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Thompson on Hollywood

New Distribs FilmDistrict and Wrekin Hill Make Moves

The two new indie film distribs on the block both made announcements Monday. FilmDistrict has made its first pick-up, Soul Surfer, for wide release April 15, 2011. And Chris Ball's Wrekin Hill Entertainment has pacted with Lionsgate Home Entertainment for exclusive U.S. distribution rights for DVD, Blu-ray, digital delivery and VOD. Ex-Newmarket Films president Ball is prepping the December 29 release of Peter Weir's The Way Back, starring Colin Farrell, Ed Harris and Jim Sturgess, via Newmarket. He expects to make several acquisitions announcements shortly.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 1, 2010 4:16 AM
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  • 2 Comments

Filmmaker George Hickenlooper Dead at 47

Saturday the Denver Post confirmed that film director George Hickenlooper was dead. The 47-year-old filmmaker was in Denver promoting his new movie Casino Jack, produced by and starring Kevin Spacey as controversial Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, which was showing at the Starz Denver Film Festival. The cause of death is being investigated. He is survived by wife Suzanne and son Charles. It is always disturbing when folks in their prime leave us too soon.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 31, 2010 5:05 AM
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  • 6 Comments
More: Directors

Weekend Box Office: Saw 3D Wins Halloween Horror Duel

Saw 3D won the Halloween weekend box office battle between two mighty horror sequels with an estimated $24.2 million, ahead of Paranormal Activity 2, which dropped 59% to $16.5 million, reports Anthony D'Alessandro. (Check out his seven rules for horror success here.)In the battle between phantasms and slashers at the Halloween weekend box office, the latter won out as Lionsgate’s Saw 3D hooked the top spot with $24.2 million at 2,808 theaters --the fifth-best bow for the Jigsaw series. Paramount’s Paranormal Activity 2 dropped to second with $16.5 million, off 59% from its solid bow a week ago---not too bloody for a horror title, which can plunge as much as 70% on the second weekend.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 31, 2010 4:04 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Film Independent Filmmaker Forum Keynote by Lionsgate's Joe Drake: Put In Your 10,000 Hours

Film Independent Filmmaker Forum Keynote by Lionsgate's Joe Drake: Put In Your 10,000 Hours
Lionsgate motion picture group president Joe Drake kicked off Film Independent's weekend Filmmaker Forum with the keynote speech at the DGA on Saturday. Film Independent executive director Dawn Hudson introduced Drake (the full text is at indieWIRE, which is a sponsor of the event), who began with how he called about six folks in Film Independent's Film Talent Guide to find out what people were thinking about. Herewith some highlights of the speech. Drake is a smart exec; there's some strong nuts and bolts advice here. And some fascinating nuggets, like: studios and indie distribs are releasing 40% fewer movies in 2010 than four years ago--even fewer are expected in 2011--so there's less competition. The declining demo is males 18 to 24. The increasing one is males over 55. Put that in your pipe...
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 30, 2010 6:32 AM
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  • 4 Comments

Lena Dunham Talks Tiny Furniture, Writing for Hollywood, Rudin, HBO

Lena Dunham Talks Tiny Furniture, Writing for Hollywood, Rudin, HBO
The discovery of this year's SXSW (and best narrative feature winner) was 24-year-old New York writer-director Lena Dunham, who shot her semi-autobiographical micro-budget film Tiny Furniture at her family's Tribeca loft with herself, her sister Grace and her artist mom Laurie Simmons (The Music of Regret) in leading roles, along with indie professionals Jemima Kirke, Alex Karpovsky and Merritt Wever, who she met at SXSW when she debuted her first film Creative Nonfiction there. Dunham's painter father Carroll didn't want to be in the film, she admits during our flip cam interview during LAFF at L.A.'s Four Seasons (below, with trailer). "I was exploring a more female-centric thing." Her family worked their butts off during fifteen days of filming (Jody Lee Lipes is her cinematographer) and are "quite proud of it. We all went through that artistic process together."
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 30, 2010 2:02 AM
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  • 5 Comments

MGM Lenders Approve Spyglass Takeover Bid

The MGM lion has had many lives--the fabled studio has run through many chiefs over the decades, but Carl Icahn is not going to be one of them. Mary Parent is gone, and so is Harry Sloan, as well as UA's Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner. Finally, we know, the newest chieftans are the Spyglass duo Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber; their plan to take over the studio after it emerges from bankruptcy has been approved by MGM's lenders, reports the LAT. The vote was delayed when Lionsgate's largest shareholder, agitator Carl Icahn, tried to mount a rival bid to buy MGM's debt for 53 cents on the dollar. Icahn also owns about 12% of MGM's debt, or $500 million.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 29, 2010 10:28 AM
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  • 0 Comments
More: News, Hollywood

Michael Moore Writes A Boot to the Head Election Memo

Michael Moore is worried--as are many Democrats--about the midterm elections Tuesday, which could return control of the House (if not the Senate) to Republicans (many of them right of center) and bring on true governmental paralysis. He'll be on Rachel Maddow Friday night on MSNBC, at 9:00pm ET/PT. Here's his latest missive:A Boot to the Head ...from Michael MooreFriends,
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 29, 2010 9:27 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Nicholson, DeVito, Glee Stars in Rocky Horror Picture Show

- A star-packed rendition of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, held Thursday night at LA's Wiltern Theatre, marked the famed film's 35th Anniversary with a combo of film and live musical performances.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • October 29, 2010 8:03 AM
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  • 0 Comments

The Horror, The Horror: Seven Rules for Success at the Box Office

With Halloween upon us, TOH box office analyst Anthony D'Alessandro looks at what's working--and what isn't--among horror genre titles. He finds seven often counter-intuitive rules to follow for horror success.The Paranormal Activity franchise stands as a pillar of success for horror films over the last year, reviving the genre after a recent spate of bombs (i.e. Devil, Case 39, My Soul to Take, Let Me In). What makes a horror title live or die at the B.O.? Here's a primer for horror success: 1. Realism rules: “When you touch death or visceral things like the other world, it makes people feel more alive," says Scream exec producer Harvey Weinstein. "That’s the allure of something like horror.”  Paranormal Activity producer Oren Peli is agreeing all the way to the bank: “What made Paranormal a success is that it feels small and intimate and it was important to stay true to this with the sequel,” he says. “While there are different types of horror films out there, i.e. gore, slasher, the slow psychological build of Paranormal scares people in a different way than being slashed apart.”  
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • October 29, 2010 7:22 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Weekly Wrap: Oscar Contenders Big and Small, Production News, Lawrence and Morgan Talk

Weekly Wrap: Oscar Contenders Big and Small, Production News, Lawrence and Morgan Talk
AWARDS
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • October 29, 2010 6:06 AM
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  • 1 Comment

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