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Thompson on Hollywood

Toronto Wrap: Indie Bloodbath

Toronto Wrap: Indie Bloodbath
If industry-watchers didn't see it coming, they figured it out at this year's Toronto Film Festival.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 19, 2009 9:09 AM
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  • 17 Comments

Weekend Box Office: Jennifer's Body Horror Tweener

As predicted, Jennifer's Body opened soft at the boxoffice. Fox marketed a horror movie aimed at men, who like Megan Fox. Twentieth Century Fox hung the marketing on the Transformers star, but girls don't want to see her. The studio failed to get women to watch Karyn Kusama and Diablo Cody's angry feminist movie. Thus Jennifer's Body is a classic tweener: neither a horror thriller for men, nor a coming-of-age horror-comedy for women. (It didn't earn strong reviews.) If Searchlight had marketed it, they might have been able to target the right smart crowd. (At a low-end cost of $16 million, the movie should come out ahead in any case.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 19, 2009 9:03 AM
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  • 11 Comments

Toronto Day One: Creation, The Informant!, Jennifer's Body

Toronto Day One: Creation, The Informant!, Jennifer's Body
The reason why film festivals pick movies like Creation for opening night is that they have all the right credentials: respected producer (Jeremy Thomas) and director (Jon Amiel) and two major stars (Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly) willing to show up for the gala TIFF screenings and party. But Creation was DOA tonight.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 11, 2009 1:38 AM
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  • 8 Comments

Avatar Day

James Cameron himself wasn't happy that the Avatar online trailer preceded the Avatar Day IMAX 3-D screenings on Friday. The reason that happened, according to Fox, is that the trailer went out at the same time as the first 10 AM screenings in New Zealand Tokyo on the other side of the world. It was a synchronous global release. The Apple site was so overwhelmed with clicks that it crashed at first. More than 4 million people streamed the Avatar trailer on that first day, breaking the prior record of 1.7 million set by Star Trek. So that was good news for Fox. Curiosity was high.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 22, 2009 6:40 AM
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  • 5 Comments

Avatar Trailer Update

The response to the Avatar teaser trailer that Fox released Thursday was mixed.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 20, 2009 10:14 AM
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  • 8 Comments

Avatar Week: Photo Gallery

I'm obsessed with Avatar. (The movies of James Cameron are moving inexorably up my flickchart.) The question for me is whether Cameron's ambitious mix of 3-D live-action and performance capture --which cost Fox way more than $200 million-- breaks out beyond the Comic-Con faithful. It feels very sci-fi thriller, which is fine for District 9. But Cameron knows how to reach a wide audience. Avatar is also a romance set on the exotic planet Pandora.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 20, 2009 2:12 AM
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  • 8 Comments

Hollywood Health Report

Hollywood Health Report
Each day brings more news of a troubled company needing debt restructuring or a management overhaul. The Weinstein Co. and MGM are just the latest examples. All the studios face pressure from their corporate parents in a grim recession amid declining ad and DVD revenues. Sales are down across the board, including classic rereleases, and less precipitously, specialty titles.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 18, 2009 7:43 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Cameron's Blue Avatar, Swinton Hauls Movies, Moore Traverses Fest, Ebert's Best Movies

James Cameron’s new poster for Avatar is an extreme close-up of a blue Nav'i alien from the Planet Pandora. It’s an arresting image that makes you stop and pay attention. Cameron wants you to know he’s taking you somewhere you’ve never been before. Jeff Wells hates this poster. There’s plenty of time between now and December 18 for the Fox marketers to figure out their message. I suspect that one reason they’re showing the 15 minutes in IMAX theaters on August 21 is that they know showing the film is their best approach.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 5, 2009 3:30 AM
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  • 2 Comments

Cameron talks Avatar

When I talked to James Cameron at Comic-Con (below), he admitted that he and producer Jon Landau know that they have a lot of heavy lifting to do before the 3D sci-fi epic Avatar hits screens on December 18. 24 minutes of footage played great at the Con, where Cameron announced that Fox will screen 15 minutes in IMAX on August 21 for free on 35 screens around the country. But the VFX-packed fantasy lacks major stars and is not based on anything (god forbid, it's an original), so the movie will need a major marketing push from Fox. Which is what the Con was all about.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 30, 2009 2:58 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Master and Commander Redux

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World has all the elements of the kind of movie that keeps studio heads up at night: it's literary (based on the Patrick O'Brian seafaring series), period (Napoleonic), expensive (close to $150 million), packed with action (swords, pistols, rifles and cannons) and VFX (ships at sea under fire). That's why, even though the Napoleonic adventure movie looks like a success, grossing $209.5 million worldwide, it was a nail biter for Twentieth Century Fox co-chairman Tom Rothman at the time. (He took on partners in the venture, and had to push back the release to get the FX finished.) The well-reviewed awards contender (nominated for ten Oscars, it won two) barely made its production and marketing costs back. (Here's my NYT story from 2003.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 20, 2009 6:58 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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