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Thompson on Hollywood

News Wrap: Abrams Opens Up on Super 8 Secrets, Apple Threatens Cable, Boondock Saints Web Sequel

During production on Super 8, director J. J. Abrams was notably secretive--as producer Steven Spielberg likes to be as well, preserving the mystery, hiding the alien. Now that the film has delivered a strong $35.5 million opening weekend, he is being less tight-lipped. [SPOILER ALERT] In an interview with MTV, Abrams was open about the many-limbed, mysterious monster in the film. He noted that Neville Page, the same man who created the monster in his 2008 film, Cloverfield, designed the creature for Super 8, but there was no “same-universe” connection. “They actually look very different,” he said, “but they both have two eyes, a nose and a mouth. So, in that regard, it also looks a lot like Laurence Olivier!" He said creating the creature was a balance; the alien needed to be scary, but also relatable, something that could be “full of rage and also could be emotional and nuanced.” (The bar for scary/relatable alien design was really set by District 9.)
  • By Maggie Lange
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  • June 15, 2011 3:58 AM
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Netflix Lands Streaming Rights to Mad Men Reruns

Netflix has scored another coup, landing exclusive streaming rights to Mad Men reruns from Lionsgate TV, reports Variety:Episodes from the AMC drama's first four seasons will bow July 27. Deal covers all seven seasons of the Emmy-winning drama. Pact is believed to be worth nearly $1 million an episode for the series. It's believed that Netflix will be the primary off-net window for the series, given the high price tag.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 5, 2011 11:20 AM
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Fandor Streams Indie Video: Sundance Meets Netflix

Fandor Streams Indie Video: Sundance Meets Netflix
Finally, the promise of streaming movies has become a practical reality, from Amazon to Netflix. But as multiple indie sites come and go (from Jaman and Mubi to Spout), on the eve of SXSW, a new indie site launches Wednesday, Fandor, that promises a better subscription indie streaming service via its website and Facebook. For $10 a month, you can browse, sample, clip and stream its library of 2500 films, from Fritz Lang and Maya Deren classics to Alex Cox and Derek Jarman indies or Sundance docs. (Shorts are in the mix too, especially as a mobile app comes online.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 9, 2011 4:58 AM
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  • 2 Comments

Six Reasons Why Hollywood Box Office is Dipping, from Avatar vs. Tron to Snow vs. Netflix

Six Reasons Why Hollywood Box Office is Dipping, from Avatar vs. Tron to Snow vs. Netflix
After the MPAA released its latest figures Wednesday, in a conference call acting chief Bob Pisano and National Association of Theater Owners chief John Fithian tried to make the best of a bad situation. As usual, the MPAA blamed piracy on declining admissions (down 5% to 1.3 billion in 2010), while both hailed premium digital 3-D revenues and the continued expansion of 3-D screens and production. Sure, with 25 films released in 3-D in 2010, up from 20 in 2009, 3-D has temporarily staved off disaster at the box office. But despite Fithian's insistence that revenues are what count, a downward slide on admissions is not a good thing.
  • By Anne Thompson and Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • February 24, 2011 11:38 AM
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  • 10 Comments

Video: Hulu Pacts with Criterion--And Netflix Couldn't Care Less

Reaction is mixed to news that Hulu and Criterion Collection have announced an exclusive new content partnership that will bring more than 800 titles to the Hulu Plus subscription service, including works from such auteurs as Ingmar Bergman, Charlie Chaplin, Federico Fellini, Jean-Luc Godard, Akira Kurosawa, François Truffaut and Orson Welles.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • February 17, 2011 6:19 AM
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Digital Viewing Transition: The Rise of Netflix

Digital Viewing Transition: The Rise of Netflix
In their excellent year-ahead discussion on KCRW's The Business, host Kim Masters and guests John Horn (the LAT) and Michael Schneider (Variety) agreed that 2011 marks a watershed year in the transition from traditional to digital viewing choices. They think the shift will come faster for movies than television. "The studios are burning along with huge overhead and a lot of movies that aren't working," says Masters, a confessed Luddite who defends theater-going.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • January 6, 2011 2:03 AM
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  • 1 Comment

New Living Room: from Netflix Streaming to Google TV

At book group last night, we not only picked David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas (in development with the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer), but debated the relative merits of TiVo and Roku, the best way to get Netflix streaming on TV and the breadth of the Netflix catalogue of free-stream titles. I use my PS3 and a disc to get my Netflix "watch-instantly" queue to pop up on my TV. The other night on a whim, I clicked play and watched the enjoyable Anna Wintour doc The September Issue. More pleasures await me, but I do find it frustrating that many (even older) titles that are in my DVD queue aren't yet available.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 18, 2010 8:19 AM
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Relativity Media's Kavanaugh Takes Over Overture, Becomes Studio Boss

Skeptics of Relativity Media's Ryan Kavanaugh will have to admit that the aggressively ambitious 35-year-old Hollywood upstart is serious about turning his financing operation (he puts up the money for three-quarters of the movies made by Sony and Universal) into a real studio. After six years, the red-haired Wall street operator, who lost his venture capital firm during the 2001 market bust, has earned mogul status with the purchase from Starz of the distribution and marketing staff of Overture Films, which had been on the sales block and recently lost its top two execs, Chris McGurk and Danny Rosett.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 24, 2010 1:00 AM
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TCM Classic Film Festival is Hit, and is Coming Back

Last weekend's TCM Classic Film Festival in LA was such a hit that it's coming back in 2011. TCM targeted an aging demo starving for classic movies and created an event feel, with Q & As and panels, from Danny and Anjelica Huston honoring their father and grandfather in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre to Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (which holds up really well, fresh as a daisy) and the Complete Metropolis accompanied by the Alloy Orchestra, which judging from the interest I'm gauging will do some business. (Leonard Maltin covered the fest like a blanket.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 27, 2010 7:29 AM
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Netflix's Sarandos Talks Streaming, Recommendations, Set Top Boxes

Scott Kirsner, author of Fans, Friends and Followers and the Cinematech blog, recently interviewed Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos at his office in Beverly Hills for Kirsner's "CONVERSATION" series.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 15, 2010 8:31 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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