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Thompson on Hollywood

Talking Benedict Cumberbatch, Dragon Secrets and More with the Oscar-Nominated Sound Editors of 'Smaug'

In returning to Middle-Earth for the second "Hobbit" adventure, "The Desolation of Smaug," Oscar-nominated sound editors Brent Burge and Chris Ward were given a gift with the very hot Benedict Cumberbatch. But when he was first announced, they were apprehensive that his overexposure on "Sherlock" and "Star Trek Into Darkness" might make his voice too familiar. But that all changed when he showed up and got down on his hands and knees, played around with his voice, and became the dragon.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • February 5, 2014 2:53 PM
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Crafts Roundup: Talking VFX with the Five Oscar Nominees

The "Gravity" juggernaut, the surprising entry of "The Lone Ranger," the new and improved "Iron Man 3," the ascendance of "Star Trek Into Darkness" and the J.J. Abrams factor, and the power of the eponymous dragon from "The Desolation of Smaug." We reflect on the great year for VFX with the lead supervisors of all five Oscar nominees.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • January 30, 2014 2:05 PM
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Box Office Top Ten: 'Frozen' Returns to #1 in 7th Week; 'Wolf of Wall Street' Shows Strength

´╗┐Even with inclement weather in the eastern half of the country cutting into attendance, the top 10 came in $4 million ahead of last year. This despite the relative shortfall from this year's standard first weekend opening of a new horror film. "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones" failed to land the #1 spot, unlike two similar films in the last two years, while grossing far below the level for previous entries in its series. This allowed Disney's "Frozen" to return to the #1 spot for the second time in its seven-week run.
  • By Tom Brueggemann
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  • January 5, 2014 12:58 PM
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Box Office Top 13: Holiday Business Spreads the Wealth, Led by 'Hobbit' and 'Wolf of Wall Street,' '47 Ronin' Flops (CHART)

A wide swath of movies shared the Christmas wealth this year. The box office took a distinctively different turn from 2012, when two new wide releases initially dominated the initial business. This year's holdover "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" (Warner Bros.) led both Wednesday and Thursday, unlike last year, when the first "Hobbit" placed third for those two days, behind both "Les Miserables" and "Django Unchained," which grossed $30 and $25 million respectively. No film grossed as much this year -- "The Hobbit" this time around did $19.8 million.
  • By Tom Brueggemann
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  • December 27, 2013 3:57 PM
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Box Office Top Ten: Pre-Holiday Weekend Brings Two Joyful Sequels

The Top Ten surged this pre-holiday weekend, led by two films topping $25 million during a time period that is usually hurt by pre-Christmas shopping. "The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug" led the way, vaulting easily ahead of #1 Friday grosser "Anchorman 2." But both are very solid.
  • By Tom Brueggemann
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  • December 22, 2013 1:27 PM
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Weekend Top Ten: Number One 'Hobbit' Underperforms as 'American Hustle,' 'Frozen' and 'Catching Fire' Sizzle

The second Peter Jackson "Hobbit" film "Desolation of Smaug" is launching well below expectations--and last year's "Hobbit" opening. But despite that and harsh winter weather in much of the country, the weekend top ten total was up by $10 million over last year. Coming to the rescue: strong holds for blockbusters "Frozen" and "Catching Fire" as well as a $15-million opening for Tyler Perry's latest "Madea" entry.
  • By Tom Brueggemann
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  • December 15, 2013 1:10 PM
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Friday Box Office: 'Desolation of Smaug' Down from First 'Hobbit' While 'American Hustle' Scores in Limited Release

"The Hobbit" is off to a decent start this weekend, while "American Hustle" scored high at the box office in limited release, and "Saving Mr. Banks" did okay.
  • By Tom Brueggemann
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  • December 14, 2013 2:15 PM
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Weta's Joe Letteri Talks Animating the Smaug Dragon for 'The Hobbit'

Peter Jackson's well-received second "Hobbit" movie, "The Desolation of Smaug," contains a greater variety of VFX. But, of course, the centerpiece for Weta Digital is Smaug (voiced with menace and charm by Benedict Cumberbatch), the best CG-animated dragon ever created and sure to make a great impression at the Academy bakeoff.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 13, 2013 2:20 PM
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EXCLUSIVE Video: Go Behind the 3-D Scenes with 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' (Plus Best Song Contender 'I See Fire')

As Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" arrives in theaters December 13, a new video has landed with a behind-the-scenes look at the 3D wizardry in the film. Watch below. Plus, read Jackson's letter explaining how he brought singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran on board to pen and perform "I See Fire," which is getting a Best Song Oscar push from Warner Bros. (Sheeran's "I See Fire" video, posted by Jackson, below too.)
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • December 12, 2013 12:58 PM
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'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' a Thrilling Middle Episode of Middle-Earth (REVIEW AND ROUNDUP)

Peter Jackson continues his lighter, more swashbuckling tone with the second Hobbit movie, "The Desolation of Smaug," which serves as a bridge to the much darker and apocalyptic "The Lord of the Rings."
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 6, 2013 1:01 PM
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  • 2 Comments

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