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Thompson on Hollywood

Lousy Christmas Weekend Box Office: Little Fockers Beats True Grit, Best Coens Opening Ever

At a horrendous Christmas weekend---which saw a 44% three-day drop in grosses over last year (flush with Avatar)---sequel comedy Little Fockers beat out adult western True Grit, the best--and widest--opening ever for a Coen brothers movie. It's likely that the well-reviewed oater will have longer legs, however, as it settles in for the long Oscar haul.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 26, 2010 7:03 AM
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  • 5 Comments

How Ryan Kavanaugh Can Save the Movies

How Ryan Kavanaugh Can Save the Movies
Indie producer Cotty Chubb has a modest proposal for Relativity chief Ryan Kavanaugh that could save the movies. (Chubb wants the studios to be involved, which may be part of the problem.)The movie business is being strangled. For a professionally produced picture to succeed, it must be released theatrically. But not every movie is fit for 3,000 screens or appropriate only to educated adults, the twin poles of distribution today. And there is almost no middle ground.
  • By Cotty Chubb
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  • December 23, 2010 9:25 AM
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  • 27 Comments

WikiLeaks Reveal Bush Administration Attacks on Michael Moore

Michael Moore is nothing if not paranoid, but it looks like he has reason to be. When he reads through all the WikiLeaks cables, his own name crops up, more than once. It seems that the Bush administration was genuinely threatened by the damage that Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 could do. But the more the White House tried to hurt the movie, the more it fueled its success, Moore writes. Another WikiLeaks Cable from the Bush Administration About My Movies ...a note from Michael Moore
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 23, 2010 6:45 AM
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The Coens' History of Mustaches

Hailee Steinfeld holds her own against Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin in almost every category of True Grit's manliness, but she just can't compete in the mustache competition. NYMag calls Damon's 'stache a "spectacular, instantly iconic, old-timey mustache, which builds on the Coens' proud tradition of decorating their characters with some of the finest nose curtains in all of cinema." But even if his mustache surpasses Bridges' and Brolin's in this Western, he has competition from many Coens characters who preceed him. Check out NYMag's "Stach-o-Meter (which grades on a scale of Zorro to Gene Shalit)".
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • December 23, 2010 6:40 AM
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Holiday Box Office Preview: True Grit vs. Little Fockers

Every year the studios dream of scooping up Christmas holiday sugar plums. Will they find them this season? Anthony D'Alessandro makes a fearless holiday box office forecast:What present do the majors want to open under the Christmas tree? A box office full of cash. "There’s no better time of year for adult moviegoing then the week between Christmas and New Year’s,” says Paramount distribution exec vp Don Harris. “Good movies play well to everybody. The play’s the thing.”
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • December 23, 2010 1:58 AM
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  • 2 Comments

Production Watch: Bale in Nanjing Heroes, Dark Knight Rises; Stone & Garfield In Spiderman(s)

- China's premiere director Zhang Yimou (Hero, the Beijing Olympic Games) has named Christian Bale to star in Nanjing Heroes. The $90 million period epic tells the story of the Nanjing Massacre, when Japanese troops killed thousands of Chinese in the capital city (1937). Bale will play an American priest who assists citizens in escaping impending death. Zhang also announced the hiring of special effects house Dark Side FX (The Dark Knight). The film will mix English and Mandarin (40/60), he said. No Chinese film or director has ever taken home an Academy Award in a major category. (Zhang himself had back-to-back Oscar nominations for Ju Dou in 1990 and Raise the Red Lantern in 1991.) "It's the overall strategy for Chinese cinema to approach the world and broaden its influence," Zhang told THR. The casting of Bale was not a box office ploy, but rather "a coincidence because the script happened to have an English-speaking part in the lead." Shooting Nanjing Heroes will begin shooting January 10. Bale will be due on The Dark Knight Rises set May 2011.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • December 22, 2010 6:45 AM
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  • 0 Comments

What Went Wrong with Hollywood Romantic Comedies?

What Went Wrong with Hollywood Romantic Comedies?
What went wrong with the romantic comedy genre this year? Have the Hollywood studios lost the winning formula for pulling the date crowd? Anthony D'Alessandro lists five reasons why the rom-com has lost its mojo:Hollywood enjoyed a lovely honeymoon with romantic comedies in 2009 with such hits as The Proposal ($164 million) and It’s Complicated ($112.7 million). But this year, the genre has been nothing but a forgettable one-night stand at the domestic B.O. James L. Brooks’ $110 million Reese Witherspoon headliner How Do You Know is the latest rom-com in a long string to break its heels, opening to a tear-jerking $7.5 million. But Reese Witherspoon isn’t the only American Sweetheart with runs in her stockings: cover girls Jennifer Aniston, Anne Hathaway, Rachel McAdams and Katherine Heigl also lost face with fickle moviegoers.
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • December 21, 2010 8:49 AM
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  • 18 Comments

Black Swan Psychology Art vs. Science; Sex vs. Sexy: Which Sells Movies?

Black Swan Psychology Art vs. Science; Sex vs. Sexy: Which Sells Movies?
- Black Swan offers fuel for an Art vs. Science debate. Consider these professional-opinion-posturings on Black Swan ballerina Nina (Natalie Portman) and her mental state. Nadine Kaslow (Dept. of Psychiatry, Emory University) says: "It was intense and disturbing and fascinating and mysterious…What was a hallucination and what was real? When people are psychotic, it's difficult, even as a therapist, to know what's real and what's not."
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • December 21, 2010 4:42 AM
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  • 2 Comments

Scott's State of Cinema, Firth's King George Speech, Franco Fights Boredom

A year from now, most 2010 releases will be forgotten, to be replaced by sequels and flashy remakes. As the first decade of the twenty-first century closes, the NYT's A.O. Scott explores the themes of 2010 (defining the first year of the new decade, perhaps). He shares thirty examples of films from 2010 that "defy expectations and break patterns." 2010 will only become the "answer to a trivia question" for films that maintain their relevance over time, he asserts. Was 2010 a good year in film? "Who cares?…The movies — good and bad alike — shed a blinking, blurry light on the times, illuminating our collective fears, fantasies and failures of will." Below, a sampling of his postulations on the Cinematic State of Things:
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • December 20, 2010 5:35 AM
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Weekend Box Office: TRON: Legacy Scores Big, How Do You Know is Non-Starter

Disney scored a big, not boffo, opening with 3-D sequel TRON: Legacy, which delivers a level of 3-D VFX not seen since James Cameron's Avatar. Clearly, the wow factor still puts butts in seats, but the movie cost more than $150 million. Who knew Jeff Bridges would win an Oscar and become a star in his 60s? He plays two roles in TRON, including his digital younger self. Stumbling out of the starting gate is James L. Brooks' $110 million not-so-romantic comedy How Do You Know, which was savaged by critics. Anthony D'Alessandro does the numbers:
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • December 19, 2010 4:43 AM
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  • 12 Comments

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