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Thompson on Hollywood

SDCC Interview: Cameron Talks Avatar

Here's my Comic-Con interview with James Cameron about how his undersea expeditions informed his return to moviemaking, Avatar. He digs into how he perfected the art of performance capture to allow the warmth of his actors to come through. He wants to do some consciousness-raising with SAG on what performance capture really involves. During Friday's panel with Cameron and Peter Jackson, the two men discussed how resistant actors have been to such acting as Andy Serkis as Gollum.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 25, 2009 5:45 AM
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Comic-Con: Routh Talks Superman, Pattinson, Dead of Night

Twilight star Rob Pattinson is handling his new fame with grace, according to Brandon Routh, who has endured his own E-ride through the vagaries of celebrity. “He’s getting much worse, more outrageous media attention than I did,” says Routh. “He was in something brand new. He’s handling it well. He’s seems to be a sensible guy. He’s not getting a big head.”
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 25, 2009 5:32 AM
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Comic-Con: Disney 3-D Panel Showcases Burton, Depp, Zemeckis, Tron Legacy

Thursday was a long day. The official Comic-Con movie program began in Hall H with Disney's 3-D panel. "A lot of you are going to stay here all day," said host Patton Oswalt. The 6000-strong crowd roared. Bob Zemeckis broke his Comic-Con cherry with footage from the start of Christmas Carol, which stars Jim Carrey in five roles. Instead of heavy make-up, it's the Zemeckis brand of motion capture (in 3D and IMAX 3D), which I find stilted. (People tell me that seeing Polar Express in IMAX was transformative.) The audience went "Ooooh" when they first put on their 3D glasses as Scrooge inspected Marley's dead body and was visited by his green, chained ghost. "It's a ghost story," Zemeckis said.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 24, 2009 3:12 AM
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Comic-Con: Cameron Wows with Avatar

Twentieth Century Fox co-chairman Tom Rothman came down to San Diego to intro James Cameron, who in turn presented 24 minutes of footage from Avatar. The studio has backed Cameron's R & D for the dozen years since Titanic. After earning credibility with the deep sea documentary world with a series of 3D docs, Cameron finally opted to chase the promise of advanced 3-D motion-capture with an original story that had been sitting in his drawer for 14 years. But no matter how fabulous this movie looks--and it wowed Hall H, the perfect target audience for a sci-fi adventure--Fox has to market this movie without major stars, branding and the kind of wide release a blockbuster usually commands. That's why they're showing 15 minutes of footage, free, on Avatar Day on August 21 on 35 IMAX theaters around the world.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 24, 2009 3:11 AM
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Comic-Con: Twilight: New Moon Press Conference

About 600 people camped overnight to get into the Twilight: New Moon panel, which started at 1:45 PM in Hall H. Some came from as far away as the Philippines. But first there was a press conference at the Biltmore Hilton adjacent to the gigantic blocks long convention enter, which at 9 Thursday morning was already a sea of jostling people.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 23, 2009 6:17 AM
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#SDCC Looks: Iron Man 2, Whiteout, Nightmare on Elm Street

As I head to San Diego for my umpteenth Comic-Con, I feel equal parts anticipation and dread. It's fun and I'll learn a lot that I want to know--but it's exhausting, large-crowd, insane circus fun.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 22, 2009 6:36 AM
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Public Enemies: Goldenthal Returns to Studio Score

The only Oscar I ever held belonged to Elliot Goldenthal, who won for his diverse, Mexican-tinged score for partner Julie Taymor's Frida. The New York couple (together since 1984) are equally serious about opera, film and musical theater, which all demand very different skill sets.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 22, 2009 6:30 AM
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Trailer Watch: Alice in Wonderland Heads for #SDCC

You have to hand it to Tim Burton. As crazy awful as Hollywood can be, this canny visual stylist somehow manages to hang onto his imagination and personal imprint while navigating the studio system with aplomb. And most of his films--even art-house opera Sweeney Todd--are accessibly commercial. (Next up: a remake of my fave childhood vampire soap opera, Dark Shadows.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 22, 2009 3:08 AM
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Fox Searchlight's Crazy Heart Acquisition Marks Changing Market

In one of the first acquisitions since Peter Rice left Fox Searchlight to run Fox TV, Searchlight co-presidents Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula acquired worldwide rights to rookie director Scott Cooper's Crazy Heart, which stars Jeff Bridges as an aging country star and Maggie Gyllenhaal as a young reporter. T-Bone Burnett supervised a country music soundtrack. The distrib paid low seven figures. "We just liked it," says one Searchlight executive.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 21, 2009 6:49 AM
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Risky Business: Comic-Con Comes of Age

Post-Twilight, Comic-Con comes of age. And yet, it can be risky to chase after that fan buzz. Memorable duds in Hall H include The Spirit and Zathura. When a movie isn't working, the fans sniff it out. But when it does--300 and Superman Returns are vivid examples--they turn up to see the movie in droves. How it plays in theaters is another matter. Watchmen was a hit in Hall H last year--but the good buzz didn't guarantee a wide appeal commercial movie.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 21, 2009 6:45 AM
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