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Thompson on Hollywood

Studios Gets Tough; Sony Puts Moneyball in Play

In the overall scheme of things, a $57-million budget is pocket change to a studio, especially a big-spender like Sony. So why would Sony chairman Amy Pascal risk alienating a star like Brad Pitt and a director like Steven Soderbergh by pulling the plug on baseball movie Moneyball hours before it was to start shooting? She's sending a message to Hollywood, loud and clear. She's asserting her power to just say no. Finally, in this economy, the studios are spending less on fewer available slots. That's also what Brad Grey is signalling at Paramount by ditching production execs John Lesher and Brad Weston: he's saying, "There's no room for error."
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 21, 2009 2:19 AM
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Bruno's Cohen Strikes Gay Poses

We all saw Sacha Baron Cohen in his Bruno guise descend on the face of Eminem at the MTV Movie Awards. Well, not since Zoolander have we seen a straight actor take so many gay poses. Not only is he on the cover of GQ--with more provocative spreads inside--but he looks quite fetching in a Brit military outfit at the Bruno London opening.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 17, 2009 7:04 AM
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Major Studios Won't Consolidate, but Minors May Merge

The economy is a ruthless, Darwinian Master. Only the strong shall survive, and that applies to the mighty studios as well as everyone else. Sure, the theatrical market is holding up pretty well. But for every Fast & Furious, Star Trek and The Hangover there's a cynically bloated flop like Land of the Lost (for which Universal pulled print ads on its second weekend) or Imagine That. (The Wrap was inspired to do a quickie Stars Who Should Worry chart including Will Ferrell and Eddie Murphy, which probably got the site into more trouble than it was worth.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 16, 2009 7:19 AM
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Indie Studio Combine Announced

There's a new producer/distrib/foreign sales combine in the works. DF Indie Studio is led by finance experts Mary Dickinson and Charlene Fisher, who are raising coin. Two years ago they first met with Ted Hope, one of several indie-prods lined up to supply future product for which there is guaranteed U.S. distribution, potentially supervised by consultant Ira Deutchman; ex-Focus and Weinstein Co. foreign sales maverick Glen Basner is set to handle foreign sales. Having domestic release assured would make it easier for producers to raise foreign funding. That's been the scary factor for producers in recent years, as studio specialty distribs have decreased, and even existing ones often refuse to sign on to projects before they are complete.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 15, 2009 7:27 AM
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Produced By Conference: Are Boomers Abandoning Movies?

At the Produced By conference on the Sony lot last weekend, which was organized by Gale Ann Hurd and the Producers Guild, some of the best and brightest in the profession complained that nobody wants to fund movies for grown-ups these days. At Peter Bart's panel, Who Does What?, while producers Kathleen Kennedy and producing partners Lucy Fisher and Doug Wick talked about massaging tender egos, movies made to fill studio slots, fractious shoots turning out better movies than happy ones, and on-set disasters, they also complained that they can't make the films they'd like to make.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 10, 2009 6:20 AM
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The Hangover Beats Up, Universal Loses on Land of Lost

Americans who are cinching their belts and making do with less flocked to cinemas over the weekend to watch a group of grown men exercising no restraint whatsoever. The Hangover was the perfect antidote to a nation on a fiscal diet.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 8, 2009 7:15 AM
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Cannes: Winners and Losers

Who came out ahead and behind on their Cannes jaunt this year?
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 31, 2009 3:02 AM
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ShoWest: Strong Sony Summer Preview

I flew into Vegas Wednesday morning to catch day three of the annual ShoWest exhibitors' confab. I was spoiled by my last plane trip: American Airlines boasted wifi (I couldn't blog on Typepad, though) on both coastal flights for $12.95 each way. No such luck on Southwest today.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 1, 2009 6:15 AM
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Breaking News: Focus Features Goes Global

Rumors have been surrounding various studio subsidiaries and Focus Features is no exception. Here's the breaking story of Focus Features' merger with Universal's International Production Group..
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • January 15, 2009 3:10 AM
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More: Studios

Paramount's Future and DreamWorks' Split

The details of the Paramount/DreamWorks separation are getting nailed down. Paramount sent out a release Sunday that outlines terms of the split and ongoing joint projects. Clearly, the two groups will be partnering on many upcoming pictures. Here's Tatiana Siegel.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 5, 2008 8:49 AM
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