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Art Directors Guild Adds Animated Feature Category to Its Awards

59 minutes ago

The Art Directors Guild has added an animated feature category to its Excellence in Production Design Awards, slated for Jan. 27 in the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland.

The award for production design for an animated feature film accompanies the theme for the event’s latest edition, “Production Design in Animation: Celebrating 100 Years of Imagination.”

“It is our intention to honor and celebrate great Production Design achievements in the remarkable and evolving art form of animation through this new award. By separating feature animation into its own constituent category, we wish to pay tribute to these creative works in a manner equivalent to all our other feature design categories,” said Thomas A. Walsh, an Adg Event producer along with Thomas Wilkins.

Animated features in hand-drawn, CGI, clay animation/puppet, and motion-capture styles may qualify for the category, but animation must figure in at least 75% of the film’s running time.

Animated films, »


- Terry Flores

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‘Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!’ Casts Broadway Star Jessica Keenan Wynn

1 hour ago

Broadway star Jessica Keenan Wynn has joined the cast of Universal’s sequel “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!,” Variety has learned exclusively.

Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Amanda Seyfried, and Christine Baranski are returning with Ol Parker writing and directing. Keenan Wynn will play the younger version of Baranksi’s character, Tanya. The film moves back and forth in time to show how relationships forged in the past resonate in the present.

The movie begins shooting in September in locations including the U.K. and Croatia. Littlestar’s Judy Craymer and Playtone’s Gary Goetzman, who produced the original, will re-team for the sequel. Craymer is also the creator and producer of the stage musical.

Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus are aboard again to provide music and lyrics and serve as executive producers. Universal’s Kristen Lowe and Lexi Barta will oversee production for the studio.

The original 2008 movie was a surprise blockbuster, grossing »


- Dave McNary

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Box Office: ‘Hitman’s Bodyguard,’ ‘Logan Lucky’ to Open on Another Drowsy Weekend

1 hour ago

Two action-packed, star-studded films hit multiplexes this weekend, but will anyone notice?

We’re heading for another sleepy weekend at the domestic box office, as Lionsgate’s “Hitman’s Bodyguard” and Bleecker Street/Fingerprint’s “Logan Lucky” seem unlikely to boost an extremely slow summer — more than 12% behind the same point in the season last year.

Related

Film Review: ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’

That said, “Hitman’s Bodyguard” should lead the pack. Tracking puts the R-rated action comedy between $15 million and $20 million from 3,350 screens. Sometimes, as is the case here, the setup is right there in the title: Ryan Reynolds plays a bodyguard who is assigned to a notorious hitman (Samuel L. Jackson). The mismatched duo work together to bring down a common enemy — an Eastern European dictator played by Gary Oldman. The product comes courtesy of director Patrick Hughes (“The Expendables 3”) and writer Tom O’Connor. So far critics have been mixed, earning »


- Seth Kelley

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MoviePass Leaders Talk AMC Legal Threats, Overhauling the Movie Business

1 hour ago

MoviePass, a subscription service for film buffs, has long aspired to shake up the exhibition business.

But its plans to be the Netflix of cinemas seemed to be a pipe dream. After launching in 2011, it became entangled in a series of legal disputes, and never managed to gain traction. This week, however, the company appeared to get a second wind, selling a majority stake to data firm Helios and Matheson Analytics for $27 million. As part of the deal with Helios and Matheson, MoviePass says it will mount an Ipo by the end of January 2018 and promises to dramatically increase its customer base.

The sale was almost an afterthought in the media furor that erupted this week. MoviePass became a trending topic after it announced it was slashing prices to $9.95 a month, allowing customers to see a movie a day for less than the cost of a Manhattan theater ticket. Previously the company charged anywhere from $14.95 to nearly »


- Brent Lang

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Ken Ziffren: Profits Elusive for Studio Tentpoles

2 hours ago

As big-budget blockbusters dominate cineplex screens this summer, veteran entertainment attorney Ken Ziffren has a warning for the studios churning them out: making money won’t be easy.

The Ziffren Brittenham partner, who doubles as film czar for the city of Los Angeles, told attendees at Beverly Hills Bar Association’s ninth annual state of the entertainment industry address that when “net money” is calculated beyond just box office returns, the odds of profitability aren’t encouraging.

“What’s scary last year is if you do an analysis of all those $100-million-and-up pictures,  two to one of them didn’t make a profit,” said Ziffren at the event.

However, Ziffren noted that the studios are as focused as they are on expensive movies because the lower-budget titles have challenging economics as well.  “The majors are hellbent for good reason on creating franchises,” he noted. “If you run the numbers, what you see is the profitability of the »


- Andrew Wallenstein

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Blake Lively’s Spy Thriller ‘The Rhythm Section’ Lands at Paramount

3 hours ago

Blake Lively’s spy thriller “The Rhythm Section” has landed at Paramount Pictures with the studio agreeing to buy worldwide distribution rights.

The project will be directed by “The Handmaid’s Tale” exec producer Reed Morano, from a script by Mark Burnell with Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli producing. IM Global will finance the film. Lively was attached to the project a month ago.

The movie is a contemporary adaptation of the first of Burnell’s Stephanie Patrick series of four British novels. Lively will play the titular heroine, who is on a path to self-destruction after the death of her family in an airplane crash. After discovering from a journalist that the crash wasn’t an accident and watching that journalist get killed, she adapts the identity of an assassin in order to track down those responsible. »


- Dave McNary

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Emma Stone Tops Jennifer Lawrence as World’s Highest-Paid Actress

3 hours ago

The city of stars is giving a nod right back to Emma Stone.

The “La La Land” actress has been named the world’s highest-paid actress by Forbes, surpassing Jennifer Lawrence, who claimed the top spot in 2016 and 2015.

Stone, 28, collected $26 million, mostly thanks to her Oscar-winning performance as Mia, a barista and aspiring actress, in the movie-musical juggernaut “La La Land.”

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Emma Stone Says Her Male Co-Stars Took Salary Cuts so She Could Receive Equal Pay

Stone spoke out about gender parity earlier this year, revealing that her male co-stars have taken salary cuts so she could receive equal pay. “That’s something they do for me because they feel it’s what’s right and fair,” Stone said to Out magazine. “That’s something that’s also not discussed, necessarily — that our getting equal pay is going to require people to selflessly say, ‘That’s what’s fair.' »


- Rebecca Rubin

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Film News Roundup: Graham King Signs First-Look Deal With Paramount

3 hours ago

In today’s film news roundup, Graham King signs a first-look deal at Paramount and Samuel Goldwyn picks up horror film “Psychopaths.”

First-look Deal

Graham King, who won the best picture Oscar for 2006’s “The Departed,” has signed a three-year first-look deal with Paramount Pictures.

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Under the non-exclusive deal, King will develop and produce films through his Gk Films shingle. The company will relocate offices to the Paramount lot as part of the new deal. He previously produced “Rango,” “World War Z,” and “Hugo” for Paramount.

Paramount chairman/CEO Jim Gianopulos said, “Graham not only has keen artistic and commercial tastes, but he also is one of the most prolific producers in this industry. It’s my pleasure to welcome him to our Paramount family and we all look forward to many successful collaborations for years to come.”

King »


- Dave McNary

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Seth Rogen to Produce ‘Good Boys’ R-Rated Comedy Movie

4 hours ago

Seth Rogen’s Point Grey Pictures and Good Universe will produce the R-rated comedy “Good Boys” with Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky directing from their own script in their feature directorial debut.

Point Grey principals Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and James Weaver will produce. Good Universe’s Nathan Kahane and Joe Drake will executive produce. Josh Fagen is overseeing for Point Grey and Brady Fujikawa is overseeing for Good Universe.

The project, described as being in the vein of Rogen’s “Sausage Party” and “Superbad,” is about four 12-year-olds caught between childhood innocence and lewd teenage corruption, who embark on a quest from the Los Angeles suburb of Tarzana to the Sherman Oaks Galleria to replace a broken drone before their parents get home.

Rogen starred in, co-wrote and exec produced “Superbad.” He produced and co-wrote “Sausage Party” and voiced the main characters.

Related

Sony Debuts ‘Clean Version’ of 24 Movies, But Seth Rogen’s Not a Fan

Eisenberg »


- Dave McNary

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Writers Guild of America West: ‘President Trump Disgraces Our Nation’

5 hours ago

Updated: The Writers Guild of America West has issued a stinging condemnation of President Donald Trump failing to sufficiently condemn white nationalism and neo-Nazis.

The Los Angeles-based WGA West, which represents about 9,000 writers, issued the statement in the wake of a Tuesday press conference in which Trump again blamed “both sides” for the violence at Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend. A 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, was killed on Saturday after a car plowed into a crowd at the event. At least 30 others were injured as white nationalists and counter-protesters clashed at what was billed as a “Unite the Right” rally.

The event had drawn members of the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis, as well as movement leaders including David Duke and Richard Spencer.

Related

3M CEO Latest to Resign From Trump’s Manufacturing Council

In his first statement on the violence over the weekend, Trump blamed “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” but »


- Dave McNary

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‘Mission: Impossible 6’ Faces Production Delay After Tom Cruise Injured (Exclusive)

6 hours ago

Updated: “Mission: Impossible 6” will halt production in London for between six weeks to three months to give Tom Cruise time to recover from an on-set injury, according to four people with knowledge of the situation. The actor hurt himself doing stunt work for the film last weekend. Cruise broke his ankle, Paramount confirmed, and may have also hurt his hip, one individual close to the production said. He was scheduled to see his doctor this week, said sources close to the production, after which the studio will determine how long shooting will be delayed.

In a statement, the studio said, “During production on the latest ‘Mission: Impossible’ film, Tom Cruise broke his ankle while performing a stunt. Production will go on hiatus while Tom makes a full recovery, and the film remains on schedule to open July 27, 2018. Tom wants to thank you all for your concern and support and can’t wait to share the film »


- Brent Lang and Elsa Keslassy

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Channing Tatum to Star in, Produce Drug Cartel Drama ‘Bloodlines’

6 hours ago

Channing Tatum will produce and star in the Universal Pictures movie based on the upcoming book “Bloodlines” from author Melissa Del Bosque.

Michael De Luca, who produced the “Fifty Shades of Grey” films for the studio, will also produce through his Michael De Luca Productions. Tatum is producing through his Free Association production company along with Free Association’s Michael Parets.

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Del Bosque is a Texas Observer investigative reporter. The book, “Bloodlines: The True Story of a Drug Cartel, the FBI, and the Battle for a Horse-Racing Dynasty,” follows two FBI agents — one of the them a rookie — as they work to take down members of a drug cartel wrapped up with quarter horse racing in Texas.

Jonathan Herman, who received an Academy Award nomination for “Straight Outta Compton,” will adapt the screenplay. No director is attached.

Executive »


- Dave McNary

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Zhao Tao, Liao Fan to Star in Jia Zhang-ke’s ‘Ash is Purest White’ (Exclusive)

6 hours ago

Zhao Tao (“Mountains May Depart”) and Liao Fan (“Black Coal, Thin Ice”) are set to star in Jia Zhang-ke’s new film, “Ash is Purest White,” the Chinese auteur’s follow up to “Mountains May Depart” which world premiered in competition at Cannes.

Previously titled “Money & Love,” “Ash is Purest White” tells “a story of violent love with a time frame from 2001 to 2017,” said Zhang-ke about the project.

MK2 represents “Ash is Purest White” in international markets and is co-producing via Mk Productions, along with Shanghai Film Group, Xstream Pictures (Beijing), Huanxi Media Group Limited, Beijing Runjin Investment and Office Kitano.

An epic love story set against the backdrop of China’s crime underworld, “Ash is Purest White” opens in 2001, in a poor industrial city in China called Datong, where Qiao, a young dancer who falls in love with Bin, a local mobster. During a fight between rival gangs Qiao fires a shot to protect him »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Virtual Reality Films Take Hold at Fall’s Film Festivals

6 hours ago

The possibility that virtual reality could push the limits of the moviegoing experience took a leap forward with Alejandro G. Inarritu’s immigration-themed installation “Carne y Arena” at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

But on the A-list festival circuit, it’s the Venice Film Festival that is leading the way in the Vr arena.

There are of course other film festivals around the world that to varying degrees have been dipping their toes into what is becoming the Vr craze.

Sundance, which was the first to explore and open up to interactive storytelling, has the New Frontier Story Lab residency program and showcases Vr works as a non-competitive sidebar; Tribeca has its immersive Storyscapes and Visual Arcades programs; Toronto last year launched a separate Vr strand called Pop Vr, which featured five pieces; Geneva Intl. Film Festival Tous Ecrans, which runs in November, started a competitive section with roughly 10 virtual reality works in 2016. And the Dubai »


- Nick Vivarelli

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Media Titans Look to Engage Consumers Directly With Bold New Strategies

6 hours ago

More than any other media giant, the Walt Disney Co. is endowed with a corporate brand name that means something to consumers. The goodwill that the Disney moniker brings is the foundation of the Mouse’s bold attempt to challenge Netflix at its own game with the launch in 2019 of a stand-alone streaming service featuring Disney- and Pixar-branded theatrical releases, as well as other film and TV productions.

But as much as Disney sees a chance to capitalize on its unique position, the company has also been under more pressure than any of its media peers to make a big move to combat the steady drumbeat of negative news surrounding its single biggest driver of earnings, Espn.

Disney’s market-shaking Aug. 8 announcement of the Disney-Pixar service and an enhanced Espn streaming offering came on the same day the Mouse reported fiscal third-

quarter earnings. The numbers for Disney’s cable group again demonstrated the erosion of Espn »


- Cynthia Littleton

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Healthcare Doc ‘Bending the Arc,’ Exec Produced by Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Gets U.S. Release (Exclusive)

7 hours ago

Abramorama has acquired U.S. theatrical rights to the healthcare documentary “Bending the Arc,” with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck as executive producers.

The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year, will open on Oct. 6 in New York, followed by a release to Boston, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and select cities across the U.S.

The movie is directed by Kief Davidson, whose credits include “The Ivory Game” and “A Lego Brickumentary,” and Pedro Kos, an editor on “Waste Land” and “The Island President.” The producer is Cori Shepherd Stern (“Open Heart,” “Warm Bodies”).

The film centers on three Harvard med students — Jim Kim, current president of the World Bank; Paul Farmer; and Ophelia Dahl — who became pioneers of global health by inventing an international framework for fighting diseases such as tuberculosis, AIDS, Sars, and Ebola.

Variety‘s Geoff Berkshire gave “Bending the Arc” a strong review: “For anyone who wants to believe in »


- Dave McNary

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San Sebastian: Biniez’s ‘The Waves,’ Franco’s ‘April’s Daughter,’ Lelio’s ‘Fantastic Woman’ at Horizontes Latinos

7 hours ago

Adrián Biniez’s “The Waves,” Michel Franco’s “April’s Daughter” and Sebastián Lelio’s “A Fantastic Woman” will screen at the 65th San Sebastian’s Horizontes Latinos competition.

One of the festival’s biggest sidebars, Horizontes Latinos offers a contemporary showcase of feature films not yet screened in Spain, produced totally or partially in Latin America, directed by filmmakers of Latin origin or which have as their setting or subject matter Latino communities in the rest of the world.

This year, Horizontes opens with Lelio’s transgender drama “A Fantastic Woman,” a Participant Media-backed film, produced by Pablo and Juan de Dios Larrain’s Chile-based Fabula. Picked up by Sony Pictures Classics in the U.S. in one of Berlin’s highest-profile deals, “A Fantastic Woman” won a Silver Bear for best screenplay and a Teddy award at February’s Berlinale, and was one of its most talked-up titles.

With »


- Emiliano De Pablos

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‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’: St. Vincent to Direct Female-Led Film Adaptation (Exclusive)

7 hours ago

Lionsgate has launched development of a movie based on Oscar Wilde’s 1890 novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” Variety has learned exclusively.

The studio is putting a twist on the classic Victorian age story of a hedonistic man whose self-portrait ages while he stays eternally young. In this project, the title character will be a woman.

The film will be directed by Annie Clark, a.k.a St. Vincent, the experimental rock multi-instrumentalist. Her album, the self-titled “St. Vincent,” won the Grammy for Best Alternative Album in 2015. She has been the recipient of the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award and the Q Maverick award, both given for outstanding innovation in the arts. »


- Dave McNary

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Watch Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell in Eerie ‘Killing of a Sacred Deer’ Trailer

8 hours ago

A young woman singing a disconcerting, a cappella rendition of Ellie Goulding’s pop hit “Burn” sets the backdrop of the official trailer for “The Killing of a Sacred Deer.”

As the scenes fly by and intensify, high-pitched, dissonant strings and a rolling timpani creep into the score.

“A surgeon never kills a patient,” Colin Farrell’s character huffs. “An anesthesiologist can kill a patient, but a surgeon never can.”

Related

Cannes Film Review: ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer

While the trailer does not give away much regarding plot, the visuals are stimulating, for example, a shot of a young man twirling and eating a huge mouthful of spaghetti.

At one point a distraught looking Nicole Kidman expresses doubt: “I don’t understand why I should have to pay the price,” she says “… why my children should have to pay the price.”

Yorgos Lanthimos, directed the film from a screenplay that he wrote with Efthymis Filippou. It »


- Seth Kelley

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San Sebastián: Films in Progress Selects ‘Ferrugem,’ ‘Agosto,’ ‘Niña Errante’

8 hours ago

Madrid — Three awaited Latin American films – Aly Muritiba’s “Ferrugem,” Armando Capos’ “Agosto” and Ruben Mendoza’s “Niña Errante” – feature at a six-title 2017 San Sebastián Films in Progress, one of the best-attended of pix-in-post competitions in the Spanish-speaking world.

Organized with the Toulouse Cinelatino Festival, Films in Progress this year also adds a prize from one of the biggest sales agents in the region, a Film Factory Prize consisting of the offer of a €30,000-€40,000 ($33,000-$44,000) minimum guarantee for sales rights to one of the titles in the section.

The San Sebastián Films in Progress runs Sept. 25-27.

Three other titles – Nicolas Buenaventura’s “Kairos,” Maria Alche’s “Immersed Family” and Leandro Leal’s “Rodantes” –  make up a section in which Brazil has a prominent presence, fruit of its government’s forceful backing for art films via Ancine, and five of the six titles are international co-productions, including three with France, as »


- John Hopewell

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