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Thompson on Hollywood

Trailer Watch: Burton's Alice in Wonderland Stars Depp as the Mad Hatter

Tim Burton was born to direct Alice in Wonderland, and Johnny Depp in Tammy Faye makeup isn't bad casting as the Mad Hatter either. Here's the latest trailer. Yes, I know another studio is shamelessly exploiting a brand name. But this "package" I want to see. Burton took elements from both the Lewis Carroll classic and Through the Looking Glass, including lines and imagery from The Jabberwocky. Mia Wasikowska plays Alice, Stephen Fry voices the Cheshire Cat, Anne Hathaway is the White Queen and Michael Sheen is the White Rabbit. On this film, Burton is handling more CG effects and green screen than ever before. He doesn't do much mo-cap, mostly pure animation. Disney releases the film on March 5.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 16, 2009 6:50 AM
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Fall Fest Update, Clooney, Burton, Von Trier, Weinsteins

Festival News:The AFI Festival has selected as its opener Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox, based on the Roald Dahl book. The fest takes place October 30 - November 7, 2009 in Hollywood. The movie is yet another George Clooney vehicle coming out this fall (along with Up in the Air and The Men Who Stare at Goats). The bad news: the star has to promote them all.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 24, 2009 8:27 AM
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Nine Goes to the Movies

Nine Goes to the Movies
Nine is a popular number at the movies these days. Last week I saw Shane Acker's animated dystopian adventure 9, featuring the voice of Elijah Wood, which opens September 9, 2009. Wednesday night I see Neill Blomkamp's alien thriller District 9, produced by Peter Jackson. The German film Cloud 9 opens in New York this Friday and in LA on August 28. This fall I look forward to the Rob Marshall musical Nine. Earlier this year I missed the animated feature $9.99. I count four past movies named Nine, as well as such classics as Nine Months, The Whole Nine Yards, Nine Queens, Nine 1/2 Weeks and Nine to Five. Is any other number as frequently used in movie titles? I guess one and ten are just as common, finally. But why the plethora of nine titles in 2009?
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 11, 2009 7:51 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Studios Play it Safe

Studios Play it Safe
Steven Spielberg is directing a remake of the Universal/Broadway classic Harvey; he's seeking a star like Tom Hanks or Will Smith to star. Fox is partnering with DreamWorks/Reliance to produce the movie about a six-foot, invisible rabbit.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 3, 2009 2:47 AM
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  • 10 Comments

Comic-Con: Disney 3-D Panel Showcases Burton, Depp, Zemeckis, Tron Legacy

Thursday was a long day. The official Comic-Con movie program began in Hall H with Disney's 3-D panel. "A lot of you are going to stay here all day," said host Patton Oswalt. The 6000-strong crowd roared. Bob Zemeckis broke his Comic-Con cherry with footage from the start of Christmas Carol, which stars Jim Carrey in five roles. Instead of heavy make-up, it's the Zemeckis brand of motion capture (in 3D and IMAX 3D), which I find stilted. (People tell me that seeing Polar Express in IMAX was transformative.) The audience went "Ooooh" when they first put on their 3D glasses as Scrooge inspected Marley's dead body and was visited by his green, chained ghost. "It's a ghost story," Zemeckis said.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 24, 2009 3:12 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Trailer Watch: Alice in Wonderland Heads for #SDCC

You have to hand it to Tim Burton. As crazy awful as Hollywood can be, this canny visual stylist somehow manages to hang onto his imagination and personal imprint while navigating the studio system with aplomb. And most of his films--even art-house opera Sweeney Todd--are accessibly commercial. (Next up: a remake of my fave childhood vampire soap opera, Dark Shadows.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 22, 2009 3:08 AM
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  • 0 Comments

First Look: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

USA Today presents a first look at Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham-Carter and Anne Hathaway, pictured here as the Mad Hatter and the white and red queens, respectively. The on-line story allows you to explore cool large photos via zooms.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 21, 2009 6:45 AM
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Sweeney Todd Opens in 5th Place

Sweeney Todd opened to excellent reviews (87% fresh on Rottentomatoes.com) and strong initial numbers on Friday, but the movie dropped an estimated 28 % (actually 25%) between Friday and Saturday. (Here's Sunday's Variety weekend boxoffice report.) This indicates that many viewers were lured by Paramount's mainstream horror-driven ad campaign, which did not sell the film as a Stephen Sondheim musical, and walked away disappointed. (The company also seeded the internet with clips showing the musical numbers.) Selling a unique movie like this, where there is no tried-and-true pattern to follow, is admittedly tricky. So Paramount made the call to go wide with 1200 runs--and not build the movie from fewer runs in sophisticated urban markets. It now looks like Dreamworks' initial strategy might have been the right way to go. That way early adopters would spread good word and build an audience slowly over time, rather than folks being lured into seeing a movie that they wind up not liking--and spreading bad word.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 23, 2007 7:56 AM
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Sweeney Todd Reactions

DreamWorks has been holding Sweeney Todd back. Well, they finally screened it last week, and elicited "non-reviews" from the Internet folks. The two trades are sufficiently alarmed by all this activity to consider running their reviews sooner rather than later, I hear.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 2, 2007 6:03 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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