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Going Inside the Production Design Secrets of 'Walter Mitty'

Designing the "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" was a new experience for Jeff Mann, known for working on such "blunt instruments" as "Tropic Thunder" with Ben Stiller and "Transformers" with Michael Bay. But Stiller definitely had a different mind set for the daydreaming Everyman, full of whimsy and wistfulness, and Mann visualized that world in a graphic and poetic way that's certainly worthy of Oscar consideration.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • January 8, 2014 2:05 PM
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Holiday Box Office Top Ten: 'Frozen' and 'Hobbit' Beat Out Newer Films, 'August: Osage County' Opens Flat

´╗┐The post-Christmas weekend can be one of the biggest of the year. And so it was. The top 10 grossed $171 million, up a healthy $17 million from 2012, which nudges the year's totals slightly ahead of 2012. However the strong weekend total comes despite an uneven performance from a wide variety of films. The top three slots went to "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" (at #1 on its third weekend), repeating "The Hobbit"'s three-weekend hold on the top spot, Thanksgiving holdover "Frozen," and "Anchorman 2" in its second weekend.
  • By Tom Brueggemann
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  • December 29, 2013 1:38 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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Crafts Roundup: Editors Talk About the Journeys of Survival and Reinvention

With such an emphasis this year on survival and reinvention, the journeys required special editorial attention to shifts in tone and unconventional arcs while conveying internal struggles that we cared about. Here's a sampling from "12 Years a Slave," "Gravity," "All Is Lost," "American Hustle," "Before Midnight," and "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty."
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 26, 2013 2:10 PM
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What to See and What to Skip in Theaters Over the Long Holiday Weekend

With Christmas comes the big holiday movie weekend, and this year's is no exception with six awards contenders hitting theaters. On December 25, "The Wolf of Wall Street," "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and "Lone Survivor" go wide, while "The Invisible Woman" gets a limited release. Friday, "August: Osage County" and "Labor Day" hit NY/LA.
  • By Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio
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  • December 26, 2013 12:42 AM
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Ben Stiller Talks 'Walter Mitty,' Gets Vulnerable, Puts Audiences First, Critics Last (Six-Minute Trailer)

Ben Stiller is one of the few remaining movie stars--audiences actually turn up to see him. While he does the occasional Noah Baumbach movie, Stiller's a studio animal. He's operating in that narrow band that remains for high-budget mainstream commercial movies aimed at a wide swath of audiences. And he's able to function with relative freedom because of his track record as a comedian (the "Meet the Parents" and "Night at the Museum" series) and producer-writer-director ("Tropic Thunder"). That's a sweet spot indeed.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 24, 2013 2:31 PM
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Crafts Roundup: A Survivor's Journey in Production Design

With the awards season upon us, we're launching a new column, "Crafts Roundup," which examines a different below-the-line category each week. As this particularly striking season is dominated by survival and/or reinvention (both fact-based and fantastical), we're starting off with production design and world building. Here are a few standouts so far:
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • November 21, 2013 11:36 AM
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Critics vs. Academy: Do 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,' 'Saving Mr. Banks,' and 'The Book Thief' Need Great Reviews?

A look at the gap between critics and Academy voters. Will "The Book Thief," "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and "Saving Mr. Banks" scoot past reviewers?
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 18, 2013 5:23 PM
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Mill Valley Film Fest: San Francisco Film Society Losses, Whoopi Goldberg's 'Moms Mabley,' 'Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me,' and Foreign-Language Oscar Entries

It now seems ironic that the first person I chatted with at the delightful opening night cocktail party of the Mill Valley Film Festival, just a week ago, was Ted Hope. The October 9 announcement that he was leaving his post as Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society, parent organization of the San Francisco International Film Festival raced through the Mill Valley Filmmaker's Lounge like wildfire. Hope was seen as, well, a great hope: an extremely successful independent producer with stellar contacts and standing in the international film community. Eventually he found out that fund-raising was the crucial aspect of his new position.
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • October 11, 2013 1:05 PM
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NYFF: Stiller's Fantasy Crowdpleaser 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty' Divides Critics (VIDEO)

A review and roundup of Ben Stiller's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," which recently premiered at NYFF, and a video of the press conference,
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 7, 2013 1:33 PM
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