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Thompson on Hollywood

Links Round-Up: Diamonds, SXSW's Berney, SnagFilm, Digital Distribution

Paramount has acquired this Wired diamond heist story which is online, still not on stands. Variety comfirms that J.J. Abrams will produce.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 16, 2009 9:52 AM
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Nowhere Boy: Weinstein Backs Young Lennon Biopic

New Weinstein Co. honcho Tom Ortenberg has scored his first big buy, Sam Taylor-Wood's Nowhere Boy, a UK feature about the early days of Beatle John Lennon. The picture has been filming for about two weeks; Ortenberg and Harvey Weinstein targeted the pic for a pre-buy in Berlin. They see the film as a possible year-end awards contender. Kristin Scott Thomas plays Lennon's Aunt Mimi, who helped raise him along with his mother Julia. The movie also details young Lennon's close relationship with Quarrymen bandmate Paul McCartney and ends when the early Beatles leave Liverpool for Hamburg, Germany to conquer the world. (I love Malcolm Gladwell's story in The Outliers about how the Beatles put in their 10,000 hours playing long sets in Hamburg.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 16, 2009 8:38 AM
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More: Festivals

SXSW Preview: Comedy, DIY, VOD, Critics

True confession: I am a SXSW newbie. While I've visited Austin, I have never attended this fest, which opens Friday with the Apatowish bromance I Love You, Man, which seems to be a perfect fit for the hip younger groove of SXSW.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 13, 2009 5:07 AM
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More: Festivals, SXSW

SXSW Screens Bruno Footage, Debuts Raimi's Drag Me to Hell

After its success debuting at SXSW such Judd Apatow projects as Forgetting Sarah Marshall last year and Knocked Up the year before, Universal Pics is taking advantage of the hip SXSW demo --and the fest's pre-summer time-frame--to promo two more flicks. The studio will screen the first-ever footage from Bruno, Sacha Baron Cohen's follow-up to Borat, on 3/15 at 11 PM followed at midnight by Sam Raimi's full-length horror title Drag Me to Hell.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 10, 2009 5:15 AM
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Film Fest Musical Chairs: Tribeca, Sundance, LAFF

It's no shock that after six seasons of programming the Tribeca Film Fest, Peter Scarlet is moving on. Rumors of his exit had started to circulate at the Indie Spirit Awards. And word is Scarlet was getting antsy with Robert DeNiro and partner Jane Rosenthal's push for a smaller, event-oriented festival with less room for esoterica even before he learned that Geoff Gilmore, after 19 years running the higher-profile Sundance Film Festival, was coming in to supervise him. (When he announced the job switch, Gilmore told me that he was planning to let Scarlet run this year's Tribeca festival.) But while Scarlet could have opted to stay on board through this April's fest, which had his fingerprints on it, leaving now is an act of protest indeed.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 2, 2009 6:08 AM
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Gilmore Defects from Sundance to Tribeca

Truth is, Geoff Gilmore has been looking to move on from running the Sundance Film Festival for some time. He has been toiling for 19 years in a powerful, influential job--in a non-profit sector. He was at one time attracted to the Warner Independent Pictures gig that went to Mark Gill. The good news with Gilmore's defection March 1 from director of the Sundance Fest to Creative Officer of Tribeca Enterprises, which mounts the Tribeca Film Festival: he's still inside his wheelhouse. He isn't going to pretend to know how to produce or finance movies. But he is excited to be expanding into a bigger arena: New York City. "I've done it for 19 years," says Gilmore on the phone from Dublin. "I'm not sure how much more I could have accomplished. With the problems the film industry faces and what's going on in the independent world, it's the end of a 30-year cycle of growth. There's a distribution bottleneck. It's exciting to me to figure ways to address all that."
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • February 17, 2009 8:30 AM
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More: Festivals

SXSW Announces Strong Line-Up: Hurt Locker, Passing Strange, Sin Nombre

Kathryn Bigelow’s Toronto hit Hurt Locker will screen at SXSW this March, as will Sundance faves Lynn Shelton’s Humpday, Spike Lee’s Passing Strange, Duncan Jones’ Moon, Cary Fukunaga’s Sin Nombre and Greg Mottola’s Adventureland. Launching at the Austin Fest are Gerald Peary's long-awaited doc For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism, Sebastian Gutierrez’s Women in Trouble, Wyatt McDill’s Four Boxes, David Lee Miller’s My Suicide, Tim McCanlie’s The Two Bobs, Brant Sersen’s Splinterheads, Andrew Bujalski’s Beeswax, Joe Swanberg’s Alexander the Last, Nash Edgerton’s The Square, Michael Paul Stephenson’s Best Worst Movie, and John Inwood’s Exterminators. Already announced are opening night film I Love You, Man and Observe and Report, a Centerpiece screening, as well as documentaries Objectified, New World Order, RiP: A Remix Manifesto and Winnebago Man. I'll be going this year, for the first time. Looks like a strong line-up under new fest director Janet Pierson.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • February 3, 2009 2:47 AM
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More: Festivals, SXSW

Sundance Fest Wraps

The Sundance wraps are coming in:
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • January 29, 2009 7:07 AM
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Sundance: Soderbergh Unveils Girlfriend Experience

Steven Soderbergh has always been a supporter of innovation, experimentation and new media. Che goes out on VOD Wednesday while its special roadshow engagement continues, and Soderbergh's 2005 Bubble was the first day-and-date experiment for Marc Cuban and Todd Wagner's 2929 Entertainment and Magnolia Pictures. (Magnolia will release Sundance pickup Humpday on VOD BEFORE it hits theaters.) While Soderbergh knows how to keep costs down on his low-budget experiments (he shot this one in 16 days for $1.7 million), he also knows that if people don't know about a movie, they won't come.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • January 22, 2009 2:28 AM
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Sundance Watch: John Anderson Pounds Jeff Dowd

Opinions fly at the Sundance Film Fest but so did fists Wednesday morning when critic John Anderson, who was covering the 8:30 screening of the agit-prop environmental doc Dirt! The Movie for Variety at the Holiday Cinemas, told producer's rep Jeff "The Dude" Dowd that the movie "was poor, too simplistic, too redundant," says Dowd, who accompanied him over to the nearby Yarrow. When they arrived, Anderson told him their conversation on the movie was "over." The debate that followed got so heated that Anderson punched Dowd twice, once on the lip. I've spoken to both guys, and to Variety chief critic Todd McCarthy, who immediately relieved Anderson of the assignment to review the film. The Yarrow management called the police, who took information from witnesses--Anderson had gone to another screening--but Dowd did not press assault charges.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • January 21, 2009 7:45 AM
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