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Thompson on Hollywood

Comic-Con Aids Independents

Comic-Con Aids Independents
Producer-turned-director Matthew Vaughn needs a hit. Layer Cake was a great audition piece, but Stardust was a flop. Much is riding on his next indie venture, the indie-financed $45 million action picture Kick-Ass, which no studio would finance. In an unusual move, Vaughn took 11-minutes of footage of the Hard-R movie (adapted by Jane Goldman from the Mark Millar comic) to Comic-Con, to rouse the fans. From the stage in the cavernous Hall H he exhorted them to vote with their thumbs. The plan: to boost its value with a North American distributor.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 3, 2009 11:46 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Comic-Con: Iron Man 2

The audience in Hall H was ramped up for Iron Man 2. They booed moderator Scott Mantz of Access Hollywood, who plowed on. (I had read some Tweets complaining about him earlier today.) Sure enough, he was flustered and not in tune with the Hall H crowd, which is fairly sophisticated.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 27, 2009 5:28 AM
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#SDCC Looks: Iron Man 2, Whiteout, Nightmare on Elm Street

As I head to San Diego for my umpteenth Comic-Con, I feel equal parts anticipation and dread. It's fun and I'll learn a lot that I want to know--but it's exhausting, large-crowd, insane circus fun.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 22, 2009 6:36 AM
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Master and Commander Redux

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World has all the elements of the kind of movie that keeps studio heads up at night: it's literary (based on the Patrick O'Brian seafaring series), period (Napoleonic), expensive (close to $150 million), packed with action (swords, pistols, rifles and cannons) and VFX (ships at sea under fire). That's why, even though the Napoleonic adventure movie looks like a success, grossing $209.5 million worldwide, it was a nail biter for Twentieth Century Fox co-chairman Tom Rothman at the time. (He took on partners in the venture, and had to push back the release to get the FX finished.) The well-reviewed awards contender (nominated for ten Oscars, it won two) barely made its production and marketing costs back. (Here's my NYT story from 2003.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 20, 2009 6:58 AM
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Transformers: ROTF Passes $300 Million

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen has passed the $300 million in 14 days. The sequel is so hugely successful that it encourages the studios to keep pursuing the same dispiriting tentpole dream. It's not a question of Michael Bay being a crap director. He's clearly in the zone of knowing what audiences want to see. I just worry that the studios will neglect creating original franchises in the first place, which demand creativity and imagination.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 8, 2009 8:16 AM
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Public Enemies: Can Depp Save Mann's HD Biopic?

Universal is counting on one thing to open Michael Mann's Public Enemies: Johnny Depp. According to The Ulmer Scale, he's the second most popular movie star in the world, after Will Smith. That's based on his hugely successful roles as broadly comedic, over-the-top Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. But while Sweeney Todd wouldn't have done as well without him, Depp can only move the needle so far.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 29, 2009 5:59 AM
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Paramount Scores Orci and Kurtzman Project

It's not surprising that new Paramount production head Adam Goodman took advantage of his DreamWorks insider status and nabbed a high-profile project, License to Steal, from the super-hot screenwriter-producing team Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. This buy of an overtly commercial Salon feature about globe-trotting Repo men chasing luxury planes and boats was pursued by several top directors and producers. It signals that an inside-Hollywood pro is back in charge, and the once-quiet studio is back in buying mode. When Paramount put into turnaround projects such as John Carter of Mars and Twilight , that sent another signal: the studio didn't recognize potential franchises.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 29, 2009 5:43 AM
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Transformers' LaBoeuf: Troubled Star

What a difference two years makes. The picture on left of Shia LaBeouf ran in Parade Magazine when Disturbia made him into a star. The photo on the right ran this week in Parade in advance of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. (Here's http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117940483.html?categoryid=31&cs=1">Variety's review.) We all know that talent is only one component of a long and happy career. Stability is another. Or to put it another way, sometimes the sensitive tuning rod that is essential to a working actor's skill set isn't screwed on tight enough. LaBeouf speaks frankly about his demons. I wish him well in dealing with them.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 16, 2009 7:16 AM
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Tarantino Update

In my interview with Quentin Tarantino, he admits that he plans to go back to the editing room with Inglourious Basterds this June. He rushed the movie, getting it done in less than a year to make Cannes, and delivered a cinephile's fantasy:
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 25, 2009 8:25 AM
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Inglourious Basterds: Tarantino Talks

As Cannes wound down, writer-director Quentin Tarantino sat down for an interview about his long-awaited World War II opus, Inglourious Basterds. We talked about issues of structure, length and purpose:
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 23, 2009 7:37 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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