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Thompson on Hollywood

Academy Watch: Star Trek VFX Show-and-Tell

Visual effects wonks (like me) who are lucky enough to live in L.A. may want to show up on Thursday, November 18 for the Academy's Science and Technology Council program “Visualize This: Previs in the Making of Star Trek." Using clips and behind-the-scenes footage, a panel led by Star Trek writer-producer Damon Lindelof (Lost, Cowboys & Aliens) will explore the challenges and opportunities of the previsualization (previs) process at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 10, 2010 9:31 AM
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Tsui Hark's "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" Lands U.S. Distrib

One of the best films I saw in Venice, Hong Kong action maestro Tsui Hark's Detective Dee and The Mystery of the Phantom Flame, finally landed a U.S. release from new distributor Indomina Releasing, which has been on a buying spree lately and coughed up nearly $500,000, reports Film Business Asia, to acquire the rip-roaring action epic, which was a big hit in China (trailer below).
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 9, 2010 4:35 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Vanguard Films Forms Alliance with "Kung Fu Panda"'s Stevenson and Moviemill

John Williams' Vanguard Films has inked an overall producing and directing deal with John Stevenson (Kung Fu Panda) and formed a financing and distribution alliance with former president of Lakeshore International Peter Rogers' new company Moviemill.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 8, 2010 9:32 AM
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AFM News: Rabbit Hole's Aaron Eckhart Goes Mainstream with Actioner The Expatriate

Aaron Eckhart, who's getting Oscar buzz for the upcoming John Cameron Mitchell drama Rabbit Hole opposite Nicole Kidman (December 17) and played Harvey Dent/Two Face in The Dark Knight, is finalizing negotiations to star as an ex-CIA agent in The Expatriate, an action-thriller and father-daughter drama from A.E. Amel's original screenplay. Philipp Stölzl (North Face, Goethe!) will direct what Essential Entertainment executive producer John Fremes calls "a kinetic commercial thriller" with worldwide appeal. Essential is producing along with Informant Media and Smash Media. Shooting is intended for early 2011 in Belgium and Montreal.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • November 4, 2010 7:22 AM
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AFM News: FilmDistrict Acquires Drive, Starring Gosling and Mulligan

FilmDistrict has picked up Drive, the Ryan Gosling/Carey Mulligan action film currently shooting in Los Angeles with director Nicolas Winding Refn (Valhalla Rising, Bronson), which is selling at the American Film Market.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • November 3, 2010 7:52 AM
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IFC Films to Re-Release Landmark Documentary Shoah

IFC Films is re-releasing Claude Lanzmann's nine-and-a-half hour landmark French documentary, Shoah to celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary. On December 10 the film will screen at New York City's Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and at the IFC Center on Christmas Eve; it will break nationally in the new year.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • November 2, 2010 5:05 AM
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Three Features In Works from BBC Earth and Reliance Big Entertainment Partnership; Two in 3-D

BBC Earth (2007's Earth) and India's Reliance Big Entertainment are partnering on three films; Reliance's IM Global will distribute. The three films are: $65 million live-action/CGI Walking with Dinosaurs 3D, directed by Pierre De Lespinois and Neil Nightingale, which will use groundbreaking 3-D cameras and LIDAR (Light, Detection and Ranging) technology; $25-million documentary feature Africa 3D, and documentary feature Life, from co-directors Mike Gunton and Martha Holmes, which follows a series of animal kingdom life-cycle stories.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • November 1, 2010 4:51 AM
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New Distribs FilmDistrict and Wrekin Hill Make Moves

The two new indie film distribs on the block both made announcements Monday. FilmDistrict has made its first pick-up, Soul Surfer, for wide release April 15, 2011. And Chris Ball's Wrekin Hill Entertainment has pacted with Lionsgate Home Entertainment for exclusive U.S. distribution rights for DVD, Blu-ray, digital delivery and VOD. Ex-Newmarket Films president Ball is prepping the December 29 release of Peter Weir's The Way Back, starring Colin Farrell, Ed Harris and Jim Sturgess, via Newmarket. He expects to make several acquisitions announcements shortly.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 1, 2010 4:16 AM
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  • 2 Comments

MGM Lenders Approve Spyglass Takeover Bid

The MGM lion has had many lives--the fabled studio has run through many chiefs over the decades, but Carl Icahn is not going to be one of them. Mary Parent is gone, and so is Harry Sloan, as well as UA's Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner. Finally, we know, the newest chieftans are the Spyglass duo Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber; their plan to take over the studio after it emerges from bankruptcy has been approved by MGM's lenders, reports the LAT. The vote was delayed when Lionsgate's largest shareholder, agitator Carl Icahn, tried to mount a rival bid to buy MGM's debt for 53 cents on the dollar. Icahn also owns about 12% of MGM's debt, or $500 million.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 29, 2010 10:28 AM
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More: News, Hollywood

Columbia's Tolmach and Belgrad Split; Tolmach Goes Indie Prod with Spider-Man, Belgrad Solo Prexy

The seven-year Columbia tenure of Matt Tolmach and Doug Belgrad has come to an end. Co-president since 2008, Tolmach is moving on to launch a new production company--he has a three-year contract-- and starting in December, will join with Marvel and Laura Ziskin on the next iteration of Spider-Man, a series he has shepherded since 2002. (Not a bad way to launch a solo career.) At the end of November, Belgrad will take over the solo reins at Columbia. He is bringing on Hannah Minghella as his new president of production. She has been president of Sony Pictures Animation since 2008, where she supervised Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and the upcoming Arthur Christmas, The Pirates!, and Hotel Transylvania>
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 29, 2010 5:22 AM
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