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Thompson on Hollywood

Hanna Earns Early Raves: "Futuristic Fairy Tale, Arthouse Action Movie, Chase Thriller"

Director Joe Wright delivers a tour-de-force E-ride thriller with Focus Features's Hanna, starring an athletic Saoirse Ronan, who able carries the movie, supported by Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana. But don't expect much depth--or dialogue for that matter-- from the director of Atonement and Pride & Prejudice. The movie sets up its premise: Hanna has been raised in isolation by protective parent Bana, and enters the world prepared to defend herself from Blanchett and her agents who are out to kill her. Then a masterfully executed chase ensues. Look out for one of Wright's signature long takes.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 31, 2011 7:00 AM
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CinemaCon Update: James Cameron, George Lucas, Jeff Katzenberg Talk Cinema's Digital Future

Stunts, legendary studio executives and name auteurs with an eye on the digital future were de rigueur during Wednesday’s CinemaCon. Anthony D'Alessandro digests the latest news from Las Vegas. In a CinemaCon 3-D powwow with directors George Lucas, James Cameron and DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, the trio continued to tub-thump the visual format, while warning attendees that 3-D shouldn’t be used frivolously by the studios to pad grosses. Cameron soapboxed the same philosophy about wasteful 3-D pics that he has been vocalizing since last summer, when he attacked Weinstein Co.’s Piranha 3D. The Wrap reported Cameron's lament: “I’m concerned about things that erode the market. Bad 3-D is one of them.” Haste leads to waste, Katzenberg further pointed out, using Warner Bros.' last-minute transformation of Clash of the Titans as an example. Good 3-D transformations take from six to eight months, not weeks.
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • March 31, 2011 5:31 AM
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CinemaCon: DreamWorks and Disney/Pixar Previews, Fithian Pins B.O. Recovery Hopes on 3-D, Summer

Here's a quick overview of news coming out of CinemaCon, the annual theater owners' convention in Las Vegas, from Anthony D'Alessandro: Following new MPAA Chairman Christopher Dodd’s speech Tuesday, National Association of Theatre Owners President and CEO John Fithian gave his State of the Industry address to CinemaCon attendees, insisting that all exhibitors must convert to digital. He also presented stats about the ever-expanding moviegoing audience--despite 2011’s low admissions. An astonishing 34 3-D films will unspool this year versus 2010's 25, Fithian said:
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • March 30, 2011 8:09 AM
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Watch: Six Minutes of Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch

Plus: Check out Sucker Punch's reviews and performance at last weekend's box office.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 30, 2011 7:20 AM
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CinemaCon: Paramount's Super 8 and China Hopes Buoy Depressed Exhibs

CinemaCon, the annual exhibitor convention, is under way in Las Vegas, as studios show their summer reels in hopes of reviving theater owners' flagging spirits during a prolonged box office downturn. Anthony D'Alessandro reports:
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • March 29, 2011 12:25 PM
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Weekend Box Office: Wimpy Kid Steals Sucker Punch's Lunch

Weekend Box Office: Wimpy Kid Steals Sucker Punch's Lunch
The weekend started out strong for Zack Snyder's much-anticipated Sucker Punch, but ended better for family sequel Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules, reports Anthony D'Alessandro:Talk about the boys stealing the girls’ lunch: Fox’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules was the big man at the box office bullying the No. 1 spot away with $24.4 million from Warner Bros.’ kewpie dolls action flick Sucker Punch, which fell wounded in second with $19 million. Although Sucker Punch ruled Friday with $8 million, fanboys turned their backs on the film Saturday with a day-to-day drop of 17%.  Meanwhile, Rodrick Rules rallied a 39% spike Saturday thanks to family matinees. The weekend box office illustrates that a robust film campaign for an original title (Warners' Sucker Punch) is no match for a pre-sold brand (Fox's kid lit franchise Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  See Box Office Chart, film details, review links and trailers below.
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • March 27, 2011 4:54 AM
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  • 2 Comments

Hollywood Produces More of Same as Box Office Dwindles

Hollywood Produces More of Same as Box Office Dwindles
"It's content," says Warner Bros. distribution chief Dan Fellman of the continuing downward trend at the box office in 2011. What that means is that the movies being churned out by the studios during the first quarter are not connecting with audiences. Fellman denies that the young male demo has departed the multiplex: just wait until Hangover 2, he says, along with all the commercial films coming this summer. Warners will present a show reel of their upcoming product to exhibitors at the new NATO-controlled CinemaCon next week, where Paramount is expected to screen 22 minutes of J.J. Abrams' Super 8, among other reels.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 25, 2011 9:46 AM
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  • 4 Comments

Chasing Fan Boys, from Sucker Punch and Wanted to Superman and The Dark Knight Rises

Chasing Fan Boys, from Sucker Punch and Wanted to Superman and The Dark Knight Rises
With the annual box office at $1.93 billion, down 21% from last year, the film industry is holding out for a hero. Many were looking for succor from this weekend's Sucker Punch, the latest offering by director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen), a visually gifted fanboy who knows what guys want. Anthony D'Alessandro examines the film's assets and liabilities and reports on why Hollywood likes to target the fanboy demo, from Wanted to Superman and The Dark Knight Rises. Inspired by Japanese Anime and the adult cartoon Heavy Metal, Sucker Punch, co-written by Snyder and his college buddy Steve Shibuya, follows a band of female mental patients who retreat into their own hyper-violent fantasy world as they plot to break out of a 60s insane asylum. Going into the weekend, Sucker Punch's tracking drew well ahead of Fox’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, a family sequel that should score in the high teens over three days. But with current estimates pegging the film at a low $20-million bow, Sucker Punch is looking to be a gamble stateside for distributor/co-financier Warner Bros. Here’s what Sucker Punch faces at the box office:
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • March 25, 2011 6:35 AM
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  • 6 Comments

Weekend Preview: Sucker Punch and Wimpy Kid vs. Indies

The weekend brings few mainstream releases -- just Sucker Punch and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (each mark 27% of Fandango's pre-sales, as of Thursday). If you are seeking something new, you may want to check out indie offerings from well-reviewed doc My Perestroika to Francois Ozon's delightful 70s feminist comedy Potiche starring Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu. Details, reviews and trailers are below.
  • By Anne Thompson and Sophia Savage
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  • March 25, 2011 1:52 AM
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Breaking Dawn Will Not Be First R-Rated Twilight Movie, Summit Confirms

During his promotional rounds for Water for Elephants, E.W. and Vanity Fair cover-boy Rob Pattinson talks about life beyond Twilight -- "I literally feel like we’ve been doing it my whole life" he says, and the upcoming Breaking Dawn movies.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 24, 2011 7:24 AM
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  • 15 Comments

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