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Starz Seeks Next Sopranos, Shyamalan Circulates New Script, 3-D Decline, Jonah Hex Misfire

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood June 22, 2010 at 3:32AM

- In a bid to compete with HBO and Showtime, Starz has acquired the U.S. rights to remake the successful and critically acclaimed Aussie drama Underbelly, based on a real life '70s crime family. Former HBO chief Chris Albrecht (who launched The Sopranos) took over as Starz CEO last December. Vulture reports that Underbelly, along with UK show Torchwood and a planned Camelot saga, spearhead Starz's latest programming push. While the crime theme underlines both The Sopranos and Underbelly, it is new for Albrecht to look outside for inspiration. During his twenty-plus years at HBO, he tended to create original programming in-house. Things have changed; old content finds sizable viewership on channels like AMC, and audiences' appeal can be targeted more globally than locally.
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Thompson on Hollywood

- In a bid to compete with HBO and Showtime, Starz has acquired the U.S. rights to remake the successful and critically acclaimed Aussie drama Underbelly, based on a real life '70s crime family. Former HBO chief Chris Albrecht (who launched The Sopranos) took over as Starz CEO last December. Vulture reports that Underbelly, along with UK show Torchwood and a planned Camelot saga, spearhead Starz's latest programming push. While the crime theme underlines both The Sopranos and Underbelly, it is new for Albrecht to look outside for inspiration. During his twenty-plus years at HBO, he tended to create original programming in-house. Things have changed; old content finds sizable viewership on channels like AMC, and audiences' appeal can be targeted more globally than locally.

- Before Paramount opens M. Night Shyamalan's franchise wanna-be The Last Airbender July 1 (marking his first project not based on his own material), the Philadelphia auteur is trying to set up his next film. He has already put his new script into the hands of stars Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow and Shyamalan regular Bruce Willis, reports Heat Vision. Despite a decline in box office clout, Shyamalan is ever-secretive: after top studio executives finish reading his script, Shyamalan's assistant takes it back and leaves. Should any one of the three actors become officially attached, it will up the untitled project's value, natch.

- While we know Disney/Pixar's Toy Story 3 opened strong last weekend ($110.3 million), its percentage from 3-D screens was 11% less than Alice In Wonderland's. What does this signify? Alice may indeed be the film for which 3-D holds the largest draw, reports Variety's Andrew Stewart, who asks if the 3-D craze is coming down from its climax. But Alice didn't have to share 3-D screens the way Toy Story 3 did with Shrek. Also, with bring-the-whole-family franchises, the extra few dollars for 3-D tickets adds up for a family of four. As the first two Toy Story films and the first three Shrek films did just fine without 3-D, fans of those franchises may not see fancy glasses as a necessity the way they did for Alice - which became an event due to Tim Burton, 3-D and Johnny Depp. While many will consider these films in 3-D (and those to come) as essential viewing, some people are still capable of determining for themselves whether they'd be just as satisfied with a good story, good characters, and trusty old 2-D.

Thompson on Hollywood

- Cinematical asserts that any film opening at the same time as Toy Story 3 would have had a hard time. But still, once-promising Jonah Hex failed by any standard, taking in only $5.4million last weekend. Cinematical looks into its failure, examining the casting of Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, John Malkovich and Will Arnett, Crank's writing/directing duo Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor's coming and going, the shift to first time director Jimmy Hayward, the many re-shoots, three film editors, and messy final product that yielded a 14% rotten Tomatometer.

This article is related to: Franchises, Genres, Headliners, Studios, Daily Read, TV, Exhibition, Production , Transformers, Toy Story, Sequel, Comics, Animation, Western, Johnny Depp, Disney , HBO, 3D, VFX


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.