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Universal Abandons Tower Heist VOD Plan, NATO's Fithian Debates Magnolia's Wagner

Universal Abandons Tower Heist VOD Plan, NATO's Fithian Debates Magnolia's Wagner
First Netflix and now Universal Pictures have killed a change in direction after fierce resistance. In the case of Universal, the studio was testing what was acceptable to their partners, theater owners, as well as moviegoers, who are demanding earlier access to new movies. Universal had planned to make Bret Rattner's Tower Heist available via Video on Demand only three weeks after opening November 4 in theaters. Exhibitors and filmmakers from James Cameron to Jon Favreau are fighting to keep the theatrical window an average of 90 days, while several studios are pushing back, under pressure to move toward a shortened window, due to the decline of DVD revenues as well as global piracy concerns.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 12, 2011 6:37 AM
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  • 2 Comments

Brothers Grimm: Snow White Stills Diminish Hope in Relativity's Family Flick

The more we learn about Relativity's The Brothers Grimm: Snow White, the less excited we become. This "family friendly" take on Snow White (with Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer), versus Universal's edgier (or so they want us to think). The Brothers Grimm: Snow White, is directed by Tarsem Singh, and will be first out of the gate on March 16, 2012. Rupert Sanders' Snow White and the Huntsman (with Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth) is in theaters July 1.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • October 12, 2011 6:33 AM
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  • 20 Comments

Focus Features' Africa First Program Announces Winners of $10,000 Grants

Focus Features' Africa First short film program announces fourth set of winners. Each filmmaker--of African nationality and residence--will receive $10,000 and will be networked with and mentored by leaders of the African film community.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • October 6, 2011 7:12 AM
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Joe Wright's Anna Karenina Begins Shooting for Working Title: Knightley Leads Strong Cast

Joe Wright has begun shooting his adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's beloved classic, Anna Karenina. Shooting in the UK and Russia with a script adapted by Tom Stoppard, the film stars Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Johnson, Kelly Macdonald, Matthew Macfadyyen, Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Emily Watson, Olivia Williams and Ruth Wilson. Working Title's Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are producing alongside Paul Webster (they successfully collaborated on Wright's Pride & Prejudice and Atonement). Wright is also bringing back his cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, costume designer Jacqueline Durran and production designer Sarah Greenwood. One thing is for sure: The film is going to look amazing. Jane Eyre editor Melanie Ann Oliver is also joining Wright's team.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • October 4, 2011 5:26 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Weekend Box Office: Dolphin Tale Overtakes Moneyball in Second Inning

Weekend Box Office: Dolphin Tale Overtakes Moneyball in Second Inning
While it looked like Moneyball would assert its dominance over the weekend box office, another second weekender took the prize: Dolphin Tale. Again, the family movie pulled a bigger niche audience than too many competitors aimed at males and adults. Anthony D'Alessandro reports:Another flood of wide entries fragmented Fall moviegoers this weekend. Warner Bros./Alcon's heart-tugging crowd-pleaser Dolphin Tale yipped up $14.2 million in its second session, overtaking Sony's well-reviewed Moneyball, which fielded $12.5 million. Both films generated warm buzz throughout the week, especially on Rosh Hashanah last Thursday when some schools were off.
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • October 2, 2011 4:33 AM
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  • 8 Comments

That's Some Big Armour, Kristen Stewart! Set Photos from Snow White and the Huntsman

The verdict is still out on whether Twilight sensation and indie darling Kristen Stewart can fill the britches of a bad-ass Snow White. Check out these pictures from the set of Universal's Snow White and The Huntsman, which co-stars Charlize Theron is Snow White's nemesis, the Evil Queen.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • September 29, 2011 8:17 AM
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  • 4 Comments

Box Office Scandal: Circuit Dealing Pervades Small Towns, Flagship vs. Century Theatres

In a David vs. Goliath face-off, indie-owned Flagship Theaters recently won an appeal in its crusade against Cinemark’s Century Theatres. Does the age-old practice of circuit dealing — an unethical way for chain exhibitors to muscle studios — still persist? Anthony D’Alessandro digs further into this taboo topic: What is circuit dealing, exactly? It’s a predatory film booking practice whereby multiplex chains strong-arm studios for product in a specific market. If a studio decides to book with the competition in a given community, usually a Mom-and-Pop venue, then the exhibitor will threaten to bar that film (or future films) from playing the entire chain.
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • September 27, 2011 11:38 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Descendants, Clooney, Streep Top Gurus 'O Gold Oscar Rankings

Descendants, Clooney, Streep Top Gurus 'O Gold Oscar Rankings
The Gurus have spoken. Post-festivals, Alexander Payne's The Descendants (1) has taken over the frontrunner spot from Steven Spielberg's unscreened period war adventure War Horse (2). Interestingly, Spielberg was considering submitting the film to Venice but decided not to do so. He usually likes to wait until the last possible minute to show his films. It's better NOT to be at the head of the pack, anyway. The Descendants' George Clooney (1) is also at the front of the Best Actor race.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 27, 2011 5:10 AM
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  • 2 Comments

Toronto Wrap: Best of Fest, Oscar Boosts, Winners and Losers

Toronto Wrap: Best of Fest, Oscar Boosts, Winners and Losers
The trick with the fall film festivals is to gauge expectations going in vs. what was actually achieved. Various distributors launched their fall slates, and watched with pleasure or horror at how their movies were received by audiences and critics. Oscar contenders either moved forward in the awards race, or were pushed back. Other indies hoped their films would be picked up by the right distributor in time for this year's Oscar race. Some were, some weren't. It's tough for films that have already debuted at other festivals to pick up new momentum, although the press will bank features for release. The biggest noise goes to the new players, always.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 21, 2011 7:04 AM
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  • 2 Comments

TIFF: Pariah Gets Release Date and Poignant Poster

Focus Features initiated an online outreach to choose the poster for the upcoming Sundance drama, Pariah. The winner was "Subway," a poster showing actress Adepero Oduye staring out a window and at herself--an apt image for a film about a 17-year-old woman from Brooklyn coming to terms with her identity as a lesbian.
  • By Maggie Lange
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  • September 7, 2011 5:25 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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