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Thompson on Hollywood

The Hangover Beats Up, Universal Loses on Land of Lost

Americans who are cinching their belts and making do with less flocked to cinemas over the weekend to watch a group of grown men exercising no restraint whatsoever. The Hangover was the perfect antidote to a nation on a fiscal diet.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 8, 2009 7:15 AM
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Don't Feel Sorry for Michael Bay

Nobody likes Michael Bay. Give the media a big fat target like a Forbes "who is richer" entry, and they will not resist piling on. New York's Vulture even calls him "the mogul of mindlessness." Lest we feel sorry for him, the guy owns Digital Domain and gets 10% of the gross on the Transformers movies (and 8% on the toys). And don't get your hopes up. By all accounts, this summer's installment, as over-pixellated as it looks, will not be a boxoffice disappointment when it opens June 24.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 5, 2009 7:26 AM
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MTV Movie Awards: Twilight, Bruno vs. Eminem

The MTV Movie Awards, hosted by Andy Samberg, were the usual lackluster, pseudo-hip, mainstream youth alternative to the Oscars--and huge Hollywood marketing opportunity. Summer movies from Paramount (Star Trek, Transformers 2 and G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra) and Warner Bros. (The Hangover) got promoed, but the big winner of the night was Summit Entertainment, which colluded with MTV and ardent fans to make the awards show a Twilight lovefest, with five wins.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 1, 2009 7:48 AM
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Cannes Day One: Up Up and Away

Cannes master promoter Thierry Fremaux knows what he is doing: the photo taken from the Debussy stage of the Cannes press corps wearing 3-D glasses will be seen everywhere. (They had to be returned.) I started out the morning in tears during Up , which as Disney chairman Dick Cook puts it, is Pixar's "most emotional film." Co-writers Bob Peterson and Pete Docter took the idea of an old guy who travels in a house carried aloft by balloons to find a lost South American paradise, and worked it over for a good two years before it passed enough muster to go into voice casting and animation.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 13, 2009 4:19 AM
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Star Trek Will Open Huge: $100 Million?

Star Trek will open huge, and some prognosticators are heralding the year's first $100 million weekend. That's not what the advance tracking shows, which is trending toward older males, or what Paramount wants anyone to believe. But word travels fast. And I will bet that the movie will outpace expectations. Even if the "brand"--everyone's favorite word these days--is damaged. Admittedly, my own daughter-of-a-Trekkie, Nora, 19, is not the slightest bit interested in plunking down her ten bucks.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 7, 2009 5:52 AM
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Dark Knight Ripple Effect: Dark Summer Movies

It's not like the Terminator franchise was ever light, exactly. But in the post-Dark Knight era, summer action movies--even Star Trek--are trending dark and edgy, and Terminator Salvation, Angels & Demons, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen certainly fit the bill. Word on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is that's darker than any of its predecessors.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 7, 2009 5:43 AM
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Angels & Demons: Guilty Pleasure

Most studio movies aim at your pleasure center; they're not trying to challenge your brain. But Ron Howard, like Steven Spielberg, is that rare studio hybrid--the quality/commercial filmmaker who likes to turn out both mass-audience blockbusters and Oscar contenders.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 5, 2009 6:03 AM
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Star Trek: Engaging Fun

I saw J.J. Abrams' new Star Trek Friday night, sitting in the front row at the Paramount Studio Theatre. The movie grabbed me from the get-go. Because the Star Trek universe is already established, the filmmakers get away with throwing the audience into a classic stand-off between a Starfleet ship and a frightening Romulan vessel commanded by deadly Nero (Eric Bana). Suddenly lives are at stake and key figures are dead. One survivor of the melee: James T. Kirk. By the time the Star Trek title appeared at the end of this sequence, I was in tears.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 27, 2009 7:17 AM
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Grey Gardens Blurs Lines Between Cable Movies and First-Run

These days, many of the people who aren't interested in what's playing at the multiplex are checking out the new movie opening on HBO instead. Hollywood only has itself to blame. Ignore the adult audience and they'll get out of the moviegoing habit, rent DVDs and subscribe to HBO. This weekend many folks watched the opening of Grey Gardens, starring movie stars Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore (both strong Emmy contenders for Big and Little Edie) instead of going out to see new movie State of Play (which earned a barely respectable 63% on Metacritic to Grey Garden's 77). There was a time when Grey Gardens would have been a theatrical release. Now it's an HBO film--reviewed by the Two Bens on At the Movies:
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 20, 2009 7:21 AM
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Recession Era Movies: From Fast & Furious to Grapes of Wrath

As Fast & Furious does better at the weekend b.o. than it has any right to do--the weekend was up 75-80% from last year-- Entertainment Weekly's Mark Harris sees the first casualty of the recession: ambition. If all audiences want is escape, he worries, that's all the studios and TV networks will give them. "Stop the inanity!" he pleads.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 6, 2009 5:30 AM
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