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POPCORN REEL NEWS                                                                                 

December 10, 2009
Cameron Diaz Will Get "Bad" in Her New Film

The very busy Cameron Diaz will get busy in Jake Kasdan's racy and raunchy comedy film "Bad Teacher", about an obscene teacher (Diaz) competing for the affections of a fellow middle-school teacher who is a model citizen.  Miss Diaz is currently working on three other films including "Knight And Day", where she's on location currently shooting in Spain with Tom Cruise.


December 9, 2009
"Eclipse" To Bow On IMAX on June 30

After the success of "New Moon", "Eclipse", the third film in the "Twilight" series will be released in IMAX on June 30, 2010, the same day as the 35mm release.  "New Moon" has already made over $500 million worldwide in just three weeks.  "Eclipse" will focus on the battle royale between werewolves and vampires.


December 8, 2009
Al Pacino returns to the stage

The New York actor is back to the place that he calls home: the stage.  Al Pacino will play Shylock next year in the Shakespeare play "The Merchant of Venice", according to theBBC.  For seven weeks beginning on June 9, 2010 and ending on August 1, Mr. Pacino will be at the Central Park Theater in the Park reprising the role he had in a 2004 film with the same name as the play.  The tickets for the Central Park production will be free of charge.  For more information clickhere.


December 8, 2009
Robert De Niro and Edward Norton turn to "Stone"

"Stone", which Overture Films has obtained the rights to, will star Mr. De Niro and Mr. Norton.  Mr. De Niro will play a parole officer manipulated by a convicted arsonist (Norton), who uses his wife (played by Milla Jovovich) as an allure for the officer.  Frances Conroy also stars.


October 5, 2009
"Paranormal Activity" across America

The film "Paranormal Activity", which has been gaining a cult following across the U.S. despite a very limited release so far, sold out all of its special midnight screenings throughout the country in 33 venues over the weekend in Thursday-through-Saturday screenings, and is set to be released in at least 40 additional venues this Friday (Oct. 9).  Over the past weekend, the film grossed about $535,000, with a per-screen average of $16,000.  The horror film, about a middle-class couple suspecting that demonic activity is afoot in their house as they try to sleep, is directed by Oren Peli.  Visit www.paranormalmovie.com for more information.


September 10, 2009
"Michael Jackson's This Is It" trailer to be unveiled during the MTV Video Music Awards this Sunday

On Sunday, September 13, the premiere of the trailer for "Michael Jackson's This Is It" documentary will occur during the MTV Video Music Awards.  The Awards will air on MTV on Sunday at 9pm Eastern Time.  Here's the new poster for the film, which opens worldwide for two weeks only, beginning October 28.


September 10, 2009
Bleacher Oscar Fans Get Ready!

Want to be seated in the bleachers overlooking the red carpet for Oscar arrivals on March 7, 2010?  Well, on Monday, September 14 beginning at 12 Noon Eastern/9am Pacific you can apply for free seats at a random drawing by visiting www.oscars.org/bleachers.  The opportunity to apply ends on Sunday, September 20 at 12 Midnight Eastern/9pm Pacific.


September 10, 2009
"A Serious Man" To Have U.S. Premiere at The Friars Club In New York City

The Coen Brothers' new film "A Serious Man" will have its U.S. premiere at the inaugural Friars Comedy Club Film Festival on its opening night on Thursday, September 24 at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City.  "A Serious Man" opens across North America on Oct. 2.


September 8, 2009
Steven Soderbergh Scores A "Knockout"

Busy filmmaker Steven Soderbergh whose film "The Informant!" opens next week, will be directing "Knockout", an all-action martial arts drama starring martial arts fighting champion Gina Carano.  The film is described as a James Bond-type action drama and Mr. Soderbergh will begin filming in Ireland, the U.S. and France sometime in January.


September 3, 2009
Tyler Perry Gets A "Rainbow"

Lionsgate announced that Tyler Perry will be writing, producing and directing a film adaptation of Ntosake Shange's 1970s award-winning anthology of poems "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Was Enuf".  Mr. Perry's film "I Can Be Bad All By Myself" opens on September 11 and next April Mr. Perry's sequel "Why Did I Get Married Too?" opens, less than two years after the first film, which was released in October 2007.   Last year Mr. Perry signed a long-term deal with Lionsgate to direct films under their banner.


September 1, 2009
"Green Hornet" Slides Back Five Months

Sony Pictures announced that "The Green Hornet", starring Seth Rogen, will be pushed back to a December 2009 release.  The film was scheduled to open next summer during the month of July.


July 23, 2009
Nicolas Cage Is Feeling "Green"

Nicolas Cage is currently in talks to play a reporter and love interest in the film "The Green Hornet", starring Seth Rogen in the title role of the comic book superhero.  The film will also star Cameron Diaz.  Michel Gondry directs, and the production is scheduled to begin sometime in the Fall, for a theatrical release  in the U.S. and Canada next summer.


July 20, 2009
"Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince" Thunders On

To no one's surprise, the latest "Harry Potter" film directed by David Yates made an estimated $79.4 million at the U.S.-Canada according to figures released yesterday by the box-office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations.  Since its opening last Wednesday the "Half-Blood Prince" has grossed an estimated $159 million, and will easily surpass the $200 million mark sometime before next weekend.


July 20, 2009
Michael Jackson Feature Film Of Rehearsal To Be Released Sometime This Year
 

Michael Jackson had such feature films as "Moonwalker" and now it has been announced that a deal is in the works with Sony Pictures Entertainment to release a feature film of rehearsal footage for the final concert tour that would have begun a week ago, on July 13.   Kenny Ortega will cull 80 hours of rehearsal footage, including perhaps the very last rehearsal ever of Mr. Jackson, into a two-hour film which will be released theatrically by the end of the year.  No word yet on exactly when and whether the film will be released in IMAX ala The Rolling Stones' 2008 concert film "Shine A Light".  AEG will make a windfall from the Michael Jackson concert film, and it is not known whether any of the proceeds will go to help alleviate the debts of the megastar entertainer.  Mr. Jackson died on June 25, and the exact cause of his death is still yet to be determined, after he suffered cardiac arrest in Westwood, California.


July 20, 2009
Morgan Freeman Expected To Join Bruce Willis On "Red"

He's played a character named Red before, but this time Morgan Freeman is expected to join Bruce Willis in the spy-thriller "Red" and is reportedly in talks to join Bruce Willis in the film, which is to be released by Summit Entertainment.
 

July 20, 2009
Leonardo Di Caprio In A New "Zone"

Rand Ravitch is expected to write a screenplay for a new feature film on the famed television series "The Twilight Zone", and Leonardo DiCaprio is on board to star in it.  Mr. DiCaprio, last seen in "Revolutionary Road", will next be seen in his latest film collaboration with Martin Scorsese in "Shutter Island" this October. 


July 15, 2009
Potterheads Swamp Record Screenings As "Potter" Pots $20 Million At Midnight

Variety reports that "Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince" hauled in $20 million at midnight screenings across North America, a record.
 


July 10, 2009
"The Beaver", with Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson

Kyle Killen's screenplay "The Beaver" will be directed by Jodie Foster, who will also star as the wife of a man (Mel Gibson) who wears a beaver puppet on his hand to combat his depression.  The film is expected -- or hopefully will -- start filming in September in New York City.


July 9, 2009
Unveiled: The Title of Michael Moore's New Film, To Open in the U.S. and Canada on October 2, 2009

Today Overture Films announced that the title of the documentary filmmaker's latest work will be "Capitalism: A Love Story".  In a statement, Mr. Moore said that "it was time for him to make a 'relationship movie'."  Declared the Oscar-winner: "It will be the perfect date movie . . . [i]t's got it all -- lust, passion, romance, and 14,000 jobs being eliminated every day.  It's a forbidden love, one that dare not speak its name.  Heck, letís just say it: Itís Capitalism."  The film will be distributed in North America by Overture, while Paramount Vantage will distribute the film in all other international markets.  "Capitalism: A Love Story" opens in the U.S. and Canada on October 2, 2009.


July 8, 2009
Tobey Maguire, Down To The Nitty Gritty "Details"

Next month there will be Tobey Maguire sightings in Seattle, as the Emerald City is where he'll be filming Jacob Estes' grim comedy film "The Details".  Mr. Maguire will play a husband who wrestles with commitment to his wife (played by Elizabeth Banks) and whose lives are complicated when raccoons make one hell of a mess in their back yard.  Murder ensues.  The remainder of the cast includes Dennis Haysbert, Anna Friel and Laura Linney.


July 1, 2009
Karl Malden Dies At Age 97

The Hollywood actor best known for his role as Detective Mike Stone on the 1970s television series "The Streets Of San Francisco" passed away today of natural causes, according to his family and various published reports.  Karl Malden, who won a supporting actor Oscar for his role in "A Streetcar Named Desire" in 1961 had a long career in feature films, most notably "On The Waterfront".  Mr. Malden was the president of the Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences from 1989 to 1992, and was well recognized for his American Express credit card television commercials.  Mr. Malden, who passed away at home  in Los Angeles, had been ill for some time and was married to Mona Graham for more than 70 years.


July 1, 2009
The Kids Are All Right, Beginning Today At Least

Lisa Cholodenko directs "The Kids Are All Right", about a same-sex couple and a sperm donor who has contributed to their family.  Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play the couple, with Mark Ruffalo reuniting with Ms. Moore (from the 2008 film "Blindness").  The film enters its first full day of shooting today.


June 30, 2009
"Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen" Smashes $200 Million In Its First Five Days

Michael Bay's sequel to his 2007 film "Transformers" amassed $200 million in North America in its first five days of release, second only to the record $203 million grossed by last summer's "The Dark Knight" in the same time frame.  "Transformers" Revenge Of The Fallen" easily topped the U.S.-Canada box office, according to figures released by Exhibitor Relations yesterday.


June 25, 2009
Michael Jackson, The King Of Pop, Dies At Age 50

More news on Mr. Jackson's untimely passing today will follow here.


June 25, 2009
Farrah Fawcett Dies At Age 62

Farrah Fawcett, the actress best known for her work on "Charlie Angels", died today from cancer after a long battle against the illness.  Ms. Fawcett lived in Santa Monica, California, where she passed.  Ryan O'Neal, a cancer survivor, and Ms. Fawcett's long-time boyfriend, was reportedly at her bedside at the time.  Ms. Fawcett was 62, and is survived by her son.


June 4, 2009
David Carradine, "Kung Fu" and "Kill Bill" Actor, Found Dead In Thailand

According to the BBC News, David Carradine, the actor who appeared in over 100 films including "Kill Bill Vol. 2" and the television series "Kung Fu", was found dead this morning in a Bangkok, Thailand hotel room.  The BBC report stated that he had been found by a maid "sitting in a wardrobe with a rope around his neck and body."  Mr. Carradine had been filming a movie called "Stretch".  He was 72 and is survived by his wife Annie Bierman and four children.



June 2, 2009
"Up" Soars To The Top Of The U.S.-Canada Box Office With $68 Million

Pete Docter's Disney/Pixar animated adventure film comedy "Up" soared in its opening weekend with a $68 million take, outdistancing last week's number one film "Night At The Museum 2: Battle Of The Smithsonian".  The animated movie stars the voices of Ed Asner, Jordan Nagai, Delroy Lindo and Christopher Plummer.


May 26, 2009
"Night At The Museum" Sequel Scorches The Summit With $54 Million at the U.S.-Canada Box Office

The Memorial Day Holiday Weekend proved very favorable to "Night At The Museum 2: Battle Of The Smithsonian", the sequel comedy starring Ben Stiller and a cast of thousands led the North America box office with an estimated $54 million according to figures released by Exhibitor Relations.  Final numbers will be released today.
 


May 5, 2009
X-Men Origins Marks Its Territory With A Whopping $87 Million

"X-Men Origins: Wolverine", directed by Academy Award winner Gavin Hood, made an indelible impression on the U.S.-Canada box office with $87 million in its opening weekend according to estimates released by Exhibitor Relations.  The film sees Hugh Jackman reprising his role as Wolverine from the highly successful "X-Men" film franchise.  The reign at the top is expected to be very brief, as this weekend the new "Star Trek" opens in theaters.


April 28, 2009
"Obsessed" With Box Office Bank In The U.S. and Canada

The year's biggest surprise so far, "Obsessed" grossed $28.6 million to top the North America box office this past weekend.  Steve Shill's thriller about a temporary worker's obsession with her male boss was largely panned by film critics and received few screenings for review in general, yet on just over 2500 screens managed a whopping per-screen average of $11,260.  Ali Larter plays the obsessed temp, with Idris Elba as the beleaguered executive and Beyonce Knowles as the executive's wife.  This weekend "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" is expected to grab the top spot with its release.


April 20, 2009
"17 Again" Rolls To The Top Of The U.S.-Canada Box Office

Zac Efron's new film "17 Again" topped the box office in North America in its debut this past weekend with a gross of $24 million, according to estimates released by Exhibitor Relations.  The film is about a 37-year-old who lives in a 17-year-old's body, and stars Leslie Mann, Thomas Lennon, Melora Hardin, Michelle Trachtenberg and Matthew Perry.


April 13, 2009
"Hannah Montana" Rocks The Top Of The U.S.-Canada Box Office

The film starring Miley Cyrus got plenty of mileage at the North America box office this past weekend, as estimates released yesterday by Exhibitor Relations showed "Hannah Montana" opening at the top with $34 million.  The film is the second "Hannah Montana" feature film release.  The new film also stars Miley's father, country music artist Billy Ray Cyrus, among others.  Official figures will be released today.


April 9, 2009
Friedman Fired From Fox

With layoffs in the profession of journalism on the upward tick, ten-year FoxNews.com film critic Roger Friedman was fired earlier this week by his employers after publishing a review of Twentieth Century Fox's upcoming May 1 release "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" -- a review of a pirated edition of the film.  Following a chorus of blog writers' calls for the veteran critic to be released from his position, Fox, which had initially been unclear about Mr. Friedman's status, terminated him for his actions, saying in part that it wouldn't tolerate Mr. Friedman's conduct in the "X-Men" affair.


April 6, 2009
"Fast & Furious" Scorches Box Office Heights With An April Record

Justin Lin's second effort in the "Fast And The Furious" franchise reaped enormous benefits this past weekend with an April record for an opening film in North America.  "Fast & Furious" opened at number one with an estimated record $72.5 million, also the highest opening for the four-film franchise.  The latest film stars Vin Diesel and Paul Walker.  Mr. Lin also directed "The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift", the previous film in the series.


April 3, 2009
"Sex And The City" Sequel Next Year

Warner Brothers announced yesterday that the sequel to the successful feature film "Sex And The City" will be in theaters in North America on May 28, 2010.  All four of the film's leading ladies will return, and Michael Patrick King will return to the director's chair.  No further information about remaining cast members is available.  Stay tuned . . .


March 27, 2009
Larry, Curly And Moe are Back . . . as Penn, Carrey and Del Toro, not necessarily in that order

This week it was revealed that Sean Penn has joined Jim Carrey and Benicio Del Toro for the latest film version of "The Three Stooges".  Mr. Penn won an Oscar last month for his role as Harvey Milk in "Milk".


March 24, 2009
Dennis Quaid, Julianne Moore And Michael Sheen Get "Special"

Published reports say that Dennis Quaid, Julianne Moore ("Blindness") and Michael Sheen ("Frost/Nixon") are all on board for "The Special Relationship", a film that has not yet been greenlit but is expected to mark the directing debut of screenwriter and playwright Peter Morgan ("Frost/Nixon", "The Queen").  Mr. Quaid will play former President Bill Clinton, Ms. Moore will play First Lady Hillary Clinton and Mr. Sheen will play British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a role reprisal from "The Queen".  "The Special Relationship", an HBO film, will chart the sometimes volatile relationship between Mr. Clinton and Mr. Blair.


March 23, 2009
Anne Hathaway Tries Judy Garland On Film and Stage

The Weinstein Company (TWC) today announced that Oscar nominee Anne Hathaway ("Bride Wars", "Get Smart", "Rachel Getting Married", "The Devil Wears Prada") will star both on the big screen and on stage as Hollywood icon Judy Garland, in the respective adaptations of Gerald Clarke's biography "Get Happy: The Life Of Judy Garland", on which TWC optioned the stage and screen rights.  Said TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein in a statement:
ďWe are thrilled to have the brilliantly talented Anne Hathaway portray stage and screen legend Judy Garland.  I have worked with Anne on projects in the past and have known her for many years.  She will be a true class act in this challenging role."  Is Miss Hathaway destined for Oscar with this role?


March 23, 2009
America Knows Nicolas Cage

According to figures released by Exhibitor Relations today, "Knowing", the sci-fi actioner starring Nicolas Cage, was the clear winner at the box office in North America over the weekend, grossing $24.6 million in its debut.  Two other new releases filled the remaining spots in the top three, with the comedy "I Love You, Man" in second with $17.8 million, and "Duplicity" following with $13.9 million.  Rounding out the top five were "Race To Witch Mountain", last week's number one film, in fourth place with $12.7 million (a cumulative gross of $44.4 million after two weekends), and "Watchmen", which had another steep decline (62%), falling to number five with $6.8 million (total gross $98.1 million, three weekends).


March 23, 2009
Regent Releasing Acquires "Weather Girl"

Today Regent Worldwide announced that it had acquired international rights to the romantic comedy "Weather Girl", starring and produced by American television sitcom star Tricia O'Kelley, and directed by Blayne Weaver.  The film, about a thirty-something meteorologist (O'Kelley) who makes some radical and renewed changes in her life after catching her boyfriend and fellow weather news colleague (Mark Harmon) cheating on her, showed at Slamdance in Utah back in January.   The release rights to "Weather Girl" inside North America are yet to be acquired.  Jon Cryer is among the supporting cast.


March 2, 2009
"Rape: A Love Story"?

That's the title -- and though it's hard to imagine that the title will bring a multitude of women to the box office, Samuel L. Jackson will join Maria Bello and Abigail Breslin in the film based on a Joyce Carol Oates novella from 2003.  Harold Becker ("Sea Of Love", "Domestic Disturbance") will direct this independent feature film about a woman (Ms. Bello) who survives a brutal gang rape and is protected by a cop (Mr. Jackson) from the attackers.  The film will be shot in the late spring and early summer.


March 2, 2009
It's "Never" For Knightley

Keira Knightley will star in the sci-fi film "Never Let Me Go", a drama about cloning, which will be directed by Marc Romanek ("One Hour Photo").  Andrew Garfield ("Boy A", "Lions For Lambs") also stars.  The film begins filming in England next month, in the cities of London and Norfolk.

March 2, 2009
"Madea" Keeps Rolling At The Top

For the second consecutive weekend in the U.S. and Canada, Tyler Perry's comedy-drama "Madea Goes To Jail" toped the box office charts, this time with a solid $16.5 million according to estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations.  The film, which has grossed over $64 million in ten days, also stars Mr. Perry, who wrote and directed it.  Derek Luke, Viola Davis and Keshia Knight-Pulliam also star, among others.  Films with strong staying power this past weekend were such noteworthy titles as "Paul Blart: Mall Cop", "Taken" and the Oscar-winning best picture "Slumdog Millionaire", all of which have crossed the $100 million mark.  "He's Just Not That Into You" has also dropped off very little and has now grossed about $78 million.

February 26, 2009
Samuel L. Jackson's "Fury"

Oscar-nominee Samuel L. Jackson has signed on with Marvel Entertainment to reprise his role in future Marvel film productions as Marvel comic book character Nick Fury.  Fury appeared in the closing moments of last summer's smash hit film "Iron Man", looking to recruit Robert Downey Jr.'s title character to join his group.  The first of the series of films in which Mr. Jackson's character will appear will be "Iron Man 2", with Jon Favreau directing once again.  The sequel is expected to begin production in the spring with a theatrical release in North America in the summer of 2010.


February 26, 2009
Cate Blanchett, Tailor Maid

According to various published reports Cate Blanchett has signed on to join Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott's "Nottingham".  The Oscar-winning actress, most recently on the big screen in "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button", will play Maid Marian.  Mr. Crowe reportedly has dual roles as Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham, according to various sources.  The film, which is likely to change its title, will start filming in April and is expected to be released by Universal Pictures next year.


February 26, 2009
Harry Potter's Last Hurrah

The final installment of the Harry Potter books will appear on the big screen in July 2011.  The installment will be part two of the "Deathly Hallows" book.  "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part One" will be released theatrically worldwide by Warner Brothers in November 2010.  Last month a stuntman double for Daniel Radcliffe's Harry character suffered serious injuries on the set of the first part of "Hallows" in Watford, England, and is now on the road to recovery.


February 25, 2009
A "Dark" Delight For "Knight"

Last week Warner Brothers announced that "The Dark Knight", which won two Oscars including for Heath Ledger's supporting acting, had crossed the $1 billion mark worldwide.  The exact figure stated by Warner Brothers President of Domestic Distribution Dan Fellman was $1,001,082,160.  The film was re-released theatrically in many international markets including the U.S., on both IMAX and 2D-35mm screens last month, breaking records for IMAX grosses.  In the U.S. and Canada "The Dark Knight" was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on December 9, 2008.  It is not known how much more money the film is expected to make following its Oscar wins last Sunday.


February 25, 2009
Nolan's Next "Inception"

Christopher Nolan is much sought after these days after the sensational box office for "The Dark Knight".  Recently Warner Brothers announced that Mr. Nolan's next film will be a sci-fi adventure called "Inception", described as an action film taking place within the "architecture of the mind", according to a recent press release.  "Inception" which is also written by Mr. Nolan, will begin filming this summer and is scheduled for release by the studio during the summer of 2010.


February 19, 2009
Robert Rodriguez Makes A "Nerveracker"

Yesterday The Weinstein Company and Dimension Films announced that Robert Rodriguez, the director such films as "El Mariachi", "Spy Kids", "Sin City" and "Planet Terror", will next write and direct an action sci-fi thriller called "Nerveracker", set in the year 2085 and centering on lead character Joe Tezca, a member of an elite unit set up to stop a perfect futuristic society's crime wave.  The race-against-time drama is scheduled for theatrical release in the U.S. and Canada on April 16, 2010.


February 18, 2009
Oscar-Nominated Films Costumes on Display at Universal Studios

Costumes from this year's Oscar-nominated Universal Pictures films "Frost/Nixon", "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" and "Milk" are currently on display at Universal Studios Hollywood in Universal City, California as part of "The Universal Experience: Behind The Scenes Of Universal Pictures", which features memorabilia and other movie wardrobe and props from well over 6,000 Universal titles, including current release "Coraline" and last year's smash hit "Mamma Mia!"
 


February 17, 2009
Screen Actors Guild Awards Moved Up To A Saturday For Next Year

The Screen Actors Guild announced this morning in a statement that due to scheduling conflicts the date for the 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards next year will be changed to a Saturday from the original date of Sunday, January 31.  The Awards will be broadcast live by TNT and TBS on Saturday, January 23, 2010.
 


February 3, 2009
Fourteen Years In The Making

John Albo toiled for 14 long years to make and complete "Flexing With Monty", a film fraught with the most incredible, unfortunate and tragic downs.  The horror-comedy-drama film, which endured the death of its lead actor Trevor Goddard ("Mortal Kombat"), not to mention the loss of money, will finally be released this summer.  "Flexing" began filming in 1994 and wrapped in 2008.  The film has been praised by numerous people including Sean Penn, Robert Downey Sr., and Danny DeVito as "exciting, sensual and outrageously funny."


January 21, 2009
Philip Seymour Hoffman To Go Behind The Camera

He's been directing theater plays for a number of years now and he his a producer of some Off-Broadway plays including "Our Lady Of 110th Street", but now Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman will be directing a feature film for the first time beginning on February 9, when the film "Jack Goes Boating" starts filming in New York City, based on Bob Glaudini's Off-Broadway 2007 play, which Mr. Hoffman's LAByrinth Theater Company produced.  Daphne Rubin-Vega and John Ortiz will reprise their roles in the film version, with Mr. Hoffman also starring with Amy Ryan.


January 15, 2009
Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna are Big In Mexico and Coming Back To The States

Each has separately gone on to make a name for himself as a rapidly rising acting talent in the U.S., while already being known to millions around the world, and for the first time in almost a decade both Gael Garcia Bernal (most recently in "Blindness") and Diego Luna (currently in "Milk") are on the big screen together in the film "Rudo Y Cursi", which after just three weeks has become a box office smash phenomenon in Mexico.  Yesterday it was announced that Sony Pictures Classics had acquired the North American distribution rights to the Spanish-language film, which has already become one of the five highest-grossing films in Mexico's history.  "Rudo Y Cursi", directed by Carlos Cuaron, whose brother Alfonso directed Mr. Bernal and Mr. Luna in "Y Tu Mama Tambien", will have its U.S. premiere at this year's Sundance Film Festival.  The film is Mr. Cuaron's directing debut and it's about two brothers who are hard laborers in rural Mexico who have dreams of building their mother a dream house.  "Rudo Y Cursi", which is also the biggest Mexican film to open in Argentina, was written by Mr. Cuaron and produced by Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo Del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. 


January 3, 2009
Jett Travolta, Age 16, Passes

Jett Travolta had a fatal accident following an illness and died yesterday while vacationing with his family in Nassau, Bahamas, according to Variety.  He was just 16 years of age.  He reportedly hit his head in a bathtub at the family vacation home on the island nation after being ill, and died soon after.  Jett is the son of actors John Travolta and Kelly Preston, who also have an 8-year-old daughter.  Mr. Travolta is to be seen on the big screen in the U.S. and Canada this summer as the villain in a remake of "The Taking Of Pelham 1,2,3" with Denzel Washington and later in the year in a sequel to the box office hit comedy "Wild Hogs".


January 3, 2009
"Inglorious Basterds" To Open In North America On August 21

In the U.S. and Canada, this year's dog days of summer will feature the opening of Quentin Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds", the World War Two epic drama-comedy that stars Brad Pitt, Mike Myers, "Hostel" director Eli Roth and B.J. Novak.  The film, to be distributed in the U.S. and Canada by The Weinstein Company, will open on August 21.  Universal Pictures will distribute the picture overseas.


January 3, 2009
The New Official Academy Motion Picture Arts And Sciences Website, And The Number 281

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences Has Recently Revamped Its Website.  Visit oscars.org.  Late last month, the Academy announced that 281 feature films would be eligible for the 2008 Oscars.



January 3, 2009
Isabelle Huppert Selected To Head Cannes Film Festival Jury

Published reports today announced that the legendary French actress Isabelle Huppert will be the jury president of this year's Cannes Film Festival, which runs from May 13 through May 24 on the French Riviera.  Festival du Cannes, as the film festival is more commonly known, will have its 62nd edition.

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December 15, 2008
"Twilight" sequel: "New Moon"

Summit Entertainment today announced the sequel to the current hit film "Twilight".  The film will be titled "New Moon" and will be released on November 20, 2009, on the same date that "Twilight" was released this year.  After four weekends, "Twilight" has made $150 million so far during its theatrical release in the U.S. and Canada.  "New Moon" will begin filming in March.


December 15, 2008
"Earth" Shakes The Box Office In North America

The Keanu Reeves-Jennifer Connelly starring remake of "The Day The Earth Stood Still" stood tall at the top of the North America box office this weekend with $30.4 million, according to figures released today by Exhibitor Relations.  The film bounced "Four Christmases" from the top spot, which it had held for the past two weeks.  The film, starring Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn, has made $87.7 million so far since its release three weeks ago.


December 4, 2008
Russell Crowe Goes For A Double

Some American readers may think baseball when reading this, but Oscar winner Russell Crowe is now preparing for two roles in the same film, according to Variety Magazine's Liz Smith, who reports that New Zealand's own Mr. Crowe will be playing both Robin Hood and Sheriff Nottingham in a fifth film collaboration with British director Ridley Scott, who teamed with Mr. Crowe most recently on "Body Of Lies".  Ms. Smith reports that Mr. Scott's "Nottingham" will begin filming in February, and that Mr. Crowe is still trying to shed the pounds he gained for their last film.


December 4, 2008
Sundance Film Festival Unveils 2009 Line-Up of Films In Competition

Yesterday Sundance announced its in-competition line-up of films for next month's festival.  A total of 64 films, 16 in each of four categories, Dramatic Competition, U.S. Documentary Feature, World Dramatic Cinema and World Documentary.  Among the titles that jump out in each: Max Mayer's "Adam", Robert Siegel's "Big Fan" (both U.S. Dramatic Competition); Jeff Stilson's "Good Hair", with Chris Rock - about African-American hair styles, Tom DiCillo's "When You're Strange", about The Doors between 1966 and 1971 (both U.S. Documentary); "Nollywood Babylon" from Nigeria, "Prom Night In Mississippi", from Canada (both World Documentary); "Lulu And Jim", from Germany, and "Unmade Beds", from the U.K. (both World Dramatic Competition).  A complete list of the competition line-up is available at
www.sundance.org/festival .  The 2009 Sundance Film Festival runs from January 15-25 in Park City, Ogden and Salt Lake City, Utah.


December 1, 2008
Screen Actors Guild Nominations To Be Announced On December 18

Angela Bassett and Eric McCormack (of television sitcom "Will & Grace") will announce the nominees for the 15th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles on Thursday, December 18 at 9am Eastern/6am Pacific U.S. time.  Both actors will be joined by SAG president Alan Rothenberg.  The announcement will be televised live in the U.S. and around the world on the Internet.  Amid recent published reports about the possibility of a strike by the Screen Actors Guild as early as next month, the Awards are still expected to take place on Sunday, January 25, 2009 at 8pm Eastern U.S. time.


December 1, 2008
"Slumdog Millionaire" Wins Top Honors at British Independent Film Awards

Last night at the 11th British Independent Film Awards in London, "Slumdog Millionaire", Danny Boyle's tale of a poor boy from Mumbai who strikes it rich on a game show, took top honors, winning for best British Independent Film, best director, most promising newcomer (Dev Patel, who plays the 18-year-old boy from India) and cinematography (Anthony Dod Mantle).  Early indications are that "Slumdog Millionaire" will be a major player in the Awards Season of 2009, likely to garner nominations for the Golden Globes and Oscars.  Vera Farmiga won for best actress in "Boy In The Striped Pajamas", Michael Fassbinder won best actor for "Hunger", while in the supporting acting honors "Happy-Go-Lucky" swept, with Alexis Zagerman and Eddie Marsan winning.  "Man On Wire" won best documentary, while "Waltz With Bashir" won best foreign language film.  Martin McDonagh won best screenplay for "In Bruges", and David Thewlis was honored for his contributions as an actor to British independent film, and Michael Sheen (of "Frost/Nixon" and "The Queen") received the Variety Award for his acting on stage and screen.


December 1, 2008
"Four Christmases" Tops The North American Box Office

The Vince Vaughn-Reese Witherspoon comedy "Four Christmases" topped the North American box office with $31.7 million, according to estimates released by Exhibitor Relations yesterday.  So far, the film, which opened on Wednesday, a day before the Thanksgiving holiday, has made $46 million.  "Bolt" actually moved up a notch to gain second place, while "Twilight" fell from first place to third.  "Twilight" has already grossed $119.6 million despite falling a steep 62% over the previous weekend.  "Quantum Of Solace", which finished in fourth place, dropped only 27% from last weekend's gross and has made $142 million despite mostly poor reviews.


November 26, 2008
The Wolves Are Out!

The Twentieth Century Fox release "The Day The Earth Stood Still", to be released on December 12 across the U.S. and Canada, will exclusively run the trailer for the May 1, 2009 Fox release "X-Men Origins: WOLVERINE", the spin-off from the "X-Men" film franchise.  Hugh Jackman reprises his character from the franchise in the title role of the new film.  The "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" trailer will begin running with "The Day The Earth Stood Still" beginning on December 12 in North America,  only in theaters.


November 24, 2008
"Twilight" Sweet And Bright

"Twilight", based on the series of books, grossed $69.5 million at the box office across the U.S. and Canada according to official numbers finalized by Exhibitor Relations today.  "Twilight", about teenage vampires, and starring teen heartthrob Robert Pattinson, exceeded industry expectations.  A sequel has already been greenlighted.


November 18, 2008
"Quantum" Downgrade, But Still A Record

The official box office figures for the U.S.-Canada box office were released yesterday, and according to Exhibitor Relations, the new James Bond film "Quantum Of Solace" made about $3 million less than estimates had showed.  The film, directed by Marc Forster, made $67.5 million officially, still by far the highest opening ever for a Bond film in the U.S. and Canada.  To understand just how much of a record opening "Quantum Of Solace" had, "Die Another Day" in 2002 made $47 million, which was the record opening for a Bond film.  "Casino Royale" actually opened lower, with $40.8 million, in 2006.


November 17, 2008
Eastwood On A Roll

If at 78 Clint Eastwood can be characterized as old man river, then that would presumably be a good thing because he just keeps rolling along.  As reported here on The Popcorn Reel last week, the veteran director's new film "Gran Torino", which he also stars in, will be released in New York and Los Angeles for Oscar consideration on December 17.  Now, according to Variety, Mr. Eastwood is in talks with Steven Spielberg to direct "Hereafter", billed as a supernatural thriller along the lines of "The Sixth Sense".  Mr. Eastwood, who has won the best director Oscar twice ("Unforgiven" and "Million Dollar Baby"), could have a third on his mantle for "Changeling", which is likely to be a leading contender for the Oscars in early 2009.


November 12, 2008
Batman Suing Batman

According to Variety, the southeastern Turkey town of Batman is suing Warner Brothers, Christopher Nolan and the producers of "The Dark Knight" for royalties to the film which has grossed almost $1 billion worldwide.  The name Batman has been used by DC Comics ever since 1939, but Huseyin Kalyan, the mayor of Batman, has accused the filmmaker and the studio of using the name of the city without permission.  The mayor of Batman is apparently preparing to prove that the city's existence predated the initial 1939 use of the city, the name of which appeared in Bob Kane's stories in DC Comics.  Mr. Kalyan also has cited that the city's high suicide rate among women and several unsolved murders on the "psychological impact" that the astounding financial success of "The Dark Knight" has had on the city's inhabitants.  Stay tuned.


November 11, 2008
Jaden Smith Kicks Back As The Next "Karate Kid"

Jaden Smith will be the next Karate Kid, according to published reports.  Chris Murphy will write the screenplay for the new film.  A director has not been announced yet.  Jaden, son of acting megastar Will Smith, appeared with his father in the 2006 film "The Pursuit Of Happyness".  Will Smith's next film is "Seven Pounds", which opens in the U.S. and Canada next month.  Gabriele Muccino directed both "Pursuit" and "Seven Pounds".


November 9, 2008
"Madagascar" Madness, Part Two

The recently-lethargic North American box office was brought to life with a jolt with the debut of "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" at the top of the box office.  The animated sequel to the 2005 hit brought in a staggering $63.5 million over the weekend, according to estimates from Exhibitor Relations.  With America's Thanksgiving holiday just under three weeks away, the new film is expected to be around for a while, and will likely top $300 million in the U.S. and Canada alone before the end of the year.  The new "Madagascar" again features the voices of Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer and Jada Pinkett Smith, among others.  The film's music is by Hans Zimmer and will.i.am, and the film is directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath.


September 17, 2008
Michael Douglas In "Solitary" Confinement

Making his return to the big screen after a year away, Michael Douglas is set to star in "Solitary Man", about a man whose libido is red-hot.  Mr. Douglas is likely to be joined by his good friend Danny DeVito, Susan Sarandon and Jenna Fischer.  Mr. Douglas was last seen in the film "King Of California".


September 3, 2008  audio
"Tarzan" To Hit The Big Screen

Stephen Sommers is all but assured to direct a big screen version of "Tarzan", according to published reports in Variety.  Mr. Sommers has just finished wrapping up his direction of the film "G.I. Joe".  Stuart Beattie, who wrote the screenplay for "Collateral", will write the script for "Tarzan" with Mr. Sommers for the Warner Brothers studio.  Jerry Weintraub will produce the film.

Don LaFontaine, Voice Over Man, Passes At Age 68

The man whose voice was familiar to millions but whose face was rarely seen in movies, passed on Monday at 68.  Mr. LaFontaine had given his voice to no fewer than 5,000 movie trailers and more than 350,000 television commercials and network television promotional advertisements.


September 2, 2008
Not "Broken", And Unbreakable

Sony Classics will distribute Pedro Almodovar's new film "Broken Embraces", which will star Penelope Cruz, dubbed as the legendary Spanish film director's muse.  Ms. Cruz has appeared in at least four other Almodovar films ("Volver", "Live Flesh", "All About My Mother", "Women On The Verge of A Nervous Breakdown".)  "Broken Embraces" is now filming in Madrid and the Canary Islands.  Penelope Cruz can currently be seen in the U.S. on the big screen in Woody Allen's "Vicky Christina Barcelona".


June 16, 2008
"The Incredible Hulk" Runs Wild, 54 Million Times Over

According to estimates released yesterday by Exhibitor Relations, "The Incredible Hulk" made $54.5 million at the box office in the U.S. and Canada, taking top spot and bouncing "Kung Fu Panda" into second place.  Final numbers will be released today.
 

May 15, 2008
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Donates $100,000 to Myanmar Relief

In a statement released this morning, Jorge Camara, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, announced that the HFPA had donated $100,000 to Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres to aid the relief effort in Myanmar in the wake of the deadly cyclone there.  "The tragedy that has happened to our world neighbors in Asia is unfathomable, and two million people have been displaced in addition to the thousands who have perished," said the  HFPA president.  "Although our charitable contributions are usually devoted to scholarships and film preservation, we realize that our international organization must contribute whatever money we can immediately to help the millions of victims of this terrible catastrophe.  We urge the Hollywood community and the public at large to contribute as well."
 


May 12, 2008
"Iron" Is Kind; another weekend, another top gross in North America

"Iron Man" easily fended off the new film "Speed Racer" with an impressive $50.5 million to maintain its hold on the number one spot at the North American box office.  "Iron Man", directed by Jon Favreau and starring Robert Downey, Jr., has now made a total of $177.1 million, according to estimates released by Exhibitor Relations yesterday.  "Speed Racer" edged out fellow debutant "What Happens In Vegas" for second place, with $20.2 million versus $20 million.  Rounding out the top five were "Made Of Honor" ($26.2 million cumulative gross) and "Baby Mama" ($40.3 million).  Final figures from the weekend will be released today.


May 5, 2008

"Iron"-clad, in $100 million ways

The new Robert Downey, Jr. film "Iron Man", directed by Jon Favreau, stormed to the top of the North American box office in its opening weekend, with a staggering $100.8 million, according to estimates by Exhibitor Relations.  Final figures will be released later today.

April 1, 2088

"21" is no snake eyes at the summit of the box office in North America

"21", the poker-playing gambling drama, topped the box office with approximately $24 million this past weekend, according to final numbers released by Exhibitor Relations.  The film, released by Sony Pictures, stars Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth ("Superman Returns"), Laurence Fishburne and Kevin Spacey, and is based on a novel that is based on a true story.

March 24, 2008
Who?  Who!  "Horton" Hears Ka-Ching at the North American Box Office

"Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears A Who" topped the box office chart for the U.S. and Canada this past holiday weekend, staying at the summit in its second weekend in release.  The animated feature with the voices of Jim Carrey, Steve Carell and Seth Rogen among others, tallied $25.1 million for a cumulative gross of $86.4 million, according to figures released yesterday by Exhibitor Relations.  By this coming weekend it will become the first film released in 2008 to cross the $100 million mark.  In second place was "Tyler Perry's Meet The Browns", with an impressive gross of $20 million in its opening weekend.  The film, which stars the director Mr. Perry, Angela Bassett, and former Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Rick Fox, was not screened for the press, as is the custom with Mr. Perry's films, but as is the custom with his films continued to post strong numbers despite being on almost 2000 fewer screens than "Horton".  "Browns" had the highest per-screen average of the weekend of the top ten films, with $9,975 per screen.  Mr. Perry's film was the third to be released in thirteen months.  Last year he had "Daddy's Little Girls" and "Why Did I Get Married?" released on Valentine's Day and October 20 respectively.


March 19, 2008  popcorn express news audio
Arthur C. Clarke, "2001" author, passes away at age 90

Arthur C. Clarke passed away yesterday in Sri Lanka due to breathing complications, it was reported.  Mr. Clarke was best known for his science fiction novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was adapted by Mr. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick into the feature film of the same title.  (More details)

March 19, 2008
Anthony Minghella, film director, passes away at age 54

British-born filmmaker Anthony Minghella passed away yesterday morning at a London hospital following surgery.  He suffered a fatal brain hemorrhage.  Mr. Minghella was the director and writer of such films as "Breaking and Entering", "The English Patient" (which won nine Oscars in 1997) and "The Talented Mr. Ripley".  He also produced these and other films, including his own film "Cold Mountain".  Mr. Minghella was most recently an executive producer on the Oscar-winning film "Michael Clayton" and appeared in front of the camera as an interviewer in the Oscar-winning film "Atonement", which was released on DVD yesterday in the U.S. and Canada.  (More details)


March 10, 2008  popcorn express news audio
"10,000 B.C." Tops The North America Box Office For March 7-9

Roland Emmerich's "10,000 B.C." exceeded expectations to finish at the summit of this past weekend's box office in the U.S. and Canada, grossing over $35 million dollars in its opening weekend.  The film is released by Warner Brothers.

March 10, 2008
"Touching Home" To Have Its World Premiere at the 51st San Francisco International Film Festival

As part of the upcoming film festival's Spotlight: Cinema By The Bay series, "Touching Home", the debut feature film from self-taught filmmaking identical twin brothers Logan Miller and Noah Miller, will have its world premiere in San Francisco on April 26.  "Touching Home" stars Ed Harris and Robert Forster among others, in a story about familial struggles of the working class in small town America.  The Miller twins wrote, produced, directed and acted in the film.  They, as well as other selected cast members, are expected to attend the world premiere, to be held at the Sundance Kabuki Cinema.  The 51st San Francisco International Film Festival runs from April 24 through May 8.
 


March 7, 2008  popcorn express news audio
"Notorious" Gets Set To Film Later This Month

Yesterday Fox Searchlight Pictures announced that "Notorious", the motion picture based on the life of rapper Christopher "Biggie Smalls" Wallace, will begin production on March 24 in the five boroughs of New York City.  George Tillman, Jr., director of such films as "Soul Food" and "Men Of Honor", will direct "Notorious", which stars Angela Bassett as Voletta Wallace, the mother of the late rapper who was slain in 1997.  Also in the film is Derek Luke ("Antwone Fisher", "Lions For Lambs" and the forthcoming Spike Lee film "Miracle At St. Anna").  Mr. Luke will play Sean P. Diddy Combs, while Anthony Mackie ("She Hate Me") will play Tupac Shakur.  Jamal Woolard, a Brooklyn native, as was Mr. Wallace, will play the rapper known as The Notorious B.I.G.  Mr. Woolard, who has never acted before on the big screen, was found by Fox Searchlight during a year-long, worldwide search to portray the late rapper.


March 6, 2008  popcorn express news audio
Patrick Swayze diagnosed with pancreatic cancer

The 55-year-old star of the immensely popular films "Dirty Dancing" and "Ghost" has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, according to published reports released yesterday.

March 6, 2008
2007 a year for record U.S. box-office ticket sales, according to the MPAA

The Motion Picture Association of America yesterday released its U.S. box-office receipt totals for 2007, which revealed a record-breaking year at the U.S. box office, with a total of over $9.6 billion in ticket sales, a record for a single calendar year in the U.S.  The total was a 5.4% increase over 2006.  Although admissions in 2007 were roughly equal to those of the prior year, the MPAA attributed higher ticket prices for the increase in total receipts.  The average price of a movie ticket in the U.S. is now about $6.88.

March 6, 2008
Ciaran Hinds joins cast of "Race To Witch Mountain"

"Race To Witch Mountain" now has a bad guy in Ciaran Hinds, who will join the cast playing a villain.  The film already has Dwayne Johnson in a starring role.  Mr. Hinds can currently be seen on the big screen in North America in the Oscar-winning film "There Will Be Blood" and will appear in "Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day",  which opens in the U.S. and Canada tomorrow, while Mr. Johnson's next big screen appearance will be in the June comedy "Get Smart".  Mr. Johnson can currently be seen on DVD in "The Game Plan" and was last seen on the big screen in the film "Southland Tales".

March 6, 2008
New "Wanted" Trailer Wants Your Attention

"Wanted", the action-fantasy film opening in North America on June 27, has recently released its latest trailer on its website at www.wantedmovie.com.  The film stars James McAvoy (currently on the big screen in "Atonement" and "Penelope"), and Oscar winners Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie.


March 5, 2008  popcorn express news audio
The Weinstein Company to produce the forthcoming Bob Marley film "No Woman No Cry"

The Weinstein Company will produced the first-ever feature film on the life of reggae musician, activist and megastar Bob Marley, the film production company announced in a press release yesterday.  The film "No Woman No Cry", based on the autobiography of the same name (with the subtitle "My Life With Bob Marley) written by Rita Marley, the widow of Mr. Marley (who died at age 35 in 1981), will also be produced by Rudy Langlais, and written by Lizzie Borden. No director for the film has been announced, but more details are expected shortly.  In a statement, Rita Marley, who will also serve as an executive producer on the film, said in part, "
I wrote my book to tell my story -- of the dreams we shared and those days we spent living and believing in our hope.  I saw it and now we get to tell it through our movie.  Iíve waited a long time to tell this story, about growing up in Jamaica and meeting Bob and making our music and falling in love and making our family.  All that, and all that we went through went into this.  Now is that time.  This is my story."

March 5, 2008
In Hollywood, growing concerns about a possible Screen Actors' Guild strike

On the heels of last month's end to a four-month strike by the Writers' Guild of America, concerns are growing in Tinseltown about the possibility of an actors' strike by the Screen Actors Guild, which is in the process of engaging in talks with the unions for a new contractual agreement.  George Clooney, speaking last month on E! Entertainment Television's red carpet pre-Oscars show voiced some cautious optimism, saying that he hoped that something can get done prior to the deadline of June 30, after which the Guild has said that it would strike if a satisfactory deal had not been reached.  New feature film production has slowed, and privately, according to Variety, some unnamed talent agency personnel have expressed worry about film production shutting down almost completely, with the impossibility of completing a film from start to finish before the June deadline.

March 5, 2008
Sundance Institute's Short Films Now Available For Free

Today,  The Sundance Institute announced that five new short films are available right now for free at www.sundance.org.  The comedy "A Slip In Time", directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris of "Little Miss Sunshine"; Jody Hill's "Learning to Skateboard", about a corporate worker's journey to liberate himself from the everyday by learning to skateboard; "°La Revolucion De Igoudala!" about the filtering of a man's passionate message in different mediums, directed by "Better Luck Tomorrow" filmmaker Justin Lin; Maria Maggenti's "Los Viajes De King Tiny", a Los Angeles story about a small dog who explores the streets of the city of Angels by himself while his owner is working; and "Reno", directed by Cory McAbee, about a traveling singing cowboy's braggadocio to a store security camera.  In a statement, John Cooper, Director of Programming for the Sundance Film Festival and Creative Director for Sundance Institute, said in part, "The experience that we've had through our shorts initiatives, including commissioning these five films for the Sundance Global Short Film Project and creating one-of-a-kind distribution partnerships with iTunes, Netflix and Xbox  for Festival shorts, is that there is a vast global audience for these films."  


March 4, 2008  popcorn express news audio
The Next Coen Brothers film "Burn After Reading" To Open on September 12

Focus Features yesterday announced the release date in the U.S. and Canada for the Coen Brothers' next film entitled "Burn After Reading".  The film, an espionage noir-comedy, will hit theaters in North America on September 12.  John Malkovich stars as a CIA agent who has been ousted and whose memoir accidentally falls into the hands of two bumbling Washington D.C. gym employees who seek to make a profit from it.  "Michael Clayton" Tilda Swinton plays the wife of the Malkovich character.  The film also stars Richard Jenkins, George Clooney, Frances MacDormand and Brad Pitt.

Last month the Coen Brothers won best picture, director, adapted screenplay Oscars for "No Country For Old Men", which hits DVD shelves in the U.S. and Canada on March 11.  Javier Bardem also won an Oscar for best supporting actor, playing relentless killer Anton Chigurh in the film.


March 4, 2008  editorial
Marion Cotillard's Alleged 9/11/01 Comments Cause Stir

Newly-minted Best Actress Oscar winner Marion Cotillard has found herself in a little hot water for comments she allegedly made about September 11, 2001.  In an interview she had been quoted as saying that the U.S. government itself destroyed the World Trade Center towers because they were a "money-sucker".  She had also been quoted as saying that the U.S. government may have been involved in a conspiracy to engineer the events of that tragic day and that she had doubts about the official story being laid out by the current U.S. administration. 

Ms. Cotillard, 29, winner of the Oscar for "La Vie En Rose" last week, has said that the quotes in the interview were taken out of context.

 

(February 22, 2008)  Hugo Weaving joins "The Wolfman"

Hugo Weaving has joined the cast of "The Wolfman".  He will play Detective Aberline, according to Variety magazine.  The film, which will start lensing next month, is directed by Joe Johnston and will also star Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro, as the title character.  Universal Pictures will distribute the film.

(February 20, 2008)  Will.i.am joins cast of "Wolverine"

Variety magazine reported today that The Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am will join the cast of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine", the X-Men spinoff movie being directed by "Tsotsi" and "Rendition" director Gavin Hood.  Will.i.am plays John Wraith.  Ryan Reynolds will play Deadpool, while Taylor Kitsch will play Gambit.  The cast is rounded out by Hugh Jackman in the title role once again, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston and Lynn Collins.  The film will be shot in such locales as Australia, New Zealand and New Orleans.  "Wolverine" is scheduled for a May 1, 2009 release -- the same month that "Star Trek" is set to open.
 

(February 19, 2008)  Deadline day for Oscar voters

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences voters (almost 6,000 strong) will have to turn in their ballots no later than 5p.m. today Pacific U.S. time.  There are just five days until the 80th Annual Academy Awards this Sunday at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood.  The ceremony stars at 8:30p.m. Eastern/5:30p.m. Pacific U.S. time on Sunday, February 24, and will be televised live in over 220 countries.
 

(January 31, 2008)  Josh Brolin almost guaranteed to play George W. for Stone

Variety reported yesterday that Josh Brolin was in the process of ironing out the last details to play the current U.S. president in Oliver Stone's biopic "Bush", which will begin filming in April, with an eye toward a November release, while the 43rd president is still in office.  Reportedly, Mr. Stone has said that he will be "fair" in his portrayal of the president, but added that the film will trace Mr. Bush's roots as a drug-addict and underachiever and his evolution into becoming the world's most powerful human being.  Mr. Brolin will play Mr. Bush immediately after wrapping filming on Gus Van Sant's "Milk" in which he plays Dan White, a colleague and assassin of San Francisco Board Supervisor Harvey Milk, played by Sean Penn.  Mr. Brolin can currently be seen in two Oscar-nominated films: "No Country For Old Men" and "In The Valley of Elah".


(January 14, 2008)  Golden Globe film wins for "Atonement" and "Sweeney Todd"

In last night's Writers' Guild strike-affected Golden Globes, "Atonement" won best motion picture drama and "Sweeney Todd" won best motion picture comedy or musical.  In the acting awards on the film side for drama, top lead acting honors went to Julie Christie for "Away From Her" and Daniel Day-Lewis for "There Will Be Blood", while on the motion picture comedy/musical side, the respective lead acting awards were won by Marion Cotillard ("La Vie En Rose") and Johnny Depp ("Sweeney Todd").  In the supporting acting categories, Cate Blanchett scored a mild surprise over Amy Ryan, winning for "I'm Not There", while Javier Bardem was awarded the prize for "No Country For Old Men".  Julian Schnabel's film "The Diving Bell and The Butterfly" won for best foreign language film, and Mr. Schnabel won for best director.  Best screenplay honors went to Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for "No Country For Old Men", while "Ratatouille" won best animated feature film.  The Globes, awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, are traditionally considered a pre-cursor for the Oscar nominations and awards.  Oscar watch now officially gets underway and will heighten following Oscar nominations, to be announced on January 22.
 

(January 8, 2008)  Sundance 2008 Jury Members Announced

This morning the 2008 Sundance Film Festival Jury members for the six juries handing out awards for competing films were announced:

U.S. Dramatic Competition: Marcia Gay Harden, Mary Harron, Diego Luna, Sandra Oh and Quentin Tarantino.

U.S. Documentary Competition: Michelle Byrd, Heidi Ewing, Eugene Jarecki, Steven Okazaki and Annie Sundberg.

World Dramatic Competition: Shunji Iwai, Lucrecia Martel and Jan Schuette.

World Documentary Competition: Amir Bar-Lev, Leena Pasanen and Ilda Santiago.

American and International Short Films: Jon Bloom, Melonie Diaz and Jason Reitman.

Alfred E. Sloan Prize: Alan Alda, Michael Polish, Evan Schwartz, Benedict Schwegler and John Underkoffler.

The winners of the six prizes will be announced on January 26 at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival Awards Ceremony in Park City, Utah.
 

(January 8, 2008)  Goodbye Golden Globes

Last night Jorge Camara, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, announced that this year's Golden Globes ceremony will be cancelled due to the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike.  Instead, a one-hour press conference will be televised, in which the winners in 25 categories of film and television nominees will be read out, on NBC television this Sunday, the day the full awards were scheduled to be held.

(January 4, 2008)  "Michael Clayton" to arrive on DVD in time for Oscars

Variety reports that Tony Gilroy's "Michael Clayton" will arrive on DVD in the U.S. and Canada on February 19, five days before the Academy Awards are held.  Joining "Clayton" on DVD shelves on the same day will be "In The Valley of Elah" and "Lust, Caution".  The week before, on February 12, "Gone Baby Gone" and "Into The Wild" will be released, and on February 5, "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" and "Across The Universe" will find a home on DVD.  Each of the mentioned films are expected to be Oscar contenders.
 

(January 3, 2008)  Mathieu Almaric to play main villain in new Bond film

Mathieu Almaric, who played Elle magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby in "The Diving Bell And The Butterfly", will play the main bad guy in the new Bond film, according to published reports.  The new Bond film opens on November 7 and is directed by "Monster's Ball" and "Kite Runner" director Marc Forster.
 

(January 3, 2008)  Golden Globes and WGA partner up

Yesterday Jorge Camara, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, announced that the Golden Globes and the WGA were working out an agreement to allow writers to return to work to write for the awards show, which is now going forward on January 13 as scheduled, and without picket lines.


(January 2, 2008)  Sacha Baron Cohen has inked Hoffman role

According to Variety, Sacha Baron Cohen will play Abbie Hoffman in "The Trail of The Chicago Seven", which will reportedly be Steven Spielberg's next film.  A report in a British newspaper linked the London-born actor to the film.  Cohen can currently be seen in "Sweeney Todd".  Spielberg is in post production on the new "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull", which opens on May 22.
 

(January 1, 2008)  Happy New Year!


(December 18, '07)  "Valkyrie" moves back in 2008

Bryan Singer's "Valkyrie" is being moved backwards in the 2008 film release calendar from June 27, 2008 to October 3, 2008, it was announced yesterday.  The director needs to film a sequence which explains how Claus Von Staffenberg (played by Tom Cruise) lost his eye and his right hand while fighting on the African continent, and the sequence will be shot in February.  The film has otherwise wrapped production.  Mr. Cruise plays a Nazi officer who in real life engineers a plot to assassinate his leader Adolf Hitler during the 1940's.  "Valkyrie", the second film from the Wagner-Cruise-revamped United Artists studio, will now be released as an awards season contender for next year.
 

(October 31, '07)  Hollywood Foreign Press Association Makes a Golden change for 2009

Today the HFPA announced that an immediate rule change will take effect for the Golden Globe Awards held in January 2009.   Foreign language films that have the U.S. as the country of origin for its production will be eligible for Best Motion Picture instead of Best Foreign Language Film category, HFPA president Jorge Camara said in a statement released this morning.

(October 30, '07)   Lee Daniels Makes a "Push"

Producer-director Lee Daniels (producer of the Oscar-winning "Monster's Ball" and director of "Shadowboxer") will direct his second feature film beginning next month in New York City.  "Push" is the story of an obese and illiterate Harlem woman who is pregnant with her second child.  The woman, Clareece, is at a crossroads and decides to look at an alternative path in life.  "Push" which starts filming very soon, will mark the feature film debut of rock star Lenny Kravitz.  Gabourney Sidibe makes her big screen debut as Clareece.  Mo'Nique ("Shadowboxer") and Paula Patton ("Deja Vu") also star.  "Push" is adapted from the best-selling novel of the same name, authored by Sapphire.

(October 30, '07)    Moore of the Wright-Penn and Ryder celluloid stuff

Next April in Connecticut, Rebecca Miller will direct "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee" from her own novel, about a devoted woman whose husband has an affair with a younger woman.  The devoted woman explores her own hidden desires but suffers the consequences.  The film stars Robin Wright-Penn, Julianne Moore and Wynona Ryder.
 

(October 26, '07)  John Travolta To Join Denzel Washington in "Pelham" remake

Variety Magazine reports that John Travolta is currently in negotiations to join Denzel Washington in a remake of the 1970's film "The Taking of Pelham 123", to be directed Tony Scott.  When the formalities of the contract talks are ironed out, Travolta will sign on to play the lead hijacker of a New York City subway train, with Denzel Washington as the man who stands in his way.  Mr. Travolta (most recently in "Hairspray"), who has played several bad guys (in "Broken Arrow", "Face/Off", "Swordfish", "The Punisher") will get to play another here.  Mr. Washington has worked with Tony Scott on a number of occasions ("Crimson Tide", "Man On Fire", "Deja Vu") and will be seen next week across America in Ridley Scott's "American Gangster".  Ridley is the older brother of Tony.
 

(October 18, '07)  Bringing Out The Wolves in 2009

Oscar-winning director Gavin Hood, whose "Rendition" opens across the U.S. and Canada tomorrow, will begin filming "Wolverine", the spin-off from the "X-Men" series at the end of 2007.  Hugh Jackman stars in the film, reprising the role from the films directed by Bryan Singer ("X-Men" and "X-2") and Brett Ratner ("X-Men: The Last Stand".)  Liev Schreiber is reportedly in talks to also star in the film, which will be released on May 1, 2009.


(October 18, '07)   Cast set for "Trek"

J.J. Abrams (director of "Lost" and "Alias", director of "Mission: Impossible III") will begin shooting "Star Trek" in November, with a big cast that includes Zachary Quinto as Spock, Karl Urban as Bones McCoy, Zoe Saldana as Uhura, Simon Pegg as Scotty, Eric Bana as Nero, and Chris Pine as Captain Kirk.  The film is scheduled to be released on December 25, 2008 across North America.


(October 18, '07)   Busy Kim Basinger

Kim Basinger (Oscar-winner of "L.A. Confidential") will next be seen in the independent film "While She Was Out" and will shoot a film with Billy Bob Thornton called "The Informers" later this month.  Basinger will also star opposite fellow Oscar-winner Charlize Theron in screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga's debut as a film director in "The Burning Plain", which begins filming next month in New Mexico.  Arriaga wrote the screenplays for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's films ("Amores Perros", "21 Grams", "Babel") and also wrote the script for "Burning".


(October 17, '07)  Mill Valley Marvelous!

"Rendition" and "Autism: The Musical" were voted audience favorites at the recently-concluded Mill Valley Film Festival in Northern California.  "The Kite Runner" was also a success at the Festival.

(October 17, '07)  Julia Feted

Julia Roberts was celebrated at Cinematheque's tribute to her.  Stars ranging from the likes of Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks to Sally Field and Natalie Portman and director Mike Nichols turned out to honor her and give remarks.  The tribute will air in the U.S. on the AMC cable television network on December 5.
 

(September 6, '07)   Brad Pitt attacked by a "fan" in Venice

The actor was attacked by a fan who attempted to embrace him, putting her arms around his neck during a stop for autographs on Sunday.  Pitt was not injured.  More on the story, plus video, appears
here.

(August 30, '07)  Pierce Brosnan to play some "Topkapi"

Liz Smith of Variety magazine reports that Pierce Brosnan will be playing polo in a film he calls "The Topkapi Affair".  The film will be released by MGM.  The former Bond 007 will star and produce the film.

(August 30, '07)  Zellweger and Connick thrilled to be "Chilled"

Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick, Jr. will be in the comedy film "Chilled In Miami", which will be directed by Danish writer-director Jonas Helm.  The film is about a businesswoman from Miami who is transferred to Minnesota's backwoods.  The film will begin shooting in January in Miami, with the Canadian city of Winnepeg doubling as Minnesota.   Tracey Edmonds is among the producers of the film.

(August 30, '07)  "The Informers" call on Basinger and Thornton

Kim Basinger and Billy Bob Thornton will join Brandon Routh ("Superman Returns") and Ashley Olsen as cast members on the upcoming film "The Informers".  The film, to be directed by Gregor Jordan is set during one week in 1983 and features seven intersecting stories in Los Angeles.  "Informers" is based on novelist Bret Easton Ellis ("American Psycho") writings of short stories about a diverse collection of characters.  Production on the film begins in October in Los Angeles, as well as in Buenos Aires and Uruguay.

(August 29, '07)  "Born" gives birth this October in a North American theatrical release

The popular documentary "The Business Of Being Born", which examines the history of child birth in the U.S. from the early 1900's and advocates natural childbirths via midwives as an alternative, will be released theatrically in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles in October.  The documentary, which is directed by Abby Epstein and executive produced by Ricki Lake, whose own childbirth is chronicled in the film, screened earlier this year at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, to overwhelming demand and response.

(August 29, '07)  Zack Snyder an "Illustrated Man"

The director of "300" will begin work on "The Illustrated Man", a remake based on the short stories by Ray Bradbury.  Snyder is already getting ready to direct "Watchmen".

(August 29, '07)  "Lions For Lambs" to open the AFI Fest

The Robert Redford political drama starring Redford, Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise, will mark its North American debut at the American Film Institute's AFI Fest 2007, which runs from November 1 through 11.  The film will be shown on November 1 at the ArcLight's Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles.  The film opens in the U.S. and Canada on November 9.

(August 29, '07)  Owen Wilson recuperating after suicide attempt
 
Owen Wilson is reportedly in stable condition and resting following a suicide attempt over the weekend, according to published reports.  The star of such films as "The Wedding Crashers", "You, Me and Dupree", and the upcoming "The Darjeeling Limited", apparently tried to slash his wrists.  Wilson was found by his older brother Andrew, who promptly called police and paramedics.

(August 28, '07)  Lucas off to a flier with Ridley for "Red Tails"

"Red Tails", the story of the Tuskeegee Airmen, the all-African-American fighter pilot U.S. regiment in World War Two, will be written by John Ridley, who recently finished the screenplay for "L.A. Riots", which Spike Lee is expected to direct.  George Lucas, who wrote the story for "Red Tails", gave Ridley the reins to write the screenplay for the yet-to-be filmed action drama, after reading the "Riots" script.  The "Star Wars" director who has been a strong admirer of the history of the Tuskeegee Airmen, will finance and exec produce the film, which has yet to find a director.  Lucas is busy on the fourth "Indiana Jones" film as a producer for Steven Spielberg.  The film is currently in production and will open next May.

(August 26, '07)  Ang Lee's "Lust" too hot for the MPAA

The Motion Picture Association of America has given Ang Lee's new film "Lust, Caution", about love and espionage in Shanghai during wartime, an NC-17 rating (absolutely no children under 17 allowed.)  The film opens selectively in the U.S. on September 28 and expands in October to other U.S. cities.  Focus Features will release the film domestically.  "Lust" producer James Schamus has said that neither he nor Focus will appeal the film's rating and that therefore it will be released as an NC-17 picture.


(August 26, '07)   John Singleton involved in a car fatality on Thursday

John Singleton, the director of such films as "Boyz N The Hood" and "Four Brothers", and producer of films like "Hustle & Flow" and the just-released "Illegal Tender", was involved in a fatal car accident in Los Angeles.  He was driving and a woman ran out in front of him before he could apply the brakes.  The woman, 57, died shortly thereafter.  According to published reports, Singleton was neither speeding nor under the influence.  The director stopped and waited for police to arrive, and Singleton will not be charged. 

(August 23, '07)  Carla Gugino joins the cast of "Righteous Kill"

When the cameras start rolling next month on "Righteous Kill" Carlo Gugino will join Robert De Niro and Al Pacino as a crime-scene investigator with a dubious background, who is involved with De Niro's character.  De Niro and Pacino play New York City police detectives who team up to solve a high-profile crime.  Gugino will be seen alongside Denzel Washington as his wife in the Ridley Scott film "American Gangster", opening in November in the U.S.

(August 23, '07)  Justin Timberlake joins Mike Myers in "Guru"

Mike Myers' comedy "The Love Guru", which starts filming next month in Toronto, will have Justin Timberlake in the mix as the latest cast member to join Marco Schnabel's film.  Verne Troyer, Jessica Alba and Romany Malco are already signed on.

(August 23, '07)  The 32nd Toronto International Film Festival unveils full line-up

The Toronto International Film Festival officially unveiled its full line-up yesterday, with new films from Renny Harlin, Michael Moore, Woody Allen, The Cohen Brothers, Gus Van Sant, Peter Greenaway and many others.  More on the festival soon.  The festival takes place from September 6 through September 15.

(August 22, '07)  Eva Mendes catches "The Spirit"

Eva Mendes joins Frank Miller's "The Spirit", a film about a detective who fakes his own death so that he can fight crime anonymously.  Miller ("Sin City') writes and directs a cast which also includes Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson.  The film will be released in the U.S. and Canada via LionsGate in 2009.

(August 22, '07)  Brothers and Allen

Tim Allen will star in "Brothers" about a racially-mixed pair of adopted brothers forced to team up after being framed for a crime.  Allen will co-write with Matt Carroll.  Allen has been working and wrapping up on numerous film projects, including talks to star again in the sequel to the hit film "Wild Hogs".

(August 22, '07)  Cube ices a "Comeback"

Ice Cube (aka O'Shea Jackson) will star in and produce "Comeback", based on a true story of the first female quarterback in the American boys' high school football team in the history of Pop Warner football.  The Pop Warner tournament was the stage for eleven-year-old Jasmine Plummer, who was the first female player in it.  Cube will play the uncle of the character of Miss Plummer and a former high school football star.  Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst has been attached to direct the film.

(August 20, '07)  Eleven extras injured on "Valkyrie" set in Germany

Reuters reported that eleven people were injured when they fell off the back of a truck during the filming of "Valkyrie", the new Bryan Singer film starring Tom Cruise.  All are expected to recover and return to the set.  "Valkyrie" is about the real-life attempt by a Nazi colonel Claus von Stauffenberg to kill Adolf Hitler in 1944.  Cruise plays the colonel.  The film is expected to open next August in U.S. and Canadian theaters.

(August 20, '07)  Kidman dons a Nazi guise, too

Nicole Kidman will play a woman on trial for Nazi war crimes in the film "The Reader", which will begin shooting very soon.  Ralph Fiennes will play the younger man infatuated by her, unaware of her alleged atrocities.  The film is directed by Stephen Daldry, who directed Kidman to her Oscar-winning role in the 2002 film "The Hours".  Kidman is now on screen in "The Invasion".

(August 20, '07)   Biggs man on dating campus

"Batchelor No. 2", the Lionsgate comedy by Howard Deutsch now filming in Boston, has added a new cast member: "American Pie" star Jason Biggs.  He joins Dane Cook, Kate Hudson and Alec Baldwin.

(August 20, '07)   Acting ensemble in "Victoria'

"The Young Victoria" has added Paul Bettany and Thomas Kretschmann to its cast.  The film is about Lord Melbourne, who helped Queen Victoria handle the royal reigns at the start of what was to be 64 years on the royal throne in England.  Emily Blunt stars in the title role.  Bettany plays Melbourne, while Kretschmann ("The Pianist") plays Victoria's uncle, the rapacious King Leopold of Belgium.  Other cast members for the film, which began shooting last Monday: Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent and Rupert Friend.  The film is directed by Jean-Marc Vallee.

(August 20, '07)   IFC's North American "Mistress"

IFC Films has purchased the North American rights to "The Last Mistress", a drama by French director Catherine Breillat.  The film is expected to be released in theaters and on pay-per-view television on the same day.  "Mistress" will also feature at the 45th New York Film Festival next month.


(August 16, '07)  Sid Ganis re-elected as Academy president

Sid Ganis, the Brooklyn, New York-born film executive, has been re-elected to another term as president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.  It is his third term.  Tom Hanks was elected as the Academy's vice-president.


(August 16, '07)  A Plum "Trucker"

Plum Pictures, the all-women film producing company, will produce the independent film "Trucker", which will star Michelle Monaghan as a truck driver who suddenly has to take charge of her estranged young daughter after her ex-husband (Benjamin Bratt) falls ill.  Monaghan obtained a license as a tractor-trailer truck driver especially for the film, prior to its financing, as a tribute to her own excitement and belief in and about the film.  James Mottern, who wrote the script, will make his feature film directing debut with "Trucker", which will also star Joey Lauren Adams, among others.  Plum Pictures also produces the upcoming films "Grace Is Gone" starring John Cusack, and "Great Wall Of Sound", both of which screened at Sundance in January.


(August 16, '07)   New York Film Festival line-up

The 44th edition of this venerable festival arrives in late September and unveiled its line-up yesterday.  "Persepolis" is the closing night film.  More on the festival line-up soon.

(August 14, '07)  Nigeria expels "immoral" actors

An eight-minute video of an actor naked with her boyfriend, shot via a cell phone, has circulated in the Muslim north of Nigeria and prompted an expulsion of all "immoral" actors, by the movie industry body located there, according to Reuters.  The actor herself (whose name has not been released) has gone into hiding, according to Reuters' report yesterday.  The clip, intended strictly for private use, has found its way to numerous cell phone users.  A magazine in the country has said that this was the first instance of indecent exposure involving Hausa-Fulani persons in the public realm in Nigeria.  Nollywood, the highly-successful home video industry, is located in the less conservative Christian south of Nigeria.  The Kano region's Filmmaker Association has expelled 17 actors (unconnected to the cell phone video) believed to have engaged in "immoral and lewd" acts.

(August 13, '07)  The Life of Biggie Smalls, on the big screen

Late rapper and hip-hop legend Christopher Wallace, aka The Notorious B.I.G., aka Biggie Smalls, will have his life behind the scenes and beyond his music chronicled on the big screen by director George Tillman, Jr. ("Men Of Honor", "Soul Food") who will direct a biopic on Mr. Wallace.  The hip-hop artist from New York City was gunned down in Los Angeles in the mid-1990's.  The biopic is being done with the blessing of the Wallace family, several of whom are involved in the film's production.  Expect the film to arrive in theaters either in late 2008 or in the early part of 2009.

(August 10, '07)  "Mr. Big" to have big screen "Sex"

Chris Noth has signed on to the big screen version of "Sex In The City", which will begin shooting in New York City in October.  He will reprise his role as smarmer-charmer and heartbreaker Mr. Big.  The main cast members of the HBO television series (Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis and Kim Cattrall) will also star in the film, which is to be released by New Line Cinema and will be directed and written by one of the series' producer-writers Michael Patrick King.

(August 2, '07)  "Shrek" makes a fourth (and fifth) trek

The fourth installment of the animated feature film "Shrek" franchise will be released in North America on May 10, 2010.  The runaway success of the first three films, including the most recent "Shrek The Third" this year (over $720 million worldwide), made the decision for a fourth a no-brainer for Dreamworks Animation.  No word yet on just how many of the cast members will return.  According to Variety, Jeffrey Katzenberg announced during an earnings call that there will also be a fifth "Shrek".

(August 2, '07)   Jingle with Singleton, Berry and Thornton

John Singleton will return to the director's chair after a few years away, to direct "Tulia", the Lionsgate film.  "Monster's Ball" actors Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton will reunite to play the leading roles in the film, with Berry as the title character of the legal drama motion picture.

(August 2, '07)    A "300" sequel to start filming this Fall

Zack Snyder, whose "300" was a big hit worldwide and was released this week on DVD in North America, will be filming a sequel to the film this Fall.  He is currently working on starting up the direction of the film "Watchmen", which will be released on March 9, 2009.

(August 1, '07)  Singing to the sights and sounds of "Hairspray"

Adam Shankman's film has had audiences tapping, dancing and applauding with delight at movie theaters.  Now, beginning on Friday in at least 30 cities in the U.S., audiences can start singing too.  New Line Cinema this week announced special sing-along screenings of "Hairspray".  Special prints that will include on-screen lyric subtitles for each song in the film.  One hundred theaters in the U.S., including in cities such as New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, will have the special prints of the hit film, for one week only.  In a press release issued on Monday, Russell Schwartz, New Line's President of Domestic Marketing said, "this is another great way to celebrate the spirit of the film."  So far
"Hairspray" has held its own at the box office, becoming the highest opening ever for a musical in North America box office history with $27 million on its debut weekend last month.  The film stars John Travolta, Christopher Walken, Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah, Nikki Blonsky, Zac Efron, Elijah Kelley, Amanda Bynes, James Marsden and Brittany Snow.  More details on the events page shortly.
 

(August 1, '07)  Ricky Gervais retires "Early"

Variety reports that British comedian and actor Ricky Gervais will star in the upcoming Warner Brothers film comedy "Early Retirement".  The film is about a middle-aged man who retires from his job to spend more time with his family. 

(July 26, '07)   "Lives" actor Ulrich Muhe passes at age 54

The actor Ulrich Muhe, whose tremendous performance in "The Lives Of Others" won him the Best Actor award at the European Film Awards last year, has passed away in Germany.  He was 54.  Muhe, who played Gerhard Wiesler in Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's Oscar-winning film this year in the U.S., was being treated for stomach cancer.  He passed away at his home on Sunday.  Muhe, who had attended the Oscars back in February, is survived by his wife and two kids, as well as a child from a previous marriage.


(July 26, '07)    Heinrich Fischer, father of Claudia Fischer, passes away

Reports from various publications confirm that Heinrich Fischer, father of supermodel and actor Claudia Fischer, has passed away in France of a heart attack.  He was 70.  According to Starpulse, he was on a golf course playing a round with friends when he collapsed on Tuesday in the German-France border town of Bitche.  Mr. Schiffer was a retired lawyer and is survived by his wife, and four children, including Claudia.  The supermodel who lives in London with "Stardust" director-husband Matthew Vaughn, will be in France today.  Arrangements are being made to have a private funeral in Germany.
 

(July 25, '07)  Jim Carrey just says yes to "Yes"

The opportunistic Jim Carrey accepts the invitation to "Yes Man", a story about a man that just can't turn anything down.  Carrey will begin filming the film, to be directed by Peyton Reed ("The Break-Up") in October.  "The Number 23" star has a multitude of film opportunities over the last few months, including "I Love You, Philip Morris", "A Christmas Carol", "Solar Buddies", "Ripley's Believe It Or Not!"  (Tim Burton), "Me Time", and "Horton Hears A Who".  Carrey also ankled two projects: "A Little Game" and "Used Guys".

(July 25, '07)   Salt of the earth for Cruise?

Tom Cruise may or may not be starring in "Edwin A. Salt", based on the novel Kurt Wimmer spy novel, which Terry George ("Hotel Rwanda") is in negotiations with Columbia Pictures to direct.  Cruise, who is currently in Germany filming Bryan Singer's "Valkyrie", would play a CIA officer accused of being a spy for the Soviets by a defector.  Cruise will next appear on the big screen in "Lions For Lambs" in North America opposite Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in the Redford-directed political drama, on November 9.


(July 25, '07)   Schumacher to remake?

"The Number 23" director Joel Schumacher is currently in negotiations to direct the American remake of "Breaking News", about an opportunistic police inspector who milks the defeat of his own police officers a the hands of bank robbers for ratings on live broadcast television news.  Schumacher's next film is the horror flick "Town Creek".

(July 17, '07)  "Mandy Lane" a goner for Weinstein

"All The Boys Love Mandy Lane", a horror film that had been scheduled to open this Friday, has had its North American distribution rights sold by The Weinstein Company to German film distributor Senator Entertainment.  "Mandy Lane" had not screened for the press nor advertised in the U.S. and now Senator, which picked up the German distribution rights last year at the Toronto International Film Festival, will release the film in the U.S. and Canada early in 2008.   Production just wrapped on Senator's new acquisition "Fireflies In The Garden", directed by Dennis Lee.  The film features a cast that includes Willem Dafoe, Julia Roberts, Carrie-Anne Moss and Emily Watson.

(July 17, '07)   Jared Leto's a "Mr. Nobody"

Jared Leto will star as a 120-year-old man reminiscing about romance and marriage real and imagined in the romantic film drama directed by Jaco Van Dormael, a Belgian making his English-language debut.  Sarah Polley, the Canadian actor who made her directing debut earlier this year with "Away From Her", will co-star as the wife of Leto's character.

(July 11, '07)  Kevin Spacey in "Superman" sequel

The thespian and double Oscar winner will star in the sequel to Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns" as Lex Luthor once again.  According to Variety, Spacey will film for six weeks after next April.  The new film, "Superman: Man Of Steel" is expected in 2009.  Spacey is currently filming in London on the production "Telstar", directed by Nick Moran based on the director's play about Joe Meek, the gay, tone-death music producer-songwriter from England.  Mr. Spacey will play Major Banks, Meek's financier.


(July 11, '07)   Feet don't fail me now!  A new "Footloose"

Zac Efron, who will have plenty to dance about very soon in "Hairspray", will start filming a new version of "Footloose".  Twenty-three years after the smash hit that starred Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer, the new film will be directed by Kenny Ortega.


(July 11, '07)    Drac's back

Alex Proyas will direct "Dracula Year Zero" about the origins of Vlad The Impaler.  The film is being produced by Michael De Luca for Universal Pictures.  No word yet on any casting.


(July 9, '07)    Kevin Costner gets the "Swing" of things

Variety also reports that Kevin Costner joins the cast of the political comedy "Swing Vote", which begins filming in Albuquerque, New Mexico on July 23.  Costner plays a working class father whose vote will decide the U.S. presidential election.  Kelsey Grammer, Dennis Hopper, George Lopez, Stanley Tucci and Madeline Carroll round out the cast.  Joshua Michael Stern directs.


(July 9, '07)      Phil Donahue's "Body Of War" set to make festival appearance

Phil Donahue, the American TV talk show host, has co-directed "Body Of War", a documentary about the missteps and relentless pushing for the Iraq invasion.  Variety reports that the doc is especially critical of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who reportedly repeats White House talking points while in the Senate.  The film also looks at a wounded U.S. soldier from Iraq who returns stateside to try to adjust back to civilian life.  "Body Of War", also directed by Ellen Spiro, is expected to be an entry in either the Venice or Toronto film festivals later this year.


(June 23, '07)   Morgan Freeman to play Nelson Mandela on the big screen

Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman will next play Nelson Mandela, former political prisoner and president of South Africa, in an upcoming film entitled "The Human Factor", based upon the upcoming book by John Carlin of the same name, with the additional subtitle "Nelson Mandela and the game that changed the world."   Anthony Peckham, the South African screenwriter who penned "Don't Say A Word", adapted the Carlin book into a screenplay.  Freeman will co-produce along with Lori McCreary and Mace Neufeld.  Freeman can currently be seen as God in "Evan Almighty" and will next be seen in "Feast Of Love" this Fall in the U.S.  Freeman recently wrapped filming on Rob Reiner's "The Bucket List" with Jack Nicholson.


(June 23, '07)   Tom Cruise to play a Nazi general in his next film

Tom Cruise will next appear on the big screen this November in the U.S. and Canada in Robert Redford's "Lions For Lambs" as a U.S. senator up against Meryl Streep and Mr. Redford.  Following that he will play a Nazi general under the command of Hitler in "Valkyrie".  According to The Huffington Post, the actor (or at least the production company) has hired a prosthetics expert.  Mr. Cruise's character will lose limbs and an eye in the film, which will be directed by Bryan Singer ("X-Men", "X-Men 2", "Superman Returns".)


(June 23, '07)   Film critic suffers a fatal heart attack during screening of "A Mighty Heart"

The headline may be a cruel joke or filed under "stranger than fiction", but the sad truth is that Anderson Jones, 38, a former film critic for such media outlets as E Online and CNN Headline News, died from a fatal heart attack in Los Angeles on Thursday night at a promotional screening of the new Angelina Jolie film at the ArcLight Theater.  According to Variety, Mr. Jones, who last freelanced at publications like Emmy mag and Lavender, had health problems.



(June 23, '07)  Toronto International Film Festival line-up taking shape

The event is not until September, but the Toronto International Film Festival line up is emerging.  Films like the Palm D'Or-winning film "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" will be screened, as will David Cronenberg's new film "Eastern Promises" and the Coen Brothers' film "No Country For Old Men".  "Elizabeth: The Golden Age", Shekhar Kapur's follow-up to his original "Elizabeth", will once again star Cate Blanchett in the title role, Francois Girard's "Silk", with Keira Knightley, Jeremy Podeswa's "Fugitive Pieces", Hou Hsiao Hsien's "Flight Of The Red Balloon", and Bruce McDonald's "The Tracey Fragments" are all being screened at this year's Toronto Film Fest, which unspools from September 6 through 15.

 

(June 21, '07)   Kate Hudson to star in "Bachelor No. 2"

Kate Hudson will star with Dane Cook in the romantic comedy "Bachelor No. 2", it was revealed yesterday.  Cook can currently be seen on the big screen in "Mr. Brooks".  "Bachelor is about a man hired by other men who have been dismissed by ex-girlfriends to date them taking them on nightmare dates in order to effect a return to the prior man they dumped.  Cook's character becomes entangled with his best friend's ex-girlfriend.  The film will begin shooting in August in Boston and is directed by Howard Deutsch and written by Jordan B. Cahan.


(June 20, '07)   But Jim Broadbent says yes

"Indiana Jones 4" which opens next summer (May 2008) will feature Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent as a Yale University professor.  The film started filming on Monday in New Mexico according to Variety.  Steven Spielberg is at the helm once again, with George Lucas producing once again.  "Indiana Jones 4" will be Spielberg's first film in three years.  His last was "Munich".  Next year, Lucas will also release his new "Star Wars" film in May.

 

(June 8, '07)     Sean Connery says no

Sean Connery reportedly will not appear in next year's "Indiana Jones 4".  Director Steven Spielberg had tried to get the Scottish acting legend, who appeared in "Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade" back in 1989.


(June 8, '07)     Tea Leoni jumps to "Ghost Town"

Leoni joins Ricky Gervais and Greg Kinnear in a comedy about a dentist who dies for seven minutes during a colonoscopy.  Kinnear plays a ghost, who begs the dentist (Gervais) to break up the imminent marriage of the ghost's widow (Leoni).  David Koepp will write and direct.  Leoni will next appear in "You Kill Me", directed by John Dahl, on June 22 in the U.S.
 

(June 8, '07)     "Unstoppable" Campbell?

"Casino Royale" director Martin Campbell is in talks to direct "Unstoppable", a film about a runaway train packed with deadly toxic chemicals.  "Live Free Or Die Hard" screenwriter Mark Bomback will pen the "Unstoppable" screenplay.
 

(June 7, '07)     Spike Lee to direct World War Two drama in Italy

Filmmaker Spike Lee will film an adaptation of novelist James McBride's book "Miracle Of St. Anna", about a true story about four black American soldiers from the U.S. Army's 92nd All-Black Division who were trapped in a Tuscan village in 1944 while fighting against the Nazis and facing racism from their own superiors.  McBride will pen the screenplay of the film, which will be shot next year at World War Two locations in Tuscany.  The film will be produced by Luigi Musini and Roberto Ciccuto and will be a big-budget film.  Said the director in an interview with the Italian publication La Repubblica on Wednesday: "I met a black veteran who fought at Iwo Jima, and he told me how disappointed he was that there was not even one Afro-American (soldier) in Clint Eastwood's two films."  Last week, Spike Lee and Paramount Pictures were able to secure Wesley Snipes to play the legendary James Brown in a biopic that Lee will likely direct sometime next year or in 2009.

 

(June 7, '07)     Tyler Perry to film "Meet The Browns"

The director who has helmed the films "Diary Of A Mad Black Woman", "Madea's Family Reunion" and most recently this year's "Daddy's Little Girls", will direct and star in "Meet The Browns", about a single mother who meets with the family of the father she never knew.  The film is based on Mr. Perry's own stage play and will begin production later this summer in Atlanta at Perry's own studios.  Perry's film "Why Did I Get Married", will be released by LionsGate on November 16.  Earlier this year Perry signed a multi-year film production deal with LionsGate.
 

(June 7, '07)     All in the "Same" boat

Naomi Watts is set to star in "We Are All The Same" based on Jim Wooten's book about the true story of Gail Johnson, a white South African woman who adopts a black child with AIDS and travels the world to give voice to his plight and raise awareness.  Keir Pearson, who co-wrote "Hotel Rwanda", is adapting Wooten's book for the big screen.  Wooten is a ABC News Nightline correspondent.  Next on the big screen for Watts: "Eastern Promises", directed by David Cronenberg.


(June 7, '07)      Bourne Again: Damon and Greengrass

While "The Bourne Ultimatum" arrives in theaters in August, the film's star Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass are expected to collaborate on a film adaptation of "Imperial Life In The Emerald City", according to Variety.  The film is about the invasion of Iraq, based on Rajiv Chandrasekaran's book.  Damon is expected to play a composite character based on people in the book.  Damon will appear onscreen starting tomorrow in the U.S. in "Ocean's Thirteen".
 

(June 4, '07)     Jim Carrey loves "Phillip Morris"

And lest anyone be confused, the Morris here is NOT the tobacco company (which has one less 'l' in its first name than the title of the upcoming film does.)  Mr. Carrey will star in the bleak and edgy comedy about the fact-based story of a married man who is incarcerated and falls in love with his cellmate in a Texas prison.  When the cellmate is released, Mr. Carrey, who plays Steven Russell, attempts four escapes from the prison to be by the cellmate's side.  The movie, titled "I Love You, Phillip Morris", is written by the same team that brought the world "Bad Santa".  According to published reports, the film was pitched to studios as "Catch Me If You Can" meets "Brokeback Mountain".


(June 4, '07)     It's "Year One" for Jack Black

Jack Black will next star in "Year One", a comedy which will be directed by Harold Ramis, with Judd Apatow producing.  Ramis appeared in Apatow's current hit comedy "Knocked Up".  "Year One" will be executive-produced by Owen Wilson.

 

(May 31, '07)    Abigail Breslin's "American Girl Mystery" Starts Today

The "Little Miss Sunshine" Oscar-nominee stars in Patricia Rozema's "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Mystery", which begins filming today in Toronto for the next five weeks.  The film, written by Ann Peacock ("Chronicles Of Narnia") is about a smart, resourceful ten-year-old Kit Kittredge who grows up during the ADepression Era in Cincinnati in 1934.  The cast includes Glenne Headly, Joan Cusack, Jane Krakowski, Chris O'Donnell, Julia Ormond, Wallace Shawn and Stanley Tucci.  "Kit Kittredge" will be produced by HBO Films, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, American Girl president Ellen L. Brothers, in association with Red Om Films' Lisa Gillan.  Red Om Films' Julia Roberts will be the film's executive producer, while Terry Gould and Marisa Yeres will serve as co-producers for the film, which will be released on July 2, 2008 in North America by Picturehouse.


(May 30, '07)    Aaron Eckhart to start "Traveling"

Aaron Eckhart is set to play a widower whose grieving is translated into a book that makes him a major phenomenon.  The film, "Traveling", will start filming early in 2008.
 

(May 29, '07)    Keira Knightley to play Princess Diana?

Reports say that the "Pirates" star is reportedly the number one choice to play Princess Diana in a film about the late Princess of Wales' life.  A book entitled Diana And The Paparazzi is reportedly being bid on for movie rights.  Stay tuned.


(May 29, '07)    Lindsay Lohan, Rosario Dawson, Channing Tatum join "Poor Things"

The trio have joined the Shirley MacLaine and Olympia Dukakis in Ash Baron Cohen's "Poor Things" the comedy based on real-life accounts of senior citizen con-games, crimes and swindles.  The film begins lensing tomorrow.  Lohan can currently be seen in "Georgia Rule", and Dawson in "Grindhouse", and the upcoming "Descent" (not to be confused with the horror movie.)
 

(May 25, '07)    Matt Damon to Jason Bourne: No Mas

This week at Cannes, Matt Damon made it clear: no more "Bourne" for him.  Saying at a press conference for "Ocean's Thirteen" that he is finished with playing Jason Bourne in the "Bourne" films.  Robert Ludlum's books have been successfully translated into big box-office hits on the big screen, and while Mr. Damon anticipates that the August 3 U.S. release of "The Bourne Ultimatum" will cement the series with another worldwide response in movie houses.  Mr. Damon's character is a focal point of "Ocean's Thirteen", which features the additions of Ellen Barkin and Al Pacino.  Steven Soderberg's film opens on June 8 in the U.S.
 

(May 22, '07)    Hugo Chavez gives Danny Glover $18 million to finance "Toussaint"

In a recent visit to Venezuela, embattled president Hugo Chavez gave actor-activist Danny Glover $18 million to finance Mr. Glover's directing debut about the Haitian slave revolt against the French colonialists in the 1800's.  Toussaint L'Ouverture led fellow enslaved Haitians to overthrow invading French forces in the first successful revolution and independence by enslaved blacks in their land of Haiti, the country due south east of the U.S. and Cuba.  The epic film will begin filming in Venezuela and South Africa soon, and is reportedly set to star Don Cheadle, Angela Bassett and Wesley Snipes.  Mr. Glover will next be seen in "Bamako", which opens on Friday, June 1 in the U.S.
 

(May 20, '07)    Robert De Niro and Al Pacino on the big screen together again

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro will share prolonged screen time in the upcoming film "Righteous Killing" as police detectives teaming up to hunt down a serial killer.  Avi Lerner, studio head of Millennium Films, the independent film production company based in Los Angeles, said that the New York-based actors will be on screen "for virtually the whole film", which is expected to begin filming in New York and Connecticut in August.  Mr. De Niro and Mr. Pacino shared screen time in Michael Mann's 1995 film epic "Heat" as adversaries, and were in the same film though not at the same time, in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather Part Two". 
 

(Apr. 28, '07)    "Grind"-ing separately in the U.K. and elsewhere: "Death Proof" and "Planet Terror"

The Weinsteins (Bob and Harvey) will be releasing "Grindhouse" as two separate entities in all other countries.  In the U.S. this month, "Grindhouse" fared poorly at the box-office as a double-bill lasting over three hours with both "Planet Terror" and "Death Proof".  Now the two films will be released separately outside the U.S.  "Death Proof" will be released in the U.K. on September 21.  "Planet Terror" is expected to follow later in the year.  "Death Proof" directed by Quentin Tarantino, will be shown in competition at next month's 60th Cannes Film Festival in an extended version of the theatrical release that was in U.S. theaters.


(Apr. 28, '07)    Frank Langella in talks to star as Richard Nixon in Ron Howard's film adaptation

Ron Howard's film "Frost-Nixon", an adaptation of Peter Morgan's London play about the famous interview between British television news interview legend David Frost and former U.S. president Richard Nixon, will begin filming in August, and Frank Langella is expected to reprise his role as the president from the play in which he starred.  Michael Sheen is expected to reprise his role from the play for Mr. Howard's new film.  Sheen plays Frost.  Sheen played prime minister Tony Blair in Stephen Frears' "The Queen", which Mr. Morgan also scripted.


(Apr. 27, '07)   Jack Valenti passes at age 85

The supremo behind the Motion Picture Association of America passed away yesterday following complications suffered from a stroke in March.  Jack Valenti was a close White House aide to U.S. president Lyndon Johnson in the 1960's and earned a reputation for being one of the most loyal servants in the Johnson Administration.  Mr. Valenti, who was born in Texas, started a public relations firm which had done work for Johnson prior to Valenti's appointment as a staff aide to Johnson.  Valenti graduated from high school at the tender age of 15, and went on to get an MBA degree from Harvard.  As an Army Air Corps pilot he flew more than 50 combat missions during World War Two. 

Mr. Valenti uncharacteristically criticized Oliver Stone's "JFK" film in 1992, while still head of the MPAA.  The MPAA itself continues to be controversial, with its ratings for movies hotly debated by many filmmakers whose films have been given ratings that were viewed as harsh or by some standards, weaker than deserved (in the case of highly violent fare.)  Mr. Valenti had a decorated career and spearheaded changes in the way that movies were viewed prior to awards consideration, banning screeners because of piracy fears, prompting protestations from some independent filmmakers.  The ban was eventually lifted via a court-ordered injunction, however.  Valenti was the recipient of the French Legion of Honor award for his work and endeavors in the motion picture industry.

Mr. Valenti is survived by his wife, three children and two grandchildren.


(Apr. 27, '07)   X-Men spin-offs: "Magneto", "Wolverine"

Both X-Men characters are being made into specific character vehicles.  After "Wolverine" was announced earlier last year (Hugh Jackman will retain his "X-Men" role as the title character), yesterday came news that "Magneto" will be directed by David Goyer, who penned the script for "Batman Begins" and will also help shape the "Magneto" script.  The next year or so will be a big one for Marvel Comics-based superhero films.  Next week, "Spider-Man 3" opens worldwide; on June 15 ("The Rise Of The Silver Surfer" opens) and next year (May 2, 2008) "Iron Man" (Robert Downey, Jr. and Terrence Howard) opens, as does the new "The Incredible Hulk" (June 13, 2008) movie.

(Apr. 26, '07)   Just take "All of Me": Queen Latifah to star in a remake

Queen Latifah will star and executive produce a remake of the 1984 hit comedy "All Of Me", which starred Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin and was directed by Carl Reiner.  The film was about an heiress who inhabits the body of a successful attorney.  Adam Shankman is expected to direct the new film.  Shankman has previously directed Queen Latifah in the hit comedy "Bringing Down The House", in which she starred alongside Steve Martin, and in the upcoming comedy-musical "Hairspray", with John Travolta, which opens on July 20.


(Apr. 26, '07)   Don Granger tapped as United Artists head of production

Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner have tapped Don Granger as the head of production for United Artists in its continuing efforts to revitalize and reinvigorate the film company.  One of UA's first releases will be this November's "Lions For Lambs", which will star Cruise, Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, with Redford directing.


(Apr. 26, '07)   Clint Eastwood to be honored by Film Independent

On June 28, actor, producer, composer, writer and director Clint Eastwood will be honored by Film Independent at the Los Angeles Film Festival.  The two-time Oscar winning best director recipient will receive the Spirit Of Independence Award.  Said Dawn Hudson, executive director of Film Independent: "We are thrilled to celebrate this remarkable artist for his independent voice and daring career choices that have been an inspiration to filmmakers and film lovers alike."  Tony Bennett, who is the subject of a documentary that Mr. Eastwood executive produced, will present the director with the award.

(Apr. 25, '07)   Alec Baldwin says goodbye to CAA

Alec Baldwin has decided to release CAA (Creative Arts Agency) from its representation of the actor, who has been having a sensational last 12 months with performances in last year's "The Departed" and "The Good Shepherd".  Earlier this year, Mr. Baldwin won a Screen Actors Guild award for his role in the television series "30 Rock".  Last week, Mr. Baldwin's dirty laundry was aired publicly when someone released a recording of a voice message in which the actor laced into his 11-year-old daughter with an angry tirade, which was also aimed at ex-wife Kim Basinger.  Baldwin has since apologized.  He has not sought any subsequent representation for his film, stage and screen career.


(Apr. 25, '07)   "Spider-Man 3" web-guarded by Sony

Recent reports suggested that "Spider-Man 3" had already been pirated on DVD in China.  The discs apparently do not work.  Sony Pictures issued a press release stating that the film had not been pirated and that there have not been any sales, or instances of pirated copies of the new film on the Internet.  "Spider-Man 3" open in parts of Asia and Europe on May 1. 



(Apr. 23, '07)    "Disturbia" stays on top of the North American box office this past weekend

Suburbia remained the place to be over the weekend of April 20-22 as "Disturbia" stayed at number one for the second consecutive weekend.  The Shia LeBeouf-David Morse starrer scared up another $13 million over the weekend.  "Fracture" was the only new film to break into the top five, finishing with just over $11.2 million.  This coming weekend, films like "The Invisible" and "Next", which stars Nicolas Cage, are expected to be a strong challenge to "Disturbia" before "Spider-Man 3" hits the big screen worldwide on May 4.


(Apr. 23, '07)      Jean-Pierre Cassel dies at age 74

One of France's most renowned actors died on Sunday after a long illness.  Jean-Pierre Cassel, who was also a singer and a dancer, was 74.  He was in such films as Luis Bunuel's classic 1972 satirical comedy-drama "The Discreet Charm of The Bourgeoisie" and the Agatha Christie inspired "Murder On The Orient Express" and appeared in numerous Philippe De Broca comedies in the 1950's and '60's.  He is the father of actor Vincent Cassel and father-in-law of Italian actor Monica Bellucci.  He is also survived by two other children, Cecile and Matthias.


(Apr. 23, '07)     Holy Smoke House!  It's All By George as Clooney secures rights via Warner Brothers

Warner Brothers secured the rights to Rachel Boynton's political documentary "Our Brand Is Crisis".   George Clooney's Smoke House production company will produce, with the possibility that the Oscar-winning actor will also star and direct.


(Apr. 23, '07)    "Best Time" for Miller

Sienna Miller (most recently seen in "Factory Girl" in the U.S.) will star in "The Best Time Of Our Lives", which will begin shooting next month in Wales.  Originally, Lindsay Lohan was set to star but she and the film's financiers could not agree on terms.  The film, which is to be directed by John Maybury, also stars Keira Knightley (of the "Pirates" trilogy), Cillian Murphy ("The Wind That Shakes The Barley") and Matthew Rhys. 


(Apr. 20, '07)   Sequel to "Sisterhood"

A sequel to the hit 2005 film "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" is set to start production in June, according to Warner Brothers, which released the original film.  Each of the cast members from the 2005 film, including America Ferreira, are in talks to return for the second film.  "Something New" director Sanaa Hamri will direct the sequel.


(Apr. 19, '07)   The 60th Cannes Film Festival Unveils Its Lineup

Today the Cannes Film Festival unveiled its complete line-up for its 60th edition which begins on May 16.  As expected, Wong Kar-Wai's first English language film, "My Blueberry Nights" opens the festival.  Twenty-one films are in competition, including at least six entries from American filmmakers.  Sixteen films will be in the Un Certain Regard competition, including Carmen Castillo's "Calle Santa Fe" and Barbet Schroeder's "L'Avocat De La Terreur".  In the short film competition are eleven entries from ten countries, with two films from the U.S.  Screening out of competition are three American films: Michael Moore's "Sicko", a documentary on the U.S. healthcare system, Steven Soderberg's "Ocean's Thirteen" and Michael Winterbottom's "A Mighty Heart", based on Marianne Pearl's book about the assassination of her husband Daniel Pearl, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, in Pakistan in 2002.


(Apr. 19, '07)   TNT and TBS re-up for the 14th Screen Actors Guild Awards

The Screen Actors Guild Awards will again be simulcast on American cable television networks TNT and TBS, next January 27, Steve Koonin (president of Turner Entertainment Networks) and Doug Allen (the national executive director of SAG) announced today.  TNT has broadcast the Screen Actors Guild Awards since 1998, and TBS has simulcast the awards for the last two Guild Awards shows.  The contract to broadcast and simulcast the awards was renewed for another year.  The nominations for the 14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will be announced on Thursday, December 20, 2007.


(Apr. 18, '07)   Ashley Judd makes a "Crossing"

Ashley Judd joins the cast of The Weinstein Company film "Crossing Over".  The immigration U.S.-Mexico border crossing drama also stars Harrison Ford, Ray Liotta, Sean Penn and Cliff Curtis.  Judd will play an immigration defense attorney who tries to arrange the adoption of a Nigerian girl.  The film is set in Los Angeles.  "Crossing Over" is directed by Wayne Kramer and will begin shooting in L.A. this month. 


(Apr. 18, '07)   For Joel Schumacher, it's one if by "Inland"

The illustrious director Joel Schumacher who last directed "The Number 23", will next direct "Inland Saints", with Lorenzo di Bonaventura producing.  "Inland Saints" is a contemporary urban love story and drama about two teenagers from different backgrounds finding love against all expectations and obstacles.


(Apr. 18, '07)   For Bana and McAdams, it's about "Time"


Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams will be defying time in the upcoming film "The Time Traveler's Wife", directed by Robert Schwentke.  The film, adapted from the best-selling novel by Audrey Niffenegger is about a Chicago librarian who when under duress and stress travels to other times and places.  The film is expected to begin filming in August.  New Line Cinema is releasing the film in the U.S.


(Apr. 18, '07)   Jett set for "Neon"

Floria Sigismondi will write and direct "Neon Angels", a gritty, hard-edged independent film about The Runaways a 1970's all-woman rock band that featured such future hit-making musicians as Joan Jett.  The Runaways were titillating and talented musicians whose success abroad outweighed their success in America, as many in the U.S. were distracted by their racy clothing.  The film is expected to get an R-rating.  Joan Jett will be one of the film's executive producers.



(Apr. 17, '07)    "Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End" to have its World Premiere at Disneyland

"Pirates" fans should mark Saturday, May 19 on their calendars, for that is the date that the new "Pirates" film has its World Premiere -- which will be a star-studded event to benefit and raise $3 million for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  The film will show at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California.  All of the new film's major stars (Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush, Chow Yun-Fat, Naomie Harris, Bill Nighy, Tom Hollander, Jonathan Pryce) are expected to attend.  Individual tickets for the World Premiere and the gala celebration of the film, priced at $1,500 per ticket, are available for the public to buy here.


(Apr. 17, '07)    Denzel engages "The Great Debaters"

Two-time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington will next month begin directing "The Great Debaters", which he and fellow Oscar winner Forest Whitaker will star in.  The Weinstein Company film is based on the real-life events that took place when an unheralded small-town debate team from East Texas that eventually challenges Harvard's championship debaters.  Mr. Whitaker is from East Texas.  "The Great Debaters" begins filming next month in Louisiana.  Denzel Washington will next be seen in "American Gangster" in November, and Forest Whitaker will star in several films, including "Winged Creatures".  Mr. Washington made his directorial debut with "Antwone Fisher" in 2002.


(Apr. 17, '07)   "My Blueberry Nights" likely to open the upcoming Cannes Film Festival

Wong Kar-wai's first English language film, "My Blueberry Nights" is expected to be the opening night film for the 60th Cannes Film Festival on May 16.  The film stars Grammy-Award winning artist Norah Jones, Oscar- winner Rachel Weisz, and Oscar-nominees Jude Law and Natalie Portman (both of whom were last seen onscreen together in Mike Nichols' "Closer".)  The opening night film and all other films for this year's Cannes Film Festival will officially be announced on Thursday.


(Apr. 17, '07)    Isaiah Washington to star in "The Least Of These"

Isaiah Washington, whose anti-gay comments caused his banishment from the award-winning hit TV show "Grey's Anatomy", will star in an independent film thriller called "The Least Of These."  He will play a troubled Catholic priest.


(Apr. 17, '07)    "Child" play: Ridley Scott wins the right to direct "Child 44"

The director of the forthcoming November release "American Gangster", Ridley Scott yesterday acquired the rights to the yet-to-be published debut novel by Tom Rob Smith, "Child 44".  The book will be published sometime next year.  The film is set in Russia during the time of Stalin and involves a secret police member who is framed for treason by a colleague.  He launches his own rogue investigation of a series of child killings while on the run with his estranged wife, risking capture and death in the process.  Meanwhile, Scott's next directing project is "Penetration", based on the book "Body Of Lies", by David Ignatius.  "Penetration" is about modern day espionage, intelligence operations and terrorism.  The film is set to star Leonardo DiCaprio, and is adapted by Oscar-winning scribe William Monahan ("The Departed").  "Penetration" begins shooting in August.
 

(Apr. 17, '07)   Chow Down and Out of "Red Cliff"

Due to the failure of a bond company to guarantee his agreement Chow Yun-Fat, soon to be seen in the upcoming "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" has left the set of John Woo's big-budget film "Red Cliff" after three days of filming.   Woo will direct around the absence of the film's leading man.


(Apr. 17, '07)   "Spider-Man 3" spins its web in Japan

Yesterday "Spider-Man 3" had its gala red-carpet World Premiere in Japan, as Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Thomas Haden Church and various other cast members attended.  American golf star Michelle Wie also attended, as did Bulgarian-born sumo wrestling sensation Kotooshu.  "Spider-Man 3" opens in Japan and several other Asian countries on May 1, and in France, Germany and several other European countries also on May 1, with its North American debut on May 4.


(Apr. 17, '07)   "Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day" lenses this week in the U.K.

The comedy "Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day" begins filming this week in the U.K., announced Focus Features CEO James Schamus yesterday.  The Oscar-winning actor Frances McDormand stars as the title character.  Set in 1939, Guinevere Pettigrew, a middle-aged London governess, is unfairly terminated from her job but gets swept up in high-soceity affairs when applying for a new job.  McDormand co-executive produces the film, which is directed by Bharat Nalluri (director of the television mini-series "Tsunami: The Aftermath".)  The film adapted from a novel by Winifred Watson, also stars Amy Adams, Ciaran Hinds, Shirley Henderson, and Lee Pace, among others.


(Apr. 17, '07)   It's a date!  The 65th Annual Golden Globe Awards date is set

Yesterday it was announced that the 65th Annual Golden Globe Awards will be held on Sunday, January 13 in Los Angeles.


(Apr. 17, '07)   In AIDS awareness event in New Delhi, Richard Gere's long kiss sparks protests

Richard Gere apologized yesterday for his repeated and prolonged kisses (last Sunday) of Shilpa Shetty, the 31-year-old Bollywood actor who won Britain's "Celebrity Big Brother" television contest during the much-publicized episodes of racism that she suffered on the show earlier this year.  Shetty said that Gere was re-enacting his scenes from "Shall We Dance?", which he starred in with Jennifer Lopez and Susan Sarandon, and meant no offense.  He apologized to Shetty and asked for her to apologize on his behalf to the media and to people who found his actions offensive.  Protests occurred throughout parts of India, where some burned both actors in effigy and made death threats to the actors.  The AIDS awareness event was done to promote safer sex among the population of India's truck drivers among whom HIV-AIDS infection rates have been rapidly increasing.  The truckers reportedly have sex with prostitutes and then infect their wives at home.  "No condoms, no sex," the 58-year-old Gere during the event.


(Apr. 17, '07)   Outside Man: Clive Owen to star in "The International"

The Oscar-nominee Clive Owen (who starred in last year's "Inside Man") will play an Interpol agent investigating coruption at international banking institutions, in the action-thriller which starts filming in September.  The film is expected to be released late next year or in 2009.


(Apr. 16, '07)    Bruce Banner, meet Edward Norton

Edward Norton, the Oscar-nominated actor last seen in the film "The Painted Veil" in December in the U.S., will play Bruce Banner and Hulk in "The Incredible Hulk", which begins filming this summer in Toronto and will be in theaters on June 13, 2008.  The new "Hulk" movie -- which has no relation to Ang Lee's film entitled "Hulk" from 2003 -- will be directed by Louis Leterrier.  Mr. Norton will next be seen in "Pride And Glory", opposite Colin Farrell.


(Apr. 16, '07)   And the Companion Of The Order Of Australia Goes To . . .

. . . Nicole Kidman.  Last Friday, Kidman was awarded the Companion Of The Order Of Australia at Government House in Canberra, for her efforts to promote women's health and her acting in films.  The award is the equivalent of a knighthood in England.  It is Australia's highest honor, given for an Australian citizen's "eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service to Australia or humanity at large."


(Apr. 15, '07)   Rachel Weisz bails on "The Mummy 3"

Due to a scheduling conflict, Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz ("The Constant Gardener") has had to drop out of the third "Mummy" film, which is scheduled to be released next year.  Weisz had played the wife of Brendan Fraser's character in the first two films.


(Apr. 15, '07)   "Disturbia" in suburbia -- number one superb-ia

"Disturbia" soared in its opening weekend at the North American box-office for the weekend of April 13-15 with a $23 million gross.  The film stars Shia LaBoeuf, who will next be seen in "Transformers" and will also be in next year's "Indiana Jones 4".


(Apr. 15, '07)   "Bean" there, done that

"Mr. Bean's Holiday" has been stupendous at the international box office -- after just three weeks it has grossed $127 million.  The film edged out the worldwide smash "300" over the Easter holiday, returning to the top spot with $18 million (vs. $14.8 million for "300".)  "Holiday" stars Rowan Atkinson and will open in the U.S. in September or October.


(Apr. 14, '07)   Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway "Get Smart"

"Get Smart", the film based on the popular television series, has just started filming, Warner Brothers announced earlier this week.  Steve Carell ("Little Miss Sunshine" and the upcoming "Evan Almighty") and Anne Hathaway ("The Devil Wears Prada" and the upcoming "Becoming Jane").  Carell will star as Maxwell Smart and Hathaway will star as Agent 99.  Other stars include Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Agent 23 and "Little Miss Sunshine" Oscar-winner Alan Arkin as the Chief of Control.


(Apr. 14, '07)   Shia LaBeouf joins the cast of "Indiana Jones 4"

The actor, who stars in the new film "Disturbia", will join the cast of the Steven Spielberg-directed and George Lucas-produced "Indiana Jones 4", it was announced this week.  The film which is set to begin filming within the next two months, is expected to have both Cate Blanchett and Ray Winstone joining Harrison Ford.  LaBeouf is rumored to be playing Indiana Jones' son.  Reportedly Sean Connery is being coaxed by Spielberg to return as Indiana's father.  The long-awaited sequel opens in May 2008.


(Apr. 7, '07)    "Spider-Man 3" will make its U.S. premiere in Queens, New York on April 30 as part of the Tribeca Film Festival

In what is reported to be the first-ever film premiere spectacle in Queens, New York, the Tribeca Film Festival announced earlier this week that the Spider-Man character Peter Parker's hometown of Queens, New York would be the place where the U.S. premiere of "Spider-Man 3" will occur on April 30.  The film's lead stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst will be joined by a marching band and will stop in at each of the 14 screens of the UA Astoria 14 -- all of which will be holding special previews of the film.  Some 3,000 total audience members are expected to populate the theater for the screenings ahead of the May 4 worldwide release date.  "Spider-Man 3" will also be unspooling simultaneously in New York City's four other boroughs of The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island.  Ticket information for the other boroughs will be available shortly and The Popcorn Reel will announce it here.  The film is directed by Sam Raimi.  The Tribeca Film Festival is based in New York City and is in its sixth year and was founded by Jane Rosenthal, Craig Hatkoff and Robert De Niro.  This year's Tribeca Film Festival takes place from April 25-May 6. 


(Apr. 6, '07)     Disney and Keith don't mix

Disney executives are apparently not happy at alleged remarks made by Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones and have decided to curtail his publicity for the upcoming "Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End", in which he appears in a cameo role as Captain Jack Sparrow's father.  The Los Angeles Times reported that Disney execs were uncomfortable at Mr. Richards' remarks.  In an interview published in British magazine New Music Express (NME) the venerable Rolling Stone guitarist and vocalist, whose extensive drug use is no secret, is quoted as saying, "the strangest thing I've tried to snort?  My father.  I snorted my father.  He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow.  My dad wouldn't have cared . . . It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive."  Keith Richards later stated that the comments he made were a joke and added on the Rolling Stones' official website that "the complete story is lost in the usual slanting. . . I wouldn't take cocaine at this point in my life unless I wanted to commit suicide."

(Apr. 5, '07)     Martin Scorsese at Cannes' 60th birthday

The Oscar-winning director will be attending the 60th Cannes Film Festival as part of a special ceremony honoring him as guest of honor.  "The Golden Compass" which opens worldwide on December 7 will have selected scenes shown, while a U2 concert documentary by Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington is expected to be shown and is up for sale.  Several other films are expected to show, including Michael Moore's upcoming film "Sicko", and Wong Kar-Wai's "My Blueberry Nights", Paolo Morrelli's "City Of Men" (a sequel to Fernando Meirelles' "City Of God") and Jiang Wen's "The Sun Also Rises", starring Joan Chen, as well as new films by Gus Van Sant ("Paranoid Park") and Woody Allen ("Cassandra's Dreams".)  Films definitely on the docket are "Ocean's Thirteen" and Quentin Tarantino's "Death Proof" (as part of the "Grindhouse" double-bill), among others.


(Apr. 3, '07)     Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin together on "Mim's Island"

Oscar-winner Foster and Oscar-nominee Breslin will star in "Mim's Island", an adventure fantasy about a girl (Breslin) whose father she accompanies to a remote island in the South Pacific suddenly goes missing.  The girl facilitates an electronic communication with a person that she thinks is a character from the book but is an author who is a reclusive figure.  Foster will play the author.  The film will start shooting this summer and will be released in the U.S. by 20th Century Fox.


(Mar. 29, '07)    Mr. Whitaker fathering Miss Jennifer Hudson?

Jennifer Hudson is in talks to star as the daughter of Forest Whitaker's character in Rowan Woods' "Winged Creatures", about the survivors of a brutal murder-suicide.  Hudson is currently recording her debut album, scheduled for release in the U.S. this fall.  Both Hudson and Whitaker won Oscars last month for their acting in "Dreamgirls" and "The Last King of Scotland" respectively.

(Mar. 29, '07)    Helen Mirren to join the cast of the "National Treasure" sequel

Oscar winner Helen Mirren will join the cast of "National Treasure: The Book Of Secrets", the Jon Turteltaub-directed sequel to the 2004 film starring Nicolas Cage.  The film focuses on treasure hunter Ben Gates' (Cage) attempts to uncover the truth behind the assassination of U.S. president Abraham Lincoln.  Ed Harris plays the villain in the Disney production, which is filming right now and will be released in North America on December 21.  Mirren will play Ben Gates' mother Emily Appleton.  Diane Kruger (Mr. Harris' co-star in "Copying Beethoven") returns, as do Jon Voight and Harvey Keitel. 

(Mar. 29, '07)    Ray Winstone signs on to "Indiana Jones 4"

Ray Winstone, the British actor who played Jack Nicholson's right-hand man Mr. French in "The Departed" will play the sidekick to Harrison Ford in the forthcoming Indiana Jones film, which Steven Spielberg will helm once again.  Cate Blanchett will also be in the film, but there's no word on whether Sean Connery will reprise his role as Indiana's father.  The film will be released in May 2008.

(Mar. 29, '07)   Jim Carrey talking "Me Time"

Jim Carrey is currently in talks to star in the 20th Century Fox comedy "Me Time" about a stay-at-home dad who is busy writing a novel about his great-great grandmother.  Most recently, Carrey was seen in "The Number 23", a box-office disappointment.  He is scheduled to begin filming "Ripley's Believe It Or Not!" with director Tim Burton in the near future, once a script rewrite has been completed.

(Mar. 29, '07)    Spike Lee to be honored by Major League Baseball in the U.S.

This Saturday (March 31) filmmaker Spike Lee will be one of three recipients of the inaugural Beacon Award in Memphis, Tennessee, prior to a spring training baseball inaugural Civil Rights Game between St. Louis and Cleveland (which will be shown on ESPN Sports cable television.)  "The Beacon of Change is given to someone who's changing the consciousness; it's given to that person who's driving people to think about issues," said Sylvia Lind, coordinator of the awards program and senior manager of Minor League Operations.  "[Lee] doesn't just throw things out there and make people laugh . . . [h]e wants to make people think.  He thrives on being controversial, making people address issues that they might not be comfortable thinking about."  The two other recipients of the Beacon Award will be Vera Clemente, the widow of baseball legend Roberto Clemente, and the late Buck O'Neil, the Negro League Baseball legend who recently passed away.

(Mar. 29, '07)   Mark these "Diaries" for September 7

"The Nanny Diaries", the film directed by husband and wife team Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman (who both directed "American Splendor") is being pushed back to September 7 for its U.S. release.  The film will be debuting at the Venice International Film Festival during the first week of September.  The Weinsteins (Harvey and Bob) produced the "Diaries" and MGM will distribute the film in the U.S.


(Mar. 28, '07)    Forest Whitaker and "The Night Watchman"

Forest Whitaker (who won the Best Actor Oscar last month for "The Last King Of Scotland") is in talks to star with Keanu Reeves in "The Night Watchman", based on James Ellroy's novel which Mr. Ellroy also adapted for the big screen.  David Ayer (director of "Harsh Times", writer of "Training Day") will direct the story of an elite Los Angeles Police Department unit which fights gang violence, drug crime and murders.  Reeves plays the one elite unit member who questions the unit's overzealous tactics.  If Whitaker stars, he will play the captain of the elite unit.  The film is scheduled to begin production on May 21.
 

(Mar. 28, '07)   "Pirates" trailer flies high worldwide

Walt Disney Pictures estimated that a worldwide audience of over 350 million viewers watched the new trailer for the upcoming "Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End" last week, either on broadcast television or online.  Within the U.S. alone, an excess of 22 million people watched the trailer on March 19, during the ABC television show "Dancing With The Stars".  After the broadcast on American television more than 13 million fans from over 30 different nations watched the trailer online in the following 24 hours.  A day after that, the number had reached greater than 25 million.  Japan alone had 52 million viewers watching the "Pirates" trailer on broadcast television.  Buena Vista Pictures Marketing President Jim Gallagher commented: "While we expected a good degree of anticipation and enthusiasm for the new trailer -- the final figures for viewers across the globe over the past few days have truly exceeded our wildest expectations."


(Mar. 27, '07)   Mark Wahlberg and Matt Damon to duke it out again?

The two dueling stars of "The Departed" may star together in "The Fighter", conditional upon their approval of a rewrite of a current script by Paul Attanasio.  "The Fighter" is about the rise of Boston's famed fighter "Irish" Micky Ward, who won the world lightweight boxing title with the assistance of his formerly downtrodden brother.  Darren Aronofsky is in talks to direct the film for Paramount Pictures.  If everything goes according to plan the film may begin filming in Massachusetts as early as this summer.


(Mar. 27, '07)   The Law of Sleuthing

Jude Law will star in the forthcoming "Sleuth" which has just finished filming.  Mr. Law and Michael Caine (who starred in the original Oscar-nominated 1972 film) will star in Kenneth Branagh's new film, which is an updated edition of Anthony Shaffer's original play.  Harold Pinter wrote the script for the new film.  Recently Paramount Pictures International picked up distribution rights for "Sleuth" for several countries, including the U.K. and South Africa.


(Mar. 26, '07)   Francis Ford Coppola is back directing after ten years

The legendary filmmaker will be seen on big screens this fall in North America thanks to Sony Pictures Classics, which acquired the North American distribution rights to "Youth Without Youth", Mr. Coppola's first feature film since "The Rainmaker" (1997).  The film is billed as a World War Two parable and stars Tim Roth as an elderly professor whose revitalization and heightened skills, perception and intelligence makes him a target of the Nazis.  Shot in Romania over the course of a year and a half, Mr. Coppola directed, produced and wrote the script, adapting it from Romanian author Mircea Eliade's novella.  The director describes the film as "a love story wrapped in a mystery."


(Mar. 26, '07)   Jet Li and "Mummy 3"

Jet Li will play the villain in the next "Mummy" film, with Rob Cohen slated to direct.  The story will be set in ancient China before moving into the World War Two era of the mid-20th century.  Mr. Li is in development to star with Jackie Chan in an untitled film, and will be on the big screen soon with "Rogue", an action thriller with "Transporter" star Jason Statham (who also had a cameo in "Collateral.")


(Mar. 26, '07)   "Creature" features

Add Jeanne Tripplehorn ("The Firm", "Basic Instinct") and Embeth Davidtz ("Schindler's List", Fallen") to the growing list of star actors in Rowan Woods' independent film.  "Winged Creatures", about the aftermath of the lives of several people who witness a brutally violent murder suicide and its effects on those who help the traumatized witnesses, will also star Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, Oscar nominee Jackie Earle Haley, Dakota Fanning, Guy Pearce and Kate Beckinsale ("Click", "Much Ado About Nothing.")


(Mar. 25, '07)   From one Warner Brothers CGI number one film to another

The Warner Brothers film "300" ( a computer graphics interface film) was replaced with another Warner CGI film at the top of the North American box-office for the weekend of March 23-March 25, with "TMNT", a revival of the previously-flagging live-action series of the 1990's.  "TMNT" resonated with audiences, grossing over $25 million.  "300", a mega-hit on IMAX screens in the U.S. and Canada, fell to number two with $20 million, while "Shooter", starring Mark Wahlberg (directed by "Training Day"'s Antoine Fuqua) came in third with $14 million.  "Reign Over Me" (Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle) came in eighth but had the fourth highest per-screen average of any film in the top ten.


(Mar. 23, '07)   Harry Potter once, Harry Potter twice . . .

Today it was announced that Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson would reprise their roles in the final two films of the "Harry Potter" series ("Half-Blood Prince" and "The Deathly Hallows".)  The trio, which play Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger respectively, have been on board for all five previous "Potter" films and have enjoyed immense success as a result, starting out as pre-adolescents and unfolding as young adults as the series progresses, literally growing up before the world audience's very eyes on the big screen.  The films have all been released by Warner Brothers, as will this summer's "Order of The Phoenix" (July 13) and the final two films to follow.


(Mar. 23, '07)   Steven Spielberg's Space Adventure

While it won't be in theaters for at least four or five years, Kevin Nolan will be writing the script for Steven Spielberg's "Interstellar", about space explorers who travel through a worm hole and into another wholly new dimension of time and space.  Mr. Spielberg has plenty to keep him busy, as June sees the start of production on the fourth "Indiana Jones" film (Harrison Ford and Cate Blanchett will star).  Mr. Spielberg is likely to follow that film with the direction of a film about Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War, based upon American historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's book.  The director is tapping Liam Neeson to play Abraham Lincoln.  Mr. Neeson starred in Spielberg's Oscar-winning 1993 film "Schindler's List."
 

(Mar. 23, '07)   "Titanic" stars reunite in upcoming film production

Oscar nominees Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet will reunite in "Revolutionary Road" a forthcoming film about an American suburban couple with children whose true desires clash with the pressures of conformity following the post-war era of the mid-1950's.  Sam Mendes (Oscar-winner of "American Beauty" and the husband of Ms. Winslet), will direct and co-produce the film, which Dreamworks will release in the United States.

  
(Mar. 22, '07)   Add film director to Russell Crowe's resume

Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe will make his directing debut with the film "Bra Boys", based on the documentary narrated by Crowe about an underground surfing community in Australia.  Brian Grazer will produce the Universal Pictures film, with "Collateral" screenwriter Stuart Beattie writing the script.  Mr. Crowe has wrapped filming on Universal's "American Gangster" with Denzel Washington (the film opens in the U.S. on November 2) and Lionsgate's "3:10 To Yuma", with Christian Bale.
 

(Mar. 22, '07)    Robin Williams to be feted at the 50th San Francisco International Film Festival in May

Robin Williams, the Chicago-born actor who resides in San Francisco, will be honored by the San Francisco Film Society on May 3 with the Peter J. Owens Award, an award honoring acting brilliance, independence and integrity.  San Francisco's famed Castro Theater will host a public event on May 4 at which Mr. Williams will appear.  Film clips, an onstage interview and a screening of the 1990's Oscar-winning film "The Fisher King" will take place on May 4 at the Theater.  The San Francisco International Film Festival takes place on April 26 and runs through May 10


(Mar. 22, '07)  Tim Burton to be feted at the Venice Film Festival in September

In September director Tim Burton will be honored with a lifetime career achievement award at the Venice Film Festival, which will also honor him with a "Tim Burton Day".  The event will take place on September 5.  The inventive director has directed such films as "Corpse Bride", "Beetlejuice", "Edward Scissorhands", "Ed Wood", "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Batman."


(Mar. 22, '07)   Oscar's 80th Birthday

The 80th Annual Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, February 24, 2008, it was announced yesterday.  The nominations for the Awards, held each year by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, will take place on Tuesday, January 22, 2008. 


(Mar. 22, '07)   "Casino Royale" DVD 007 £7 bargain in England superstore

In the United Kingdom, Asda Supermarket, one of Britain's largest supermarkets sold the "Casino Royale" DVD recently for a 007 price of just (£7) seven pounds ($11.50 US).  The sale helps to curb piracy, despite the objections of the releasing studio for the film in the U.K.  Not surprisingly, thousands of DVDs have flown off Asda's shelves since the sale -- part of the superstore's "Why Pay More" campaign -- began on Monday, March 19.  The £7 sale on "Casino Royale" DVDs at Asda Supermarkets continues in the U.K. through Sunday, March 25.  Several other Bond 007 films are available for the same price at Asda during the same time period, including "Dr. No", "Diamonds Are Forever", "The Spy Who Loved Me", and "Die Another Day", the second most successful film in the Bond series after "Casino Royale".  Asda's chief executive Andy Bond -- yes, that's his name -- said recently, "with a price like this, we're definitely 'licensed to thrill' our customers."


(Mar. 21, '07)   Cruise and Singer in World War Two epic thriller

Tom Cruise will star in his first United Artists film after his starring role in UA's "Lions For Lambs" this November 9 in the U.S.  Cruise will begin filming an untitled World War Two thriller this summer.  Bryan Singer ("Superman Returns") will direct the war film, which will be Cruise's first war film since his Oscar-nominated "Born On The Fourth Of July" role in 1989.  The film is expected to be released either in the summer or fall of 2008 in the United States.  The film is based on actual events surrounding the Germans and Hitler during WWII.  Mr. Singer is also getting ready to do the sequel for "Superman Returns" for Warner Brothers, which will film shortly after production on the World War Two film is complete.  The "Superman Returns" sequel is expected to be released sometime in 2009.
 

(Mar. 21, '07)   The Devil Wears Victoria

Emily Blunt, memorable in last year's "The Devil Wears Prada" will star as Queen Victoria in "The Young Victoria", a film to be directed by Jean-Marc Vallee.  Oscar-winning producer Graham King and Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese (both for "The Departed") will produce the "Victoria" film.  The film will focus on Victoria's romance with Prince Albert, with whom she had nine children.  Julian Fellowes, Oscar-winning writer for "Gosford Park", will write the script for "The Young Victoria".  Miss Blunt will be in at least five other films over the next year or two, including "Charlie Wilson's War", with Tom Hanks, and "The Jane Austen Book".
 

(Mar. 21, '07)    The Hornet To Sting The Big Screen

Columbia Pictures and producer Neal H. Moritz have nabbed the property rights to "The Green Hornet".  The original radio series about a millionaire publisher by day turned masked crime fighter by night, will hit the big screen as a feature film.  "The Green Hornet" was also a live action series on television in the 1960's and has taken on numerous incarnations and actors attached to star in would-be film projects (including Jet Li, George Clooney, Jake Gyllenhaal and Mark Wahlberg) over the years.  The writing phase of the film should begin within the next few weeks.
 

(Mar. 15, '07)   Five star Don

Don Cheadle will star, produce and direct a biopic on the live of jazz legend Miles Davis.  The film will be one of five projects that Cheadle will star in or be involved in bringing to the big screen.  More on the "Don Phenomenon" soon.


(Mar. 12, '07)  The financial power of "300"

Zach Snyder's "300" thundered into the top spot at the North American box office in its opening weekend, grossing at least $70 million dollars according to estimates this past weekend.  Apparently the one-hour adjustment for Daylight Savings Time and terrific weather in some parts of the U.S. did not forestall viewers, whom made the film's opening gross a record for a film released in March in the country.  "300" is based on a graphic comic book novel developed by Frank Miller ("Sin City").  The film stars Gerard Butler, Lena Headey and Dominic West. 

(Mar. 12, '07)  Ralph Nader and "An Unreasonable Man"

Long-time U.S. consumer advocate Ralph Nader was in San Francisco over the weekend, courtesy of a live video satellite hook-up following a showing of a documentary on him called "An Unreasonable Man", which is now playing in several U.S. cities.  "It's no puff piece on me," Nader said from his location in his home state of Connecticut.  "Eric Alterman and some others made sure of that," he added.  Alterman is a writer at The Nation magazine, and in the documentary is a bitter critic of Mr. Nader.  A more detailed report on Nader's satellite appearance will appear soon on The Popcorn Reel.


(Mar. 8, '07)  The "Missing" Lake: Where in the world is Reese Witherspoon?

Just over a month prior to filming of Joe "Smokin' Aces" Carnahan's new film "Bunny Lake Is Missing", its star and co-producer, Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon, has gone m.i.a. -- missing in action -- reportedly leaving the production.  No word yet on whether the film will stay on schedule, although at this point it is highly unlikely.  Mr. Carnahan's film is based on Otto Preminger's 1965 film about a woman who reported her daughter to be missing only to be faced with growing rumors that she never had a daughter in the first place.  Carnahan's
"Smokin' Aces" opened around the world in January, and after "Bunny Lake", his next film will be "White Jazz", which will star George Clooney and is written by the director's brother, Matthew Michael Carnahan, who adapted the screenplay from James Ellroy's novel.


(Mar. 8, '07)  Cannes Short Films by Palm D'Or to be shown at this year's Festival

A collection of never-before-seen two-to-three-minute-length short films directed by past Palm D'Or winners at prior Cannes Film Festivals will be screened at this year's Cannes Festival, the 60th edition, which begins on May 15.


(Mar. 8, '07)   Fox Happens: M. Night Shyamalan's "The Happening"

M. Night Shyamalan's next film will be his first R-rated effort, and the first time that 20th Century Fox will distribute his film in the U.S.  "The Happening", about a family on the run from a natural disaster and huge crisis.  A big A-list male star is expected to be cast in a lead role.  Shyamalan's last film, "Lady In The Water" was a box-office disappointment in the U.S., and was released by Warner Brothers.  "The Happening" will begin filming this summer, for a June 2008 release in the U.S.


(Mar. 7, '07)  Soul To Soul: Matthew McConaughey as a surfer

The actor will play a soulful surfer plagued by a crisis of the most existential proportions in "Surfer, Dude".  The film will take place in Malibu, California.  McConaughey is currently in Australia filming Warner Brothers' "Fools Gold".  No word yet on who will distribute "Surfer, Dude" domestically in the United States until after the film has completed production, which will be after this summer.


(Mar. 7, '07)  Bond-ed for "Mamma": Brosnan inked to join ABBA film cast

Pierce Brosnan, the former James Bond, has signed on to join Meryl Streep in "Mamma Mia!", the film adaptation of the famous Broadway musical based on the songs of the world wide superstar quartet ABBA.  Brosnan is preparing for the sequel to "The Thomas Crown Affair", and Streep is currently filming Robert Redford's "Lions For Lambs", which stars Tom Cruise and Mr. Redford.


(Mar. 7, '07)  "Happyness" Too:  A Vegas Story

Will Smith and James Lassiter will produce "Cooked", a book of the true story of Jeff Henderson, a man who transformed himself from a San Diego drug dealer to a Las Vegas chef.  Smith who was last on screen in another rags-to-riches true story "The Pursuit Of Happyness", for which he was Oscar nominated, may star in the film adaptation of "Cooked", pending his approval of the script. 


(Mar. 7, '07)  Tim Robbins, Rachel McAdams and Michael Pena to star in Neil Burger's "The Return"

The three actors will play U.S. soldiers fresh from Iraq who become companions on a sudden road trip across America.   The film will begin production in May.  LionsGate will distribute the film in North America for a probable December release.


(Mar. 5, '07)  Vindicated!  "Wild Hogs" drinks heartily at the box office trough in North America (weekend of Mar. 2-4)

Despite poor reviews from critics, the Walt Becker-directed comedy "Wild Hogs", starring John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy laughed all the way home to the top of the North American box office this past weekend with $38 million, easily outpacing "Zodiac" (second place, $13.1 million) and "Ghost Rider" (third place, $11.5 million.)


(Feb. 28, '07)  Next year's Screen Actors Guild Awards to be held on January 27, 2008

Recently the Screen Actors Guild announced that the 14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Award will be held on January 27, 2008.  More details to come soon.


(Feb. 20, '07)  "Ghost Rider" rides the U.S. holiday box office with $51.5 million

Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes rode to record glory for Sony Pictures over the Presidents' Day Holiday weekend in the U.S., as their film "Ghost Rider" made $51.5 million, the highest-ever for this particular holiday.  In second place was "Bridge To Terabithia", performing a surprisingly good $29 million.  Last week's number one film, "Norbit", plummeted to third place with $20.7 million, but at $62 million total, has surpassed its budget cost.  The film is on track to make $100 million.  Another Eddie Murphy vehicle, "Dreamgirls", will surpass the same mark this week in time for Sunday's Academy Awards -- it has grossed $99.8 million mark and is expected to benefit from its likely Oscar wins.  In fourth place, "Music And Lyrics" performed reasonably well with $16 million ($21.5 million since its Valentine's Day opening) and rounding out the top five was "Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls" with $14.3 million ($19.9 since its Valentine's Day opening.)

 

(Feb. 20, '07)   Let Your Blood Flow: "Saw 4" to start filming on April 16

The fourth time is a charm for the immensely successful "Saw" horror film franchise, as the latest installment will start filming in Toronto on April 16.  The film will be released this October on the 26th, worldwide.


(Feb. 20, '07)   Ron Howard expected to make American version of "Cache"

Reports suggests that Ron Howard will direct the American remake of the Michael Haneke-directed French original "Cache", about a married couple who find highly-violent videos winding up on their doorstep.  Plum Pictures had optioned the rights of the original film, and will be co-producers, along with Plum's Celine Rattray, who will exec. produce with Randy Simon.  Imagine Entertainment's Brian Grazer, will produce the new film.  The French original was also called "Hidden" and was released in the U.S. in 2005 to reasonable success.



(Feb. 8, '07)  William H. Macy to make feature film directorial debut

Mr. Macy will direct "Keep Coming Back", starting this summer.  The film will star Salma Hayek, Steve Buscemi and Mos Def, among others.


(Feb. 8, '07)    "Hurricane" Fanning

Dakota Fanning and Elle Fanning will star as twin sisters who are disabled, in "Hurricane Mary".  Alvin Brown's film, based on a true story, will also star Patricia Clarkson as the mother of the twins, who fought for them to receive a public school education.  The cast will include Chris Cooper, William H. Macy, Laura San Giacomo and Jordi Molla.


(Feb. 7, '07)  Entry of "The Kingdom" to the U.S. and Canada delayed

"The Kingdom", originally slated for release in North America on April 20, will be pushed back to September 28, based on positive reactions at U.S. test screenings for audiences.  The film was shot in Dubai and is headlined by Oscar-winners Jamie Foxx and Chris Cooper, featuring Jennifer Garner and Jeremy Piven.  "The Kingdom" is distributed in the U.S. by Universal Pictures.


(Feb. 6, '07)  Kiefer Sutherland to star in "Mirrors"

The "24" television star will star in the supernatural thriller feature film, which will be directed by Alexandre Aja.


(Feb. 6, '07)   Smokey Robinson smokes out "Dreamgirls"

The singer-songwriter sensation Smokey Robinson recently ripped "Dreamgirls", stating that its thinly-veiled portrayal of Motown founder, producer and legend Berry Gordy was dishonest.  Robinson was not at all pleased, saying that the film did a disservice to the legacy of Motown and to Diana Ross and The Supremes.


(Feb. 5, '07)   Dame Dench over Dame Mirren in Britain

Dame Judi Dench won best actress over the weekend for her role in "Notes On A Scandal" at the 54th Evening Standard British Film Awards in central London.  Dame Helen Mirren also competed in the category.  This marks the first time this awards season that Mirren failed to win for "The Queen" in any film critics', critics circle, or other major awards honors.  Daniel Craig won best actor for playing James Bond in "Casino Royale", while best film went to "United 93", which was directed by Paul Greengrass.  Stephen Frears won the Alexander Walker Special Award for "making British film reverberate around the world."  The Peter Sellers Award for Comedy was bestowed upon Sacha Baron Cohen for "Borat", while Peter Morgan received best screenplay honors for both "The Queen" and "The Last King of Scotland".  The award for Technical achievement went to Anthony Dod Mantle for lensing "The Last King of Scotland".


(Feb. 3, '07)   Martin Scorsese wins top Directors Guild of America honor

Tonight in Los Angeles, Martin Scorsese won the best director of motion pictures honor at the 59th Annual Directors Guild of America Awards, which was held in Los Angeles, California.  The venerable director of such films as "Mean Streets", "Taxi Driver", "The King of Comedy", "Raging Bull", "GoodFellas", "The Age of Innocence", "Casino", "Kundun", "Gangs Of New York", "The Aviator", won for "The Departed", instantly making Mr. Scorsese the odds-on favorite to win the same honor at the 79th Annual Academy Awards, to be held on Sunday, February 25.


(Feb. 1, '07)   Russell not Robin

Russell Crowe will next film "Nottingham" with Universal Pictures via Imagine Entertainment and producer Brian Grazer.  Crowe will star as the Sheriff of Nottingham in what is described as a revisionist tale of Robin Hood.  The film will depict the notion that Robin Hood wasn't the nicest person even as he was doing the best deeds for the common folk of the city of Nottingham.  "Nottingham" will start lensing either late this year or in early 2008, and will feature a love triangle that involves Robin Hood, Maid Marion and the Sheriff.  The next Universal project Crowe will appear in is "American Gangster" which will be released on November 6 in the U.S. and Canada.  That film is directed by Ridley Scott and also stars Denzel Washington.

 

(Feb. 1, '07)   Richard and Diane are back together again

Richard Gere and Diane Lane, co-stars in "Unfaithful" in 2002, will reunite in "Nights In Rodanthe", a romance between a man and a woman in transitory stages in their lives.  The film will be made with Warner Brothers.  "Rodanthe" is about a doctor who travels to be with his estranged son.  While at a hotel overnight he meets a woman whom he develops a life-changing romance with.  The woman is unhappily married.  Gere will be next seen in Lalle Hallestrom's film "The Hoax".  Lane has completed production on two films: "Killshot" and "The Jumper", and will be commencing filming on "Untraceable", a thriller directed by Gregory Hoblit.  Four years ago, Lane was Oscar-nominated for best actress for "Unfaithful".

(Jan. 31, '07)   Like Lazarus: "The Departed" to re-emerge as a sequel?

It's a possibility at least, according to published reports.  Oscar-nominated screenwriter William Monahan (nominated last week for "The Departed") has been pitching the idea of a sequel to Martin Scorsese's most successful film ever, which has also been nominated for four other Academy Awards this year, including Best Picture and Best Director.  So far there has been no word on whether Mr. Scorsese or Warner Brothers, the studio that distributed "The Departed", are interested.  "The Departed" is based on the hit 2002 film from Hong Kong "Infernal Affairs".  That film, directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, had a prequel and a sequel.  In the meantime, "The Departed" is currently enjoying an encore post-Oscar nominations run in North America and will be on DVD in the same territory on February 13.

 

(Jan. 31, '07)    Big In Japan: Domestic Box Office Strong for the 2006 year

The Motion Pictures Producers Association of Japan (Eiren) announced that Japanese-made films thrived in Japan during 2006.  For the first time in at least 33 years, Japanese-made films comprised the majority of the films released in the country during this past year.  Of 821 films released, 417 were Japanese films.   Furthermore, Japanese films brought home more money overall as a collective set of films than any foreign-made or overseas fare, for the first time in 33 years.  The highest-grossing film overall that was released in 2006 was "Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest", which grossed $82.8 million.  The top domestic grossing film was "Tales From Earthsea", with $63.2 million.  "Tales", released by Studio Ghibli, is an animated feature.


(Jan. 30, '07)   "You Are Here" -- or at least they Think (Film) so . . .

ThinkFilm acquired the distribution rights for a film called "You Are Here", about a group of 20-somethings who have to figure out what happened to them all in the course of one night.  A mystery of sorts, the film was at Slamdance and directed by Henry Pincus (his feature film directing debut).  Mr. Pincus also wrote the film.  The film's worldwide distribution rights were sold to ThinkFilm for $2 million.  Bijou Phillips is part of the film's ensemble cast.


(Jan. 29, '07)  "Little Miss Sunshine" wins the best ensemble cast at the 13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

In a possible harbinger of things to come, the Fox Searchlight film won best ensemble cast last night at the 13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles at the Shrine Auditorium.  The film may now be the strongest contender at next month's Academy Awards.  Last week "Little Miss Sunshine" won the Producers' Guild Awards top prize for best motion picture production.

Winners lists:  Film    Television


(Jan. 28, '07)   "Epic Movie" leads North American box office for the weekend of January 26-28

The Fox release, a comedy topped the box-office in the U.S. and Canada with $19 million-plus in its opening weekend, according to estimates.  "The Departed" and "The Queen" were helped with their Oscar nominations, as was "Pan's Labyrinth".  Most other Oscar-nominated films weren't appreciable improved by their nominations box-office wise.
 

(Jan. 26, '07)   Nicole Kidman and seven others injured during movie shoot

Nicole Kidman was among those injured when a stunt driver who was driving the actor and crew on the set of the film "The Invasion" crashed into a light pole during filming in Los Angeles.  All eight were taken to hospital for treatment and soon released. 

 

(Jan. 26, '07)   Fanning the flames

Dakota Fanning, who will turn 12 within a few months, criticized those who suggested that she shouldn't have played the role of a rape victim in the film "Hounddog", which has been screened at the Sundance Film Festival this week.  Ms. Fanning criticized the religious groups and others who have said that she should not have played the role and questioned whether the film's director and Fanning's mother acted in a responsible way when asking her to act in the rape scene.  "When it gets to the point of attacking my mother, my agent . . . my teacher, who were all on the set that day, that started to make me mad," Fanning was quoted as saying in an interview.


(Jan. 25, '07)  "Freedom" Is Free!  (For teachers in the U.S.)

Paramount Pictures in conjunction with AMC Theatres, will give teachers in the U.S. the opportunity to see the film "Freedom Writers" starring Hilary Swank as real-life teacher Erin Gruwell -- for free from Friday, January 26 through Thursday, February 1.


(Jan. 11, '07)  "Mamma" Meryl!

Meryl Streep will star in the film version of the smash hit Broadway musical "Mamma Mia", which is based on the songs of Seventies superstar pop sensations ABBA.  Universal Pictures will distribute the film.  Theater veteran Phyllida Lloyd is currently in talks to direct the film, which is scripted by Catherine Johnson, one of the two creators of the original musical, and the author of the book of the musical.  Having just wrapped production in a political thriller "Rendition" with Jake Gyllenhaal, she has signed on to star in "Lions For Lambs", which features an all-star cast that includes Tom Cruise and Robert Redford.  Steep has also been nominated for Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe Awards for her role as Miranda Priestly in the worldwide smash hit "The Devil Wears Prada".
 

(Jan. 11, '07)   Oscar winners and Oscar winners on Oprah Winfrey's Oscars special

Megastar, multi-millionaire television icon, philanthropist and humanitarian Oprah Winfrey will host an Oscars special on February 22, days before the February 25 Academy Awards.  The one-hour special, called "The Oprah Winfrey Oscar Special" will be shown in the United States on ABC television.  It will feature Oscar winners interviewing Oscar winners.  Jamie Foxx will interview Sidney Poitier, Julia Roberts will interview George Clooney, and Nicole Kidman will interview Russell Crowe.

 

(Jan. 11, '07)  The People Have Spoken

Johnny Depp, Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz, and Halle Berry were among the winners at The Peoples' Choice Awards held in Los Angeles on Tuesday.  Depp won awards for best male movie star and favorite action star.  Jennifer Aniston was named top female movie star, while Vince Vaughn was named best leading man.  Cameron Diaz was named favorite leading lady, while Halle Berry was named best female action star.  "Click" won for best comedy film, while "Cars" won for best animated film.

  

(Jan. 9, '07)   James Cameron's "Avatar" and M. Night Shyamalan's "Avatar"

Potential legal battles could be on the way, as the two directors above released news yesterday of their films, which both have the same title.  Mr. Cameron's is set to be an unprecedented 3D digital event, with a budget north of $200 million.  Mr. Shyamalan's film is based on the children's television series.  More details to come.


(Jan. 3, '07)   The Weinsteins win the Dylan sweepstakes

The Weinstein company have acquired the U.S., Canada, and U.K. rights to the upcoming Todd Haynes biopic "I'm Not There", which will be released in North America later on this year.  The film is based on the life of the rock and folk legend Bob Dylan.  Christian Bale, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger and Cate Blanchett will all play Dylan in the film at several episodes of his life. 
 

(Jan. 2, '07)   Indiana Jones is back

Harrison Ford will be once again donning a fedora after an almost-20 year absence from the big screen as Indiana Jones.  The 64-year-old will collaborate with director Steven Spielberg and producer George Lucas on the film, after finally settling on an appropriate screenplay for the film.  David Koepp will be writing the script, which is set to film in June.  Ford, Spielberg and Lucas, who will be among the as-yet-untitled film's executive producers, are reportedly eager to have Sean Connery, who starred as Indiana's father in the last film back in 1989, back on board.

 

(Jan. 2, '07)    A new "Star Wars" will return in 2008

George Lucas, announced that there will be a new "Star Wars" adventure in theaters in 2008.  It will have new, different characters in it, he promises.  The last "Star Wars" adventure was "Revenge Of The Sith", which was a worldwide smash hit in 2005.

 

(Jan. 1, '07)   Happy New Year!

 

2007



 

(Dec. 28, '06)   Spike Lee to direct biopic on the life of James Brown

Yesterday Paramount Pictures announced that director Spike Lee signed on to direct a biopic feature film on the life of James Brown, which Brian Grazer will produce.  Grazer produced Lee's "Inside Man", which with its $88 million North America domestic gross this year became the director's highest-grossing film.  James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, passed away on Christmas Day.


(Dec. 28, '06)  National Film Registry Selects "Blazing Saddles", "Fargo", "Groundhog Day", "Halloween" and Rocky", among others

The National Film Registry yesterday unveiled its annual list of 25 films to be placed in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. for film preservation, which included the Oscar-winning films "Fargo" and "Rocky".  The Cary Grant film "Notorious" (1946) also made its foray on to the list, which means that it and the 24 other titles selected will be preserved under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act.  Steven Soderbergh's seminal film "sex, lies and videotape" (1989) also made the list, as did "Daughter Of Shanghai" (1937).  The most recent film on the list was "Fargo" (1996).  The oldest film was "Traffic In Souls" (1913).

 

(Dec. 28, '06)  "World Trade Center" honored at the 10th Annual Hollywood Film Festival

Oliver Stone's drama took top honors at the Hollywood Film Festival, thanks to online voters from the Yahoo! and Entertainment Tonight websites.  The film which is now on DVD, stars Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Maria Bello.

 

(Dec. 27, '06)  Screen Actors Guild President Alan Rothenberg to be joined by Elijah Wood and Sandra Oh for upcoming nominations announcement

Today the Screen Actors Guild announced that its president will be joined on January 4 by actors Elijah Wood and Sandra Oh for the early-morning announcement of the 13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations.  The announcement will be broadcast LIVE on American network cable television stations TNT and E! Entertainment Television at 6 am Pacific U.S. time and 9 am Eastern U.S. time.

 

(Dec. 27, '06)  $8.5 million "Dreams"

"Dreamgirls" made for a dreamlike Christmas Day in North America.  The Bill Condon directed musical, based on the Broadway musical of 1981 had a meteoric December 25th, grossing $8.5 million on that day alone -- which is when it expanded to a number of theaters in the U.S.  The film will expand some more, on January 19.  "Dreamgirls" features some amazing performances, including Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson, along with Beyonce Knowles, who makes a strong impression as well.  Jamie Foxx, Danny Glover, Anika Noni Rose and Keith Robinson also star.

 

(Dec. 24, '06)  Good "Night"!

The new comedy from Shawn Levy, "Night At The Museum" will spend Christmas atop the North American box office after claiming the top spot for the weekend (Dec. 22-Dec. 24).  The film, which stars Ben Stiller and Robin Williams among a cast of numerous others, took in $30.8 million after its Dec. 22 opening, according to estimates.  Last weekend's top film, "The Pursuit Of Happyness" fell to second place, but with a solid $15 million to bring its total to $53.2 million.  In third place was "Rocky Balboa" which to date has grossed $22.3 million.  Sylvester Stallone's film opened last Wednesday.  Three recent releases that have struggled so far: "Eragon" which dropped 69.2%, "Blood Diamond", which dropped 53.4% and "Apocalypto", which dropped 62.3%.


(Dec. 20, '06)  Toronto has spoken, Your Majesty

The Toronto Film Critics named "The Queen" as the best film of 2006 yesterday, also naming its star, Helen Mirren, as best actress.  Michael Sheen was named best supporting actor for the same film, and Peter Taylor was named for best screenplay.  Stephen Frears, who directed "The Queen", split the honor of best director with Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne for their film "L'Enfant".   Sacha Baron Cohen took best actor for "Borat", while Cate Blanchett won best supporting actress for "Notes On A Scandal".  Jason Reitman's "Thank You For Smoking" was named best first feature, while George Miller's "Happy Feet" was awarded best animated feature.


(Dec. 19, '06)  "United" we stand

Yesterday the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association picked "United 93" as its best film of 2006.  Among other awards, Clint Eastwood's "Letters From Iwo Jima" picked up best foreign language film, while "An Inconvenient Truth" continued its clean sweep of critics awards in the documentary sector.  Cate Blanchett ("Notes On A Scandal") and Jackie Earle Haley ("Little Children") won in their respective supporting categories, while Martin Scorsese won best director for "The Departed".

(Dec. 14, '06)  Acting great Peter Boyle passes at age 71

The actor who graced the screens of television and film for several decades, Peter Boyle, died yesterday at age 71.  He enjoyed a long spell on the television series "Everybody Loves Raymond" and appeared in many films on the big screen, including "Malcolm X", among many others.  Among his many pastimes, Boyle could regularly be seen watching New York Knicks basketball games in between his work on the big screen and on television.  There will be more on The Popcorn Reel on the life of Peter Boyle, who lived in New York, and passed away there yesterday.
 

(Dec. 14, '06)  Ennio Morricone to receive Honorary Academy Award

Ennio Morricone, motion picture composer for over 400 films, will receive an Honorary Academy Award at the 79th Annual Academy Awards, in February, it was announced yesterday.  The legendary composer has scored such films as "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly" and "Disclosure", plus an amazingly diverse array of films in between, and is regarded as one of the very best composers in the world.
 

(Dec. 13, '06)   Academy Poster Exhibit celebrates 50 years of foreign language Academy Award winning cinema

January 19, 2007 also sees the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences host an exhibition of posters from a large number of films that have won the award for best foreign language film over the 50 years in which the Academy has presented that particular award.   Such films as "Amarcord", "La Strada" and the Luis Bunuel classic 1970's film "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" will be on display.  More coming later this week in the events section.
 

(Dec. 13, '06)   W.C. Fields Exhibit Comes To The Academy

Next month, "The Peregrinations & Pettifoggery of W.C. Fields" will display in the Margaret Herrick Library at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles.  The collection of photos, letters, scripts, artifacts, film clips, personal documents and much more will be shown, beginning on January 19, 2007, free of charge to the public.  The collection was donated by Fields' family.  More on this coming later this week in the events section.


(Dec. 12, '06)  "Borat" wins.  Very nice.

Yesterday a Superior Court judge in Southern California tossed out a law suit brought by two South Carolina students who wanted to have their drunken and racist rants removed from the DVD release of "Borat".  They claimed that they were tricked into appearing in the film and told that it would never be released in the United States.  Sacha Baron Cohen's film will be uncut in its DVD release next year.

 
(Dec. 12, '06)  Screen Actors Guild Awards Creative Team Announced

Yesterday it was announced that Kathy Connell will produce the SAG Awards, which will be awarded on Sunday, January 28 at 8pm Eastern U.S. time, from The Shrine Expedition Center in Los Angeles.  Among other team members, Stephen Pouliot will be writing his ninth script for the Awards show.  Mr. Pouliot is a Peabody Award winner.  John Shaffner and Joe Stewart will design their fourth set for the SAG Awards.  Lenny Stack is back for his eighth go round as composer and conductor for the SAG Awards, while filmmaker Douglass M. Stewart, Jr., will produce the segment for Screen Actors Giuld Lifetime Achievement honoree Julie Andrews.  The SAG Nominees will be unveiled in an announcement on Thursday, January 4 -- aired live on American cable television station TNT.


(Dec. 10, '06)  Clint Eastwood's "Letters" getting big replies in Japan

If the initial reception is any indication at all, it will be a red-letter day (or perhaps a black letter day) for Clint Eastwood's latest film "Letters From Iwo Jima", the Japanese-language companion film to "Flags Of Our Fathers".  Reports suggest that the film is well-liked in the land of the rising sun.  On its opening yesterday in Japan it received very favorable receptions from moviegoers.  The film's star, Ken Watanabe, admitted in an interview with The Daily Yomiuri that in his estimation as someone in the Japanese filmmaking industry, "I have the slightly embarrassing  a film sensation that we should have turned our attention to the Battle Of Iwo Jima and filmed something on the theme earlier."  "Letters From Iwo Jima" opens in North America on December 20.


(Dec. 10, '06)  International Bond pays off

"Casino Royale" became the seventh film this year to gross at least $200 million internationally.  The Daniel Craig-starrer has been running number two in North America for three consecutive weekends since its release on November 17, and overseas it has been top of the overall international grosses over the same number of weekends.  Among the other films which have topped $200 million internationally: "Cars", Mission: Impossible III", "X-Men: The Last Stand", and "The Da Vinci Code".


(Dec. 9. '06)  Bullock is "One Of The Guys"

Sandra Bullock will star in and co-produce (with Todd Garner) a comedy called "One Of The Guys", in which she will embrace her feminine attributes after being a tomboy that her guy friends regard as just like one of the boys.  The film, yet to begin production, is expected to be released within the next year, by studio Twentieth Century Fox.
 

(Dec. 8, '06)  For Sunshiners Dayton and Faris, sophomore protection with "Abstinence"

A distinct possibility exists that directing spousal duo Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris will next helm "The Abstinence Teacher", to be adapted from Tom Perotta's forthcoming novel.  Dayton and Faris directed their first feature film "Little Miss Sunshine", to wide critical acclaim, awards nominations, and box-office success in North America, almost $60 million and counting, from a budget of barely $8 million.  The directors are in talks to helm "Abstinence" which is about a woman whose mores are in conflict with the mid-western conservative town where she lives.  The woman, a divorced sex education teacher, falls in love with her daughter's conservative soccer coach.  Mr. Perotta currently has another of his novels on the big screen -- "Little Children", which is receiving critical acclaim and awards nominations.

 

(Dec. 8, '06)  Legal encounters of the DVD kind, for "Borat"

"Borat" faces another legal challenge -- this time on DVD.  At least two University of South Carolina fraternity students who were depicted drunkenly ranting racist rhetoric about minorities and the legacy of slavery in America, argued through lawyers to a Superior Court judge in West Los Angeles yesterday that their scenes be cut from the DVD release.  There are three other lawsuits connected with the film, each claiming to be misled into participating in the film without their given consent.

 

(Dec. 7, '06)  Runnin' "Riot"

Spike Lee will next direct "L.A. Riots" for Universal, with Brian Grazer producing.  Lee and Grazer are already teaming up for a second "Inside Man", which has not been confirmed, but is very close to a lock.  "Riots" is billed as a even-handed and probing feature film about April 29, 1992 and the violent reaction to four white L.A. police officers being acquitted of charges stemming from their videotaped beating of Rodney King in March of 1991.  "Riots" is being scripted by John Ridley.  Earlier this year, Mr. Lee directed the HBO documentary "When The Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts", about Hurricane Katrina and U.S. government neglect of New Orleans residents in the Lower Ninth Ward area.  The documentary is coming to video and DVD later this month. 


(Dec. 7, '06)  Chinese film wins Asian Festival of 1st Films Festival honors

"The Road", a romantic story about a mismatched couple in love, won three awards including best film in Singapore yesterday.  All told, 29 films were shown at the festival, with entries from New Zealand, Canada, China, Indonesia and Spain, among other countries.


(Dec. 7, '06)  Five million "Pirates" on DVD sales on day one

Out of the gate, the smash hit "Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" sold five million copies on DVD on its first day of release on Tuesday.  The Disney film is expected to surpass the live-action record of 18 million total DVD and video sales (held by the first "Pirates" film.)
 

(Dec. 7, '06)  In March: Quaid's "Express" rolls on

Dennis Quaid has signed on to star in "The Express", the forthcoming Gary Fleder-directed film about the true story of the first black college football player in America (Ernie Davis) to win the Heisman Trophy.  Quaid will play Davis' football coach.  No word yet on who is playing Davis.  The film starts production in March.  Quaid is busy filming "Smart People" with Rachel Weisz.  

 

(Dec. 7, '06)  Paul Haggis in the "Valley"

He may have directed an ensemble film about Los Angeles that won an Oscar for best picture of 2005 back in March, but director Paul Haggis is currently filming a different kind of valley.  His ongoing shoot on "In The Valley of Elah" is shooting right now in New Mexico with an ensemble cast.  Tommy Lee Jones plays a war veteran in search of his son, a soldier who has returned from battle in Iraq and is AWOL.  Along with Oscar-winner Jones for this film are Oscar winners Charlize Theron and Susan Sarandon, plus Jason Patric, Frances Fisher, Tim McGraw, James Franco and Jonathan Tucker.  Haggis has been busy rewriting dialogue for several films lately and co-wrote the stories for and executive-produced director Clint Eastwood's companion films "Flags Of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima" which open exactly two months apart in the U.S.


(Dec. 6, '06)   Al Gore's documentary to be honored by the Producers Guild of America

The 2007 Stanley Kramer Award will be awarded to "An Inconvenient Truth" the Davis Guggenheim-Al Gore documentary on the ravages of eco-climate change and global warming.  The film's producers will receive the award on January 20 in Los Angeles at the Hyatt Regency.


(Dec. 6, '06)   San Francisco's 50th Annual Film Festival will honor George Lucas

Yesterday it was announced that the next San Francisco Film Festival -- to be held April 26-May 10, will honor George Lucas with a unique one-time only award on May 3, 2007.  Films from fifty countries will be screened.  For more, visit www.sfiff.org


(Dec. 6, 06)  A different direction for Almodovar

Pedro Almodovar's next film will be a departure from what he's ever done before, he said opver the weekend.  "La Piel Que Habito" is the next film for the legendary director.  The film is to be much bleaker and foreboding than anything he has filmed.  Penelope Cruz is likely to play the female lead, while numerous others, including Antonio Banderas, are being considered to play the male lead.

 

(Dec. 3, '06)  Threading the needle on "Cleopatra"

Producer Scott Rudin has acquired the film adaptation rights to the as-yet-unfinished book on Cleopatra.  Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Stacy Schiff is writing the book, which will be complete sometime in 2009.  The feature-film version will be the first in almost 50 years when it is finally released on the big screen.  Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were in the last Hollywood feature film on Cleopatra, the Egyptian queen, which was released back in 1963.


(Dec. 2, '06)  British Independent Film Awards loves "England", "Scotland" and "The Queen"

Late last week, the British Independent Film Awards announced its winners.  Best British Independent Film went to "This Is England", as did the Most Promising Newcomer On Screen Award, for Thomas Turgoose.  "The Last King of Scotland", expected to be nominated in several awards shows, won best director for Kevin Macdonald, while cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle won for the film (Best Technical Achievement award.)  "The Queen", also widely expected to be nominated in numerous awards shows, won best screenplay (Peter Morgan) and its lead actor Helen Mirren, was the recipient of the Variety UK Lifetime Achievement Award.  Best Documentary went to "The Road to Guantanamo", and Jim Broadbent was the recipient of the Best Contribution to British Film Award.  Ken Loach, director of the film "The Wind That Shakes The Barley", won the Special Jury Prize.



(Dec. 2, '06)   Will Mr. Smith love or hate "Wife"?

Will Smith, who in two weeks appears on the big screen in North America in "The Pursuit of Happyness", will decide after the script for "My Wife Hates Your Wife" is complete whether he will sign on to star in it.  The film is about two feuding wives whose husbands are good friends, who must tiptoe around their spouses to maintain the friendship.  James Lassiter and Smith (co-producers for "Happyness") will produce the new film regardless, with Gina Wendkos writing the script.

 

(Dec. 2, '06)   International cast set in "Trans-Siberian"

"Machinist" director Brad Anderson has his cast set for his next film "Trans-Siberian", which starts filming in Beijing, Russia and Lithuania on December 11.  Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton, Eduardo Noriega, Ben Kingsley, Kate Mara and Thomas Kretschmann.  The film is about two married couples who meet on a train traveling the Trans-Siberian railway.  Murder and deception ensue, much in the vein of "Murde of the Orient Express".  The film will be released sometime in 2007.


(Dec. 1, '06)   Final cut: Disney lays off 160 employees

Twenty percent of the entire staff at Disney, or 160 employees, have been laid off at the film's feature animation division, coinciding with the final touches on production of the animated feature "Meet The Robinsons", scheduled to open in June.  According to reports, the employees being laid off will be notified within the next week or two, just before the holidays.


(Nov. 30, '06)   Sundance Unveils its 2007 Film Festival Line Up

Film selections were unveiled yesterday for the Sundance Film Festival, which takes place on January 18-28, 2007 in Park City, and in Odgen, Utah.  Click here for the full line-up.


(Nov. 29, '06)   "Half Nelson" tops the Gotham Awards, winning three

The good times roll on for "Half Nelson".  Just a day after garnering five Spirit Award nominations, Ryan Fleck's film won best feature, best breakthrough director and Shareeka Epps who plays the student who enlivens and helps turn around the life of her teacher, shared best breakthrough actor with Rinko Kikuchi of "Babel".  The Gotham Awards will be televised in mid-December on IFC TV and.or Bravo Cable in the United States.
 

(Nov. 28, '06)  Add them to the "foreign" list

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has added both "Apocalypto" and "Letters From Iwo Jima" to the foreign language films nominee eligibility list for their upcoming Golden Globes awards ceremony in January.  The films are directed respectively by Mel Gibson and Clint Eastwood, both Oscar-winning directors.  Gibson's film opens next week (December 8), and Eastwood's opens on December 20.


(Nov. 28, '06)  Six Year Itch: Finally, the "Tiger" runs loose for Miramax

Miramax Films announced that in January it will release "Tears of The Black Tiger", a film set in 1950's Thailand and billed as a "cowboy epic" and forbidden love story.  The film was acquired at the Cannes Film Festival in 2001.  In January, New York City will be the place for the film's American debut.


(Nov. 27, '06)  Jeff Margolis to direct 13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

For the first time, the SAG Awards' Executive Producer Jeff Margolis will direct the 13th Annual Screen Actors' Guild Awards.  Margolis, a decorated director who has directed 22 American Music Awards and eight Academy Awards telecasts, has an association with this year's SAG Lifetime Achievement Recipient Julie Andrews that stretches back almost three decades, according to the telecast's long-time producer Kathy Connell.  The Screen Actors Guild Awards will be simulcast in the United States on both the TBS and TNT cable television networks on Sunday, January 28, 2007 at 8 p.m. Eastern time.


(Nov. 24, '06)    Philippe Noiret dies at age 76

Philippe Noiret, the legendary French actor and star, died yesterday after a lengthy battle with cancer.  He starred in excess of 100 films and won two Cesar awards for Best Actor.  Noiret was memorable and will forever be known to younger viewers and cineastes everywhere as Alfredo the projectionist, in the 1988 film "Cinema Paradiso".  Noiret's career spanned some 40 years.


(Nov. 22, '06)  Robert Altman dies at age 81

The legendary American director succumbed to complications related to cancer.  See here for a tribute to Altman.


(Nov. 10, '06)  Film legend Jack Palance dies at age 87

Jack Palance, legendary actor of American film and television, died of natural causes at his home in Montecito, California today.  He was 87.  Palance was best known for his work as bad-guy gunfighter Jack Wilson in the 1953 film "Shane".  His performance both garnered an Oscar nomination and defined him for years as a bad guy on screen.  In 1989 he appeared as Jack Nicholson's boss in "Batman", and three years later won a best supporting actor Oscar for his role as Curly in "City Slickers", starring with Billy Crystal, Bruno Kirby and Daniel Wilson.  Palance famously accepted his Oscar that year by doing a series of one-armed push-ups once he arrived on stage. 


(Nov. 7, '06)  Sir Sidney Poitier and Clint Eastwood honored at the 15th Annual BAFTA/LA Cunard Britannia Awards

Last Thursday (November 2) film legends Sir Sidney Poitier and Clint Eastwood were among those honored at the 15th Annual BAFTA/LA Cunard Britannia Awards at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel.  Poitier was awarded the Cunard Britannia Lifetime Contributions to International Film, while Eastwood was the recipient of the 2006 Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film.  Other honorees included director Anthony Minghella (John Schlesinger Britannia Award for Excellence in Directing) and actor Rachel Weisz (Oscar-winner for 2005's "The Constant Gardener") who was feted with the Britannia Award for Artist of the Year. 


(Nov. 7, '06)  A New Year, a New "Hulk"

"The Incredible Hulk", a film from Marvel's new studio will be released during the summer of 2008, it was announced yesterday.  A director has not been attached to star, but the film is scheduled to open in the United States on June 27, 2008.  The new film is not connected in any way to Ang Lee's 2003 film entitled "The Hulk".


(Nov. 4, '06)  Warner Brothers' "Blood Diamond shines into an earlier U.S. release

"Blood Diamond" the Edward Zwick-directed film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly and Djimon Hounsou, will be released a week earlier, opening now on December 8 instead of its original December 15 start date in North America.  The film about the illicit diamond-smuggling trade in South Africa has received overwhelming responses from test screening audiences in recent weeks, prompting Warner Brothers, the studio releasing the film, to spring forward its release date.

 

(Nov. 4, '06)   Almodovar and von Donnersmarck top nominees for the European Film Awards

Pedro Almodovar's "Volver" and Florian Henkel von Donnersmarck's "The Lives of Others" garnered six nominations each in the European Film Awards, which will be presented on December 2 in Warsaw, Poland.  Both directors were individually nominated for their direction, and their actors, composers and screenwriters were also nominated as well as their respective films for best picture.
 


(Nov. 4, '06)  Animation a crowded house of contenders for Oscar nominations

Yesterday the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced that no less than 16 animated feature films were in contention for nomination as Best Animated Feature.  Five of the following films will be selected for Oscar nominations to be announced on January 23, 2007 at 5:30am Los Angeles time: "The Ant Bully", "Arthur and the Invisibles", "Barnyard", "Cars", "Curious George", "Everyone's Hero", "Flushed Away", "Happy Feet", "Ice Age: The Meltdown", "Monster House", "Open Season", "Over The Hedge", "Paprika", "Renaissance", "A Scanner Darkly", and "The Wild".


(Nov. 3, '06)  Royal Reception: Helen Mirren, Forest Whitaker gain nods for acting in 9th Annual British Independent Film Awards

Last week, the British Independent Film Awards kick-started the 2007 Awards Season with its announcement of nominees, and Dame Helen Mirren ("The Queen) and Forest Whitaker ("The Last King of Scotland") were recipients of acting nominations.  Mirren was also named The Variety UK Personality of the Year.  Both of the actors' respective films and directors (Stephen Frears and Kevin Macdonald) were also nominated.   A full list of the nominees can be found here.  The awards will take place at the Hammersmith Palais in West London on November 29.


(Nov. 3, '06)  C|W = UA: Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner form the new United Artists studio as partners with MGM

Metro Goldwyn Mayer and producers Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner will form the new United Artists studio, which will be revamped.  Under the new UA Cruise and Wagner, whose producing partnership stretches back almost 15 years, will produce at least four films each year initially with an eye toward an increase in films produced in subsequent years.  The producers will also have substantial ownership of UA.
Wagner will serve as the company CEO and Cruise will star in and produce films for United Artists.  The megastar actor and producer will also be able to star in other studios' films. 

Says Cruise in part, "Paula and I are very respectful of the rich history and tradition of United Artists, and we welcome the opportunity to contribute to that legacy by providing a wide range of releases that appeal to all audiences."  New CEO Wagner added in part that "[a]s studio partner-operators, we will provide a supportive environment and infrastructure for filmmakers that will allow them to do their best work."  Almost 20 years ago Cruise starred with Dustin Hoffman in the MGM/UA film "Rain Man", which won four Oscars including Best Picture in 1989.


(Nov. 3, '06)   In case you missed it: "Terminator 4" to be filmed

MGM studios recently announced that it had plans to make and distribute "Terminator 4".  Arnold Schwarzenegger, the current governor of California is unlikely to reprise the title role.


(Nov. 3, '06)   Go "Speed Racer", Go! 

Warner Brothers announced yesterday that the Wachowski Brothers' will direct a live-action, feature length version of the comic book television series "Speed Racer."  The film is due to be released in the summer of 2008.  The Wachowskis -- Andy and Larry -- made their names directing the worldwide phenomenon "The Matrix" trilogy -- the three films in a five year span grossed over $1.7 billion combined.


(Nov. 3, '06)   "Jesus Camp"'s Reverend Ted Haggard abruptly resigns his post amidst gay sex allegations

Reverend Ted Haggard who is the leader of the influential National Association of Evangelicals and featured in the September feature length documentary "Jesus Camp", abruptly resigned his position yesterday after allegations by a gay man who stated that he and Haggard maintained a sexual relationship for at least three years, according to a report on American television news network NBC.  Haggard has been outspoken against gay marriage and same-sex partnerships and initiatives, and has vehemently denied any same-sex activity.  Haggard has been married to his wife of at least 20 years.
 

(Nov. 2, '06)  Spike Lee "Inside" Part Two

Variety reports that director Spike Lee and producer Brian Grazer will team up for a sequel to the March release "Inside Man", the critically-acclaimed film which netted a worldwide gross of $187 million, Lee's most successful box-office hit.  Lee, who also directed the four-hour HBO documentary "When The Levees Broke", is reportedly working with Russell Gewirtz, the first-time scribe who could be up for an Oscar next February on a draft for the new film.  Will Denzel Washington, Clive Owen and Jodie Foster return for the second film?  Stay tuned.


(Nov. 1, '06)  Legendary film editor Dede Allen to be feted in New York City on November 7

Next week the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences will be celebrating the career of editor Dede Allen.  Allen will be honored in New York by the Academy and such directors as Arthur Penn and Sidney Lumet, for whom she edited several films.  A conversation with Allen will feature the two directors, as well as film editors Jerry Greenberg, Richard Marks and Craig McKay.  Peter Travers, the film editor at Rolling Stone magazine will host the event, which will show clips of some of the movies Ms. Allen has edited over the years.  Almost 50 years ago, Allen started as a messenger with Columbia Pictures.  Within three years she edited her first film Robert Wise's "Odds Against Tomorrow" in 1959.  She has also edited among other films including Penn's "Bonnie and Clyde", Lumet's "Dog Day Afternoon" and the 2000 film "Wonder Boys".


(Nov. 1, '06)   At last, Steven Soderbergh will direct Benicio Del Toro as Che Guevara

The Oscar-winning director, who is currently wrapping production on "Ocean's Thirteen" will next direct fellow Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro as the Latin American revolutionary political leader Che Guevara in not one, but two films.  The first, called "The Argentine" will start shooting in May 2007, followed by the second film "Guerilla".  Both films will be shot predominantly in the Spanish language.  Del Toro won the best supporting actor Oscar in 2001 for his role in Soderbergh's "Traffic", which also won the helmer the Oscar for best director.


(Oct. 31, '06)  Jet Li and Jackie Chan, together at last

The two martial arts box-office sensations will be teaming up for an action film, which is expected to be released next year or in 2008.  "Jet Li's Fearless" was reputed to be his last martial arts film, but with Jackie Chan teaming up with Li, the offer was apparently too good to resist.  The film begins production in April.  Robert Minkoff will direct.  Chan will next be seen on the big screen in "Rush Hour 3", Brett Ratner's sequel, which will arrive next summer.
 

(Oct. 31, '06)  Pursue success!

Columbia Pictures' "The Pursuit of Happyness", in conjunction with several businesses is running a contest where the winners could end up working with their favorite companies in an internship capacity.  The winners would also attend the Hollywood premiere of "The Pursuit of Happyness" which stars Will Smith as Chris Gardner, a man who in real life rose from homelessness and trauma to become a multi-millionaire and business owner.  The film will be released in North America through Sony Pictures on December 15.  For more details on the contest visit www.sony.com/Pursue-It.  Entrants have until November 5 to enter the contest.


(Oct. 25, '06)   Run Mackie, Run!

Fast-rising acting sensation Anthony Mackie will star as legendary American track and field athlete Jesse Owens in a biopic about Owens to be released in 2008 during the summer.  The film has yet to find a director, but Mackie is already getting prepared to step into the acting role of Jesse Owens.  Besides being on the theatrical stage on Broadway, Mackie has been in a number films including "The Manchurian Candidate" remake by Jonathan Demme, Spike Lee's "She Hate Me", Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby"; this year's films "Haven", "Half Nelson", "Crossover", and "We Are Marshall", the last film -- which opens in December.


(Oct. 25, 06)   "Smart People" gets Parker

Sarah Jessica Parker will star opposite Dennis Quaid in Noam Munro's film "Smart People", which begins filming early next month (November 6).  Thomas Haden Church is among the co-stars in the film about a man who becomes bitter following the death of his wife.


(Oct. 25, '06)  Peter Sarsgaard joins the cast of "Rendition"

The CIA thriller "Rendition" has a new cast member.  Peter Sarsgaard joins the cast so far consisting of Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon.  The film is directed by Gavin Hood, the winner of the Oscar-winning foreign-language film of 2005, "Tsotsi".  New Line Cinema will distribute the film in North America.

 

(Oct. 24, '06)  "The Departed", "Little Children", "Deliver Us From Evil", "Jonestown" and "An Inconvenient Truth" nominated for the 16th Annual IFP Gotham Awards

The Independent Feature Project announced its nominees for its 16th go round.  Martin Scorsese's film is among several which are nominated for the November 29th awards show.  Stanley Nelson's "Jonestown" is among the documentaries nominated.  Kate Winslet and Edward Norton will be honored for their flexibility in acting between big budget and independent feature films.
 

(Oct. 23, '06)   Al Pacino to be serenaded at the American Film Institute next June

Fans of Tony Montana, mark June 7, 2007 on your calendar.  Al Pacino will be given a tribute by the American Film Institute on that date in Los Angeles.  Last year's tribute recipient was George Lucas.  In 2004, Robert De Niro, Pacino's on-screen rival in the Michael Mann cops-and-criminals saga "Heat", was feted.


(Oct. 20, '06)  "Deliver Us From Evil" and "Catch A Fire" win top awards at the 29th Mill Valley Film Festival

Amy Berg's "Deliver Us From Evil" won best documentary at the Mill Valley Film Festival, which ended last week.  The film about a Stockton, California-based priest who had serially molested young children and at least one adult, won the top award.  The documentary will be released in North America on October 27.  "Catch A Fire", the drama based on the true story of Patrick Chamousso in 1980's apartheid South Africa, won the audience award for dramatic feature.  The film, directed by Philip Noyce, and starring Tim Robbins and Derek Luke, will also be released in the U.S. a week from today.   Best children's film was awarded to "Lapislazuli: In The Eye of The Bear", directed by Wolfgang Murnberger.
 

(Oct. 15, '06)  "Ghost Rider" to open in the U.S. in February

Nicolas Cage, an actor whose versatility has kept him thriving in Hollywood, continues to diversify his roles.  He will star as the Marvel Comics' anti-hero "Ghost Rider", which will be released on February 16.  The film also stars Eva Mendes ("Out of Time, "Hitch", "Trust The Man"), Wes Bentley ("American Beauty"), Peter Fonda "Ulee's Gold") and Sam Elliott ("The Hulk").  "Ghost Rider"  is directed by Mark Steven Johnson.

 

(Oct. 15, '06) "Letters From Iwo Jima" to be released in Japan in December; in North America in February

It was recently announced that Clint Eastwood's "Letters From Iwo Jima", a companion film shot immediately after his "Flags Of Our Fathers" (opening stateside on Oct. 20), will be released in Japan on December 9, and in the U.S. on February 7.  The film tells the story of the World War Two battle from a Japanese perspective.  Iris Yamashita a Japanese-American, penned the screenplay for "Letters", Eastwood's first foreign language film, adapted from a novel by Tadamichi Kuribayashi called "Picture Letters from Commander in Chief".  Ken Watanabe will star in "Letters".


(Oct. 15, '06)  Eight is enough: "Section Eight" closes shop

After almost eight years the production company created by Steven Soderberg and George Clooney has closed.  Section Eight has home to such films as the Oscar-nominated "Good Night, Good Luck" and the Oscar-winning "Syriana", as well as the "Ocean's" film franchise, and its maiden film "Out of Sight".  Clooney and Soderberg will continue to work together on various projects and are currently wrapping up production on "Ocean's Thirteen".

 

(Oct. 15, '06)  "Dallas" revamp?

The big-screen version of American television's long-running soap opera "Dallas" been put on hold for the time being in an effort to revamp its cast, which to date has only one actor on board.  John Travolta, who will be seen next year in a film adaptation of the Tony-award-winning Broadway musical "Hairspray", is still currently tapped to star as J.R. Ewing.  Earlier this year Jennifer Lopez left the project.


(Oct. 11, '06)  Julia Roberts back in the big time for the season of "Love"

Julia Roberts could be starring in her first lead role in several years with the news that she has been tapped to play the primary character in the Elizabeth Gilbert memoir "Eat, Pray, Love", for which Paramount Pictures has acquired the film rights.


(Oct. 11, '06)  Fox has some Faith in Codeblack

Variety reports that Jeff Clanagan's Codeblack Entertainment has signed a multi-picture deal with 20th Century Fox's recently launched faith-based label, FoxFaith.  At least 12 films a year will be released under the new Fox label, which caters to Christian-themed feature films.

(Oct. 11, '06)  David Lynch has an "Empire" of his own

David Lynch, the director of such films as "Wild at Heart", "Lost Highway", "Blue Velvet" and "Mullholland Drive", has just purchased the North American distribution rights to his three-hour digital video film "Inland Empire" which recently showed at the 44th New York Film Festival.  The film stars Lynch alums Laura Dern and Justin Theroux ("Miami Vice").  Lynch will distribute "Inland Empire" himself.


(Oct. 10, '06) "Iron Man" Howard

Terrence Howard, the Oscar-nominated actor for 2005's "Hustle and Flow", will star alongside Robert Downey, Jr. in "Iron Man" from Marvel Comics.  The film, directed by Jon Favreau (who appeared in "The Break-Up") will be released in May of 2008.  Howard, a fast-rising actor, has also appeared in numerous films such as "Ray", "Four Brothers", "Crash", "Big Momma's House" and will next appear in a film called "Pride", which opens in North America on December 22.   (See Popcorn Reel Fall Movie Preview 2006.)


(Oct. 9, '06) Internationally, "Prada" has a "Devil" of a time

"These boots were made for walking," Nancy Sinatra once sang, and in the case of "The Devil Wears Prada", its shoes walked all over the box office in numerous overseas venues, including the United Kingdom, Spain and Russia.  The film, which stars Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, has grossed $124 million to date in North America.  "Prada" arrives on video in North America in December.


(Oct. 9, '06) "An Inconvenient Truth" arrives on DVD on November 21 in North America

Davis Guggenheim's important and powerful documentary about the danger that the world's environment is now in due to rapid climate change arrives on DVD just two days before the Thanksgiving holiday.  Former vice-president Al Gore is the chief participant of this tremendous documentary which was a huge hit this past summer in North America.  "An Inconvenient Truth" has to date made $23.7 million in the United States and Canada.


(Oct. 9, '06) "Mission" Monday: The third "Impossible" hits video stores on DVD on October 30

Paramount may have said "goodbye" to Tom Cruise, but not without a bang.  The studio announced that the third and likely final film installment of the "Mission: Impossible" series will be released in North America on a special day -- Monday, October 30.  The film will be a variety of editions including HD-DVD and Blu-Ray disc format.  "M:i:III" as it is commonly known, underperformed at the North American box office this past summer, although it did fairly well in a number of other countries.  At the time, some media observers criticized Mr. Cruise and Paramount for over-promoting the film.  Others cited the "distraction" of Cruise and Katie Holmes' newborn, plus some of the mega-star's well-publicized behaviors over the last year, for the third film's disappointing performance in the United States.


(Oct. 9, '06) "Nacho" "Nacho" Mania arrives on DVD in North America on October 24

A week before Halloween Jack Black and company arrive on DVD in the hilarious "Nacho Libre", one of the funniest films of the summer.  The Paramount Pictures release grossed just under $100 million in the United States and Canada.
 

(Oct. 9, '06)  Abandoning a "Little Game"

Last week Variety reported that Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz (who starred together in "The Mask") abandoned the forthcoming production of the film "A Little Game", a comedy scheduled to begin filming on October 19, along with its director Gabriele Muccino.  Muccino directed the Will Smith-starrer "The Pursuit of Happyness" which opens on December 15 in North America.


The New Fox Atomic!

"28 Weeks Later" and "The Hills Have Eyes 2" are among the films which will open under the new studio by Fox, which is designed to bring in younger viewers.

 

Aliens and Predators invade Vancouver

Next week (week of October 1) "Alien vs. Predator 2" begins filming in Vancouver, British Columbia.  Reiko Aylesworth and Steven Pasquale star in the sequel, which is being distributed by 20th Century Fox.



Mel Gibson screens "Apocalypto" for Native American audiences

The embattled actor-director reportedly appeared at two screenings in the U.S., in Oklahoma, to screen his new film "Apocalypto" for Native American audiences.  The film which will be released by Disney in North America is arriving in American movie theaters on December 8.  The film had originally been set for release in August, but was delayed for Oscar consideration.



"Rush" job

New Line Cinema's "Rush Hour 3" now has a complete cast.  Max Von Sydow, Noemie Lenoir and Hiroyuki Sanada have been added to the new film, which begins lensing soon.  Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker return to topline the film.  The previous film in the series was released in 2001.

 

"City of Men" follows on the Miramax Films docket

Miramax Films has picked up the North American rights to distribute the sequel to the critically-acclaimed 2003 film "City of God", which was directed by Fernando Meirelles.  The sequel, "City of Men" is expected to be released next year.  Meirelles most recently directed the Oscar-winning film "The Constant Gardener", which was released in 2005.

 

Ahoy there!  "Pirates" are coming to DVD in North America this December

"Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest", the record-breaking sequel to Gore Verbinski's 2003 film, will arrive on DVD in North America on December 5, Disney recently announced.  The film, which is still in release is the third-highest grossing worldwide-grossing film of all time with over $1 billion.  In North America the film has taken in $418.8 million and is still taking in money.  The film, which stars Johnny Depp (reprising his Oscar-nominated role as Jack Sparrow), Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley and Naomie Harris, cost $225 million.   The third "Pirates" installment will be released in North America in 2007 in late May, during the Memorial Day holiday in the United States.
 

Angelina Jolie takes on Ayn Rand in the forthcoming "Atlas Shrugged" film adaptation

The Oscar-winning actor has been tapped to star as Ayn Rand in the film based on her legendary book.  The Baldwins (Howard and Karen), who produced "Ray", will produce the film adaptation for Lions Gate.

 

Sven Nykvist, one of the greatest film lensers of light and dark, passes away

The dean of cinematographers passed away in Sweden at age 83 this week.  Born in the country in which he passed, Nykvist lensed at least two-dozen of directing legend Ingmar Bergman's films including "Persona" and "Scenes From A Marriage".

 

Carrey-ing over

Jim Carrey has signed with the Creative Arts Agency after recently ending a 15-year relationship with the United Talent Agency.

 

Pink is out, Zooey moves in to play Janis Joplin in Penelope Sheeris' biopic drama

Zooey Deschanel replaces singer Pink in the title role of the film "The Gospel According to Janis", Penelope Spheeris' upcoming movie, which starts lensing in Philadelphia on November 13.  Spheeris directed the smash-hit film "Wayne's World" in the early 1990's.


The New York Times: No more New York Film Festival daily movie reviews

Variety reported that America's "paper of record" will no longer publish reviews of daily New York Film Festival movies by its critics.  The New York Film Festival begins on September 29 and there will be a feature on the festival here.  In the meantime visit http://www.filmlinc.com/nyff/nyff.htm for more information on the New York Film Festival.

 

Back on track: Daniel Snyder inks partnership with Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner productions

Within a week of Paramount Pictures' ankling of Tom Cruise, billionaire sports team owner Daniel Snyder inked a deal with Cruise-Wagner productions to finance the films they produce.  The deal takes effect immediately.

 

Cruising at Low Altitude: Paramount Pictures cuts ties with Tom Cruise

Earlier this week in a somewhat surprising announcement, Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone announced that the conglomerate's Paramount Pictures studio has ended its long-running relationship with Tom Cruise.  The box-office megastar had a relationship with the studio dating back to the mid-1980's with such films as "Top Gun" and "Days of Thunder".  The total box office for all Mr. Cruise's films with Paramount is in excess of $2.25 billion, including the "Mission: Impossible" trilogy, hits like "The Firm", "Vanilla Sky" and the Dreamworks-Paramount film "Collateral".  Redstone cited the "recent conduct" of Mr. Cruise (sofa-jumping on Oprah WInfrey's show last year) as the reason.

 



war is over.jpg   Lions Gate Films Unveils Lennon/Ono "War Is Over!" Billboard Ad Campaign for its September release "The U.S. Vs. John Lennon"
 

The John Lennon-Yoko Ono-designed billboards that appeared in 11 cities around the world in December 1969 will be reproduced and erected in Los Angeles and New York City in August to publicize the forthcoming documentary by Lions Gate Films "The U.S. vs. John Lennon", about the attempted deportation of the late Beatles legend by then-U.S. president Richard Nixon.  The billboard pictured above currently appears in New York City at the intersection of 10th Street and 7th Avenue.  On August 15th the same billboard entitled, "War Is Over! If You Want It" will appear in Los Angeles at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Cory Avenue.

Lions Gate Films, which released the high-profile, much-talked about documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" in 2004, unveiled the campaign for "The U.S. vs. John Lennon", which will be released in theaters in North America on September 15.
FOR MORE: www.theusversusjohnlennon.com and www.joinnutopia.com

 

"An Inconvenient Truth" continues to rise; donations by Paramount Classics to exceed $1 million

This weekend the Al Gore featured documentary directed by Davis Guggenheim about the crisis of climate change and the environment worldwide, surpassed $21 million in North America.  The documentary, currently in just 302 theaters, has become a smash hit and with its current gross, the fourth highest grossing documentary ever.  Last week the studio releasing the documentary in North America (Paramount Classics) announced that it would donate 5% of its total gross to bettering the environment.  Based on the current total for "An Inconvenient Truth", the studio will donate more than $1.1 million.


"Talladega Nights" is the number one film in North America for the August 4-6 weekend

"Talladega Nights" topped the box office for the weekend of August 4-6 in North America with a $47 million take.  Will Ferrell stars in the comedy, which also features John C. Reilly and Sacha Baron Cohen.  "Miami Vice" dropped like a rock from the top spot last week, to number four this weekend, with just $9.6 million.  Michael Mann's drama dropped more than 62%.  "Little Miss Sunshine" the summer's best film, enjoyed the biggest per-screen average gross with a phenomenal $25,172.  The film is playing in just 58 theaters.  Meanwhile, "Pirates" is closing in on $400 million in North America after a $11 million weekend gross took its domestic total to $379.7 million.


Helena Bonham Carter to play one of the Death Eater villains in the next "Harry Potter" film

According to Variety, Helena Bonham Carter will play one of the villains in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix", a film scheduled to be released over the Christmas holidays of 2007.  David Yates will direct this latest installment.


Meryl Streep to narrate "Hurricane on the Bayou", an Imax film coming on August 29

Besides Spike Lee's "When The Levees Broke", MacGillivray Freeman's film "Hurricane on the Bayou" will open on August 29 in New Orleans on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina striking New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.  The theater in New Orleans showing the film on that date is the Entergy Imax Theater.  Oscar winner Meryl Streep will narrate the documentary film, according to Variety.  Meryl Streep can currently be seen on the big screen in "A Prairie Home Companion" and the smash-hit "The Devil Wears Prada."

Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto" still scheduled for release in North America on December 8

Despite recent negative press for actor-director Mel Gibson, Disney has no plans to reschedule the release date for his epic film about the Mayan culture and heritage, "Apocalypto".  The film was originally scheduled to be released on August 4 -- this weekend, but was pushed back to December to contend for Academy Awards consideration.  With the news of Mr. Gibson's arrest late last week for intoxication while driving, Disney may have opted to push the film to maximize the controversy surrounding him.  A source today said that the release is still planned for December 8.  Two and a half years ago Mr. Gibson directed "The Passion of The Christ", which went on to gross $370 million in North America alone.


Next year: Living "Free" during a crowded summer film season

Several films have already been announced for release in North America for the summer of 2007.  With "The Simpsons: The Movie", "Spider-Man 3", "Transformers" and "Pirates of the Caribbean 3" comes "Live Free or Die Hard", the fourth film in the "Die Hard" franchise.  As reported a few months ago here, Bruce Willis returns as New York City police officer John McClane.  Variety reports that the story will take place during the July 4 holiday.  Filming for "Live Free or Die Hard" will start in September.  Len Wiseman will direct the film, whose three predecessors have a combined $750 million worldwide box-office take.  "Live Free or Die Hard" will be released in North America on June 29, 2007.

 

"World Trade Center" box office receipts to be donated to September 11 charities

As with last April's Universal Pictures release "United 93", Paramount Pictures' "World Trade Center" will donate ten percent of the opening weekend gross (and the opening Wednesday and Thursday) to four charities connected to September 11, 2001 families.  The charities will receive ten percent of all box-office receipts from over 2,000 theaters in North America.  "World Trade Center", directed by Oliver Stone, will open on Wednesday, August 9.  The film stars Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Maria Bello.
 


"Miami Vice" knocks "Pirates" off its top perch, with $25.1 million at North American box-office

Michael Mann's film "Miami Vice" (based on the television series he created with Anthony Yerkovich) dethroned "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" to lead the box office this weekend for July 28-30.  It was the first time in July that a film other than Pirates topped the box-office.  "Pirates" is heading toward a $495 million total take in North America alone, which would be the second highest domestic gross for a film in American history behind "Titanic" ($602 million).  Meanwhile, the Al Gore environmental documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" has passed the $20 million mark, despite playing in less than 500 theaters for its entire run so far.   


"Spider-Man 3" to open on May 4, 2007 in Imax theaters

Sony Pictures announced that it will release Sam Raimi's third film about the web-slinging superhero in Imax on the same release date as the film will appear in regular 35mm film. 


Brian De Palma's "Black Dahlia" to open 63rd Venice Film Festival on August 30

At the end of August (on the 30th) "The Black Dahlia" Brian De Palma's latest film, will be featured in competition at the Venice International Film Festival.  The film is adapted from James Ellroy's book which is based on the true story of the murder of a 1940's aspiring actress Elizabeth Short.


"Pirates" raids the North American box office in record style: $135 million opening weekend

Eclipsing the one-day gross for "Star Wars Episode III" and shattering the opening weekend gross for "Spider-Man" ($115 million), Gore Verbinski's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" thundered into the number one spot for the July 7-July 9 weekend with a huge record take of $135.6 million in North America.  Last Friday alone the film grossed $55 million (that's more than the entire run of "The Omen" so far after nearly six weeks -- $54 million.)  Johnny Depp stars as Captain Jack Sparrow.  "Pirates" had a phenomenal $32,817 per screen average gross.  Meanwhile, "Superman Returns" fell precipitously to number two, grossing $21.8 million, down almost 55%.  Bryan Singer's film, which has now grossed $141.6 million, may end up losing money -- the "Superman Returns" budget was reportedly $260 million.


American film critic Roger Ebert recovering but in serious condition following emergency op

Renowned Chicago Sun-Times newspaper film critic Roger Ebert is reportedly in stable but serious condition following an operation to clear up complications from recent cancer surgery.  Ebert, 64, has had numerous surgeries and cancer treatments over the last three or four years.  He is expected to recover fully.  Ebert has been a critic at the Sun Times for 39 years.  His long-time critic co-worker Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune, died of a brain tumor in 1999.  Ebert has been sharing the film critic stage with Sun-Times colleague Richard Roeper since 2002, on his long-running show, now called "Ebert & Roeper At The Movies."


At the North American box office "Superman" flies high in his return

"Superman Returns" topped all films this weekend ahead of the July 4 holiday at the North American box office.  The Man of Steel commanded the box office with a $52.1 million take.  Bryan Singer's film, which was released on Wednesday, June 28, made just over $32 million on Wednesday and Thursday before its weekend run.  The Warner Brothers release, budgeted at $260 million -- the most expensive film ever -- has made $84 million.  Indications about how good the film performs will be learned on July 4 and the following weekend, when "Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" is released on July 7.  Of note, "The Devil Wears Prada" came in a strong second with $27 million.  "Click" fell 51% to third place after being top for the previous weekend and will cross the $100 million mark next week.  "Cars" is headed to $200 million after falling to fourth place.  Meanwhile, "An Inconvenient Truth" has been the story of the summer so far, with a sensational box office take of $12.3 million and counting -- a film showing in only 587 screens after just six weeks.  The Al Gore documentary about the climate change and environmental endangerment, moved up one place to number 13 on the box-office list.
 

China just says no to the "Code"

Chinese authorities have pulled the plug on "The Da Vinci Code", according to Variety.  Speculation about the reason for the pulling of prints from theaters in China include the avalanche of protests from the Catholic Church about Ron Howard's film.  The film was on course to become the second-highest grossing feature film in China's history.

 

Oscar winner Charlize Theron to be honored by the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 28

Charlize Theron, the South African-born star who won the best actress Oscar for "Monster" in 2004, will be the recipient of the Spirit of Independence award at the Los Angeles Film Festival.  Ms. Theron has starred in such independent films as the aforementioned "Monster", "2 Days in the Valley", and "Waking Up in Reno", and is reportedly set to star in "The Brazilian Job", a sequel to "The Italian Job".

 

For Uma Thurman, "Life" begins in August

The novel "The Life Before Her Eyes" by Laura Kasischke has been adapted into a movie called "In Bloom" which Uma Thurman will star in.  The film begins shooting in August.  Vadim Perelman, who directed the 2003 film "House of Sand and Fog" -- also adapted from that same-titled best selling novel -- will direct "In Bloom", which is about the disintegration of the life of a woman who survives a school shooting massacre.


6/6/06: A good "Omen"

"The Omen" proved to be a devil of an opening on Tuesday, June 6, as the film grossed an astonishing one-day total of $12,633,666 in North America.  Twentieth Century Fox released the film on the unusual day to capitalize on the phenomenon of "Devil's Day" sixth month/sixth day/sixth year, or the number 666 - known as the mark of the beast in biblical lore.  The marketing strategy worked as the one-day gross was the highest ever for a single Tuesday in U.S. motion picture history.  John Moore's film is a virtual scene-for-scene remake of Richard Donner's original 1976 horror chiller.  The strangest aspect of the one-day gross however, was the fact that the last three numbers of the one day total were '666'.

 

'Man' alive: Kidman and Jackman to star in Baz Luhrmann's next film

Australian stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman will star in an epic Australian drama set before World War II, which will be directed by "Moulin Rouge" helmer Baz Luhrmann.  Ms. Kidman previously starred in Mr. Luhrmann's "Rouge", for which she was Oscar-nominated for best actress.  The new film will begin production early next year.


George Clooney to be feted in October by American Cinematheque

Variety reports that on October 13 Oscar-winner George Clooney will be awarded the 21st American Cinematheque Award, which recognizes contributions to the American film industry.  Mr. Clooney has directed such films as "Good Night, and Good Luck." and "Confessions of a Dangerous Hitman", and has starred in "Syriana" for which he won an Oscar earlier this year for best supporting actor.  The telecast of the AC awards ceremony will be this December on American cable television station AMC.

 

"The Break-Up" tops the North American box office with $38 million

Peyton Reed's "The Break-Up" was number one at the North American box-office, despite mostly mixed-to-negative reviews.  This was the third consecutive film in as many weeks that topped the box office despite sub-par reviews.  The Jennifer Aniston-Vince Vaughn-starrer edged out "X-Men: The Last Stand" by about $3 million.  "The Last Stand" will easily pass its $210 million budget -- it has grossed $175 million to date, already surpassing "The Da Vinci Code" ($172 million gross), which tumbled 66% from the holiday weekend last week.  Of larger note however, was "An Inconvenient Truth".  The Al Gore-featured documentary on the state of the environment grossed an outstanding $1.3 million on just 77 screens in North America to rocket into ninth place.  The film enjoyed a staggering per-screen average of $17,298, and has grossed $1.9 million to date.  Four of the top five films have surpassed the $100 million mark, in a strong weekend for films -- where the top four grossed at least $19 million.  "M:i:III" will not make back its budget domestically, but overseas will shatter it.  The Tom Cruise actioner has performed very well in Europe and other continental markets.

Click here for the box-office chart.

 

"Superman Returns" moves up to June 28

Recent published reports confirm that "Superman Returns", originally scheduled for release on June 30, will be pushed up two days to June 28, a Wednesday, for release.

 

"X-Men" makes thunderous "Last Stand" at the North American box office for the holiday weekend

"X-Men: The Last Stand" pulverized the competition over the four-day holiday weekend at the North American box office.  The third installment of the films best on the Marvel comics adventure series of mutants who save Earth stormed into first place with a staggering record for Memorial Day weekend in North America -- a total of $122.9 million -- leaving last weekend's topper "The Da Vinci Code", well behind in second.  Ron Howard's film has already surpassed its budget total in gross with $145.4 million, but more impressively, third-placed "Over The Hedge" dropped just 8% from the previous weekend, with $35.3 million for a total of $84.3 million.  "X-Men: The Last Stand" directed by "Rush Hour" helmer Brett Ratner, had a remarkable $32,554-per screen average.

 

"The Wind That Shakes The Barley" wins the top award at the 59th Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach's "The Wind That Shakes The Barley" took the Palme D'Or at the conclusion of the 59th Cannes Film Festival in France on Sunday night.  The film, about the Irish rebellion against England's imperialism that sparked a civil war, was Mr. Loach's first of 13 film entries over the years at Cannes to win the Festival's top prize.  For more on this and other film winners at Cannes, click here.  And here.
 

Controversy about a "Diamond"

Reportedly Warner Brothers' upcoming film "The Blood Diamond", about the gem trade that results in thousands of deaths in South Africa and surrounding African countries has been making jewelers such as De Beers, the diamond and gemstone makers, rather nervous.  The studio has kept the release date of the film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a smuggler, under heavy wraps.

 

Meet the daughter

On Saturday, May 27 it was reported that Angelina Jolie gave birth to her and Brad Pitt's first child, a baby girl named Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, in Namibia.

At Cannes, Argentina is the new sensation for a new generation

Today (May 27) "Ge and Zita", a film directed by Gustavo Riet of Argentina's Universida del Cine, took first prize at the Cannes Film Festival's Cinefondation awards.  Each year since 1998 the Festival honors films submitted from universities and schools worldwide to promote the emergence of new filmmakers around the globe.  This year 17 films were selected from a total of 1100.  These 17 films were from Australia, Asia, Europe and the Americas.  A Jury headed by Andrei Konchalovsky and consisting of Sandrine Bonnaire, Tim Burton, Daniel Bruhl, Souleymane Cisse and Zbigniew Preisner, also awarded prizes to runner-up Stefan Mueller of Germany's Fachhochschule Wiesbaden for the film "Mr. Schwartz, Mr. Hazen and Mr. Horlocker", and third prize to two films: "Mother", directed by Sian Heder of the American Film Institute, and "A Virus", directed by Agnes Kocsis of Hungary's Szinhaz-es Filmmuveszeti Egyetem. 

Gilles Jacob and Pierre Viot are the Cinefondation's founders.  The Cinefondation will be given a tribute in Paris from June 20 through July 9.


Golden Globes to air on January 15, 2007

The Golden Globe Awards will be aired on NBC TV in North America next Monday January 15, 2007 according to published reports.  The Globes, run by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, has become an increasingly accurate indicator over the last several years for the winning actors who then later also end up taking the Oscar home with them.  Next January's edition will be the 64th awards show, and the Globes are also televised in numerous other countries.

 

Freeman's almost "Gone"

Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman is reportedly in talks to star in fellow Oscar-winner Ben Affleck's feature-film directorial debut, "Gone Baby, Gone" for Miramax Films.  The film is billed as a private investigator mystery.  Mr. Freeman and Mr. Affleck were last on screen together in the film "The Sum of All Fears".

 

"Dreamgirls" is set to open on December 22

"Dreamgirls", the film directed by Bill Condon ("Gods and Monsters"), stars Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles, Danny Glover and Eddie Murphy, will open on December 22.   Mr. Condon's film about rival singers in a group, will be released in North America by Dreamworks Pictures.


A "Vantage" point: Paramount's new specialty film division

Paramount Classics (an independent arm of Paramount Pictures) recently announced that it has hatched a new specialty film division.  Called Paramount Vantage, it will release between eight and ten films each year.  The films will range from sophisticated with a "strong art-house sensibility", to horror films and low-budget comedies.  The drama "Babel" starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Gael Garcia Bernal will be the first release from Paramount Vantage.  "Babel", which was shown in competition at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday, was directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ("21 Grams", "Amores Perros".)

 

Boo birds at Cannes for Coppola's "Marie Antoinette"

While some of the French press cheered at the conclusion of Sophia Coppola's film "Marie Antoinette", there were a strong contingent of catcalls and hisses for the film which was screened in competition at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday.  The director herself had not been at the screening where the outbursts occurred, which was held solely for the press contingent.  "Marie Antoinette" stars Kirsten Dunst and Jason Schwartzman and will be released in North America this Fall.  Ms. Coppola directed the Oscar-winning film "Lost in Translation".

 

The Seventies are back, with "Kung Fu"

"Kung Fu" is being made into a feature film.  The hit 1970's television series will be coming to the big screen following purchase of the film rights from the series' creator Ed Spielman.  (Variety)


"Lust, Caution" next on Ang Lee's directing menu

Oscar-winning director Ang Lee will next direct a film called "Lust, Caution", a Chinese-language effort.  This would be the first time he has directed a film in Chinese since "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" in 2000.  The film will be adapted from the late author Eileen Chang's novel, and will be under the stable of Focus Features.

 

Spike's "Selling Time"

Spike Lee will reportedly rewrite a script and possibly direct it -- the "it" is a supernatural thriller for 20th Century Fox called "Selling Time".  The film would be Mr. Lee's first foray into the thriller genre.  Following the success of "Inside Man", Mr. Lee's most successful box-office hit, Mr. Lee is putting the finishing touches on a documentary he directed for HBO, scheduled to be released on or near the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which hit the southern U.S. gulf coast last August.  The documentary is called "When The Levees Broke".


"Blueberry Nights" a-plenty

Variety reports that Wong Kar Wai will direct his first English language feature film.  The jury president of the currently ongoing Cannes Film festival will direct "My Blueberry Nights", a romantic comedy starring Jude Law and Natalie Portman (both of whom starred in "Closer".)  Other cast members include Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz and Grammy award-winning singer Norah Jones.  Mr. Wong's previous films include "In the Mood For Love".


"Angels" to follow "Da Vinci"

The overwhelming success of "The Da Vinci Code" has prompted Sony Pictures to plan for "Angels and Demons", a follow-up film based on Dan Brown's initial religious novel of the same name. As of May 22, "The Da Vinci Code" has grossed over $230 million worldwide, $77 million of which was generated by movie-going audiences in North America. The film's advance publicity, which consisted of controversy and bad reviews from many press outlets (including this publication) has not deterred audiences so far in the very early stages.

 

Wait until next Tribeca year

The Sixth Annual Tribeca Film Festival will be held next year from April 27 through May 6, according to Variety.  The most recent festival, which concluded earlier in May was a huge success and featured such premieres as the hit film "Mission: Impossible III" and "United 93".


Digest this: "Fast Food Nation" leaving Cannes and coming soon

"Fast Food Nation", a film screened at Cannes recently is now embroiled in a huge public relations tug of war, according to a recent edition of The Wall Street Journal. Those in the fast-food industry are spending much time crafting an anti-bad publicity campaign, with the film as its target. The film is based on Eric Schlosser's best-selling novel about unhealthy practices in the fast food industry and about the danger to the health of millions of Americans. "Fast Food Nation", directed by Richard Linklater ("Waking Life", "Before Sunset") stars Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Ashley Johnson, Greg Kinnear, Kris Kristofferson and Bruce Willis among others, and will feature an investigator getting to the bottom of why the food at the fictional food-chain Mickey's doesn't taste or feel the way it should. The film is scheduled to open in North America in October. No word yet on its release in other parts of the world.

 

A fourth chance to "Die Hard"

According to an interview with The Daily Mirror of London, Bruce Willis has declared that the third sequel (or, the fourth film) of the "Die Hard" series is close to starting production.  Mr. Willis, who can currently be heard in the hit film "Over the Hedge", said that the film's title will not be "Die Hard 4", but the story will be in the same vein as the prior three films.  The long-awaited fourth film is expected to be released in time for next summer.  Earlier this year Mr. Willis starred as an alcoholic cop in "16 Blocks".

 

"Da Vinci" divine

Despite an avalanche of negative or lukewarm reviews, "The Da Vinci Code" grossed $224 million worldwide in its opening weekend of May 19-May 21.  Of the total gross, $77 million was generated in North America.  The film which has generated controversy, easily outpaced the rest of the films, although in second place in North America was "Over the Hedge".  The animated film grossed over $37 million.  "Mission: Impossible III" fell two third after two weeks at number one, and has grossed $104 million domestically.


Anouk Aimee to be honored at the Cannes Film Festival on May 27

Legendary French actress Anouk Aimee will be given a special tribute at the Cannes Film Festival within the next ten days.  The Festival opens today, May 17.  In her illustrious career Ms. Aimee has worked with some of the world's best directors: Federico Fellini, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Robert Altman.  Ms. Aimee previously won a best actress prize at Cannes in 1980.


Big effects = Big money = Big box office??

According to last weekend's Wall Street Journal, the budget for several big blockbuster releases, including next year's "Spider-Man 3", has journeyed into astronomical territory.   Special effects are cited in the story as a major reason for the astounding costs.  "Spider-Man 3" is said to range from $250-$300 million, while three other special effects-laden films soon in theaters, "X-Men: The Last Stand", "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest", and "Superman Returns", cost $210 million, $225 million, and $261 million, respectively.  The only question is, will the big budgets translate to big box-office?  Stay tuned...



"Mission: Impossible III" tops the box office in North America for a second consecutive week

Defying the overwhelmingly negative press, Tom Cruise remains atop the box office for a second consecutive weekend in North America with "Mission: Impossible III", the high-octane action film directed by J.J. Abrams.  The film fell just under 50% from the previous weekend, grossing $25.1 million during May 12 through May 14.  "Mission"-- which had grossed less than expected in its opening weekend -- has now made $85 million in the United States and Canada.  "M:i:III" continues to do very well overseas.
 

Focus Features will distribute Kasi Lemmons' upcoming film "Talk To Me" in the United States

Earlier this week Focus Features announced that they will distribute the director's next film, "Talk to Me" (which stars Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor) in the United States.  The film, which has not yet been shot, is based on the real-life story of an ex-convict who became a legendary talk radio personality.  Kasi Lemmons has directed such films as "Eve's Bayou" and "The Caveman's Valentine".



"Mission" Incredible?

Though "Mission: Impossible III" grossed $48 million in its opening weekend in North America, it was still off about $10 million from studio estimates.  While some blamed publicity overload for the film and some of the bad press Mr. Cruise received over the last year, "M:I:III" grossed over $70 million overseas according to Paramount Pictures' estimates, and is likely to retain its number one spot in North America this weekend.

 

Chris Tucker's $25 million payday

Reports state that Chris Tucker is now the highest paid actor in Hollywood -- he is expected to earn $25 million for the film "Rush Hour 3", which also stars Jackie Chan and is directed again by Brett Ratner.

 

"Rush Hour 3" in the works

After a five-year hiatus, the third "Rush Hour" comedy film will begin production this summer, according to published reports.  Chris
Tucker, Jackie Chan, and director Brett Ratner are all coming back.  The film is scheduled for a summer 2007 release.

 

"Star Wars" returns again to DVD on September 12

Variety Magazine reported that the highly-successful trilogy of George Lucas' "Star Wars" franchise -- the original theatrical versions -- will be released on DVD on September 12 by Twentieth Century Fox Home Video.

 

Eddie cops "Beverly Hills 4"

Published reports say that Eddie Murphy has signed on for "Beverly Hills Cop 4".   The previous film in the series -- a film which fared poorly at the domestic box office in North America -- was back in 1994.  Murphy is busy filming among other projects, "Norbit", and "Shrek The Third", scheduled for release next year.  He will next be seen on the silver screen in the film "Dreamgirls", which stars Jamie Foxx and Beyonce Knowles, and is scheduled to open in December.

 

Gill gone fishing

Mark Gill, the president of Warner Independent Pictures, the art-house arm of Warner Brothers, was reportedly forced out of the position within the last two days over differences in the direction of the company, according to published reports.



Randy Quaid's back broken no longer

Randy Quaid said that he and Focus Features, the distributor of the Oscar-winning film "Brokeback Mountain" had agreed to pay him an undisclosed settlement in his suit against the company.  Focus reportedly disputes this.  Quaid had originally claimed that the company had tricked him into taking only a portion of his regular salary for a film.

 

Death of a studio: The Revolution stops now

Joe Roth's Revolution Studios will be closing up shop, due to big losses at the box-office.  The New York Times reported this week that Mr. Roth will close the studio within the next year.  Roth, who directed the Oscar telecast a few years ago, and directed a film recently, said that it is time to close the doors on Revolution, which rolled out such flops as "Hollywood Homicide", which starred Harrison Ford and Josh Harnett.
 

 

A family affair as RV tops the box office

At the North American box office this weekend, a comedy about a family on vacation in the Colorado Rocky Mountains edged out a film that depicted events that caused great grief to thousands of families.  The new Robin Williams comedy "RV", grossed $16.4 million, just ahead of the much-discussed film "United 93", which came in at $11.6 million.  With Universal Pictures' pledge to donate 10% of the opening weekend receipts to the Flight 93 Memorial Fund, it means that a donation of $1.6 million will be made from the film, directed by Paul Greengrass.

 

Emotional night at the Tribeca Film Festival for "United 93" premiere

This week family members of those killed on September 11, 2001 relived the pain and trauma once again as the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City got underway with a screening of "United 93", the Paul Greengrass film which opens today. 

 

Al Pacino joins the cast of "Ocean's 13"

Al Pacino (who turned 66 yesterday - April 25) will appear in Steven Soderbergh's next "Ocean's" sequel.  The wildly successful films, which started in 2001 with the remake of the original "Ocean's Eleven", have been produced at Warner Brothers and the third will be no exception.  Ellen Barkin, Pacino's co-star in the 1989 film "Sea of Love", will also join the cast as the latest significant lady in the film series.  In 2001, Julia Roberts had that role, and in 2004, it was Catherine Zeta-Jones.

 

November 17 = Bond 21

Ian Fleming's British secret agent 007 returns to the big screen just in time for the holidays this November.  Daniel Craig takes the Bond baton from Pierce Brosnan in "Casino Royale", the 21st James Bond actioner.  Martin Campbell directs.  Eva Green (of "The Dreamers") will co-star, as will Jeffrey Wright.


Race, sex politics or sex-ploitation?

The controversy is sure to escalate when the Craig Brewer film "Black Snake Moan" is released.  The film, which stars Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci centers on a woman (Ricci) with a history as a sexually abused child who seeks sexual freedom in the American South with black men, and a reformed Blues man (Jackson), determined to cure the woman of her strong sexual appetite.  Jackson is already appearing this summer in a film with the word "snake" in it, called "Snakes on a Plane".  Brewer, a white director based in Memphis, last directed the Oscar-winning film "Hustle and Flow", which won an Academy Award last month for best song "It's Hard out Here for a Pimp".  The New York Times has reported that a lot of debate has been stirred about the new film, whose title comes from Texas Blues man Blind Lemon Jefferson's song.

 
 
"Tarzan and Jane" in Memphis?:  Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci in the forthcoming film "Black Snake Moan".   Photo: Bruce Talamon, Paramount Classics



"Silent Hill" tops the box office with $20 million this past weekend

The film "Silent Hill" spoke volumes in North American cinemas for the weekend of April 21-April 23.  The horror film scared "Scary Movie 4" away from the top spot, replacing the spoof-comedy in first place, grossing $20 million.  Click here for details.



Better late than never for Ziyi and the film audience in China

After three years mainland China will finally get to see "Jasmine Women", a film about three generations of women in Shanghai in the 1930's.  A dispute amongst investors for the film was the cause of the delay, Variety reports.  "Jasmine Women", directed by Yong Hou, is based on the novel by Su Tong.  "Jasmine" was completed in early 2003.  Ziyi Zhang stars in the film, which will open in the U.S. this summer.  Zhang was last seen in the film "Memoirs of a Geisha", which won three Academy Awards last month, and several other international film awards over the past few months.
 


No visa for this film flight?

The world premiere of "United 93", the highly-anticipated and much-discussed film about the ill-fated flight on September 11, 2001, will likely not be seen by one of its stars.  Louis Alsamari, an Iraqi actor based in London is likely to be denied a visa by the U.S. Embassy in London because he was a fighting member of the Iraqi army in the early 1990's.  Alsamari insists that he was forced to fight in the Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein.  The actor is currently seeking British citizenship.  In Paul Greengrass' film he plays the lead hijacker.  "United 93" will have its world premiere on Tuesday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.  The film will be released in the U.S. next Friday.  (Variety)


Howards End?

Variety reports that Ron Howard will next direct "The Look of Real", a film about the garment industry.  Howard is hoping that his daughter Bryce Dallas Howard, will be starring in it.  Ms. Howard has had a busy year so far.  She was onscreen in February in the Lars Von Trier film "Manderlay".  This summer she will be appearing in M. Night Shyamalan's "Lady in the Water" in the title role, and later this year in the Kenneth Branagh-directed film "As You Like It".  Ms. Howard is currently filming "Spider-Man 3", playing the love interest of Spider-Man star Tobey Maguire.  Mr. Howard will be showing his latest film "The Da Vinci Code" at the Cannes Film Festival out of competition next month.  The film will be released in the U.S. on May 19.


"Mission" Man on a "Trek"

J.J. Abrams will embark on his next mission: revival of the "Star Trek" feature film franchise.  The last film, "Nemesis" was directed by Stuart Baird in 2002.  Abrams is currently doing publicity for the most recent film he directed, "Mission: Impossible: III", which will be released on May 5 in the United States.


Cannes Film Festival unveils line-up

The full schedule of films both in and out of competition, and in additional categories, were announced for the upcoming Cannes Film Festival, to start on May 17.  The films in competition include entries from directors Pedro Almodovar, Ken Loach, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Sofia Coppola, Richard Linklater, Bruno Dumont and Guillermo Del Toro.



Cannes Film Festival Jury announced

The feature films jury for the 59th Cannes Film Festival: Wong Kar Wai (film jury President), Monica Bellucci, Helena Bonham Carter, Lucrecia Martel, Zhang Ziyi, Samuel L. Jackson, Patrice Leconte, Tim Roth, and Elia Suleiman.



Nigerian films dominate the nominations for the Second African Movie Academy Awards

No less than ten films from Nigeria dominate the 15 nominations for best feature.  The other five films are from Ghana, Burkina-Faso, Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Gambia.  The continental awards show will be held in Nigeria on April 29.

 

It's a girl!

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes became proud parents of a baby girl named Suri, according to various online reports on Tuesday evening.   The news has been confirmed by a spokesman for the couple.



The 79th Academy Awards to be held on Sunday, February 25, 2007

Keep the date: on Sunday, February 25, 2007, the 79th Academy Awards will be held, it was announced on Monday.  For the fifth year running the Oscars will take place at The Kodak Theater in Hollywood.

 

Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto" pushed back to December

Disney has shifted the release date for Mel Gibson's Mayan-language epic "Apocalypto" will be pushed back to December 8.  The film was initially set for an August 4 release.



"Scary Movie 4" scares up $40 million to top North American box office

Audiences buried their heads in the popcorn buckets this weekend as most were watching the fourth installment of the Scary Movie franchise.  The Weinstein Company film raked in $40 million this weekend (April 14-April 16).  The film "Ice Age 2: The Meltdown" slid down to second place.  Click here for more details.


Rajkumar, one of South India's most famous film stars, dead at age 77

On Thursday the New York Times reported that Rajkumar, the legendary actor and director in the world's largest film industry, died.  The repercussions of his passing are being felt in India, where in some areas there has been mild unrest created by several hundred people mourning Rajkumar's death.  He was 77.



Kiefer Sutherland spills the "24" beans

During an interview with MTV.com this week Kiefer Sutherland, star of the hit television series "24", said that he will be starring in a theatrical movie version of the series, which is currently being developed.  Sutherland will next be seen on the big screen in "The Sentinel" on April 21, in which he co-stars with Michael Douglas. 


John Singleton to produce "Illegal Tender"

The director of films such as "Rosewood", "Boyz N The Hood" and "Four Brothers" will be producing "Illegal Tender", a thriller to be directed by Franc Reyes.  Reyes helmed "Empire" in 2003.  Singleton, who produced the Oscar-winning film "Hustle and Flow", will also be busy in the director's chair.  He is reportedly directing three films within the next two years, including one that was in post-production called "Fear And Respect", to star Snoop Dogg.  The other two films are "Luke Cage" and "Without Remorse", based on a Tom Clancy novel.


"Mission: Impossible III" to screen at the Tribeca Film Festival

For the first time a major big-budget action film will screen at the Tribeca Film Festival.  In the past, films such as the comedy "Raising Helen" have heralded the fast-growing New York City festival, located within a block or two of the area where the World Trade Center stood.  That trend changes this year with "Mission: Impossible III", which will screen at the festival on May 3.  Tom Cruise will be in New York City as part of a series of promotions for the film and is scheduled to attend the official premiere on that day.  "Poseidon" will also screen at the Tribeca Film Festival on May 6.  (Variety)


"All The King's Men" release date moved up to September from December

The all-star cast featuring Sean Penn, Jude Law, James Gandolfini and Anthony Hopkins will come to the big screen in the U.S. in September.  The film was originally scheduled for release on December 15.  Prior to that it was scheduled for release in 2005, but a decision was made to hold it over for possible consideration for next year's Academy Awards.


Queen Latifah to star in "Welfare Queen"

Oscar nominee Queen Latifah, seen most recently on the big screen in the film "Last Holiday", will star in "Welfare Queen", a film based on the true story of a woman who swindled the government into an abundance of welfare benefits for herself.  The Queen will play the title role.  Queen Latifah's next starring role is in the film version of the Tony award-winning Broadway musical "Hairspray".

 

Festival De Cannes starts on May 17

The 59th Cannes Film Festival will run from May 17 through May 28 on the French Riviera.  Director Wong Kar Wai will be the president of the festival, while actor Vincent Cassel will be Master of Ceremonies.  Opening the festival this year will be the Tom Hanks-Audrey Tatou starrer "The Da Vinci Code", which will be shown out of competition.  For more information visit www.festival-cannes.fr.



The 13th New York African Film Festival begins on April 26

Lincoln Center's Film Society will for the 13th year running host the New York African Film Festival, featuring films from the African diaspora.  The festival runs from April 26 through May 4.  For more information visit www.filmlinc.org.

 

The San Francisco International Film Festival starts on April 20

The San Francisco Film Society presents the 49th San Francisco International Film Festival, which runs from April 20 through May 4.  For more information visit www.sfiff.org.

 

Jessica Lange to be honored on April 17 at New York's Film Society at Lincoln Center

The Walter Reade Theater hosts the Film Society at Lincoln Center's Gala Tribute to Oscar winner Jessica Lange this Monday in New York City.  Lange will be showered with tributes from colleagues and friends.

 

"Mafia Cop" bought by Mandalay Pictures

Mandalay Pictures has purchased the rights to the true story of an New York City police detective who was convicted of money laundering, accessory to several murders and attempted murders and obstruction of criminal justice as a result of crimes committed while working for the mob.  (Variety)

 

"Ice Age 2" freezes the competition at the U.S. box office  

For the second consecutive weekend, according to industry estimates, "Ice Age 2: The Meltdown" sat at number one in the North American box office.  The film grossed $34.5 million from April 7 through April 9.  The animated film, featuring the voices of John Leguizamo, Denis Leary and Ray Romano, cooled off challenges from such new films like "The Benchwarmers" ($20.5 million) and "Take The Lead" ($12.8 million).  Rounding out the top five were Spike Lee's "Inside Man", grossing $9.2 million.  Mr. Lee's film, at a cumulative gross of $66 million, is his highest grossing film ever.  In fifth was the new film "Lucky Number Slevin", top-lined by Josh Harnett and Lucy Liu, grossing $7.1 million.
                                                                                                       
 

The Sixth Annual Tribeca Film Festival in New York City will begin on April 25 and run through May 7

For more information please visit www.tribecafilmfestival.org.

 

Will the month of May be "Guiliani Time"?

While he ponders a possible run in 2008 for the office of president of the United States, former New York City mayor Rudolph Guiliani is the "star" of a new documentary which takes a critical look at the former mayor's performance in New York City in the seven years prior to the events of September 11, 2001.  "Guiliani Time" is directed by Kevin Keating.  The documentary opens on May 12 in selected American cities.

 

"The Pursuit of Happyness" to be released on December 15 in the United States

Will Smith stars as Chris Gardner in the true story of a homeless man who rose from the streets of San Francisco to become a highly successful businessman.

 

"Spider-Man 3" will open on May 4, 2007 

Tobey Maguire returns in the title role.  Back again are Kirsten Dunst and James Franco.  New faces include Thomas Haden Church, Oscar nominee for the 2004 film, "Sideways".

 

"The Simpsons Movie" will open on July 27, 2007

During the trailers for the current smash hit "Ice Age 2: The Meltdown", audiences are being treated to a 30-second trailer for the feature-length film version of the long-running animated television series "The Simpsons".  The series has become a cultural phenomenon the world over, and the introduction of the film into theaters around the globe next year will undoubtedly guarantee lines at the local theater near you.

 

"Loose Change" to the big screen?

A documentary which has been in high circulation on the Internet may be heading to the big screen.  In the wake of two upcoming feature films about the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the filmmakers of "Loose Change", a compelling documentary examining the official story of 9-11-01 and arguing that the horrific day was deliberately engineered by the United States government in order to invade Iraq, has, according to several sources, been talking about getting the film to the big screen.  Should "Loose Change" reach theaters, it is sure to cause a lot of rethinking and controversy.  The two upcoming feature films slated for release are "United 93", opening this month, and "World Trade Center", directed by Oliver Stone, which arrives in theaters in August.  (See features page -- summer movie preview.)