictures has a deal.

"Refuge" centers on a remote town terrorized by a Yeti, the mythological creature native to the mountains of the Himalayas. Hardy will direct from a script by fellow British writer Tom De Ville; both are repped by Paradigm's Marc Helwig and Trevor Astbury.

Jason Blum, Nathan Kahane and Steven Schneider will produce.

Meanwhile, Blum's Blumhouse Prods. will finance a short film with the same premise as the "Refuge" feature. Hardy and De Ville will work on that as well. The idea is to offer a teaser that can help Hardy refine his vision even as the script is being developed.

Genre auteurs are increasingly taking on projects from young directors and shepherding them through the indie and studio system as both producers and mentors. Guillermo del Toro, for instance, has taken on that role with Juan Antonio Bayona and other Spanish newcomers.

The CAA-repped Raimi, who is next set to shoot "Spider-Man 4" as well as an adaptation of the video game "World of Warcraft," is involved in a number of projects as a producer, including the vampire comic book adaptation "Priest" at Screen Gems.

Jenny Wood at Elevate manages Hardy -- a music video director for bands such as Prodigy and Keane -- while Independent's Hugo Wood reps him in the U.K.


Two more cast in 'Thor'

Source: Hollywoodreporter

Jaimie Alexander, Colm Feore join Marvel adaptation

The world of "Thor" is filling up.

Jaimie Alexander and Colm Feore are coming aboard the Marvel Studios adaptation of its comic book featuring the Norse god of thunder. Kenneth Branagh is directing.

Alexander and Feore join Chris Hemsworth, already cast as Thor; Tom Hiddleston, who plays Loki, the god of mischief who serves as the movie's villain; and Natalie Portman is Thor's human love, Jane Foster.

In Marvel's epic fantasy, Alexander is playing Sif, a skilled Asgardian warrior who can hold her own against any man. She also is one of Thor's loves.

Feore's character is shrouded in mystery -- the studio isn't even sending the actors the script -- though it is known to be a villain.

The movie's story centers on Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions re-ignite an ancient war. As punishment, Thor is cast down to Earth and forced to live among humans. Once here, he learns what it takes to be a true hero when the most dangerous villain of his world sends dark forces of Asgard to invade Earth.

Alexander, best known for "Kyle XY," also has been cast as a pharmaceutical sales rep in "Love and Other Drugs," starring Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal. That movie begins shooting in October. Alexander is repped by the Kohner Agency, James Levy Management and Lev Ginsburg.

Feore, repped by the Coronel Group, is coming off stints on "24" and "The Listener." He appears "The Trotsky," which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival.


Hispano Fox picks up 'Dreammaker'

Source: Variety

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain --Hispano Fox Film has acquired Spanish theatrical and DVD distribution rights on Brazilian helmer Andrucha Waddington's swashbuckler "Dreammaker," one of Spain's most anticipated pics for next year.

Pic, which is set in 16th-century Spain, follows the early life of playwright Lope de Vega, emphasizing his love affairs and adventures.

It toplines Leonor Watling ("The Oxford Murders"), Pilar Lopez de Ayala ("Alatriste"), Luis Tosar ("Mr. Nice"), Sonia Braga ("An Invisible Sign of My Own") and Alberto Ammann, who plays Lope.

Budgeted at Euros13 million ($18.2 million), pic is a Brazilian-Spanish co-production between Conspiracao Filmes in Brazil, and Spain's Antena 3 Films, Ikiru and El Toro Films. Screenplay was penned by Ikiru's producer Jordi Gasull and Ignacio del Moral ("Mondays in the Sun").

Warner Bros. took Latin American rights to "Dreammaker" earlier this year.

Filming on "Dreammaker" ended in June after a nine-week shoot in Spain and Morocco. Now in post, pic will be ready for delivery early 2010.

"Waddington goes beyond the usual canons of Spanish period films," said Antena 3 Films CEO Mercedes Gamero at the San Sebastian Film Festival. "He brings a much more contemporary and modern vision that makes it attractive not only domestically but also internationally," she added.


Toronto Mini: Life During Wartime' treads familiar ground


I run hot and cold on the work of Todd Solondz. Quite like "Dollhouse" and "Happiness," sort of dig "Palindromes," and have no real use for "Storytelling". Short answer.

I think he's very good at creating a very particular dramatic reality. 'Cause he's not doing reality. And once I know a filmmaker's not trying to make a movie that is "real," but is instead theatrical, stylized, in some way heightened... I'm judging it by how well it does what it's trying to do. That's where I think he's really very skilled. His films have one of the most distinct cadences of any filmmaker working today. I think he's a guy who would have been dramatically at home running a small theater program at a liberal arts college somewhere, staging these dramas he writes, variations on the same characters over time, played by successive classes of actors, no one owning any of the roles but simply adding one more voice to the ways it's been said.

That's what his movies appear to be at this point. He's certainly not trying to blow your mind with some secretive narrative trick or high concept each time out. No one would ever confuse his filmography with the work of M. Night Shyamalan, for example. What Solondz does feels like it belongs to an entirely different industry than the mainstream, the commercial. It's about as personal a filmography as anyone working right now.

This is most directly a sequel to "Happiness." Only it's really not. Nobody's played by the same people. Nobody's necessarily played the same way. It's got a radically different character than "Happiness." Solondz is in a different place as an artist, and you have to wonder if starting a family has had a pardigm-shifting impact on him. "Life During Wartime" is a film about the ghosts you literally carry around with you, and about the idea of forgiveness in the face of the impossible to forgive. As a self-contained film, it's partially successful. Solondz spends a large part of his running time just getting his cast revved up, and then just as he's got all his storylines in play, the movie's over.

It's a bitter pill, even with a somewhat more optimistic Solondz, but the cast seems game for it. They play every single beat without flinching, and there's some tough stuff in there. Ciarin Hinds picks up where Dylan Baker left off, and now he's the past come back for his family, who picked up and moved and tried to rebuild their lives. His return means different things to different people, and it seems like his son Billy (Chris Marquette, who's never been better than he is in this) is the one who is most powerfully affected by it, as you'd expect after the ending of the first film. Shirley Henderson takes over for Jane Adams, and I think it's a smart choice. Henderson's a strange little bird, very interesting, slightly ageless (wasn't she just playing a dead teenager in the "Harry Potter" films?), and she's magnetic enough to be the center of the picture. Solondz anchors it on her, and it pays off. Michael Lerner, Allison Janney, and Ally Sheedy all do solid character work in relatively brief onscreen time, and Michael K. Williams (so great on "The Wire") and Paul Reubens both go above and beyond with what they're given to do. I certainly think the cast does exemplary work.

Perhaps the way to approach new Solondz at this point is that you know what the experience is going to be, and you're just checking in to see where it's at. It's definitely good Solondz, and if you're in the mood for exactly that, "Life During Wartime" will most likely please. It just won't win over anyone who wasn't already sold.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Steve Coogan are "The Other Guys"

Written by Siewaun
Reference: Variety

Columbia Pictures comedy "The Other Guys" which stars Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Keaton, Damon Wayans Jr and Eva Mendes has added Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson and Steve Coogan to its cast list.

Johnson and Jackson will play two elite cops whose record and achievements made them legendary within their police department, While While Ferrell and Wahlberg will play two under-performance desk-assigned cops. And Coogan is the villain they're up against.

Adam McKay will be directing the movie, which is scheduled to be released August 2010. Adam also co-written the script with Chris Henchy. Co-producers are Gary Sanchez Productions and Mosaic Media Group.


EXCLUSIVE: Keanu Reeves Says 'Cowboy Bebop' Movie Getting A Rewrite

Source: splashpage.mtv

We haven't heard anything from the live-action "Cowboy Bebop" movie front in a while, so when MTV News had the chance to chat up Keanu Reeves, the actor bringing main character Spike Spiegel to the screen, we made sure to check in on the adaptation of the beloved anime series.

"There's a draft of the script, but the writer did such a great job [that] in order to make the movie, you would need half a billion dollars," Reeves told MTV News during a press event for "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee," his recent film with Robin Wright Penn.

The writer in question is likely Peter Craig, who previously spoke out about how "extremely faithful" his screenplay was to the original anime series. Craig reportedly met with the anime's producers back in December and went home with a detailed letter regarding the adaptation.

However, Reeves indicated that the writer's adherence to the galaxy-spanning adventure of the full entire series might prove a little daunting for production.

"So the studio went, 'This movie is fantastic and it would cost half a billion dollars," laughed Reeves, "so he's doing a rewrite."

As far as who'll be appearing in the film, Reeves hinted that everyone from Spike to Ein could factor into the movie's storyline.

"Everyone is in there," said Reeves.

"The only challenge was to make a satisfying western narrative out of the kind of storytelling that happens," he added. "There's a great draft, so we're just trying to pull it back a little bit now."


Tom Tykwer set to make “Drei”

Written by Siewaun
Reference: Variety

German film director Tom Tykwer will be directing "Drei", his first German movie since "Der Krieger und die Kaiserin" in 2000. He was internationally known for directing Run Lola Run (1998).

Berlin-based X Filme will be producing the comedy-drama, which was financed by Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg with the amount of $1.03 million.

Tykwer who recently directed The International starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, will be working on a new film based on David Mitchell’s 2004 novel “Cloud Atlas” with the Wachowski brothers.


'Furious' director takes 'Highlander' gig


"Fast & Furious" helmer Justin Lin and producer Neal Moritz are signing on to Summit's reboot of "Highlander."

Lin and Moritz, reppd by CAA, will direct and produce the pic, respectively. The Summit project, first announced in the spring of 2008, offers a new take on the story of immortals who battle for supremacy while living seemingly normal lives in the contemporary world.

Fox released the original "Highlander" in 1986, with the Sean Connery starrer earning just $6 million at the boxoffice but becoming a cult sensation and a hit on DVD. A television series eventually materialized as well, with French giant Gaumont selling it into syndication in the U.S. in the early 1990s.

"Iron Man" scribes Art Marcum and Matt Hollaway were previously tapped to pen the screenplay for the Summit reboot, while Peter Davis will also produce.

Summit aims to turn the movie into an action tentpole. Studio co-chair Patrick Wachsberger, who has been shepherding the project, noted that Lin and Moritz "have proven more than once that they can deliver an entertaining and exciting blockbuster."


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Aronofsky joins with Time for heist pic

Source: variety

According to variety, award winning director(The Wrestler) Darren Aronofsky will be directing and producing a heist thriller. The movie is based on the daring $85 million robbery at the Securitas Depot in Tonbridge, England, in February 2006.

Scott Franklin of Protozoa will produce alongside Aronofsky, while Time Inc. Studios chief Paul Speaker is exec producing. XYZ Films will fully financing the project.

Kerry Williamson is adapting the script from an underlying rights package that includes Jon Wertheim's Sports Illustrated magazine article "Breaking the Bank" and Howard Sounes' nonfiction book "Heist: The Inside Story of the World's Biggest Robbery."


Chinese director wants to show 'truth' of Japanese occupation

Source: AFP

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain (AFP) - – Chinese director Lu Chuan said Monday he wanted to show the "truth" about the Japanese occupation of China's temporary capital Nanjing in 1937 in his new movie "City of Life and Death".

The film, one of 15 in competition for the San Sebastian film festival top award, deals in gruesome detail with the killing of what China says were 300,000 defenseless civilians and prisoners of war by Japanese invaders.

But it has angered some Chinese ultra-nationalists, earning Lu at least one death threat, because of its portrayal of the Japanese soldiers as ordinary people caught up in the tragedy of war, rather than the blood-thirsty monsters that they are often depicted as in China.

"This is an important film for history, I wanted to deliver to the world the truth about this massacre, which is little known outside of China," Lu told a news conference at San Sebastian after his film was screened.

"It took me four years to complete it, from preparation to post-production, with a very tight budget," he added.

The film, which lasts two hours and 15 minutes and was filmed in black and white, plainly depicts the executions of civilians and rapes suffered by the Chinese during the three-day siege of Nanjing by Japanese forces.

It alternates between scenes of battles and executions and slower scenes of moving human interactions to convey the horror of the Japanese atrocities from the perspective of both perpetrators and victims.

The movie also depicts efforts by a number of Westerners, including a member of Germany's Nazi party who was working in China for Siemens at the time, to try to protect locals from the Japanese soldiers by setting up and running a refuge area.

He managed to save more than 200,000 Chinese in Nanjing before being deported to Germany and his actions hurt the alliance between Nazi Germany and Japan, according to the movie.

The duration of the festival was cut this year from the usual 10 days to only nine, with the closing day set for September 26 when the Golden Shell award for best movie will be given out.

Other films in the official selection include "Get Low" by US director Aaron Schneider about a man throwing his own funeral party and "10 to 11", a French-Turkish-German coproduction about two lonely old men who live in the same building in Istanbul.

Last year's Golden Shell for best film went to Turkish director Yesim Ustaoglu's "Pandora's Box."

US actor Brad Pitt drew large crowds of mostly female fans who asked for autographs after waiting for hours in the rain for him to arrive on the opening day of the festival on Friday for the presentation of his latest film "Inglourious Basterds".

The movie, by cult director Quentin Tarantino which depicts a roving Jewish-American militia that kills and scalps Nazis in occupied France, and which was unveiled at the Cannes festival in May, is not in competition at the festival, the largest and most prestigious in the Spanish-speaking world.


Three sign on for 'Secretariat'

Source: hollywoodreporter

Dylan Walsh, John Malkovich, Scott Glenn join cast

Dylan Walsh, John Malkovich and Scott Glenn are saddling up for "Secretariat," the story of the horse that won the 1973 Triple Crown.

Diane Lane stars as the horse's owner Penny Tweedy, the housewife who broke though a gender barrier to usher Secretariat to greatness.

Walsh plays Lane's husband, a successful attorney who is accustomed to his wife being at his beck and call.

Malkovich plays a charismatic trainer who underestimates the power of Secretariat; Glenn is a southern-bred aristocrat who loses the horse in a coin toss.

Randall Wallace is directing from a script by Mike Rich. Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray are producing. The picture begins shooting this week in Louisiana and Kentucky.

Walsh, repped by Gersh and McGowan Management, next stars in Screen Gem's "Stepfather." Penn Badgley and Amber Hear also appear in the thriller, which opens Oct. 16. Walsh also stars in FX's "Nip/Tuck," which returns Oct. 14.

Malkovich, repped by WME and Finch & Partners, next plays the bad guy in Warners' adaptation of DC Comics' Western comic "Jonah Hex."

ICM-repped Glenn is about to shoot Zack Snyder's "Sucker Punch."


Jackson movie to get mass worldwide premiere

Source: Reuters

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Michael Jackson movie "This Is It" -- based on footage from concert rehearsals before his death in June -- will have simultaneous premieres in more than 15 cities around the world next month, the studio behind the film said on Monday.

"This Is It" opens to the general public on October 28 for a limited two-week run. While Hollywood movies often have several premieres around the world, they rarely happen at the same time.

But for "This Is It," more than 15 cities, including New York, Rio de Janeiro, London, Berlin and Seoul will host simultaneously premieres with a red carpet event in Los Angeles on October 27, said Sony Pictures, which paid $60 million for rights to the rehearsal footage. Names of the other premiere-night cities were not released.

The opening events will feature satellite transmissions of Hollywood stars arriving at the premiere in Los Angeles. London's premiere will happen after midnight local time on October 28, while Seoul's event is scheduled for the morning of that day.

In all, more than 25 cities worldwide will have premieres for the movie but not all will take place at the same time.

In the days before he died of an overdose of prescription drugs on June 25, Jackson was rehearsing for a comeback with 50 sold-out shows in London.

The $60 million movie deal was made between Jackson's estate and concert promoter AEG Live and Sony Pictures.

Based on proceeds from the movie, business deals and album sales that have arisen since Jackson's death, administrators of his estate expect to generate more than $200 million in revenue before the end of the year.

Sony Pictures is a division of Sony Co.

(Editing by Jill Serjeant and Bill Trott)


Nigeria asks movie theaters to stop screening District 9

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — One of the summer's biggest blockbusters — a sci-fi morality tale about aliens and apartheid — is not welcome in Nigeria because of its portrayal of Nigerians as gangsters and cannibals, Nigeria's information minister said Saturday.

Information Minister Dora Akunyili has asked movie houses in the capital of Abuja to stop screening "District 9" because the South Africa-based sci-fi movie about aliens and discrimination makes Nigerians look bad.

"We have directed that they should stop public screening of the film," she said. "We are not happy about it because it portrays Nigeria in bad light."

Akunyili said she has asked Sony for an apology and wants them to edit out references to Nigeria and to the name of the main Nigerian gangster Obesandjo, whose name closely resembles that of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.

"We have written to the producer and distributor of the film, Sony Entertainment, expressing our displeasure and demanded an apology," she said. "We have asked that the areas where Nigeria and Obasanjo are mentioned should be edited from the film."

She and other government officials first saw the movie Wednesday during a private screening.

In one scene, Obesandjo tries to cut off and eat the arm of the film's protagonist, in an attempt to gain his supernatural powers. In others, Nigerian prostitutes are seen courting alien customers.

The film's portrayal of Nigerians has also drawn the ire of critics and bloggers, and has spawned a Facebook page called "Nigerians Offended by 'District 9,'" which had 57 members on Saturday.

Corlize Luttig, marketing manager for the South African cinema chain Ster-Kinekor, who represent Sony in South Africa, said they had no comment on the request by Akunyili. Ster-Kinekor does not distribute to Nigeria, she said.

Luttig said they were still waiting for comment from Sony's head office in Los Angeles.

"District 9" tells the story of an alien ship that mysteriously comes to hover over the South African city of Johannesburg. Its inhabitants are separated from the human population and segregated into a walled area known as District 9. But after nearly 30 years, government officials aim to relocate the extraterrestrials, with disastrous results.

The film is first feature from commercial and music-video director Neill Blomkamp, who co-wrote the script with Terri Tatchell. The film, which features a cast of mostly unknown South African actors, got its big-name backing from producer and "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson.

The film brought in some $37 million during its U.S. debut weekend in August. In its five-week run at U.S. theaters, it has brought in an estimated $108,000,000, according to studio estimates.


Box Office Sept. 18-20 results

1 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs $30,100,000
2 The Informant! $10,545,000
3 Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All by Myself $10,060,000
4 Love Happens $8,455,590
5 Jennifer's Body $6,800,000
6 9 $5,457,659
7 Inglourious Basterds $3,603,000
8 All About Steve $3,400,000
9 Sorority Row $2,489,000
10 The Final Destination $2,375,000


Monday, September 21, 2009

Warrior Princess Finds Her Style


By Michelle Zhang

Zhao Wei used to attach little importance to how she appeared off-screen, letting her TV and film work speak for her. But now the actress has learned to take care of her image, as Michelle Zhang reports.

Fame came quickly for Zhao Wei. In 1998, the actress became a household name almost overnight for her leading role in the popular TV series, "Huan Zhu Ge Ge" (Princess Returning Pearl). She has remained as one of the most successful Chinese actresses ever since.

Zhao was in Shanghai recently for the launch of a new line of cosmetics and despite an unexpected storm which erupted when Zhao was supposed to show up, her loyal fans chose to wait in the heavy rain for more than an hour.

"I'm very grateful and touched by my fans," she said. "For more than 10 years, they have always been there for me, accompanying me to get through all the ups and downs in my life."

Zhao is easygoing, relaxed and approachable. She cares about people around her, smiling at everyone, listening carefully to "boring" questions and responding accordingly.

It was hard to relate the slender figure to the roles she has portrayed on screen lately, most of which are linked with yellow sands, battle horses and combat, such as Hua Mulan in "Mulan" and Sun Shangxiang in "Red Cliff" -- both are wartime heroines in ancient Chinese tales.

Zhao described "Mulan," which is scheduled to hit the big screen in December, as "the toughest film I have ever worked with."

It was an unforgettable experience. For three months, she had been working under the scorching sun and in massive sandstorms in northwest China, dressed up in armor that weighed as much as 25 kilograms almost every day.

But she liked the role a lot.

"Hua Mulan is such a legendary character that everyone has his or her own understanding of the great heroine. Through the character, I'd like to demonstrate all the good qualities of a woman -- kind, independent, thoughtful, humble, forgiving ?"

She also became "thinner, tanned and stronger -- like Angelina Jolie," thanks to the hard work in filming the epic.

When she was in her 20s, she was just like any other girls of her age and did not understand the importance of taking care of her skin and the importance of resting.

Now, even if she was in the middle of endless filming, she would insist upon applying a facial mask every other day.

She rejects heavy makeup even when attending formal events.

"Compared with where I was born, northern China is much dryer -- so moisturizing is very important, especially in the upcoming winter time," said the Anhui-native who lives in Beijing most of the time these days, when asked about her skincare tips.

For the Shanghai event, where she was an ambassador for Aqua Sprina, a new line designed by Japanese cosmetics manufacturer Kanebo for Chinese women from 25 and 40, Zhao wore an elegant yet slightly edgy black Alexander McQueen dress, which was nicely complemented by her exquisitely done hair.

She was once known for her fashion faux pas on the red carpet until earlier this year, when she impressed the press with her sweet, feminine Christian Dior strapless gown at the Cannes Film Festival.

Her sense of style has been impeccable ever since.

"I have always been working hard on presenting a better image to the audience," she said. "Personally, I like evening gowns in light pink the most.

"I didn't attach so much importance to my looks in the past because I thought it's my film work that counts the most, instead of the clothes I wore," she said. "However, nowadays I have come to learn to take more care about my image, so that the audience will feel more pleasant when they see me."

Recently, the 33-year-old was elected as the youngest vice president of the Chinese Academy of Film and Performing Arts, an organization set up in 1985 to improve the standards of Chinese film. Today, it has more than 1,000 members.

"Starting from kindergarten and elementary school, I have never held any kind of position. So this is my first, and it's for the Academy of Film and Performing Arts -- I'm very excited."

Apart from acting, Zhao also sings and her seventh album, "We Are All Great Directors," is released next month.

There are rumors she married recently. "I'm not married yet but I do have people wooing around," she laughed. "The rumors only made me long for marriage more. Anyway, my 'market' is not bad at all, so don't worry about me!"

Zhao Wei's life and times

Born in March 1976, in Wuhu, Anhui Province, Zhao Wei is considered one of the leading young actresses in China today, along with Zhang Ziyi and Zhou Xun.

In 1996, Zhao was recruited by the Beijing Film Academy. She studied at the Performance Institute of the film academy and graduated in 2000.

Zhao's breakthrough was playing the lead in 1997's "Princess Returning Pearl," a popular television series. Two years after it aired, Zhao began her singing career with the first album, "Swallow."

In 1999, Zhao won Best Leading Actress at the 17th Golden Eagle Awards -- the highest television awards of China. In 2002, she was nominated Best Supporting Actress in the 39th Golden Horse Award.

In 2004, Zhao was nominated as Best Actress and won Favorite Actress at the 11th Beijing College Student Film Festival. She also nominated Best Actress in the 27th Hundred Flowers Awards the same year.

In 2005, Zhao won the 8th Shanghai International Film Festival's Best Actress Award. That year, Zhao also won Outstanding Actress of the 11th China Movie Awards.

Zhao has collaborated with many famed filmmakers including John Woo, Wong Kar-wai and Jiang Wen in works including "Painted Skin," "Red Cliff," "The Postmodern Life of My Aunt," "Chinese Odyssey 2002" and "Green Tea."


"Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" triumphant from N. American box office duel

Source: news.xinhuanet

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Sony Studio's third 3-D animated comedy "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" has proven that all its efforts were worthwhile with a hefty 30.1 million dollars in ticket sales over the weekend in North American theaters, dominating the box office lineup, preliminary estimates collected by North American box office authorities show Sunday.

Adapted from a children book popular in the 1980s, the movie is about a kid named Flint who decided to save his island from food crisis by creating a machine that can convert ordinary water into any food on Earth. This in turn brought about a crisis. A new effort since Sony produced "Open Season" and "Surf's up", the animation premiered on Friday with 2.5 million dollars in tickets sales being generated from the 3-D IMAX theaters, a proof that this computer-generated genre is winning over more audience.

Among the four movies debuted in top five places this weekend, Warner Bros. "The Informant" came in second with 10.5 million dollars. Mark Damon's excellent performance is a bright spot with the film, and reports that he had gained 30 lbs in weight to fit in the role won over a number of viewers. Having been shown in the Toronto International Film Festival and drew wide acclaims, it could be one of this Fall's first films that could join the Oscars competition of 2009.

The lone top-five holdover from last week was Lionsgate's "Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself". It has dropped to third place with 10 million dollars against a 57 percent drop and now stands at 38 million dollars in total domestic box office.

Rounding out the top five are: "Love Happens", a Universal romantic romp featuring Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart with 8.5 million dollars; vampire flick "Jennifer's Body" from Fox with 6.8 million dollars featuring Megan Fox.

Editor: Yan


"Precious" wins top Toronto film festival prize

Source: Reuters

TORONTO (Reuters) - "Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire" won the top award at the Toronto International Film Festival Saturday, giving the Oprah Winfrey-produced film some early momentum heading into Oscar awards season.

The film, a gritty tale of the abuse and redemption of a teenage girl in Harlem, captured the festival's People's Choice award, which is voted on by filmgoers. Last year it went to best picture Oscar winner "Slumdog Millionaire."

Critics have roundly praised "Precious" since its debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and audiences in Toronto warmly received the film, which is directed by Lee Daniels and will hit theaters in November.

"I made this film for every person out there who ever looked in the mirror and felt unsure about the person looking back," Daniels, who is traveling in Spain, said in a statement read out at an awards reception in Toronto.

In addition to "Slumdog Millionaire," past winners of the award that have gone on to win the best picture Oscar include "American Beauty" and "Chariots of Fire."

The festival, which wraps up later Saturday with a red-carpet screening of "The Young Victoria," a look at the British queen's early years, was notable this year for a lack of distribution deals signed as the independent film industry remains mired in a near two-year funk.

More than one-third of the more than 330 films screened entered the festival without distribution deals, and barely a handful were announced during the event's 10-day run.

Festival co-director Piers Handling said he expects more deals involving Toronto-screened films to soon be announced, but said the days of festival bidding wars were likely over.

"It's a combination of just an increasingly conservative marketplace in North America, the recession, as well as a glut of product," he told Reuters after the awards presentation.

"I think there will be fewer films being made."

Other winners included critics' awards for "The Man Beyond the Bridge," an Indian production featuring the little-used language of Konkani, and "Hadewijch," a French film that looks at the possibilities and consequences of a devoutly religious life.

The audience award for top documentary went to "The Topp Twins," which tells the story of a New Zealand lesbian country and western singing duo.

(Reporting by Cameron French; Editing by Xavier Briand)


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Good girl, bad girl, smart girl


Her growing body of work shows actress is not just another blond.

Sep 18, 2009 04:30 AM
Peter Howell
Movie Critic

Amanda Seyfried doesn't have to worry about typecasting, at least for the moment. She plays polar opposites in her two movies at TIFF, the horror film Jennifer's Body and the erotic drama Chloe.

In Jennifer's Body, opening today, she's a mouse named Needy, the angelic ying to Megan Fox's devilish yang, although it's a stretch that Seyfried could ever really be a wallflower. In Atom Egoyan's Chloe, opening later this fall, Seyfried plays the title hottie, a hooker hired by Julianne Moore's jealous spouse to tempt her husband, played by Liam Neeson.

"It's an actor's dream," says the 23-year-old blond from steeltown Allentown, Penn., who first rose to prominence five years ago as a high school bitch in Mean Girls. "I get to celebrate two completely different movies with two completely different characters."

Q Do you see any parallels between Needy and Chloe?

A Oh, yes. They've both got vulnerable sides, but I think every human being does, unless they're psychotic. And they're both naive. I think they suffer from being in a limited world, especially Chloe.

Q Don't you hate it when hot girls put on glasses to pretend they're homely, the way you do in Jennifer's Body?

A It was so wonderful not being so glamorous! Because most parts you take are the big-boobed, long-legged blond-hair girl and you try to make her look glamorous. It's very easy to be typecast as a young woman with my proportions. But it's way more fun to play the characters that I've got to play in these two movies.

Q How did you manage to escape typecasting so early in your career?

A I have a really good agent who knew from the beginning that she had to be specific and careful with the roles that I chose from Mean Girls on. And a lot of scripts came my way to play dumb blonds that really didn't have much character in teen movies that I ended up not doing, because it would have really been only for money and work. Instead of being desperate I took my time. Then certain roles came and I would audition for something and I'd get it, and it would ... be the perfect movie at the time for me.

Q You also made a big impression playing Meryl Streep's daughter in Mamma Mia!

A That movie put me into a whole different realm. People all over the world know who I am because of that movie, and children all over the world idolize me, and people think I'm marketable.

Q Were you a horror fan prior to making Jennifer's Body?

A I don't enjoy being scared out of my mind. I saw The Haunting In Connecticut, because a friend was in it. I was sitting there and I kind of wanted to leave the theatre ... .

Q Were you familiar with Atom Egoyan's work before Chloe?

A Just that he is one of the most respected indie directors of all time and, of course, he was nominated for The Sweet Hereafter, which I saw right away. I knew he was really smart in a way that would have been intimidating, but I knew the way he edited the movie and the way he filmed it, it would be quite unique. He's a genius.

Q You have a nude scene in Chloe. Your first one?

A Yes. A real nude scene, that is. But then I realized, this guy (Egoyan) knows what he's doing, I trust him more with my life. I know it sounds weird, but he's a remarkable person. And a bit crazy, in the most attractive way.

Q You're on a roll. Any other film genre you want to do?

A I'd like to do a period movie. Not a movie about my period!