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Thompson on Hollywood

Major Studios Won't Consolidate, but Minors May Merge

The economy is a ruthless, Darwinian Master. Only the strong shall survive, and that applies to the mighty studios as well as everyone else. Sure, the theatrical market is holding up pretty well. But for every Fast & Furious, Star Trek and The Hangover there's a cynically bloated flop like Land of the Lost (for which Universal pulled print ads on its second weekend) or Imagine That. (The Wrap was inspired to do a quickie Stars Who Should Worry chart including Will Ferrell and Eddie Murphy, which probably got the site into more trouble than it was worth.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 16, 2009 7:19 AM
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Transformers' LaBoeuf: Troubled Star

What a difference two years makes. The picture on left of Shia LaBeouf ran in Parade Magazine when Disturbia made him into a star. The photo on the right ran this week in Parade in advance of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. (Here's http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117940483.html?categoryid=31&cs=1">Variety's review.) We all know that talent is only one component of a long and happy career. Stability is another. Or to put it another way, sometimes the sensitive tuning rod that is essential to a working actor's skill set isn't screwed on tight enough. LaBeouf speaks frankly about his demons. I wish him well in dealing with them.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 16, 2009 7:16 AM
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Father's Day Faves

Like Kris Tapley, my father turned me into a cinephile. (Cineaste, as Dave Kehr is wont to point out, is strictly reserved for filmmakers.) Raising two (and later three) kids in Manhattan, my father took us to the movies every weekend at the local movie houses: the Riverside and Riviera, Symphony, Nemo, Olympia, Thalia and New Yorker.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 16, 2009 1:09 AM
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Indie Studio Combine Announced

There's a new producer/distrib/foreign sales combine in the works. DF Indie Studio is led by finance experts Mary Dickinson and Charlene Fisher, who are raising coin. Two years ago they first met with Ted Hope, one of several indie-prods lined up to supply future product for which there is guaranteed U.S. distribution, potentially supervised by consultant Ira Deutchman; ex-Focus and Weinstein Co. foreign sales maverick Glen Basner is set to handle foreign sales. Having domestic release assured would make it easier for producers to raise foreign funding. That's been the scary factor for producers in recent years, as studio specialty distribs have decreased, and even existing ones often refuse to sign on to projects before they are complete.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 15, 2009 7:27 AM
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New Film Critics Aggregator Challenges Rotten Tomatoes

Never rest on your laurels. When something is working, something new and improved comes along. While many of my pals prefer critics' aggregator Metacritic, which is leaner, more elegant, pickier and more pure than the mighty but messier, more inclusive and more crowded Rotten Tomatoes, there's a new kid in town: Movie Review Intelligence. It claims to add more weight to powerful critics like Roger Ebert, and boasts cool search functions (studio, genre etc), but my initial read on this is that it's designed to be studio (read advertiser) friendly.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 14, 2009 7:31 AM
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The Proposal's Writer and Director Talk Comedy

The rom-com seems doomed by studio formulas and misogynistic concepts like Bride Wars, which I refused to go see. Thank God for Judd Apatow and John Hamburg, but still, their bromances are aimed mostly at men. So when a fresh chick flick comes along that isn't a dumbed down vehicle for Kate Hudson, I cheer. Written on spec over several years by production exec-turned-scripter Peter Chiarelli and directed by choreographer-turned-helmer Anne Fletcher (Step Up, 27 Dresses), The Proposal stars Sandra Bullock, who pokes fun at her age and credibly falls for a younger man without turning shrill and brittle. Her chemistry with Reynolds, who she's known for years off-set, is palpable. Chiarelli and Fletcher explain how they made a smart studio rom-com, and how the Writers' Strike may have been a good thing for their movie, which opens June 19.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 12, 2009 7:36 AM
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G.I. Joe Fracas

Fact: the Internet tends to pile on to dramatic negative stories, whether or not they are true. That is the case with the rumor about Paramount taking director Stephen Sommers off summer movie G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 12, 2009 5:10 AM
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John Carter of Mars' Stars, James Bond's Writers

Pixar writer-director Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall-E) is moving forward at Disney with his live-action debut John Carter of Mars, which he adapted from the Edgar Rice Burroughs Martian novels. The materials I've seen on James Cameron's Avatar remind me of this alternate world set on another planet. And in both stories, an American visits this faraway place full of strange creatures.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 11, 2009 6:15 AM
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Trailer Watch: Scorsese and DiCaprio's Shutter Island

So far, so good on movies made from the mystery novels of Boston-based Dennis Lehane: Clint Eastwood's Mystic River and Ben Affleck's Gone Baby Gone. Up next: Shutter Island, Martin Scorsese's latest reteaming with Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays a U.S. Marshall tracking an inmate who has escaped from an insane asylum on a remote Massachusetts island. It looks like Escape from Alcatraz meets The Shining. Paramount releases the film October 2. Check it out:
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 10, 2009 6:35 AM
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Produced By Conference: Are Boomers Abandoning Movies?

At the Produced By conference on the Sony lot last weekend, which was organized by Gale Ann Hurd and the Producers Guild, some of the best and brightest in the profession complained that nobody wants to fund movies for grown-ups these days. At Peter Bart's panel, Who Does What?, while producers Kathleen Kennedy and producing partners Lucy Fisher and Doug Wick talked about massaging tender egos, movies made to fill studio slots, fractious shoots turning out better movies than happy ones, and on-set disasters, they also complained that they can't make the films they'd like to make.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 10, 2009 6:20 AM
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