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Trailer Watch: Will Amelia Biopic Play?

by Anne Thompson
October 17, 2009 6:33 AM
11 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

I'll be showing Mira Nair's Amelia at Sneak Previews this week. I've seen the biopic of the vanished aviatrix Amelia Earhart, which stars Oscar magnet Hilary Swank and Richard Gere, and look forward to grilling the screenwriters, Ron Bass (Rain Man) and Anna Hamilton Phelan (Gorillas in the Mist). The question at hand: how do you tackle a movie biography these days, when authenticity is at such a premium?

Some biopics of well-known figures work as movies but lured a narrow audience: Steve Rash's The Buddy Holly Story, Bennett Miller's Capote, Gus Van Sant's Milk, Ed Harris's Pollock, Clint Eastwood's Bird, Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull, Hal Ashby's Bound for Glory, Oliver Stone's Nixon and Bill Condon's Kinsey. Others grabbed wider crowds by capturing the magic of their source: Julie & Julia, Ray, Ali, Schindler's List, Lawrence of Arabia, Out of Africa, Amadeus, Malcolm X, Reds, Coal Miner's Daughter, Walk the Line, Patton, Bonnie and Clyde, Gandhi, The Queen and The Aviator .

And some biopics just don't ring true: Cleopatra, Anna and the King, De-Lovely, The Hurricane, Alexander, Beyond the Sea, and Toronto opener Creation, starring Paul Bettany as Charles Darwin.

UPDATE: The trades weigh in. The Hollywood Reporter is thumbs up, while Variety has some issues.

Check out the Amelia trailer. What category do you think this movie will be in?

11 Comments

  • Barry Dale Johnson | October 20, 2009 2:19 AMReply

    AMELIA was finished only 10 days ago, just after Mira and Gabriel Yared completed scoring and mixing in London, and was immediately screened on a digital tape even before we received finished 35 mm prints last Monday. We opened the gates and invited as many press as we possibly could given the amount of prints available across the country and our major press events in NY and LA. We are not shying away from screenings, but did have the challenge of mounting an entire screening program in under 2 weeks.

  • Joe Valdez | October 19, 2009 6:42 AMReply

    Can anyone name the last bad movie that Mira Nair directed? Granted, the biopic is my least favorite genre and I was really disappointed Nair had to take this job instead of directing Johnny Depp in Shantaram, but she is one of those directors whose track record deserves the benefit of the doubt.

  • Brian | October 19, 2009 6:01 AMReply

    The real Amelia Earhart was a lot cuter than Hilary Swank. I'll wait for the documentary.
    (Why didn't they cast Amy Adams? She's already had some experience playing the role.)

  • Jennab | October 19, 2009 3:52 AMReply

    This movie looks terrible, conventional and boring. Since Swank unceremoniously dumped her husband and took up with a married man, well, she lost a lot of goodwill among her older, female audience, I fear. I have never liked her in anything except Boys Don't Cry and thought she was terribly over-praised in the melodramatic Million Dollar Baby. I agree, this one should have been on Lifetime or AMC...they know drama!

  • ag | October 18, 2009 11:34 AMReply

    ouch. these comments. it looks like a fine movie...i just don't think it will appear on the radar for the average person

  • GS | October 18, 2009 10:39 AMReply

    I put this in the category of crapola. This looks like it was made 20 years ago.

  • Julie | October 18, 2009 10:18 AMReply

    I loathe Hilary Swank..she is so full of herself...I never find her in the least bit believable...so, I don't think it will "fly" so to speak. IMHO.

  • john anderson | October 18, 2009 9:15 AMReply

    They're hiding it. Its been clear for weeks. And they're being rather un-Searchlight by being so creepy about it. Unless i've just been naive...

  • Steve Warren | October 18, 2009 8:59 AMReply

    Considering how early and often Fox Searchlight usually screens their films, they're treating this one like they have something to hide. Atlanta critics don't see it until the night before opening, as if it was a cheap horror remake.

  • Sam | October 17, 2009 12:02 PMReply

    It doesn't look so great...and Hilary Swank doesn't look so great either.

    Also, what about her disappearance was mysterious really. She was flying around the world and missed her fuel stop. Bottom of the ocean anyone?

    Should have focused on how she got to be who she was to begin with...not her fateful trip we all know what happened at the end of. Tell the story of a woman in 1930's America going against the grain and becoming a celebrity in the meantime...that I'll watch...oh, but, not with Hilary Swank...

  • Alan Green | October 17, 2009 10:56 AMReply

    does anybody care? is flying over the ocean until you run out of fuel dramatic or compelling enough for anybody to buy a ticket? what about the stuff that led up to the round-the-world attempt -- does anyone care about that?

    if you asked someone 'don't you want to see a movie about a this person's life?' what would they say. i see them shrugging. 'maybe on cable' they might say

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