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Thompson on Hollywood

John Carter of Mars Adds Morton, Walker, West

I was brought up in Manhattan by a single Dad. His best pal Jerry Rubenstein's idea of a birthday present for an eight-year-old, girl or boy, was Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I scarfed it up and read every single book ever written by Burroughs, especially his Barsoom Martian novels. I read The Chessmen of Mars over and over. Burroughs took you into an exotic world, much as Burroughs fan James Cameron does in Avatar, or Wall-E writer-director Andrew Stanton will do in his first live-action feature, a film take on John Carter of Mars. In both stories, an American visits a faraway planet inhabited by strange creatures. In John Carter of Mars, co-written by Mark Andrews, Civil War hero John Carter is transported to the red planet Barsoom, where he must adapt, and meets a princess.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 24, 2009 6:48 AM
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  • 3 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

Avatar Day, Sony Acquires Parnassus, Tarantino, Screwball Ladies

We've been tracking news that Sony Pictures Classics would release The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus this fall. But as the NY-based specialty division rigorously refuses to confirm these talks, the rumors spread around the internet until Variety figured out a way to write the story so that Sony Worldwide Acquisitions Group "is in advanced talks" to acquire the movie for SPC to release. It's easy to run a rumor, harder to run it down.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 13, 2009 6:52 AM
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  • 1 Comment

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

Cameron talks Avatar

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

Comic-Con: Visionaries Jackson, Cameron Talk Future

By far the high point of the Con for me was EW editor Jeff Giles' interview with Peter Jackson and James Cameron. The two men respect each other enormously. Weta's achievement with The Lord of the Rings' Gollum convinced Cameron that he might be able to forge ahead with Avatar, which had been collecting dust for more than a decade.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 26, 2009 5:23 AM
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  • 0 Comments

SDCC Interview: Cameron Talks Avatar

Here's my Comic-Con interview with James Cameron about how his undersea expeditions informed his return to moviemaking, Avatar. He digs into how he perfected the art of performance capture to allow the warmth of his actors to come through. He wants to do some consciousness-raising with SAG on what performance capture really involves. During Friday's panel with Cameron and Peter Jackson, the two men discussed how resistant actors have been to such acting as Andy Serkis as Gollum.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 25, 2009 5:45 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Comic-Con: Cameron Wows with Avatar

Twentieth Century Fox co-chairman Tom Rothman came down to San Diego to intro James Cameron, who in turn presented 24 minutes of footage from Avatar. The studio has backed Cameron's R & D for the dozen years since Titanic. After earning credibility with the deep sea documentary world with a series of 3D docs, Cameron finally opted to chase the promise of advanced 3-D motion-capture with an original story that had been sitting in his drawer for 14 years. But no matter how fabulous this movie looks--and it wowed Hall H, the perfect target audience for a sci-fi adventure--Fox has to market this movie without major stars, branding and the kind of wide release a blockbuster usually commands. That's why they're showing 15 minutes of footage, free, on Avatar Day on August 21 on 35 IMAX theaters around the world.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 24, 2009 3:11 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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