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Thompson on Hollywood

Greetings from Lucasland

I went up to SF last week with some Variety folks for a meeting at Lucasfilm's Presidio digs, complete with tour. We pulled up at the Letterman Digital Art Center on a gorgeous sunny spring day. The new white buildings fit into the rolling landscape as if they belonged there; George Lucas brought over the same Mission vibe that he had at the Mill Valley Skywalker Ranch. The big new 35 mm/Christie 2K screening room, which holds 296 removeable seats and a computer hook-up, was stunning too. (There are two smaller ones and seven "view stations" as well.) We watched a cool history timeline of ILM FX, from 1977's Star Wars through Willow, The Abyss, T2, and Jurassic Park to particle effects in Twister and the wave in Perfect Storm, as well as some trailers for ILM's summer tentpole trifecta Pirates 3, Transformers (a scary one) and Evan Almighty, which actually looks funny. (Davy Jones' eyes in Pirates 2? CGI.) The Letterman conference room boasts a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge. And a guy named Kevin Woolley actually invented the motion capture suit with dots! The floors are raised 18 inches with fiberoptic cables running under them. The cafeteria boasts a sushi chef and a pizza oven.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 3, 2007 8:54 AM
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300's Miller is Hot

Graphic novelist Frank Miller is on a roll. On some level, all those Batman movies were inspired by his Dark Knight comics. After the back-to-back successes of Sin City and 300, Sin City 2 is well on its way. And now, Warners has acquired Ronin, to be shot 300-style, reports Variety:
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 2, 2007 2:15 AM
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Cotillard is Strong Oscar Contender for Piaf Biopic La Vie en Rose

I've been tracking the French Edith Piaf biopic La Vie en Rose since Picturehouse president Bob Berney picked it up after screening some footage during last May's Cannes Fest. His instincts were correct. The movie, which opens stateside on June 8, is beautifully done. Luckily Piaf's life is so gut-wrenching and the music holds up so well that writer-director Olivier Dahan's rags-to-riches story arc manages to skirt the edges of cliche. It helps that Marion Cotillard's Piaf is a richly-layered, nasty, gifted, wounded character.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 19, 2007 4:49 AM
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Best Brit Directors

Danny Boyle's Sunshine is a hit in the U.K. I can't wait. Until then, we can revel in the Brits' celebration of their superior directing talent pool. The London Telegraph film critics have picked a top 21 list, for some reason, of the best British directors of all time.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 15, 2007 4:54 AM
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300: Model Paradigm for Future Success

As I suggested a few weeks ago, the global blockbuster 300 will have a huge impact on the movie business, because for better or for worse, both aesthetically and economically, it provides a useful new paradigm for how to succeed at the movies. That's why it will be widely imitated: it was made for $64 million, shot (on film, btw) on Montreal soundstages, with actors with no cut of the back-end gross. (Here's Businessweek's take.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 10, 2007 2:19 AM
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Grindhouse Disappoints

Grindhouse did not, as they say, open. It came in fourth with a $11 million gross on 2624 screens with a running time of three hours and 12 minutes.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 8, 2007 5:12 AM
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Grindhouse Premieres in L.A.

After all the Comic-Con build-up and rumors about length, rating and rushing to the finish line, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino delivered their salacious, leering, gross, disgusting, violent B-movie splatterfest in the nick of time to screen it Monday night at L.A.'s downtown movie palace The Orpheum. The movie hits theaters April 6.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 27, 2007 5:23 AM
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Miller Talks 300

(Photo: Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 16, 2007 5:34 AM
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