A deleted scene from ‘Moana’ shows us the six brothers she almost had — and a tight boat race, too.
The Void, a Utah-based start-up, bets that by making V.R. both social and spontaneous, it can draw throngs and make a mint. Some big names are taking notice.
The box office was home to three new wide releases this weekend. Unfortunately, none of them broke through and the big holdovers reigned supreme. The LEGO Batman Movie (Nick’s review) topped the charts with nearly $35 million added to its total. And Fifty Shades Darker (my review) pulled in another $20 million. Suffice to say, both of […]
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Guardians of the Galaxy 2 director James Gunn has hinted at giving us the unexpected – and seeing the Guardians take risks – in the upcoming sequel to the mega-successful Marvel Cosmic film. He is, in effect, promising a very different movie from the first. New worlds, new characters and new challenges are all on […]
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The directors and screenwriter put a ‘Zootopia’ spin on Best Picture Oscar contenders ‘La La Land,’ ‘Hell or High Water,’ and more.
As veteran executive Brad Grey prepares to step down from the top job at Paramount Pictures, who will take the reins at Viacom’s legendary studio, and how will they right a ship carrying $445 million in losses from its last fiscal year?
After Viacom survived a tumultuous power struggle between former CEO Philippe Dauman and Sumner and Shari Redstone (now firmly back in control of the media empire), it seemed that Grey had the full confidence of new Viacom CEO Bob Bakish.
He also seemed to have firm marching orders: Make more movies and a lot more money.
Only six months ago, the Redstones declared they were “fully supportive” of Grey despite significant recent duds like Tina Fey’s “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” Martin Scorsese’s non-starter “Silence” and the “Ben-Hur” remake. (Paramount distributed the last one for MGM, which produced the film and took a $47.8 million write-down.)
And that’s not counting Paramount’s staggering $115 million write-down on “Monster Trucks,” which Paramount declared four months before the CGI-live action hybrid sputtered into theaters in January.
The studio’s fourth-quarter performance improved significantly over last year: The filmed entertainment division rose 24 percent year-over-year and theatrical revenue shot up 104 percent. Yet Paramount still finished dead last in marketshare behind its six studio competitors — for the fifth consecutive year.
One consolation prize: The studio earned 17 Oscar nominations last month, second only to Lionsgate, the home of Best Picture frontrunner “La La Land.”
The poor box office performance was compounded by a sparse release slate. But it seemed as though Grey, a former talent manager and producer who founded Plan B Entertainment with Brad Pitt, would weather the regime change and take immediate action to improve the studio’s outlook.
In December, however, Bakish dispatched Viacom CFO Wade Davis to set up an office on the lot and personally stabilize operating costs and seek new slate financing.
“Paramount needs to have a better year than it had in 2016,” Bakish said at the UBS Global Media & Communications conference in December.
In the last few weeks, the studio announced a slew of new movie projects, including the spy thriller “A Woman of No Importance” starring “Star Wars” breakout Daisy Ridley, the comedy “Action Park” for producer-star Johnny Knoxville and a possible sci-fi franchise with Jerry Bruckheimer — all ahead of a February earnings call in which many predicted Bakish would publicly admonish Grey and his team for letting Paramount stumble.
Bakish’s address to investors was not nearly as dramatic as feared, but the CEO announced all of Viacom’s brands — among them MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and BET — would develop co-branded films to promote synergy. First up is a four-picture deal with Nickelodeon, beginning with the animated adventure-comedy “Amusement Park” due in theaters in summer 2018.
Interim leadership is presently unclear, though an individual with knowledge of the lot says Grey’s No. 2, Paramount Motion Picture President Marc Evans, will remain in his job for the time being.
As for Grey’s replacement, there are several names floating that would foreseeably jump at the opportunity to leverage Paramount’s brand value and intellectual property.
Viacom is in a “promote-from-within” phase, one executive told TheWrap. And the company bypassed an outside executive search to promote Bakish, a veteran of two decades, to the conglomerate’s top job.
That could be good news for Paramount’s just-hired COO Andrew Gumpert, who defected from Sony Pictures last November. More than one person described him to TheWrap as a “rock star” when he was hired, and he’s earned a reputation as a solid and well-liked executive.
In addition, Viacom CFO Davis has spent more than half of his working hours on the lot in the last several months and could be seen as a candidate for the job — perhaps in combination with a seasoned executive more familiar with the creative aspects of the business, like Evans or President of Paramount Television and Digital Entertainment Amy Powell.
There’s also the inevitable possibility of Jim Gianopulos, the departed Fox Film chairman who is a free agent after Stacey Snider took over as solo chairman. See below for a full gallery of potential Grey replacements.
There’s a rodeo that takes place early in “Lovesong,” the latest feature from director So Yong Kim (“In Between Days”). There’s also a years-long dance of unrealized love between two young women. But this is no lesbian “Brokeback Mountain.”
The former detail is mostly incidental, and the love story — more pronounced longing than announced intent — is the quietly heartbreaking sort, depicted as more of a wishful dream than anything else. Of course, all of this suits Kim’s delicate objectives perfectly, and if there’s a cinematic cousin to this sensitive, sorrowful film, it’s “Moonlight.”
Sarah (Riley Keough) is a young mother to a typically rambunctious three-year-old daughter, and wife to a husband (filmmaker Cary Fukunaga) who Skypes in from a series of endless work trips. His perfunctory greetings ignore her loneliness and stress. To escape her routine, Sarah takes a short road trip to meet up with Mindy (Jena Malone).
Best friends in college, they fall back into easy affection: eating, drinking, the rodeo, flirtations with a cowboy, more drinking, and then a kiss that leads to spending the night together. The morning comes and Mindy leaves abruptly, just when Sarah finds herself open to, and needing, more.
The film’s second half involves, no surprise, Mindy’s wedding to a man (Ryan Eggold, “The Blacklist”) and the news that three years have passed since the women have spoken. Sarah, greeted by Mindy with a sincere, friendly, “So nice to see you,” and little else, attends the event but finds herself demoted from member of the wedding party to simple guest.
There are other friends and co-workers (Brooklyn Decker of “Grace and Frankie,” and director Amy Seimetz, “The Girlfriend Experience”) who need face time with the bride. There’s Mindy’s difficult mother (Rosanna Arquette) who needs to complain about everything and to grill her daughter about the very idea of marriage. There’s a rehearsal dinner and a bachelorette party, but there’s really no time for old friends to talk about love or separation or the possibilities of existence apart from the most convenient human choices. It’s a wonder they can communicate at all after Mindy delivers the passive conversation killer, “I don’t hear from you.”
Kim’s script, with co-writer, spouse, and fellow filmmaker Bradley Rust Gray (“Jack and Diane”) is spare. The dialogue feels as though it were at least partially improvised. There are incidents, and there are minimal conversations, but they matter much less than, and are in service to, Kim’s strongest talent: guiding actors in space. Working with cinematographers Kat Westergaard (“Go for Sisters”) and Guy Godfree (“Maudie”), she positions her women to fill the frame, often in close-up.
There are glances and nervous hands, longing gazes, and downcast faces needing explanation or consolation. Malone and Keough, perfectly cast and perfectly in sync as people who should be — but probably never will be — lovers, make sadness seem enticing.
And Kim knows that her characters aren’t doing anything especially new. The drift of adulthood happens to the best of friendships. But Malone and Keough give their characters’ actions a brokenhearted specificity that the script intentionally leaves blank. The movie also serves as a reminder, even in an American cultural moment that feels more solidly pro-LGBT than ever before, that everyday human beings, confronted with processing the uncertain pull of sexuality, are up for serious and destabilizing work. The world at large still operates under the assumption of heterosexuality, and conformity feels like the path of least resistance for these characters, even when actual physical evidence to the contrary is staring them in the face.
Kim’s not interested in tidy resolution, and has a strong affinity for missed connections between people who know each other very well. That’s the greatest strength of “Lovesong.” It understands that if a wedding is to be the last day of two almost-lovers’ acquaintance, then it should be one full of memorable regret.
After audiences flocked to see three new, high-profile releases last week, an additional trio of wide challengers are crowding theaters this Friday. Might Fifty Shades Darker take a box office lashing over its sophomore weekend? Will John Wick: Chapter 2 hold steady at No. 3? Can The LEGO Batman Movie charge through Matt Damon’s Great Wall?
Check out the Feb.17-20 four-day box office projections below.
1. The LEGO Batman Movie – $45 million
Using The LEGO Movie as a barometer, things are looking good for Warner Bros. Animation’s third major big-screen outing. While not a direct sequel to the original (a box office juggernaut that grossed $257.8 million in North America), LEGO Batman tapped the same audience at the same time of year its forerunner did, and grossed $53 million last weekend. While Valentine’s Day undoubtedly helped the film’s mid-week numbers (it jumped from $2.7 million to over $5 million from Monday to Tuesday), the film doesn’t need a holiday tie-in to fuel its grosses in the long run, unlike Fifty Shades Darker. With broad cross-demographic appeal and a sturdy superhero franchise at its core, The LEGO Batman Movie should tumble a slight 10-30 percent over its ssecond-weekend outing.
2. Fifty Shades Darker – $20 million
While Fifty Shades of Grey notched one of history’s biggest second-weekend drops for a wide release in history, there’s a reasonable explanation: the film opened 24 hours before Valentine’s Day in 2015, meaning a surge in ticket sales to coincide with the romantic holiday. Fifty Shades Darker entered theaters across the same frame, though its initial three-day gross clocked in at roughly half of its predecessor’s. Still, the film could benefit from the four-day President’s Day weekend to balloon its total even further, as it remains the most prominent romance-themed picture on the market.
Look for Fifty Shades Darker to whip up between $17 million and $23 million over the four-day frame.
3. John Wick: Chapter 2 – $19 million
John Wick: Chapter 2 more than doubled the $14.4 million opening gross posted by the first film in the John Wick series, which quickly became a modern cult classic upon its 2014 theatrical bow; its successor premiered to an astonishing $30.4 million, falling just short of becoming star Keanu Reeves’ biggest opener since The Day the Earth Stood Still opened with $30.5 million in 2008. Strong word-of-mouth (Chapter 2 currently has an A- grade on CinemaScore — a full letter higher than the first film) and borderline-rabid fan affinity for the brand should be enough to keep it from dipping more than 40 percent this weekend.
4. Fist Fight – $17.5 million
Audiences are yearning for a good laugh, as a major mainstream comedy hasn’t opened wide since December’s Why Him? That changes with the release of New Line’s Charlie Day/Ice Cube laugher Fist Fight, which launches at approximately 3,200 sites on Friday (with Thursday previews).
The Warner Bros. family has found success in the genre in the recent past, including with 2016’s runaway hit Central Intelligence ($127.4 million domestically), How to Be Single ($112.3 million worldwide), and Vacation ($104.9 million worldwide). Though Fist Fight‘s talent roster isn’t as robust as those titles’, Charlie Day, Ice Cube, and Tracy Morgan seemingly make an ace comedic grouping in the film’s marketing materials. Expect Fist Fight to pull in around $16 million to $19 million over the holiday period.
5. The Great Wall – $17 million
Controversy aside, there seems to be little reason for domestic audiences to book a trip back in time with Damon aboard Legendary and Universal Pictures’ The Great Wall, a historical monster movie set during the Song dynasty. While the film is directed by Zhang Yimou, one of the most well-respected Chinese filmmakers working today, most North American ticket-buyers have likely never heard of the filmmaker, and poor critical reception for his latest offering will do little to capture their interest. Foreign audiences, however, have eaten the film up, with a solid $224.5 million pouring in from international markets so far. Regardless of its domestic performance (likely in the $13 million-$18 million range), the film is already a global hit.
Outside the top five, Fox’s A Cure for Wellness looks to scare up a so-so $6 million-$8 million figure on a $40 million budget. The film hits 2,702 locations as Gore Verbinski’s first major theatrical feature since Disney’s The Lone Ranger bowed in 2013.
Judging by marketing materials, the film’s spooky tone recalls brooding thrillers from the late 1990s and early 2000s, like The Others, What Lies Beneath, and The Haunting, and could outperform initial industry projections as solid counter-programming to this week’s family-oriented (LEGO Batman), comedic (Fist Fight), and action-intensive (John Wick: Chapter 2) fare.
A promotion tactic for “A Cure for Wellness,” which set up false news sites that put out articles that were widely shared, fell flat, as did the film’s projected ticket sales.
Since Americans don’t really know anything about East Asian history, our movies about that part of the world tend to always have an audience-surrogate character — somebody the other characters explain basic premise stuff to, for the sake of viewers.
For whatever reason, that audience surrogate is nearly always some white guy interloper who ends up becoming the main protagonist. It’s a weird trope, but a lot of folks don’t really see the problem. So to explain the awkwardness, we’re going to redo some movies about European and American history starring East Asian characters. If this makes you feel weird, that’s a good thing — it means you get it!
The art here comes courtesy of TheWrap’s Jordan Burchette.
“Gladiator” starring Chow Yun-fat
Imagine pretty much the same movie — about a Roman general who’s named Imperial Regent when Marcus Aurelius decides his own son isn’t fit to become Emperor. Except we’ll have an extended prologue about Chow Yun-fat’s character walking 8,000 miles to Rome from southern China and quickly winning everyone’s respect with his mad-but-exotic fighting skills. but there’s still some racial tension. This is more or less how all the “white people in Asia” movies start.
“The Patriot” starring Ken Watanabe
Like “Gladiator,” this version of “The Patriot” is mostly the same but with a new backstory for the lead plus some racial tension: Watanabe plays a Japanese sailor whose ship was caught in a storm that sent it drifting across the Pacific Ocean, eventually reaching the California coast. He then makes his way east, collecting a wife and making some children along the way, stumbling into the French and Indian War. He helps out the British, winning their respect with his mad-but-unorthodox skill with an exotic weapon called a katana.
“Forrest Gump” starring Stephen Chow
This mid-20th century “American Dream” fairy tale takes on a whole new meaning when, instead of being about some dimwitted white boy from Alabama, it follows a Chinese tourist looking get the full American experience: playing college football, going to war in Asia, accidentally investing in Apple in the ’70s, watching his mother die for lack of good healthcare options, and settling down with the cool rebel girl who’s found Jesus and stopped doing drugs.
Since fronting Ava DuVernay’s Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic Selma in 2014, David Oyelowo has worked on four feature-length projects directed by women — and he’s proud of it.
“I learned a big lesson on Selma,” the actor and producer says during an interview on Entertainment Weekly: The Show. “There were four male directors before Ava came aboard, and I watched how perspective matters to a story. The first two directors that I was aware of on the project were white men, and then the next two were black men, and then Ava.”
The film, which Oyelowo says took around seven years to make, went through a revolving door of directors before Paramount landed DuVernay, who’d already wowed audiences on the festival circuit with movies like Middle of Nowhere and I Will Follow.
“To watch her perspective inform what that film became really illustrated to me that who gets to tell the story matters, and that more often than not we have not seen a female perspective. We very rarely see a black female perspective,” he says. “As it pertains to a story like Dr. King’s, where you have individuals like Coretta Scott King and Annie Lee Cooper… If you don’t have a female point of view… those characters were being paid short shrift. That civil rights movement was not built purely on the backs of men; it was women as well.”
At the top of its respective Oscar year, Selma was largely expected to earn DuVernay a nomination for best director; though the film ultimately scored two nods (winning one for best original song), Oyelowo tells Ogunnaike the industry hasn’t evolved to accept female directors the way it should.
“At the end of the day, here in America, women are 51 percent of the population. Why on earth should it be rare that they get to direct movies in a medium as influential as film?” he asks.
Oyelowo teamed with yet another female filmmaker, Amma Asante, on this year’s interracial marriage drama A United Kingdom, about Botswana’s Prince Seretse Khama, who endures public backlash upon coupling with a white English woman (Rosamund Pike) in the 1940s. Oyelowo, whose real-life spouse is white, said the experience of making the film rang true to his reality.
“It was tricky, shall we say. I think people are more used to, in my situation of being married to a white woman, of maybe the white person’s parents being the obstacle or being opposed. In my situation it was quite different,” Oyelowo admits. “My dad, when I introduced to him as someone I wanted to marry, he said, ‘One day she is going to wake up and realize you are black’ … but that was on the basis of his experience. He’d experienced a lot of racism in the U.K. in the ’60s and ’70s, and he wanted his son to marry someone who would stay in love with him.”
Watch Oyelowo’s full interview on Entertainment Weekly: The Show above, and catch the full episode of Entertainment Weekly: The Show, available now, on the new People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the free app on your Smart TV, mobile and web devices.
A United Kingdom is now playing in select theaters.
Steven Soderbergh’s return to film, Logan Lucky, is set to race into theaters Aug. 18.
Logan Lucky stars Channing Tatum and Adam Driver as brothers trying to overcome a family curse by staging a complex robbery during NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600. The star-studded cast also includes Daniel Craig, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, Seth MacFarlane, Riley Keough, Sebastian Stan, and Katherine Waterston.
“This is the result of 16 years of conversations I’ve had with Dan about creating a new distribution paradigm for star-driven, wide release projects,” Soderbergh said in a statement. “With Logan Lucky, I have the right movie, the right team, and the right partner in Bleecker Street to test some personal theories I’ve accumulated. It’s put-up-or-shut-up time.”
The film marks the official return to directing for Soderbergh. Having declared as early as 2011 that he was retiring from filmmaking, the director behind the Ocean’s trilogy hasn’t helmed a movie since 2013’s Side Effects, which also starred Tatum. Soderbergh has still been busy, most notably directing Cinemax series The Knick.
Sometimes, not even a mother’s love can alleviate the pain of an awkward family dinner. Gretchen Mol knew what you were thinking going into her dinner scene in Manchester By the Sea, where her character Elise was reunited with her son Patrick: How bad could this really be?
But, as she explains during an appearance on Entertainment Weekly: The Show, “You just immediately think, ‘He can’t live here, he can’t live with this woman and her new husband!’ It’s awfully sad, but it has something that I think makes audiences laugh a little bit and sort of know they’ve stepped into rooms like that before, where you feel like you need to get right back and go in the other direction.”
During the meeting in question, Patrick finally meets with his absentee mother following his father’s death, only to find the home she shares with new husband Jeffrey (Matthew Broderick) doesn’t quite fit him into the equation.
Watch the video above to hear Mol’s thoughts, and to see a clip from the movie. Catch the full episode of Entertainment Weekly: The Show, available now, on the new People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the free app on your Smart TV, mobile and web devices.
Matt Damon’s new action film “The Great Wall” is inspiring some brutal social media posts mocking him for appropriating Chinese culture — and doubling down on the star’s perceived superiority on matters of diversity.
#ThankYouMattDamon trended on Twitter Thursday afternoon, with many users offering faux thanks to Damon and the movie (a big gamble on Hollywood-China collaborations in film) for bringing Chinese culture to the forefront.
“Matt Damon is my favorite anime character,” one user wrote.
“Matt Damon introduced noodles to the Europeans,” said another.
Universal Pictures is the distributor for the project, a Legendary East production that represents the first output from the Thomas Tull-created company under its new owner Dalian Wanda.
The fantasy film sees Damon as what many view to be a white savior figure, helping a Chinese army protect their famous wall from CGI aliens.
This is not the first time Damon has courted controversy when it comes to diversity. As a producer and a featured cast member on HBO’s reality series “Project Greenlight,” he caused an uproar over comments he made to beloved line producer Effie Brown.
Read the best of #ThankYouMattDamon:
— Teresa Wang (@tewang32) February 16, 2017
— Andrew Nguyen (@andrewnguyening) February 16, 2017
— I Block Bigots (@Fiorentina5) February 16, 2017
#ThankYouMattDamon for writing and starring in Good Will Hunting and about 10 other films that made me want to do what you do for a living.
— Jarod Joseph (@JarodJoseph) February 16, 2017
— Andrew Nguyen (@andrewnguyening) February 16, 2017
— Teresa Wang (@tewang32) February 16, 2017
— Teresa Wang (@tewang32) February 16, 2017
— Janet J. Kim (@janetjaykim) February 16, 2017
— ???????????????????? (@BoosterKord) February 16, 2017
— Tanju Yesilkaya (@TanjuTweet) February 16, 2017
Bleecker Street announced it has partnered with Fingerprint Releasing to distribute Steven Soderbergh’s comedy “Logan Lucky.”
Featuring an all-star cast, including Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Riley Keough, Hilary Swank, Seth MacFarlane, Katie Holmes, and Daniel Craig, “Logan Lucky” follows two brothers who attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race.
Trying to reverse a family curse, brothers Jimmy (Channing Tatum) and Clyde Logan (Adam Driver) set out to execute an elaborate robbery during the legendary Coca-Cola 600 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The production shot at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the actual NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 and the Bank of America 500, as well as at Atlanta Motor Speedway. In a fun Easter egg, six NASCAR stars pop up in non-driver cameo roles in the film.
“Logan Lucky” also stars Katherine Waterston, Dwight Yoakam, Sebastian Stan, David Denman, Macon Blair, Jack Quaid, and Brian Gleeson.
The screenplay is by Rebecca Blunt. Gregory Jacobs, Mark Johnson, Reid Carolin, and Channing Tatum served as producers. Zane Stoddard of NASCAR is an Executive Producer, along with Michael Polaire and Dan Fellman.
Fingerprint Releasing, created by Soderbergh, is piloted by Fellman, former long-time head of distribution for Warner Bros.
Says Soderbergh, “This is the result of sixteen years of conversations I’ve had with Dan about creating a new distribution paradigm for star-driven, wide release projects. With ‘Logan Lucky’ I have the right movie, the right team, and the right partner in Bleecker Street to test some personal theories I’ve accumulated. It’s put-up- or-shut- up time.”
Andrew Karpen, CEO of Bleecker Street, added, “We’re thrilled to be working with Steven and the team at Fingerprint to break new ground and bring such an exciting film to audiences this summer.”
The deal was negotiated between Andrew Karpen with Avy Eschenasy on behalf of Bleecker Street and Ken Meyer on behalf of the filmmakers.
Ballots are now in the hands (and on the screens) of Oscar voters, and final choices must be locked in by the end of the day Tuesday. That means that nominees and their campaigners have only a few days to make a final impression, a key part of any Oscars campaign.
As usual, some films are sticking with the strategy that got them this far, while others are pivoting to take advantage of their strengths or capitalize on an opponent’s weaknesses.
Who’ll seal the deal? We’ve taken a look at print and online Oscars ads as well as billboards placed conspicuously around Los Angeles, and these are our thoughts on the closing arguments that voters are hearing from some of the contenders in the Best Picture, Best Animated Feature and Best Documentary Feature categories.
“La La Land”
Message: We don’t need words. You know what to do.
The latest and boldest ad taken out for Lionsgate’s front-runner is a billboard on the Sunset Strip that doesn’t contain a single word of text. Instead, it’s an image we haven’t seen before, of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone looking out at the lights of Los Angeles after the end of their “A Lovely Night” dance routine.
That scene produced the Ryan-and-Emma-dancing image that has been used incessantly during the entire Oscars campaign, and the general-release campaign as well; this new photo knows we’re intimately familiar with that other one, and can now transition to the aftermath, the endgame. It’s a gentle reminder of a much-loved movie that is almost certain to win a lot of Oscars, and an acknowledgement that voters don’t really need any persuading.
And the city vista on which they’re gazing says something else that could be important to a body of voters based predominantly in Southern California: This is Los Angeles’ movie. If you live in the hills above the Strip, you might even be able to look past the billboard at a vista of real L.A. lights to drive that point home — but for cars driving by, sadly, the view is merely of a billboard perched above a liquor store and the Viper Room. A less glamorous “City of Stars,” perhaps.
Message: We’re a landmark.
“Moonlight” could pick and choose the critics’ quotes it puts on its ads, but A24 has also chosen to go minimalist in the final stages of the campaign. The indie company’s billboards — one in the same block of Sunset as the “La La Land” billboard, another a couple of blocks further west — sport a striking image of young actor Alex Hibbert, along with a single quote from the New Yorker: “It Changes Everything.”
In other words: If you want the breakthrough movie, we’re the one. Forget about the fact that “Moonlight” is the clear critics’ choice this year — the campaign is appealing to voters who want to choose not the dazzling film that they feel good about now, but the important film that’ll make the Oscars look good in the future.
That’s the key to an upset victory, and the ads are working hard to position “Moonlight” as that film.
detail from “Manchester by the Sea” ad
“Manchester by the Sea”
Message: Words count.
Amazon and Lionsgate haven’t changed their campaign significantly on behalf of Kenneth Lonergan’s wrenching drama “Manchester by the Sea.” The ads still feature moody stills from the film, and they’re still rife with critics’ quotes lauding the movie, Lonergan and stars Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams and Lucas Hedges.
In the home stretch, though, a few notable ads are targeted to the two categories in which the film has the best chance of winning. A billboard near Sunset and Fairfax says, “KENNETH LONERGAN BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY” across the top, and is full of quotes about the screenplay; another billboard and some recent print ads were devoted to praise for Best Actor nominee Casey Affleck.
Detail from “Lion” ad
Message: No, we’re the important movie.
“Lion” is currently the beneficiary of the typical Weinstein Company phase-two campaign, which in recent years has played up the social significance of “The King’s Speech,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Philomena” and “The Imitation Game” in the days leading up to the Oscars.
To that end, recent ads have dispensed with quotes from film critics, and instead used endorsements from the likes of Gloria Steinem (“It’s a special gift now that we are being told to isolate ourselves”), former Secretary of State Madeline Albright (“as a refugee, an immigrant and a mother, ‘Lion’ resonated deeply with me”), author Salman Rushdie (“It moved me deeply”) and political analyst Mark Halperin (“a timeless film about family, identity and humanity in the 21st century”).
Message: We’re not just a crowd-pleaser.
The most commercially successful of the Best Picture nominees doesn’t need to burnish its credentials as a hit — it just need to say that it’s more than just a commercial film.
To that end, the central quote in its final ad campaign comes from AwardsDaily’s Sasha Stone, who wrote, “‘Hidden Figures’ is a film to be proud of, to celebrate, and yes, to award.”
In other words: Yes, we know you loved it. Now don’t be afraid to vote for it.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Message: We’re an actual movie.
This one takes the prize for the most pointed tagline of any phase-two campaign: “200 Years, 100 Minutes.” That’s because the category favorite, and the chief competitor to Ava DuVernay’s “13th,” is “O.J.: Made in America.” That film is a whopping seven hours and 47 minutes long, and has prompted some grumbling about its genesis as a multi-part film for ESPN’s “30 for 30” TV series.
The implication in the “200 years, 100 minutes” line couldn’t be clearer: We’re an important film about race in America, too, but we don’t need to go to miniseries length to get our point across.
“O.J.: Made in America”
Message: Get on the winning team.
“O.J.,” on the other hand, doesn’t need to defend its placement in this category.
So it can sit back and point out that it’s won almost all the precursor awards — DGA, PGA, IDA, ACE Eddies — and bank on the fact that everybody, including voters at the Oscars, loves a winner.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Detail from “Zootopia” ad
Message: We’re the timely, smart, issue-oriented animated feature.
In an unexpectedly competitive Best Animated Feature race, Disney’s “Zootopia” is the one animated film that can also play the timely-and-important card.
A recent ad does that not just with a sly nod to current events — “For Your Consideration for the Popular Vote” — but with a quote that praises the way it deals with the issue of bias, and says its look at fear-mongering “was supposed to be a warning but turned out to be a prophecy.”
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
Message: We’ve got more heart.
The biggest rival to “Zootopia” is Laika’s “Kubo and the Two Strings,” which picked up additional heat when it won the BAFTA award.
Its endgame is to focus on the handmade aspect of stop-motion filmmaking, and to emphasize the idea that while “Zootopia” might be the movie with more timely political points to make, “Kubo” is the emotional one.
Hence the main phase-two tagline in its Oscars campaign: “Choose Heart. Choose ‘Kubo.’”
Detail from “Moana” ad
Message: Didn’t you just love “Hamilton?”
Walt Disney Animation knows that “Zootopia” is the studio’s best shot to win, so the latest ads for its other Best Animated Feature contender focus on the other category in which it’s nominated, Best Original Song.
Yes, “La La Land” is the prohibitive favorite in that category — but just in cast that film’s two nominated songs split the vote, “Moana” has an ace in the hole in the universally loved toast of Broadway, “Hamilton” create Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is an Oscar shy of the EGOT.
So the ads not only list the film’s song nomination above its animated-feature nod, but they insert a photo of Miranda himself. That headshot plopped into an animated ad might not look good, but it’s a way to remind Academy members about the guy they’d be voting for, since ballots for the Oscars only list the song and movie titles, not the songwriters.
Sam Raimi is talks to direct a Bermuda Triangle project for Skydance, TheWrap has learned.
Skydance has one of three Bermuda Triangle projects in development around Hollywood. Screenwriter Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard, who co-wrote 2010’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” are rewriting a script based on an original screenplay by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift.
The filmmaker, best known for his “Spider-Man” and “Evil Dead” films last directed “Oz the Great and Powerful” for Disney.
Universal and Warner Bros. are also developing their own takes about the Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil’s Triangle, a loosely-defined region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean, where a number of aircraft and ships are said to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
“Ouija” screenwriters Juliet Snowden and Stiles White are rewriting the script for Universal’s untitled “Bermuda Triangle” movie.
Warner Bros. closed a mid-six figure deal for “The Bermuda Triangle,” a spec script by Daniel Kunka.
The vicinity of the Bermuda Triangle is one of the most-heavily traveled shipping lanes in the world, with ships frequently crossing through it for ports in the Americas, Europe and the Caribbean islands. Cruise ships and pleasure craft regularly sail through the region, and commercial and private aircraft routinely fly over it.
Raimi is repped by CAA and Hansen Jacobson.
The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news about Raimi’s involvement with the project.
Hugh Jackman’s “Logan” is looking at a huge $60 million opening when it hits theaters on March 3.
According to box office analysts, tracking for the film lies in the $55 million to $60 million range, two weeks before the studio’s third standalone “Wolverine” film.
The first film, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” opened to $85 million in 2009. Its sequel, “The Wolverine,” debuted to $53 million in 2013. The second film received better critical reviews than the first. “Origins” has a score of 38 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, while “Wolverine” received a score of 69 percent.
So while “Logan” isn’t looking at an opening number comparable to “Origins,” a $60 million opening is great, especially for a March release. The two previous films opened in the summer.
However, “Logan” isn’t expected to have long legs at the box office, given that Warner Bros.’ “Kong: Skull Island” opens the week after, followed by Disney’s huge live-action film “Beauty and the Beast” on March 17. Those big-budget movies are expected to crush “Logan” in its second and third weekends at the domestic box office.
That kind of drop-off is typical for films in the “X-Men” franchise, which usually experience a 60 percent drop off their second weekend.
In the film, Jackman’s Logan is living in a self-imposed exile with Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), while his mutant healing abilities are in severe decline. But his solitude is interrupted by the arrival of a young girl (Dafne Keen), who possesses powers shockingly similar to Logan’s.
When an army of mercenaries shows up to take her back, Logan and Professor X (Patrick Stewart) take her on the road to keep her safe.
The third Wolverine movie also stars Boyd Holbrook, Richard E. Grant, Stephen Merchant, Eriq La Salle and Elise Neal. Jackman has previously stated that this movie will be the last time he’ll play the clawed character.
James Mangold directed the film, reuniting with Jackman following their work on “The Wolverine.” This will be the first R-rated film in the “X-Men” franchise.
“Fist Fight” stars Ice Cube and Charlie Day as two school teachers who plan to fight each other in the parking lot — but JoAnna Garcia Swisher, who also stars in the film, promises the film doesn’t only provide laughs but has a lot of heart as well.
“This is a perfect time, this is one of those things — not to get too deep into the deeper meaning of the movie — but there is a lot of heart in this movie,” Swisher told TheWrap’s Stuart Brazell.
“The only way you can unleash these crazy comedians in a situation like this — which they actually did, sort of unleash them and film the whole process — is if you have that heart, so we have a good balance.
“It’s not a huge think piece, you just go there and have fun and enjoy,” she added.
The comedy, directed by Richie Keen, also stars Christina Hendricks, Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell and Kumail Nanjiani. Swisher plays Day’s wife who is 10 months pregnant and is about to pop.
“I would absolutely run for the hills,” added Swisher.
“Fist Fight” opens this Friday.
Watch the video above.
Roman Polanski has sent a request to a judge to allow the filmmaker to return to the United States without serving any additional jail time.
The Best Director Oscar-winner (“The Pianist”) was indicted in 1977 on five charges, including “rape by use of drugs” and “furnishing a controlled substance to a minor,” after having sex with 13-year-old girl who had been brought over to his house for a photo shoot.
Polanski later reached a deal, pleading guilty to the lesser charge of “unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.” As a condition of the deal, he was required to serve 90 days in state prison while undergoing psychiatric evaluation. He was released after only 42 days, but soon after fled the United States when it emerged that the presiding judge was considering a stiffer penalty.
Polanski says the judge, Judge Laurence Rittenband, reneged on the plea deal and insisted he serve up to 50 years in jail after the agreement was signed. Rittenband, who died in 1993, consistently denied these accusations, though he did state that he felt Polanski’s sentence was too light.
Polanski’s lawyer Harland Braun sent a letter to Los Angeles County Superior Court seeking to unseal documents from 1977 detailing the agreement, which would prove Polanski has already served his sentence.
“First we have to unseal the secret transcript,” Braun told TheWrap. “After we confirm the contents, we will urge the court to recognize the Polish decision resulting from a litigation initiated by the DA and in which the DA participated. If the Court accepts the principle of comity, Roman can come to Los Angeles and to court without fear of custody.”
In December, Poland’s supreme court denied the United States’ request to extradite Polanski, upholding a lower court’s decision.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.
By default, the hyper aggressive high school comedy “Fist Fight” is an argument against bullying, since the sheer force of its crude, empty shenanigans is more likely to make you cower than laugh. Ostensibly built around the lopsided gag of a mousy English teacher (Charlie Day) forced into an after-school scrap with a menacing colleague (Ice Cube) — at best the B story in any standard-issue classroom sitcom — it’s mostly another nail in the coffin of R-rated outrageousness and ad-libbed sloppiness.
Envelope-pushing has rarely seemed so pencil-pushing, while the “F” bomb is as numbingly deployed as “like” is in the speech of bored teenagers.
At times, you’re tempted to believe Ice Cube just filmed a bunch of takes of him giving a death glare or threatening someone off-camera and then let anyone build whatever movie they wanted around him. Other times, you wonder if Charlie Day’s contract should include a rider that caps the number of times he screams lines at an annoying fever-pitch. That Ice Cube‘s authoritatively mean presence and Day’s comically scratchy whine are singular gifts you rapidly grow tired of is just one of the joy-sapping hallmarks in this freshman feature debut from TV director Richie Keen.
Day plays Andy Campbell, a nervous teacher who arrives on the last day of class at his underfunded, poorly-run high school to find the annual senior prank tradition in full swing: toilet paper everywhere, mattress rides down the stairs, porn playing in the trophy case, and a horse on meth roaming the halls. But it’s the kind of chaos that suggests the students have always run things, and with budget cuts ensuring a fair number of teachers will get pink slips that day, all Andy can think about — with a wife (JoAnna Garcia Swisher) about to give birth — is making his case later for not getting fired.
Like nearly everyone, adult and teenager, at Roosevelt High School, Andy is scared by fearsome history teacher Mr. Strickland (Ice Cube), first seen brandishing a bat à la “Lean On Me,” and later, in his classroom, a fire axe, which he applies to an offending student’s desk after being subjected to a prank. Andy witnesses this, and rats Strickland out to the principal (Dean Norris) as a job-saving measure, which incurs the erstwhile schoolyard challenge from the snarling Strickland: 3 p.m., outside, and stitches for snitches.
It’s impossible to convey how thoroughly unsuspenseful this premise is since Andy is unlikeable enough to deserve such a comeuppance, and his options for avoiding this showdown are numerous, starting with simply going home. The real story in Van Robichaux and Evan Susser’s burp of a screenplay is the outdated act-like-a-man vibe that drives the testosterone-slathered comedy, with milquetoast Andy’s avoidance schemes a never-ending source of stale humiliation jokes and jags of ear-piercing yelling. (Seriously, whatever happened to deadpan reactions? Silent double takes?)
Ice Cube’s Strickland, meanwhile, starts out a tantalizingly tough figure — righteous about fixing a broken school but borderline psychotic — until the fight-clock gimmick turns him into a cartoon adversary.
That leaves, as usual, supporting players to fill in, and “Fist Fight” does a talented cast no favors. Christina Hendricks is wasted in an unfunny one-note character (the prissy teacher with a sadistic side). It’s comforting to see Tracy Morgan back in the game as a long-suffering coach, but after a requisite wisecrack about impregnation, he’s mysteriously uninspired.
“22 Jump Street” scene-stealer Jillian Bell’s guidance counselor is another of the actress’s patented whack jobs — a tweaker who lusts for her students — but it’s a forced bit more expectedly distasteful than genuinely silly. Kumail Nanjiani (“Silicon Valley”), meanwhile, shows up as a school security guard for two scenes, and the desire to follow him home, where his bemused character’s life is surely more funny, is strong.
“Fist Fight” is so ineptly assembled, shoddy-looking and devoid of comic tension or creative lunacy — like a movie comprised of outtakes — that you half-expect the filmmakers not even to deliver a fist fight. (That they do, for a big crowd and news cameras, but only after it becomes a pointless face-off emotionally for Andy or Strickland.) That ultimate skirmish lends the movie a weird aura of give-the-people-what-they-what bloodsport, and toxic masculinity for toxic masculinity’s sake.
There’s the flimsiest attempt to justify it for one character’s ulterior purposes as an example to the world of how degraded the public-school system has become, but it carries about as much issue resonance here as the term “organic” does on a box of chocolate cookies. Even so, scarfing down those cookies is infinitely more satisfying than anything in “Fist Fight.”
Screenwriter Andrea Berloff will direct and adapt female-driven mob drama “The Kitchen” for New Line, TheWrap has learned.
The film will be the directorial debut for the Academy Award-nominated “Straight Outta Compton” screenwriter.
“The Kitchen” is based on the comic book series by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle for Vertigo from DC Entertainment.
It is described as a classic gangster story told from a fresh POV. When a group of Irish mobsters are sent to prison, their wives take over their jailed spouses’ organized crime operations, subverting gender tropes to become the most ruthless and powerful gangsters in 1970’s Hell’s Kitchen.
Berloff started out in Hollywood as an assistant to New Line co-founder Bob and Eva Shaye. She later was hired her to write “Straight Outta Compton” when the film was still in development at New Line. The project was put into turnaround and ultimately was later made by Universal, which released the film in 2015.
“I am beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to direct a film that is fiercely, unapologetically female-driven,” Berloff said in a statement. “Having started my career as an assistant to Eva and Bob Shaye, embarking on this journey with New Line is truly a surreal dream.”
Berloff is repped by CAA and Management 360.
The hiring is a step forward for gender diversity when only 7 percent of directors of the top 250 domestic grossing films last year were women, down from 9 percent in 2015, according to the 19th annual Celluloid Ceiling report by Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University. (While the difference is just 2 percentage points year over year, the drop in raw numbers is a more alarming 22 percent.)
The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news of Berloff’s involvement.
HBO has acquired the U.S. TV rights to the documentary film “David Bowie: The Last Five Years.”
The film, directed and produced by Francis Whately, spotlights the critically acclaimed albums “The Next Day” and “Blackstar,” as well as the stage musical “Lazarus” and offers new insights into Bowie’s creativity during the final five years of his life.
It features rarely seen Bowie interviews, archival footage, audio from the recording sessions for “The Next Day” and “Blackstar,” and access to Bowie’s closest friends and artistic collaborators.
“Looking at Bowie’s extraordinary creativity during the last five years of his life has allowed me to reexamine his life’s work and move beyond the simplistic view that his career was simply predicated on change,” said Whately. “HBO, whose global output the world admires, is a great channel to get this incredible documentary out to the U.S. fans.”
“David Bowie: The Last Five Years” is a BBC Films production directed and produced by Whately and executive produced by Phil Dolling. The deal with HBO was negotiated by Melissa Green, VP of factual TV sales and co-productions at BBC Worldwide North America.
Bowie died on Jan. 10, 2016, after battling liver cancer for almost two years.
He posthumously swept the 2017 Grammy Awards with five wins for “Blackstar,” his final album, including: Best Rock Performance; Best Alternative Music Album; Best Recording Package; Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical; and Best Rock Song.
“Fist Fight” director Richie Keen is set to direct “Partners” for New Line, an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.
New Line and Keen partnered on “Fist Fight,” which is the director’s first feature film and stars Ice Cube, Charlie Day, Tracy Morgan and Jillian Bell. It opens in theaters this Friday.
“Partners” will follow an LAPD detective who falls for a woman after a one-night stand, but soon learns she is an FBI agent and his new boss on a high-profile case.
Evan Turner wrote the original screenplay, with the most recent draft having been written by Sam Pitman and Adam Cole-Kelly.
Keen’s other directorial credits include the TV series “The Goldbergs,” “The Comedians” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
He is represented by CAA, Lonestar Entertainment and attorney Adam Kaller.