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Oscar Isaac in Talks to Voice Gomez Addams in Animated ‘Addams Family’ Movie

15 December 2017 6:12 PM, PST

Star Wars: The Last Jedi” star Oscar Isaac is in talks with MGM to voice Gomez Addams in the animated feature film “The Addams Family.”

Isaac portrays the heroic pilot Poe Dameron in “The Last Jedi.” The rest of the cast for “The Addams Family” has not been unveiled. Conrad Vernon is directing from a screenplay by Pamela Pettler based on Charles Addams’ iconic cartoon series with revisions by Matt Lieberman.

Producers of “The Addams Family” are Gail Berman, Vernon, and Alex Schwartz. Executive producers are Kevin Miserocchi and Andrew Mittman. The Jackal Group is producing with Cinesite Studios providing the computer-generated animation.

MGM announced Friday that it had set an Oct. 11, 2019, release date for the film. The announcement comes seven weeks after MGM and Annapurna Pictures unveiled a new joint venture for theatrical distribution in the U.S. Through this joint venture, MGM expects to release approximately six to eight films per year beginning with Eli Roth »


- Dave McNary

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Disney-Fox Deal Unleashes Flood of Free-Agent Executives, Talent

16 December 2017 7:37 AM, PST

Disney’s $52.4 billion deal to scoop up most of 21st Century Fox marks the beginning of an historic realignment of Hollywood’s Big Six studios. It may also lead to an industry-shaking redistribution of executive and creative talent.

Rarely has such a large number of high-level executives suddenly become free agents, from Stacey Snider and Emma Watts on the 20th Century Fox film side to TV heavyweights John Landgraf, Dana Walden, and Gary Newman — not to mention 21st Century Fox president Peter Rice, who oversees all TV.

Beyond the boldface names, there are ranks of seasoned executives at Fox and Disney/ABC who are nervous about their future, after hearing Disney’s promise of delivering $2 billion in cost savings within two years of the deal’s closing. But this flood is also hitting at a time when Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and other upstarts are beefing up their operations as they launch the push into the content »


- Cynthia Littleton

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Arnon Milchan Sues Warren Beatty Over ‘Rules Don’t Apply’ Flop

15 December 2017 6:15 PM, PST

Last year, Arnon Milchan was effusive in his praise of Warren Beatty, whose film “Rules Don’t Apply” he had agreed to help finance. In an interview with Variety, the Israeli-born financier said he put his full confidence in “the master.”

“We all put in the money and said, ‘Go make your movie. We will leave you alone,'” Milchan said at the time. Beatty was effusive in return, calling Milchan “the Medici of the movies.”

Cut to: one year later. The film flopped, grossing $3.9 million worldwide, and Milchan’s company is now suing Beatty for $18 million. »


- Gene Maddaus

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‘The Goldfinch’ Movie Adaptation Casts Willa Fitzgerald as Pippa (Exclusive)

15 December 2017 12:46 PM, PST

Willa Fitzgerald is in negotiations to play Pippa in Warner Bros. and Amazon Studios’ adaptation of “The Goldfinch.”

Ansel Elgort will portray Theo and “Dunkirk” actor Aneurin Barnard is Boris in the film from director John Crowley. Warner Bros. had no comment on the casting.

Based on Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “The Goldfinch” follows a young man named Theodore Decker who survives a terrorist bombing at an art museum — an attack that kills his mother. From there, he tumbles through a series of adventures that finds him living in Las Vegas with his deadbeat father and, later, involved in art forgeries.

In the novel, Pippa is Theo’s true-but-seemingly-unrequited love.

Earlier this year, Amazon Studios agreed to co-finance the film, which will go into production at the beginning of 2018. As part of the pact, Amazon will invest more than a third of the movie’s budget, which is estimated to be in the $40 million range, according »


- Justin Kroll

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Film Review: ‘Ethel & Ernest’

1 hour ago

“There was nothing extraordinary about my mum and dad, nothing dramatic,” says Raymond Briggs during the brief live-action prologue to “Ethel & Ernest.” Truer words were never said, even if they’re among very few words not directly taken from the graphic-novel source in Roger Mainwood’s scrupulously faithful adaptation of that slender 1998 tome. This animated feature celebrates the kind of very ordinary, mostly happy shared marital life that “Up!” memorably encapsulated in its first few minutes before moving on to the more typical movie business of fantasy and adventure.

The lack of conflict proves more conspicuous over the course of 95 screen minutes than it did over 103 pages one might easily whisk through in one-quarter that time. Still, there’s considerable nostalgic charm to the low-key tale, particularly for British audiences to whom Briggs (best known internationally for the 1978 children’s picture book “The Snowman”) is a beloved institution. In the U.S., the toon »


- Dennis Harvey

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Film Review: ‘The Thousand Faces of Dunjia’

1 hour ago

Bloated with visual effects, martial artists combat and amorous shenanigans, the one thing missing in “The Thousand Faces of Dunjia” is a comedic touch, which might have made this elaborate blockbuster more appealing. Written and produced by Tsui Hark, and directed by Yuen Woo-ping, this action fantasy about a secret society of fighters with magic powers seems to lend itself to the cheeky tone of American blockbusters like “Guardians of the Galaxy” or “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” albeit with a Chinese makeover. However, as Yuen’s soulless sequel “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny” made clear, he may be a top martial arts choreographer, but he’s a strictly mechanical director.

Tsui’s script, though not without entertaining elements, lacks the intellectual grounding or cinematic oomph that made better works like “The Taking of Tiger Mountain” more than mere spectacles. Nor does his contribution to the editing and music significantly heighten his personal »


- Maggie Lee

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Awards Contenders ‘Shape of Water,’ ‘I, Tonya’ Shine in Limited Release

2 hours ago

Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” grossed a solid $1.8 million this weekend at 158 North American sites while Margot Robbie’s  “I, Tonya” took in a stellar $176,599 at five locations.

The Shape of Water” finished in 12th place following its strong showing at the Golden Globes nominations with seven nods on Dec. 11. Fox Searchlight added 117 venues and will expand to more than 700 sites on Dec. 22.

The Shape of Water,” which has totaled $3.6 million in its first 17 days, received Globe nominations for best drama, for actors Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer, and for directing for del Toro. Del Toro and Vanessa Taylor’s script about a captured sea creature in a government lab in 1961 also received a nomination. Jenkins received a SAG Award nomination on Dec. 13 as well.

“I, Tonya” delivered the top per-screen average this weekend of $35,538 among all titles other than “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which led with $51,996. The dark comedy, »


- Dave McNary

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Box Office: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Hits $230 Million at International Box Office

4 hours ago

Disney-Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” dominated the international box office in its opening weekend with $230 million in 54 markets.

The overseas performance — led by the U.K. with $36.7 million, Germany with $23.6 million  and France with $18.1 million — was slightly above sky-high expectations, which had been around $225 million. The openings did not include China, which accounts for 12% of the international market and is scheduled for a Jan. 5 launch.

With a $220 million North American opening, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” posted a $450 million worldwide total in its opening weekend — the fifth highest of all time behind “Fate of the Furious,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Jurassic World” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.”

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” opened in first place in all but four markets — Turkey, South Korea, India and Malaysia. It set records for the second biggest launch weekend of all time behind “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in Australia, Germany »


- Dave McNary

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Box Office: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Soars to $220 Million Opening Weekend

5 hours ago

The Force dominated at the box office as Disney-Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi"  opened with a stellar $220 million weekend at 4,232 North American sites — the second-highest opening weekend of all time.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” finished trails only the $248 million launch of 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The tentpole opened with $104.8 million on Friday (including $45 million from Thursday night previews), followed by $63.7 million on Saturday and a projected $52 million on Sunday.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” has become only the fourth movie to top $200 million domestically in its opening frame, joining 2015’s “The Force Awakens,” 2015’s “Jurassic World” with $208.8 million, and 2012’s “The Avengers” with $207.4 million. It will finish the weekend 29% above the “Star Wars” spinoff “Rogue One,” which opened with $155.1 million on the same weekend a year ago.

“Truly in a class by themselves, the movies of the “Star Wars” franchise continue to re-write the history books as to what »


- Dave McNary

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Les Arcs European Film Festival’s Industry Village Kicks Off with Strong Roster

16 December 2017 10:06 AM, PST

Echo,””The Orphanage,””Patrol Cars” and “Starve” are among the promising projects which will be presented at the 9th edition of Les Arcs European Film Festival’s industry village kicking off this weekend in the French Alps.

The Coproduction Village will showcase 21 European feature films in development which were selected from more than 220 applications received.

“Patrol Cars” from Stephan Komandarev, a critically-aclaimed Bulgarian director/producer/screenwriter, follows three teams of police officers patrolling the streets of a society losing all sense. Jeremy Zelnik, the head of industry at Les Arcs who works alongside Anna Ciennik, described the script as a “page-turner.”

Komandarev’s credits include “Posoki/Directions” which played at Cannes’s Un Certain Regard last year.

Rúnar Runarsson and Shahrbanoo Sadat, who last participated in Les Arcs’s industry village with “Sparrows” and “Wolf and Sheep,” respectively, will also be back with projects.

Runarsson will present “Echo,” an drama looking at Icelandic society. “Sparrow,” his second »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Box Office: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Rockets to $215 Million Opening Weekend

16 December 2017 8:59 AM, PST

Disney-Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is set to take over the box office in its opening weekend, raking in around $215 million from 4,232 North American sites.

Including $45 million from Thursday previews — the second-largest Thursday night preview total ever, below “Star Wars: The Force Awakens’s” 2015 total of $57 million — the tentpole film brought in $104 million from Friday, and is looking to add over $100 million between Saturday and Sunday.

The total gross will make “The Last Jedi” the fourth film in domestic box office history to make over $200 million in its first weekend, joining “The Force Awakens” with $248.8 million, “Jurassic World” with $208.8 million, and 2012’s “The Avengers” with $207.4 million. “The Last Jedi” will finish significantly above Star Wars spinoff “Rogue One,” which opened with $155.1 million on the same weekend a year ago. »


- Erin Nyren

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Anita Hill Chairs Hollywood Anti-Sexual Harassment Commission Formed by Top Execs

15 December 2017 6:41 PM, PST

Spurred by the multitude of sexual abuse scandals, top Hollywood executives have tapped Anita Hill to chair the newly formed Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace.

The commission made the announcement Friday following a meeting convened by Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, Nike Foundation founder and co-chair Maria Eitel, Nina Shaw, and venture captialist Freada Kapor Klein.

“The Commission will not seek just one solution, but a comprehensive strategy to address the complex and inter-related causes of the problems of parity and power,” said Kennedy. “The fact that so many industry leaders—across film, television, music, digital, unions, agencies, Ata, AMPAS, television academy and guilds—came together, in one room, to explore solutions speaks to a new era.”

Hill went public in 1991 with allegations of sexual harassment during the Senate confirmation process for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Since then, in addition to teaching law and policy at Brandeis University, Hill has been »


- Dave McNary

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Publicists for Jennifer Lawrence, Daisy Ridley, Amy Adams Form New Firm

15 December 2017 4:35 PM, PST

Former publicists for ID and 42West Liz Mahoney, Megan Moss Pachon, Bryna Rifkin, and Heidi Lopata are forming a new entertainment public relations firm, Narrative.

“We have the utmost esteem for our colleagues at ID and 42West and are deeply appreciative of the wisdom, guidance, and mentorship from industry leaders Kelly Bush Novak, Mara Buxbaum, Leslee Dart, Amanda Lundberg and Allan Mayer in nurturing our respective careers. We look forward to our next iteration with the formation of Narrative,” said Mahoney, Moss Pachon, Rifkin, and Lopata in a statement.

During their respective tenures, the quad represented acclaimed talent such as Amy Adams, Josh Brolin, Marion Cotillard, Emilia Clarke, Chris Evans, Kathryn Hahn, Timothy Hutton, Diane Kruger, Jennifer Lawrence, Ewan McGregor, Ezra Miller, Megan Mulally, Ruth Negga, Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie, Sam Rockwell, Michael Shannon, Alicia Vikander, and Kate Winslet as well as filmmakers Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig, Brit Marling, Simon Kinberg, Matt Reeves, and Black »

- Justin Kroll

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Hannah Marks, Liana Liberato to Star in High School Comedy ‘Banana Split’

15 December 2017 4:30 PM, PST

Hannah Marks, Liana Liberato, and Dylan Sprouse are starring in the high school comedy “Banana Split,” which will begin production this month in Syracuse, N.Y.

Will Phelps, Glen Trotiner, and Sam Slater are producing. Marks co-wrote the film with Joey Power, and both will also serve as executive producers with Rowan Riley. Mickey Liddell and Jeremy Garelick’s newly formed venture, American High, is fully financing the movie.

“’Banana Split’ is a movie about an unexpected female friendship during the pivotal transition between high school and college,” she said. “This project is so close to me, and I am thrilled to be working with such funny and talented people.”

Banana Split” also stars “Red Oaks” actress Jessica Hecht, Luke Spencer Roberts, Addison Riecke and “Spider-man: Homecoming” star Jacob Batalon. The film will be the directorial debut of cinematographer Ben Kasulke.

“I am so honored to be working on a phenomenal script by my old friends [link=nm »


- Dave McNary

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Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Post’ to Open Palm Springs Film Festival

15 December 2017 1:09 PM, PST

Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” has been selected as the opening night film for the 29th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival on Jan. 4.

The Post,” starring Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee and Meryl Streep as Katherine Graham, will receive a limited release from Fox on Dec. 22 and go into wide release on Jan. 12. The National Board of Review has named “The Post” as the best film of 2017 with Hanks and Streep taking the top acting awards.

The Post” centers on the legal battle faced by The Washington Post over publication of the Pentagon Papers, which provided previously undisclosed details over the involvement of the U.S. government in the Vietnam War The cast includes Alison Brie, Carrie Coon, David Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson, Jesse Plemons, Matthew Rhys, Michael Stuhlbarg, Bradley Whitford and Zach Woods.

The festival will close with “The Last Movie Star,” directed by Adam Rifkin, on Jan. 14. Burt Reynolds »


- Dave McNary

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‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Speeds Toward $200 Million-Plus Weekend in the U.S.

15 December 2017 12:41 PM, PST

The box office Force is with Disney-Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which is heading for more than $200 million at 4,232 North American sites in its opening weekend, early estimates showed Friday.

The tentpole opened with $45 million on Thursday night — the second-largest Thursday night preview gross ever in North America, trailing only the $57 million for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” two years ago. The total for Friday (which includes Thursday night) should wind up in the $95 million to $98 million range, followed by as much as $60 million on Saturday and somewhere around $45 million to $48 million on Sunday.

That would mean “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” will become only the fourth movie to top $200 million domestically in its opening frame, joining 2015’s “The Force Awakens” at $248.8 million, 2015’s “Jurassic World” with $208.8 million, and 2012’s “The Avengers” with $207.4 million. It will finish the weekend far above the “Star Wars” spinoff “Rogue One,” which opened »


- Dave McNary

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EuropaCorp Posts Half-Year Loss of $83 Million

15 December 2017 12:05 PM, PST

Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp (“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”) has posted a loss of $83 million (€70.6 million) for the first half of its 2017/2018 financial year. The loss figure is nearly three times higher than it was during the first semester of the last financial year — which culminated in record losses of $135 million.

EuropaCorp primarily blamed the results on the poor theatrical performance of movies it distributed in the U.S., notably “The Circle” and “Their Finest,” as well as the “disappointing Us box-office revenues for ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,'” said the report.

Directed by Besson with a budget in the $180 million range, “Valerian” tanked in the U.S., grossing only $40.5 million. It went on to gross $225.16 million worldwide. The movie nevertheless yielded strong international sales business that allowed the company to boost its revenues by 77.5% to €138.1 million.

EuropaCorp said it had already reduced its overhead costs by 13% and will be »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Songs for Screens: The Best Ad Synchs of 2017, Featuring Peggy Lee, Sia, Cher, Lil Yachty and More

15 December 2017 11:18 AM, PST

“Songs for Screens” (formerly known as “Synch This”) is a Variety column written by Andrew Hampp, a VP at New York-based music sponsorship and experiential agency Mac Presents and former branding correspondent for Billboard. Each week, the column will highlight noteworthy use of music in advertising and marketing campaigns, as well as new and catalog songs that we deem ripe for synch use.

With a record $314 million currently spent on synchs globally, there was no shortage of commercials with great music in 2017. But the difference between a good synch and a great synch is a song that sticks with you long after the commercial has aired. And one that might even prompt you to take some sort of action, be it a Shazam tag, a Spotify stream, or even the purchase of a concert ticket.

These 10 synchs represent some of the most unique — and successful — integrations of music the ad world had to offer this year. From »


- Andrew Hampp

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Aaron Sorkin to Receive Creative Impact in Screenwriting Award at Palm Springs Film Festival

15 December 2017 10:43 AM, PST

Variety has tapped Aaron Sorkin for the 2018 creative impact in screenwriting award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

The award will celebrate Sorkin’s prolific screenwriting career, which includes an Academy Award for “The Social Network” and multiple Emmy Awards for “The West Wing,” as well as his directorial debut with the upcoming film, “Molly’s Game,” opening Dec. 25. Sorkin has received Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice nominations for the screenplay of the film. He was honored earlier this year with a career achievement award at this year’s Zurich Film Festival.

“Molly’s Game” star Jessica Chastain will be presenting Sorkin the award at the annual brunch on Jan. 3. Chastain will receive the chairman award at the Psiff Film Awards Gala the evening before.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that Aaron Sorkin has dramatically changed the art of modern film and TV writing,” Steven Gaydos, vice president and executive editor of Variety, said. “With »


- Rebecca Rubin

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Palm Springs Hotter Than Ever: Places to Eat, Drink, Stay

15 December 2017 10:25 AM, PST

The retro-chic charm of Palm Springs never gets old. The natural beauty of the Coachella Valley, pleasant winter weather and slow pace are a welcome anti-

dote to urban life. Hence Palm Springs’ appeal to New Yorkers (who can now fly daily from JFK direct via Jet Blue through May 1) and Southern Californians who can now sit back in a Tesla (via Tesloop) for shared rides to select desert destinations. Here are some new restaurants, hotels and updated oldies designed to entice and entertain stressed out city dwellers.

Bluesy Hideaway 

Holiday House

Need a quiet retreat steps from downtown Palm Springs? The Holiday House’s 28-rooms have no TVs or telephones and there are no guests under 21 allowed. The team behind Sparrows Lodge and designer Mark D. Sikes have remade this 1951-built boutique property in blue hues. Some rooms have outdoor showers; others have mountain views; each is unique. There are loaner bikes, a casual »


- Kathy A. McDonald

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