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

by Sophia Savage
June 22, 2010 3:32 AM
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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.


  • Anne Thompson | June 23, 2010 4:34 AMReply

    Megan Fox had nothing to do with whether or not this movie failed. But she needs to be GOOD in something. Anything.

  • Mish | June 23, 2010 3:01 AMReply

    Some commenter, (and I'm sorry I can't remember at what site) speculated that when it became apparent to Warners that Jonah Hex would bomb, they refocused all the marketing on Megan Fox, so as to hang it all around her neck. Guess that would make her the sacrificial lamb to spare everyone else involved. I don't know that that theory is true, but the effect seems to be the same. She is in the movie for 10 minutes, but the mob is out for her blood, as everyone else skates free.

  • DavidC | June 22, 2010 10:14 AMReply

    Starz began this push with Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi's guilty pleasure sex and and gore gladiator series "Spartacus." And "Torchwood," from "Queer as Folk" and "Doctor Who" autuer Russell T. Davies, may be the coolest SF program on earth since "The X-Files." They are off to a very good start, IOW.

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