April 19, 2014

Tag Archives: Entertainment/Culture

Universal Studios Hollywood Premieres “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem”

“Despicable Me Minion Mayhem,” an original 3D Ultra-HD adventure, and “Super Silly Fun Land,” an immersive carnival setting – both based on Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s worldwide blockbuster “Despicable Me” franchise – celebrated their dynamic grand opening today at Universal Studios HollywoodSM. Among the many surprises inspired by the beloved films, guests will be “turned into” an army of iconic Minions and embark on a secret training mission.
“Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” officially opens to the public at Universal Studios Hollywood on Saturday, April 12, 2014.
The world premiere was attended by many Minions parading along the yellow carpet, who were joined by Chris Meledandri, founder and CEO of Illumination Entertainment; Ron Meyer, Vice Chairman of NBCUniversal; Tom Williams, Chairman & CEO of Universal Parks & Resorts; and Larry Kurzweil, President of Universal Studios Hollywood. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti made a special guest appearance to show support for the theme park’s newest addition, speaking to an enthusiastic crowd about Universal Studios Hollywood’s long-term impact on tourism in the region.
Also in attendance were “Despicable Me” series stars, including Miranda Cosgrove (Margo), Dana Gaier (Edith) and Elsie Fisher (Agnes), who were joined by versatile entertainer and host of EXTRA, Mario Lopez; the cast from NBC’s “Crisis,” including Stevie Lynn Jones, Lance Gross, Joshua Erenberg, Max Martini and Max Schneider; TGT recording artist, Tank; HBO’s “Band of Brothers” star Neal McDonough; Syfy’s “Face Off” host, McKenzie Westmore; and Ultimate Fighting Champion Chuck Lidell.
“The irreverent humor, endearing characters and storyline that have captivated movie-goers worldwide makes ‘Despicable Me’ a perfect match for our theme park,” said Kurzweil. “This imaginative new attraction will not only take guests on a hilarious and heartwarming adventure that captures the spirit of the film, but will also invite them to embrace their ‘inner Minion’ – that mischievous alter-ego that hides within all of us. As the film franchise continues to break new ground as a modern day classic, so too will ‘Despicable Me Minion Mayhem’ as yet another marquee Universal Studios Hollywood attraction.”
Voiced by the film’s original stars, the fully immersive motion-simulator ride features the lovable cast of characters who have resonated with audiences across the globe: (former?) super-villain Gru (Steve Carell), his adorable girls – Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher) – and an army of unpredictable Minions, voiced by Pierre Coffin.
“‘Despicable Me Minion Mayhem’ and ‘Super Silly Fun Land’ bring our movies to [...]

Carlos de Abreu: Founder of the Hollywood Film Awards

Celebrating 20 years of success. Carlos de Abreu is a “New York Times” bestselling author, producer, screenwriter, brand marketing expert and Internet pioneer.
Carlos de Abreu is of Portuguese descent and was born in Mozambique. He was a jet pilot in the Portuguese Air Force and studied economics at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, and film at UCLA.
His vast experience in brand marketing earned him executive positions and contracts with Cartier International, American Express, and the Italian Government among others. He also co-founded the North American Marketing Services, Ltd., an international luxury goods corporation with offices in three continents; North America, Asia and Europe.

In addition, he launched the Hollywood Network® online, an ecosystem of “verticalized” web models, focused on entertainment and Hollywood. Mr. de Abreu’s multiple websites include HollywoodNews.com (http://www.hollywoodnews.com)

Mr. de Abreu’s organization, the Hollywood Network Inc., is an entertainment marketing company – awards, film conferences, festivals, Internet content, live events – which mandate is bridging the gap between established Hollywood and the global creative community and produces/co-produces live events including the prestigious “Hollywood Film Awards®,” and the “Hollywood Gives Back®” project – highlighting and assisting important local and national causes.
According to the “Los Angeles Times” the “Hollywood Film Awards®,” “launch the push toward Oscar and are the kickoff for the awards season.”
He is the co-author of the national and “New York Times” bestseller, “Husband, Lover, Spy: A True Story,” St. Martin’s Press, and “Opening The Doors To Hollywood,” Crown Publishing.
Presently he is writing the novel “The Soulshaker.” His prior works include two screenplays: Mozambique: The Last Good-Bye and Sworn To Silence.

Specialties: Specialized in the Internet, intelligence gathering, entertainment space, live events production – awards, conferences, festivals, plus branding and distribution of luxury goods and jewelry both in the U.S.A. and the global markets.

Robin Wright: Who’s overdue for their first Academy Award nomination?

Much like I wrote about the actors, actresses, and filmmakers in Hollywood who are overdue to win an Oscar a few weeks ago, there are tons in the industry who are way overdue merely for their first nomination by the Academy. Some of them have gotten close in the past, while others have yet to really sniff that sort of acclaim. They’re both newcomers to the business and old hands, with plenty of in between as well. In my eyes, there are some really overdue ones in particular, and I figured I’d cite some of them here in this article. Narrowing it down to just ten is really difficult, but I wanted to mix and match between different members of the industry and attempt to include some who will have 2014 releases in contention, as you’ll see momentarily…
Below you’ll find ten members of the industry who have yet to receive an Oscar nomination, but who I think are closing in on one, perhaps even within the next year. Take a look:
10. Channing Tatum – I know his name raises some eyebrows, and up until recently I wasn’t his biggest fan, but he’s going to have a big Oscar contender in Foxcatcher this year, so while Steve Carell (who we’ll be talking about shortly) and Mark Ruffalo as more likely nominees, it’s hardly out of the question for Tatum to make it in. In fact, if he’s a standout, it’ll be one of those more youth skewing nominations that the Academy sometimes likes to sneak in.
9. Joseph Gordon-Levitt – I’ve long been saying that Gordon-Levitt is overdue for a nomination, despite his relative youth. His writing and directing debut Don Jon only showed off more of his talents, so while he couldn’t make it in for something like (500) Days of Summer, the next few years should most likely result in him joining the Academy as a nominee. I’d be shocked if he wasn’t nominated by the end of the decade.
8. Kevin Smith – While Smith is probably past the point of making things that will appeal to Oscar voters, that doesn’t make him any less overdue in my eyes. I’ll be talking about him in a Spotlight on the Stars piece soon, but his best chance was probably for the Chasing Amy screenplay. A few years ago he made a great film that nobody saw called Red State too, so [...]

Shailene Woodley: Magnolia acquires White Bird in a Blizzard

Magnolia Pictures announced today it has acquired North American rights to White Bird in a Blizzard, a suspenseful drama from writer/director Gregg Araki and starring Shailene Woodley, who is coming off her hit film Divergent, which has grossed $116.6 million to date.
Based on the novel by Laura Kasischke, the story is set in 1988 and revolves around a college-bound teenager whose life is deeply affected by the disappearance of her mother, played by Eva Green.
The ensemble cast also includes Christopher Meloni, Shiloh Fernandez, Gabourey Sidibe, Thomas Jane and Angela Bassett.
The film was produced by Pascal Caucheteux, Sebastien K. Lemercier, Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Pavlina Hatoupis and Gregg Araki (Kaboom). White Bird In a Blizzard is a Why Not Productions / Desperate Pictures / Orange Studio / Wild Bunch co-production.
“We are longtime admirers of the singular Gregg Araki, who brings his unique vision to this funny, sexy and haunting film,” said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. “Shailene Woodley truly shines with a bold and fearless performance that showcases the depth of her talent.”
“I’m thrilled for this opportunity to collaborate with Magnolia, one of the boldest, smartest companies around. White Bird is a true labor of love for me and the most amazing family of actors I’ve ever worked with,” said Araki. “I can’t wait for the world to see the film.”
The deal was negotiated for Magnolia by SVP of Acquisitions Dori Begley and VP of Acquisitions Peter Van Steemburg with CAA and Wild Bunch on behalf of the filmmakers. Magnolia is eyeing a release for later this year.
Magnolia Pictures (www.magpictures.com) is the theatrical and home entertainment distribution arm of the Wagner/Cuban Companies, a vertically-integrated group of media properties co-owned by Todd Wagner andMark Cuban that also includes the Landmark Theatres chain and AXS TV. Recent releases include Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, the killer whale doc Blackfish, Joe Swanberg’s Drinking Buddies, Thomas Vinterberg’s Oscar-Nominated The Hunt, and hit documentaries Muscle Shoals, Jiro Dreams of Sushi and The Queen of Versailles.
Magnolia’s upcoming releases include Richard Ayoade’s dystopian vision The Double, the raucous Alan Partridge starring Steve Coogan, Steve James’ Roger Ebert doc Life Itself, Joe Berlinger’s Whitey Bulger doc Whitey, Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank, Joe Swanberg’s Happy Christmas, Lukas Moodysson’s We Are the Best!, Norwegian thrillers Pioneer and Ragnarok, and more.

Theory of Everything given release date

Working Title’s romantic drama Theory of Everything starring Eddie Redmayne as theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has been given a Nov. 7 exclusive engagements domestic release date by Focus Features, CEO Peter Schlessel announced today.
Academy Award winner James Marsh (Man on Wire) helms the film, which explores the excitement of the 1960s for Hawking as he studies at Cambridge University. At the dawn of his brilliant life’s work, Hawking falls passionately in love with arts student Jane Wilde and their relationship leads him through personal and scientific challenges and breakthroughs.
The film is inspired by Wilde’s memoir, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen with the screenplay written by Anthony McCarten, who is the producer on the film with Lisa Bruce (producer of Working Title’s Mary and Martha) and Working Title co-chairs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner.
Redmayne (Les Misérables) will play opposite Felicity Jones (Like Crazy) in the lead roles.
The cast of Theory of Everything also includes two-time Academy Award nominee Emily Watson and David Thewlis (Harry Potter). The creative team includes cinematographer Benoît Delhomme (Lawless), production designer John Paul Kelly (About Time), costume designer Steven Noble (Under the Skin), and film editor Jinx Godfrey (marking her seventh feature with Marsh).
Mr. Schlessel commented, “This extraordinary love story between one of the greatest minds of our time, Stephen Hawking, and his first wife Jane is profoundly moving and inspirational, with heart and humor.”
Focus Features’ successful collaborations with Working Title Films have included such hits as The World’s End, Pride & Prejudice, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; and the Academy Award-winning Anna Karenina and Atonement.
Working Title Films, co-chaired by Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner since 1992, is one of the world’s leading film production companies. Founded in 1983, Working Title has made over 100 films that have grossed more than $6 billion worldwide. Its films have won 10 Academy Awards, 35 BAFTA Awards, and prizes at the Cannes and Berlin International Film Festivals.
Focus Features (www.focusfeatures.com) makes, acquires, and releases movies from rising and established talent and filmmakers. The company is moving forward with a diverse slate of films, with most being wide releases appealing to a range of moviegoers. Staying true to the company’s roots, the slate will also include several specialty films each year.
Currently in release from Focus Features is the subversive comedy Bad Words, directed by and starring Jason Bateman. In addition to Theory of Everything, upcoming Focus films [...]

An April Oscar Predictions Update

As promised last week, here I am again with some more up to date Oscar predictions. They’re not amazingly different from what I debuted with, but they do already show a change in focus, at least in terms of some of the second tier contenders. We’ve still got a long way to go and these new predictions will likely be completely wrong anyway, but I feel ever so slightly more confident in backing these sorts of horses as opposed to other ones. If nothing else, this sort of shows where I’m going from as the months pass and the race begins to evolve into something actually competitive…
The big difference that you’ll notice besides the changes that I made in each category is that I’m also listing predicted winners now. As such, you can see that films like Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar are the ones that I’ve pegged to be the big winners, with Unbroken dominating at this early point in the season. A lot can and likely will change, but if you’re looking for an early horse to bet on, that’s the one.
I’ve also included the tech categories as well, so you’re really getting a full look at how I see things going at this moment. It also shows more of the contenders in play that might not have a shot at Best Picture, but at the very least can hope for some sort of technical citation if nothing else. For example, the new Godzilla fits perfectly into that category.
Here now is how I see the Academy Awards shaping up at this early juncture:
BEST PICTURE
1. Unbroken
2. Foxcatcher
3. Men, Women, & Children
4. Gone Girl
5. Big Eyes
6. Rosewater
7. Boyhood
8. The Homesman
9. Interstellar
10. Fury
BEST DIRECTOR
1. Angelina Jolie- Unbroken
2. Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher
3. Jason Reitman – Men, Women, & Children
4. David Fincher – Gone Girl
5. Richard Linklater – Boyhood
BEST ACTOR
1. Jack O’Connell – Unbroken
2. Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
3. Joaquin Phoenix – Inherent Vice
4. Michael Keaton – Birdman
5. Ben Affleck – Gone Girl
BEST ACTRESS
1. Amy Adams – Big Eyes
2. Jessica Chastain – The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
3. Michelle Williams – Suite française
4. Shailene Woodley – The Fault in Our Stars
5. Hilary Swank – The Homesman
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
1. Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
2. J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
3. Christoph Waltz – Big Eyes
4. Robert Duvall – The Judge
5. Takamasa Ishihara – Unbroken
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
1. Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
2. Jena Malone – [...]

Oscars®: Draft Day – What’s up with the 2015 Awards Race

Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Written by: Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman
Main Cast: Kevin Costner, Chadwick Boseman, Jennifer Garner, Frank Langella, Denis Leary, Tom Welling, and many others
Past Oscar relations: Ivan Reitman was nominated for co-producing Up in the Air and Kevin Costner won Best Picture and Best Director Oscars for Dances with Wolves
Here now we have the next article in this series on 2014 contenders hoping to compete for Oscar attention at the 2015 ceremony. Next up is Ivan Reitman’s Draft Day, which hopes to essentially be the next Moneyball, just with the NFL Draft as its focus. That film was a bit of an aberration, but this one has a bit in common with it, so perhaps the Academy is more open to sports movies than they have been in the past? Reitman has sports film icon Kevin Costner in the lead role, so that’s certainly a plus, along with a strong ensemble that includes Chadwick Boseman, Jennifer Garner, Frank Langella, and Denis Leary, to name a few. They’re in the service of a fine film, one of the better ones to come out this year so far, in my humble opinion. Being a quality bit of cinema is the first step towards becoming a contender.
What this flick has going in its favor is a crowd pleasing plot and a top notch script, not to mention a great role for Costner to sink his teeth into. Costner always is great in sports films, and this is no exception. Reitman also shows an able hand at drama, something he’s rarely attempted during his illustrious career. As for the screenplay, Black List winning scribes Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman have crafted something that both hardcore football fans like myself and newbies can enjoy equally. Moneyball was able to do this, and that screenplay damn near won an Oscar, so especially in the writing field, this movie should have a chance to contend for a nomination.
Working against Draft Day is that it is a sports movie without an awards centric pedigree. Yes, it has a Black List winning script, but that doesn’t always make a huge difference. Costner also has never been nominated for one of his sports outings, so it’s likely that he won’t break that trend here. That makes it Best Original Screenplay or nada in all likelihood, and having that narrow a focus makes it a dicey proposition. Draft Day [...]

Spotlight on the Stars: Kevin Costner

Here we go with another installment of my Spotlight on the Stars series. Each week, I’ll look at an actor/actress/filmmaker that I’d like to celebrate in some kind of a way. It could be due to something of theirs coming out that weekend (like last week and this week, for example) or just because I feel they deserve to have a moment in the sun, but each time it’ll be a bit of positivity about someone who I’d like to pay tribute to.
For this week’s piece (number three overall so far), I wanted to take a look at our first male actor…Kevin Costner. Some see him as a bit of a has been, but I disagree and not only still see a movie star, but an underrated actor as well. Costner is a throwback to an older generation of actor. Very much a man’s man and a real movie star, but one with a softness to him as well. His best performances have perfectly highlighted that. He can be an excellent action hero, that’s for sure, but I’ve always preferred him as a bit more of a working man, be it as a baseball player or just a middle class Joe like he was in The Company Men.

Yes, his best films often involve sports (particularly baseball), but how is that a knock against him? Especially with the very good Draft Day hitting theaters this weekend, it’s just evidence of him knowing where he really fits and playing to that. From Bull Durham to Field of Dreams to For Love of the Game and Tin Cup (and also The Upside of Anger, where he plays a retired player), the sports genre really seems to serve him well. That being said, he’s hardly out of his element when removed from athletics.
Costner has usually challenged himself more than he’s been given credit for, especially considering his directorial career. He won Best Director and Best Picture for Dances with Wolves, and even his projects that were deemed unsuccessful weren’t for a lack of ambition. He can be a risk taker behind the camera, even as he’s a calming and grounded presence in front of it. That’s particularly on display with Draft Day, even when his character is far from calm.
Overall, Costner is am underrated actor with an undeniable screen presence, like I mentioned above. As he begins to enter somewhat of a Hollywood elder [...]

‘Captain America’ commands the top spot at the Box Office this weekend

Happy Sunday everyone. Here I am once again with the weekly box office report. Leading the way this weekend in a huge way was Marvel’s latest, Captain America: The Winter Soldier which debuted with a fantastic $96.2 million at the box office. Far behind at number two we had the second week of Noah, which had quite the drop and only pulled in an estimated $17 million more into its pockets. Number three happened to be Divergent, which had a better hold and took in another $13 million from audience members. No other new release besides the Marvel sequel cracked the top ten. Among the independent/limited releases, we had a really strong debut for Under the Skin, while Dom Hemingway, Franke & Alice, and The Unknown Known did decently enough. Jinn however, pretty much flopped. Only three movies in the top ten managed eight figure weekends, so most of the audiences were just seeing a certain superhero and his latest adventure…
Building off of some incredible buzz and top notch reviews, Captain America: The Winter Soldier managed to come close to breaking the $100 million mark opening weekend. I found the movie to be one of the better superhero flicks of late, so going forward this one could be a smash hit. On the flip side, I don’t know how well any of the platform releases will do. Jinn clearly was a B horror movie looking to make a quick buck, and that just didn’t happen. I was impressed by Under the Skin’s very solid per theater average though, so perhaps that one will manage to be an unlikely crossover success.
Among the notable holdovers in theaters, the aforementioned Noah saw much of its audience erode, while both God’s Not Dead and The Grand Budapest Hotel continue to perform above expectations. Sabotage continued to flop, on the other side of the coin, not even managing to make $2 million this weekend. We also had Mr. Peabody & Sherman crack the $100 million mark, so congrats there. Overall, it was just a very summer-ish weekend, if that makes sense. Essentially, everyone just went to see Captain America…
Here now is what the top ten looked like at the box office for this weekend:
1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – $96,200,000
2. Noah – $17,000,000
3. Divergent – $13,000,000
4. God’s Not Dead – $7,726,000
5. The Grand Budapest Hotel – $6,300,000
6. Muppets Most Wanted – $6,285,000
7. Mr. Peabody [...]

“Oculus” Stars Hit the Red Carpet

“Oculus” didn’t scare away the crowds as fans lined Hollywood Boulevard outside of the TCL Chinese Theatre Thursday night to get a glimpse of the stars attending the Los Angeles premiere of the much buzzed about horror film opening next Friday.
The red carpet showcased the film’s up-and-coming young cast: Karen Gillan, sporting short hair and head-to-toe sequins, along with costars Annalise Basso and Garrett Ryan.

Relativity Media is banking on a fright-induced comeback to spark the box office.
A carefully strategized ad campaign and social media marketing targeted toward a young, edgy demographic have given this film steam as it heads into it’s opening weekend.
The film, directed by Mike Flanagan, tells the story of a woman who tries to exonerate her brother, who was convicted of murder, by proving that the crime was committed by a supernatural phenomenon.
Photos by John Baxter

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