July 25, 2016
        "Blair Witch" and "Wonder Woman": Comic-Con unleashes a ton of buzz worthy Trailers                Hollywood Contenders: Looking at potential Best Actress contenders                "Star Trek Beyond" is a rare success for the 2016 summer movie season                The 2016 New York Film Festival will open with Ava Duvernay's documentary "The 13th"                Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone make us swoon as "La La Land" drops a luminous Teaser Trailer                "Loving" announces itself as an awards player with a great Trailer                Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for July                Woody Allen has another crowd pleaser on his hands with "Cafe Society"                Hollywood Contenders: Looking at potential Best Actor contenders                Kristen Stewart shines in the sci-fi love story "Equals"                'Ghostbusters' is an excellent re-invention of the classic franchise                Hollywood Contenders: Looking at potential Best Director contenders                "Captain Fantastic" is one of the year's most pleasant surprises                This week brings an adorable bit of animation in "The Secret Life of Pets"                Aaron Eckhart has plum supporting roles in "Bleed for This" and "Sully"        

Tag Archives: films

Oscars: Grant Heslov on George Clooney, awards and “The Ides of March” – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell
hollywoodnews.com: Last night, George Clooney picked up a Best Actor trophy from the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association for his performance in Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants.” But on Sunday, Clooney’s attentions will be divided between Payne’s human drama and his own political thriller.
That’s because “The Ides of March,” which Clooney helmed and also appears, is up or four Golden Globes nominations including Bets Director – Motion Picture, Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Performance By An Actor (for Ryan Gosling) and Best Screenplay.
“It’s always nice to be recognized by people for the work that you do,” Clooney’s co-writer, Grant Heslov, told me during a recent conversation. He has worked with the Oscar winner every step of the way on “Ides,” “Leatherheads,” “K Street” “Goodnight and Good Luck,” and more. Ahead of Sunday’s Globes telecast, Heslov called to talk about their inspirations, his favorite monologues, and how Clooney has changed as a storyteller. Here’s Grant Heslov:
HollywoodNews.com: There’s a barbecue joint down in South Carolina named The Smoke House. It is one of my absolute favorite places to go when we’re on vacation. Please tell me you and Mr. Clooney named your production company, Smoke House, after a BBQ joint.
Grant Heslov: [Laughs] Well, no, but there’s a bar and a restaurant right across from Warner Bros. called The Smoke House. It’s a great watering hole that has been there forever. We named it after that, because that’s the place where we used to go and drink all of the time.
HollywoodNews.com: I love that. That’s hilarious. OK, on to “Ides,” which earned $53 million at the global box office to date. I think that’s a healthy number, but were you hoping for more?
Well, we still haven’t opened in a bunch of foreign territories, so we still have a ways to go. I think we’re going to be more than OK. Don’t forget, the film only cost $12.5M.
HollywoodNews.com: The critics did respond in kind, though. The film has an 86% Fresh rate. General audiences appeared to think this movie was going to be too political, though, which it wasn’t meant to be. Did you feel that you were fighting an uphill battle in terms of marketing it to a politics-weary audience?
Yeah, because we weren’t setting out to make a political film, as you know. It’s set in the world of politics, and it’s hard to get by that. […]

“Devil Inside” kicks off 2012 with $34m Box Office

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com:More often than not, especially when dealing with big numbers, opening weekends are about marketing, not the quality of the film. So don’t be too shocked when you hear that Paramount’s The Devil Inside opened with $34.5 million this weekend. Yes, the film is allegedly terrible. Yes, audiences nationwide have allegedly been booing at the (allegedly atrocious) finale. But sometimes it’s about a popular genre, a solid trailer, and the good luck of following up a recent smash hit. Exorcism and religious-themed movies have always been popular. The simple reason is that, along with the usual horror junkies, they attract more religious/spiritual moviegoers that otherwise disdain horror pictures. We’ve over/under $20 million openings from the likes of Stigmata (whose $18 million opening in September 1999 would equal about $28 million today), Exorcist: The Beginning ($18 million in August 2004), The Unborn ($19 million in January 2009), The Last Exorcism ($20 million in August 2010), and The Rite ($18 million last January). The anamoly that The Devil Inside most resembles is the somewhat surprising $30 million debut of The Exorcism of Emily Rose back in late 2005. But that film had both a PG-13 (like The Rite and The Last Exorcism) and a prestigious adult cast (Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, etc). Heck, throw in the $22-24 million debuts of various supernatural horror films (White Noise, The Haunting In Connecticut, The Amityville Horror, etc) and you can see that, when adjusted for inflation and a few other factors, a $34.5 million debut for The Devil Inside is quite impressive (it is indeed the biggest debut for a religious horror picture) but not a complete surprise.
As for those other factors, sometimes your best marketing weapon is your last hit film. Why did Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief open with $32 million in February 2010? Well mostly because its moody and effective (IE – misleading!) teaser played in front of every set of eyeballs who happened to see Avatar. The second release from Paramount’s Insurge label (ten micro-budgeted genre films being given wide release) had a snappy and creepy little trailer that just happened to play in front of pretty much every print of Paranormal Activity 3 last October. That film opened to $53 million and eventually grossed $104 million, so an effective trailer targeting […]

Sean Penn receiving Joel Siegel award at Critics’ Choice Movie Awards — AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell
hollywoodnews.com: The Broadcast Film Critics Association announced that Sean Penn will receive the fifth annual Joel Siegel Award at the 17th annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, which will be held this Thursday, Jan. 12. The award will be presented by fellow actor and 13-time Critics’ Choice Award nominee George Clooney. The ceremony will air live on VH1 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
The annual award pays homage to the late “Good Morning America” film critic and BFCA member Joel Siegel, who lost his long struggle with cancer in June 2007. It seeks to honor those who understand, as Joel did, that the greatest value of celebrity is as an enhanced platform to do good works for others.
“We are extremely proud to be able to make this presentation to Sean on this night in particular, exactly two years after the devastating earthquake struck Haiti,” says BFCA President Joey Berlin. “While it was heartening to see such an outpouring of support and aid for the Haitian people in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, the long-term commitment made by Sean and his organization is particularly notable. The Joel Siegel Award was created to spotlight such above and beyond efforts by the leading lights of our industry and its spirit is truly personified by Sean Penn.”
More from the release:
Sean Penn founded the J/P Haitian Relief Organization in the immediate aftermath of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010. Since then J/P HRO has led the effort to raise money and awareness in response to the disaster, which took more than 200,000 lives. Led by Penn, J/P HRO is dedicated to saving lives and bringing sustainable programs to the Haitian people quickly and effectively.
Penn has been nominated for seven Critics’ Choice Awards throughout his career, including two wins in the Best Actor category, for “Mystic River” and “Milk.” His five additional nominations included Best Actor for “I Am Sam,” Best Acting Ensemble for “Mystic River” and “Milk,” Best Director for “Into the Wild” and Best Writer for “Into the Wild.” In 2011, Penn starred in “The Tree of Life,” a Critics’ Choice Best Picture nominee.
The evening will also honor Martin Scorsese with the Critics’ Choice Music+Film Award. In addition to this honor, Scorsese’s film “Hugo” is nominated for 11 Critics’ Choice Awards and he directed the Best Documentary Feature nominee “George Harrison: Living in the Material World.”
Hosts for the […]

The inherent darkness and pessimism of Steven Spielberg’s body of work

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: Many of the reviews, especially the negative ones, for Steven Spielberg’s War Horse have emphasized the melodramatic ‘boy and his horse’ narrative, accusing the film of wallowing in sentimentality. Moreover, they basically accuse the picture of being ‘conventional Spielberg’, again citing the classic meme that Steven Spielberg isn’t capable of truly playing in on the dark side. For as long as I can remember (early-80s, natch), Steven Spielberg has had a reputation as the “Mr. Mass Audience”, the guy who, film-making chops aside, was looked down upon because of his reputation as a purveyor of mainstream feel-good sentiment. He was the guy who made general audiences tear-up on cue, but still walk out feeling good. But looking over his filmography, not only are his ‘dark and adult’ pictures more frequent than you might realize, his entire reputation as a softy basically stems from one single incredibly popular (and critically-acclaimed) film that he made in 1982. On a film-by-film basis, Spielberg is far more likely to scare you or deeply disturb you than leave you with a nasty case of the warm-and-fuzzies.
It bears repeating that Spielberg’s reputation as an unchallenging filmmaker for the masses has been around for thirty years or so. Looking back on his first decade of mainstream film making (let’s say 1974-1984), it is ET: The Extra Terrestrial that stood out then, and arguably still today as the quintessential Spielberg film. While it certainly stood then and now as one of his most personal films, it’s astonishing success (highest-grossing film of all time for 15 years) basically branded Spielberg as a director whose every film contained the kind of small-town nostalgia and overtly tear-jerking emotionalism that made ET such a smash hit. It’s a meme that has followed Spielberg for the last thirty years. And going through his filmography it’s apparent that it’s not entirely a fair assessment of his career. From 1974 until 2011, Spielberg has shown viewers the darkness at least as much, if not more so, than he has shown them the light.
Jaws is a brutally violent horror drama that offers little good-cheer other than the cathartic final triumph. Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a disturbing character study about a husband/father who slowly goes insane and eventually ditches his family to go on a ride with interstellar […]

Jessica Chastain up for role in Kathryn Bigelow’s Seal Team 6 thriller

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Jessica Chastain had a massive year in 2011, appearing in multiple Oscar-worthy projects from “The Help” to “The Tree of Life.” She has the potential to carry that momentum into 2012 by picking in-depth, fascinating scripts and directors to work with. Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow certainly qualifies.
Chastain reportedly is in talks to join Bigelow’s military thriller about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, according to EW.com. She wouldn’t play one of the Seal Team 6 members who took the terrorist down. Instead, Chastain would play a field intelligence analyst who helped the team find him in Pakistan.
Bigelow’s project was penned by “The Hurt Locker” writer Mark Boal (who won the Oscar for that effort). Sony plans to release it on Dec. 19, so casting should ramp up very soon if Bigelow is going to hit her mark.
Chastain is the latest rumored cast member, as other reports are linking Joel Edgerton (“Warrior”), Mark Strong and Edgar Ramirez to the ensemble. We’ll bring you updates as they come along.
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Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight.

Seth Rogen’s “The Apocalypse” set up at Sony

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Seth Rogen has had a productive working relationship with Sony (“The Green Hornet” and “Pineapple Express” both crossed $100M worldwide), so it’s easy to see why the studio would take a chance on a Rogen pitch that will end up being his directorial debut.
“The Apocalypse” extends a short film Rogen wrote with his regular creative partner Evan Goldberg called “Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse.” The clip featured Rogen and Jay Baruchel playing themselves on the day that the world ends. It takes place in an apartment, as the actors plan their next moves.
THR, which reports Son’s interest, says the feature-length version of this story would pair Rogen and Baruchel with the usual suspects: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson, all “playing themselves as they are stuck in Franco’s apartment in Los Angeles facing an apocalypse. The filmmakers also are hoping to populate the movie with cameos.”
The trade says several studios were interested in the project, which has a reported budget in the $30-40 million range.
Here’s an old. NSFW trailer for “Jay and Seth” that exists on the Internet. The movie could be a little something like this, though it likely will expand the concept (and leave the apartment).

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Photo courtesy of PRPhotos.com.

The Sound and Music of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

HollywoodNews.com: In this SoundWorks Collection exclusive we talk with Composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Sound Re-recording Mixer Michael Semanick, and Re-recording Mixer, Sound Designer, and Supervising Sound Editor Ren Klyce.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a 2011 English-language drama/thriller film. It is the second film to be adapted from the Swedish novel of the same name by Stieg Larsson. The first was a 2009 Swedish-language/English dubbed film. The 2011 film was written by Steven Zaillian and directed by David Fincher. Daniel Craig stars as Mikael Blomkvist, and Rooney Mara stars as Lisbeth Salander. In essence, the film follows a man’s mission to find out what has happened to a girl who has been missing for 36 years, and may have been murdered.

To read more go to SoundWorks Collection

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Paramount confirms a fourth “Paranormal Activity”

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Paramount announced that a fourth “Paranormal Activity” is happening, and will reach theaters at some point in 2012, probably in October (like its predecessors).
This seems obvious, but it’s still nice to hear the studio confirm it. As EW reports, the low-budget horror franchise “has banked nearly $300 million in the last three years,” with last year’s installment opening to $52.6M and a total domestic take of $103.8 million. Solid.
But where will the series go from here? The “Paranormal” films have gradually rewound its narrative clock, exploring the roots of the spirits that haunt its main characters. The third film was set in the 1980s. Do you think producers will continue flashing back? Or is the home-video concept strong enough to go in different directions?
If you’d asked me years ago, I never would have guessed there would be two “Saw” films, let alone seven. The “Activity” films have enjoyed consistency. We’ll see how much longer it can last.
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Tom Cruise is back! Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: As is often the case, the last weekend of the year is basically a repeat of last weekend, both in general ranking and numbers, as the holiday weekend tends to keep drops low, if often absent. Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol led the pack of major Christmas and holiday releases that actually went up from last weekend. The Brad Bird spy thriller earned $31 million over Fri-Sun, with an eye towards a likely $40 million four-day holiday weekend. At the end of its third weekend, the first of which was IMAX-exclusive, the crowd-pleasing Tom Cruise vehicle will have grossed $140 million by Monday, which means it has already outgrossed the $134 million-grossing Mission: Impossible III. Overseas, the sequel is doing even bigger business, with a worldwide total of $324 million as we close out 2011. The $215 million gross of John Woo’s Mission: Impossible II is likely out of reach, but surpassing the $181 million gross from Brian DePalma’s Mission: Impossible is not only possible but plausible. Worldwide, the film is shaping up to be $600 million earner, the respective totals, speculative as they may be now, would make this film Tom Cruise’s third-biggest domestic grosser and his biggest worldwide earner ever. MI4 already ranks ninth on both lists.

Coming it at a strong second place was Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Both it and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked debuted below expectations two weeks ago, but both have used the holiday season to pick up lost ground, proving again that the last two weeks of the year are great for leggy runs. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows grossed $22 million, for a new total of $132 million. Combined with Monday’s grosses, that should put the second Sherlock Holmes picture exactly where the first was at the end of its New Year’s weekend, albeit with an extra seven days to get there. Point being, if the film can avoid complete collapse in the mostly barren January (and said mediocre January slate will boost every single film discussed here today), it may get closer to the $209 million domestic total of Sherlock Holmes than anyone thought possible two weeks ago. Alvin and the Chipmunks 3 earned $18 million for the weekend, giving it $94 million with the strong possibility of crossing the $100 million mark on […]

The Best of the Best Movies of the Year!

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: This time, it’s the best of the best. Of course ‘best’ is a subjective term, so you might want to consider these my ‘favorites’. Despite what everyone likes to whine about at the end of every year, 2011 was in fact one of the better years in a good long time. Maybe it was the effects of the 2007 WGA strike wearing off, maybe it was just dumb luck, but on the whole, movies, especially mainstream movies, were pretty on-spot more often than they weren’t. But just as important, most of the year-end Oscar bait was actually quite good, so this is a year where I don’t have to half-heartedly apologize for having a list filled with movies nobody saw and mainstream pictures that no one admits to liking. Even if it took 1/3 of the year to really get cooking, 2011 was an uncommonly solid year for all forms of cinematic entertainment. And of course, there are at least a few films that might have made the cut if they hadn’t come out so close to the end of the year (mainly A Separation, Shame, and Pariah). But they merely become contenders for the 2012 Black Book award (IE – great films that you saw too late to include in your best-of list, named after Paul Verhoeven’s fantastic 2006 World War II thriller that I saw in mid-2007). And thus, without further ado, here are the very ‘best’ films of 2011. As always, the list will be alphabetical order, with a final paragraph at the end for my very favorite film.
50/50
This was a complete and total surprise, one that I wish I had seen earlier in its release so that I might have been able to give it the proper attention. Unfairly written off as a Judd Apatow-wannabe comedy purely due the appearance of Seth Rogen, this fantastic comedic drama from director Jonathan Levine and writer Will Reiser is a loosely non-fiction telling of Reiser’s diagnosis with cancer and how it affected him and those around him. I can’t speak to the medical accuracy of every onscreen moment, but the film feels bitterly real and it is never less than emotionally honest. Joseph Gordon Levitt reaffirms that he is one of the better actors of his generation, and he is surrounded by a wonderful […]

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