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Thompson on Hollywood

ILM Talks Cowboys & Aliens Visual Effects

Jon Favreau has long been a practical effects-oriented director, but with Cowboys & Aliens, he had to embrace the digital side, with the help of George Lucas's Industrial Light & Magic. Bill Desowitz talks to the famed VFX house about how they created those pesky aliens. There's nothing more daunting, it seems, than designing a great alien, especially in this ubiquitous post- 9/11 climate for invader movies. You can apply all the latest photoreal tech advancements you like, but if your creature isn't cool and captivating, forget it.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • August 3, 2011 8:24 AM
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Hitchcock Footage Unearthed: Academy to Show Found Reels from First Feature White Shadow

It's been a big year for Hitchcock devotees. First, there was the latest unveiling of the 12-hour audio file from Hitchcock's famous interview with French critic and director Francois Truffaut. Now, the National Film Preservation Foundation and the New Zealand Film Archive have announced their discovery of the opening half-hour of The White Shadow, Hitchcock's first credited film.
  • By Jacob Combs
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  • August 3, 2011 7:39 AM
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EXCLUSIVE: Red Flag To Release Iran Protest Documentary The Green Wave

Laura Kim and Paul Federbush of Red Flag Releasing have acquired stateside rights to distribute Sundance documentary collage The Green Wave. Written and directed by Ali Samadi Ahadi and produced by Jan Krueger and Oliver Stoltz, the doc about the 2009 Iran populist protests also screened at the Washington DC, Seattle and Human Rights Watch film festivals. Red Flag will theatrically release the film around the third anniversary of the Iranian elections in June of 2012. The film’s release will include theatrical, OnDemand, DVD, and digital download channels.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 3, 2011 6:43 AM
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  • 5 Comments

Rise of the Planet of the Apes Delivers: Jaw-Dropping Weta Effects, Strong Reviews

Rise of the Planet of the Apes Delivers: Jaw-Dropping Weta Effects, Strong Reviews
It is a mystery why Twentieth Century Fox took so long to unveil Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which is such a strong summer entry that it might have built up some loud advance buzz. The filmmakers were likely so anxious about the quality of the VFX that they waited until the last minute for improvements. They needn't have worried. This is not another cynical cookie-cutter sequel or remake.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 3, 2011 5:44 AM
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Spurlock Takes Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fan's Hope to Toronto, Starts Hulu Day in the Life Series

Spurlock Takes Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fan's Hope to Toronto, Starts Hulu Day in the Life Series
It's a good day in the eventful life of Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me). In July he promoed his latest book and documentary Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fan's Hope (2012), starring such fan-friendly fanaticals as Kevin Smith, Harry Knowles, Eli Roth, Seth Rogen, Stan Lee and Joss Whedon at Comic-Con's Hall H. Now he's taking the film to the Toronto Film Festival, and announces the first-ever long form original series on Hulu, A Day in the Life.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 3, 2011 5:33 AM
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Casting Watch: Witherspoon Goes Fluffy, Fishburne is Superman's Perry White, Foster Plays Gotti Jr.

Reese Witherspoon's next project is a Disney fluff piece called Wish List, about a girl whose wishes do not come true because the coin she throws into the well never reaches its bottom. Twenty-five years later, Witherspoon enters as that girl's older self, a careerist who has lost the imagination of her childhood. The coin finally drops, and she is left to deal with the fallout from ten 25-year old wishes being fulfilled en masse.
  • By Jacob Combs
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  • August 3, 2011 4:54 AM
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  • 2 Comments

Academy Announces Honorary Oscars and Hersholt Award-Winner; Sherak Re-Elected to Third Term

Academy Announces Honorary Oscars and Hersholt Award-Winner; Sherak Re-Elected to Third Term
The Academy Board of Governors met Tuesday night and re-elected president Tom Sherak for a third consecutive one-year term, and chose the recipients of this year's Honorary Oscar statuettes to be given out at the third annual Governor's Awards. Veteran actor James Earl Jones and famed make-up artist Dick Smith will get Honorary Awards for “extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.”
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 3, 2011 4:49 AM
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Summit To Shoot Step Up 4 with Model Ryan Guzman and So You Think You Can Dance's Kathryn McCormick

What's the biggest dance movie franchise in Hollywood history? It's Summit Entertainment's Step Up movies, which Disney launched on August 11, 2006. The first two grossed $265 million worldwide, and the third went 3-D in August 2010 and delivered another $165 million for a total $430 million worldwide.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 2, 2011 11:31 AM
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The Change-Up Premieres in Westwood: Bateman, Reynolds, Bullock; Early Reviews

The Change-Up Premieres in Westwood: Bateman, Reynolds, Bullock; Early Reviews
The studios get freaked when a movie destined to be commercially mainstream plays better for adults. That's because it's in their interest to play better to dumb young males than to, say, smart older females who can't be counted on to show up on an opening weekend. That's why so many awful movies get made that leave me out of their target demo. This was one topic at Monday night's Universal premiere of The Change-Up (August 5, trailer below), which was better than I was expecting. Universal is nervous because the movie is tracking older and female. (Early reviews are trending rotten; here's Metacritic.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 2, 2011 10:57 AM
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Toronto Sees More Doubles: Two Films Each for Weisz, Hoffman, Olsen, Rogen, Shannon, Chastain

Toronto Sees More Doubles: Two Films Each for Weisz, Hoffman, Olsen, Rogen, Shannon, Chastain
Six more actors (here are the first five) are working double time at the Toronto Film Festival this year: Rachel Weisz (360, The Deep Blue Sea), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Ides of March, Moneyball), Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene, Peace, Love & Misunderstanding), Seth Rogen (50/50, Take This Waltz), Michael Shannon (Take Shelter, Machine Gun Preacher) and Jessica Chastain (Coriolanus, Take Shelter). Consider their Toronto track records below. Who will come out on top?
  • By Anne Thompson and Sophia Savage
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  • August 2, 2011 8:29 AM
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  • 7 Comments

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