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Oscars: Netflix and Errol Morris Defy Convention With Hybrid Doc ‘Wormwood’

18 minutes ago

Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris has “run afoul” of the film Academy before, he jokes. After all, his unconventional 1988 cinematic investigation “The Thin Blue Line” apparently violated unspoken dogma within the documentary community that year, yielding one of the most egregious snubs in Oscar history.

Nevertheless, he’s ready to test the organization’s boundaries once again this year, and he’s found an apt partner in a trailblazing platform that’s no stranger to upsetting industry status quo.

Netflix will release Morris’ “Wormwood” as a four-hour, six-part event on the streaming site on Dec. 15. But following the series’ world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival in September, the director has prepared a non-episodic theatrical version with a single intermission, Variety has learned. Netflix plans to submit that version to the film Academy, and not only for documentary feature consideration, but for all other categories as well.

That in and of itself is not uncommon. But what makes »


- Kristopher Tapley

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Movie Ticket Prices Edge Down Slightly to $8.93 for Third Quarter

1 hour ago

Average movie ticket prices were slightly down during the third quarter to $8.93 — 2 cents below their all-time high during the second quarter — according to the National Association of Theatre Owners.

Wednesday’s release by Nato, the lobbying arm for the exhibition industry, underlines how expensive it’s become to go to the movies. The figure is 3% more than the 2016 national average of $8.65 and almost a 5% increase from $8.51 in Q3 2016.

The price of tickets in the first quarter of 2017 also set a record with an average of $8.84. The rising prices are due to the increased number of films shown in 3D, Imax, and other premium formats — which come with higher costs.

Top films during the third quarter were Sony’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” New Line’s horror blockbuster “It,” and Warner Bros.’ World War II drama “Dunkirk.” “It,” which was released on Sept. 8, grossed record earnings for the month and helped the industry recover from the worst August in more »


- Dave McNary

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Morelia: Toons Bookend the 15th Morelia Int’l Film Fest

1 hour ago

Animation pics are bookending the Morelia Int’l Film Festival for the first time in its 15-year history. Pixar Animation Studios’ latest opus, “Coco,” no less, receives its world premiere in Morelia on opening night, October 20, while Carlos Carrera’s “Ana & Bruno” marks its Latin American premiere when it wraps the fest on October 28.

Set in Mexico and against the country’s most important annual event, the Day of the Dead, “Coco” is an apt choice as Morelia and the nearby lakeside village of Patzcuaro are particularly renowned for their Day of the Dead festivities. Since the festival usually ends close to the eve of the holiday, some guests have stayed on to witness the pageantry.

Snagging the world premiere of Pixar’s latest animated feature began some two years ago when festival director Daniela Michel met Pixar Chief Creative officer John Lasseter at the Lumière Festival in Lyon where Lasseter told her that Pixar’s next »


- Anna Marie de la Fuente

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“Chappaquiddick,” “Logan’s Syndrome” Headline Carmel Film Festival

1 hour ago

The Carmel International Film Festival, running Oct. 18-22, may only be entering its 9th year of existence, but for co-founders Erin Clark and Tom Burns there are already enough stories about the event to go around. Of course, there was the time that the portable screen on the beach punctured during the middle of a movie.

“It was like the Wicked Witch in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ it just kind of went down,” says Clark. “And you have 350 people on the beach watching this. And we get a phone call telling us, ‘We have a problem.’ O.K., because, you can’t be everywhere at once, right?”

It goes without saying that while Clark and Burns realized it was fun in theory, in reality, the windy Pacific coast was best served for parties and special events as opposed to a temporary screening venue. Fast forward to 2017 and Carmel has grown to four indoor venues, including the 700-seat »


- Gregory Ellwood

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Entertainment Industry Foundation Selects Nicole Sexton as President, CEO

2 hours ago

Nicole Sexton has been tapped as the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s new president and chief executive officer.

Sexton most recently served as the chief of staff of the Central Park Conservancy in New York City. Regina Miller, a fundraiser with a background in global charities and innovative start-ups, will join Eif as a special consultant.

Sexton will oversee the organization’s key initiatives — Hunger Is, Xq, and Hollywood Unfiltered — and continue the development of enterprises, such as last weekend’s One Voice: Somos Live! — a concert for disaster relief for those impacted by the recent natural disasters in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and Mexico.

Sexton succeeds Lisa Paulsen, who stepped down as president in April to concentrate on critical development and talent relations efforts for the foundation.

“Nicole and Regina bring invaluable experience and expertise to our unique and multifaceted organization,” said Eif board chair Chris Silbermann. “We play a singular role in the world of philanthropy »


- Dave McNary

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Napa Valley Film Festival to Proceed as Planned in Aftermath of Fires

2 hours ago

The Napa Valley Film Festival has announced that it will proceed with next month’s festival and donate 10% of the proceeds to the Napa Valley Community Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund.

The region has been hit hard by aggressive wildfires that began on Oct. 8 and killed at least 41 people in Napa, Sonoma, Yuba, and Mendocino counties in the deadliest week of fires in California history. The fires have destroyed at least 5,700 homes. Firefighters have been gaining control over the blazes this week.

“Our hearts and thoughts continue to be with all of our Napa and Sonoma County families, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and partners during this difficult time,” said Nvff co-founders/directors Marc and Brenda Lhormer.

“Our intention is to put on the most memorable and meaningful film festival to date,” the duo added. “Our partners and venues are eager to share this festival with those who love and need great stories, conversation, and bonding experiences. »


- Dave McNary

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Are Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump the Same Person?

3 hours ago

The relentless downpour of the Harvey Weinstein story — the hideous saga of a sociopathic predator, and of the corrupt system that gave license to him — has unleashed an unending torrent of voices. So it’s no surprise that a number of them are coming from the raging, frothing hothouse of right-wing media. Even with what should, by all rights, be embarrassing echoes of the Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly scandals (then again, you can’t embarrass a network that has no shame), the Weinstein story feeds into the sweet spot of conservative optics, since it’s all about the hidden corruption of Hollywood, which has long been a mythological target of the right. Yet there’s a lone voice in all this that (for once) has been notably restrained: that of Donald Trump.

It’s easy to imagine the Weinstein story as a trifecta of Trump tweets. Taken on the president’s own terms, it’s about »


- Owen Gleiberman

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Box Office: ‘Boo 2! A Madea Halloween’ to Haunt Competition on Slow Weekend

3 hours ago

The opening of Tyler Perry’s horror-comedy sequel “Boo 2! A Madea Halloween” should dominate the North American box office this weekend in the $20 million to $22 million range at about 2,300 locations.

Lionsgate is looking at a result that’s down 30% from the year-ago returns of the original “Boo! A Madea Halloween,” which launched with a $28.5 million weekend on Oct. 21-23 and finished with $73 million domestically. The sequel is directed by Perry from his own script and stars Perry in his ninth iteration as the tough-talking Madea.

As with the original, “Boo 2” is a relatively low-risk project for the studio, with a combined production cost and marketing spend in the $20 million range. It’s the 20th movie Perry’s produced since 2005’s “Diary of a Mad Black Woman.” Both “Boo” movies were inspired by a Chris Rock joke in 2014’s “Top Five.”

Geostorm,” “The Snowman,” and “Only the Brave,” meanwhile, are expected to generate only moderate results at best »


- Dave McNary

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Hollywood’s New Creative Leaders of 2017

3 hours ago

Each year Variety’s New Leaders feature profiles the most prominent up-and-comers in the entertainment business. To determine this year’s worthies, Variety looked for go-getters across disciplines, from television, digital, music and film, to law and finance, as well as content creators. They were proposed by their bosses and peers who have worked with them and seen their rise. All are age 40 or under, and Variety has measured them by the progress of their career trajectories: do they take calculated risks? How fast have they risen in their companies? Are they innovative and employ solutions to problems that are creative? While it’s hard to pinpoint the “it” factor, these folks embody that intangible. The people on the list have helped build the brilliant careers of their clients, shepherded hit television shows and successful movies, created small-screen series, films and animated shows, launched digital platforms, fostered hit music, counseled top dealmakers and financed them, and are some »


- Variety Staff

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Hollywood New Leaders: Agents and Managers

3 hours ago

Each year Variety’s New Leaders feature profiles the most prominent up-and-comers in the entertainment business. To determine this year’s worthies, Variety looked for go-getters across disciplines, from television, digital, music and film, to law and finance, as well as content creators. They were proposed by their bosses and peers who have worked with them and seen their rise. All are age 40 or under, and Variety has measured them by the progress of their career trajectories: do they take calculated risks? How fast have they risen in their companies? Are they innovative and employ solutions to problems that are creative? While it’s hard to pinpoint the “it” factor, these folks embody that intangible. The people on the list have helped build the brilliant careers of their clients, shepherded hit television shows and successful movies, created small-screen series, films and animated shows, launched digital platforms, fostered hit music, counseled top dealmakers and financed them, and are some »


- Variety Staff

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Lifetime and NeueHouse to Launch Luminaries Screening Series With ‘Flint’

4 hours ago

Lifetime has partnered with NeueHouse Madison Square Women’s Forum on a screening and panel series that will showcase the network’s upcoming movies from “Flint” to “I Am Elizabeth Smart.” Dubbed the “Luminaries” screening series, the goal is to showcase a slate of films that celebrate women and their impact on today’s world.

“Women are powerful storytellers and the female perspective needs to be amplified,” said Jamie Singer, CEO Ussie and head of the NeueHouse Madison Square Women’s Forum. “Lifetime has brought together some of the most inspiring women in Hollywood to share their stories. I am honored that we get to support them with NeueHouse as well as learn from them privately through this partnership.”

The screening series will debut on Oct. 23 with “Flint” starring Queen Latifah, Jill Scott, Betsy Brandt and Marin Ireland, followed by “I Am Elizabeth Smart” with Skeet Ulrich, Deirdre Lovejoy and Alana Boden on Nov. 13. Other films in »


- Rebecca Rubin

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A TV Executive Sexually Assaulted Me: A Critic’s Personal Story

5 hours ago

I told a lie in 2015. A lie to save my life.

I wrote a post in May of that year telling people I was taking two months off to deal with family issues. It wasn’t entirely a falsehood. My father had died about a year earlier and my mother was dying (she passed away last fall). The last few years were a difficult, grindingly draining time that changed me enormously.

Still, my parents’ illnesses and deaths didn’t break me. The television executive who sexually assaulted me in 2014 broke me.

And that was the real reason I took that leave in 2015: I needed to heal, mentally and spiritually, and I had to think about whether I even wanted to stay in this industry.

I look around at what occurred with Harvey Weinstein (and Cosby, and Ailes, and so on), and I have agonized over whether I made the right decision.

In the summer »

- Maureen Ryan

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Women Powered Summer Box Office Successes, New Data Shows

5 hours ago

Women and millennial men were two key audience segments responsible for the summer’s most successful films, according to a new study released by marketing data analytics firm Movio.

Although the summer season overall was one of the worst in recent history — a 14.6% drop in domestic grosses from last summer — the study focused on the summer films that performed the best, rather than those that flopped. There were, after all, several major successes, including “Wonder Woman,” Christopher Nolan’s smash hit “Dunkirk,” and comedy breakout “Girls Trip.”

The Movio research examined those who go to the movies fewer than four times a year (deemed “infrequent moviegoers”) who typically make up about 14% of a movie’s audience. Many of the summer’s most successful films, it found, pulled in a larger percentage. For example, the audience for “Girls Trip” — which grossed $115 million domestic off a relatively low budget — was 25% infrequent moviegoers.

More specifically, »


- Seth Kelley

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Magnolia Nabs Worldwide Rights to Obama Documentary ‘The Final Year’ (Exclusive)

5 hours ago

Magnolia Pictures has acquired worldwide rights to “The Final Year,” a behind-the-scenes look at Barack Obama’s foreign policy team, Variety has learned. The HBO documentary was directed by Greg Barker. It unfolds during the 44th president’s last year in office, following America’s top diplomats and political advisors as they grapple with the rise of Isis, try to hammer out a nuclear deal with Iran, and attempt to bring attention to the issue of global warming. The film profiles several key members of Obama’s staff, including Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, Deputy National Security Adviser and presidential confidant Ben Rhodes, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and President Obama himself.

The movie had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival before screening at the BFI London Film Festival. It will next show as the opening night selection of Doc NYC on Nov. 9. Magnolia plans to »


- Brent Lang

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Lumière Festival: Le CiNéMa Club’s CEO Marie-Louise Khondji on Financing a Free VOD Player and Online Collection Curation

13 hours ago

Lyon – In town for a panel on VOD and streaming platforms at this year’s Lumière Festival is Le CiNéMa Club, www.lecinemaclub.com, a web-based streaming-platform for classic and under-represented films.

A streaming-platform at a festival is not necessarily anything to write home about, but this site is rare , particularly when it comes to its cost – a royal $0 annually.

Le CiNéMa Club uploads one film a week each week, and takes it down the next. Each film streamed can be watched at anytime, from nearly anywhere on the planet with a WiFi signal.

The screened films feature articles with extensive background information on the film and its director. The selected films vary in genre, length and format, but frequently showcase new filmmakers or less-known works from established directors. Typically short films are showcased, but in the past the site has also streamed documentaries, features and on occasion experimental cinema.

Another feature »


- Jamie Lang

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France’s UniversCine Offers Much More Than Standard Streaming and Disc-in-a-Box DVDs

13 hours ago

Lyon — In 2015, vinyl sales went up 53% to hit a 25-year-high, whatever the low base, while this year physical book sales have overtaken digital. In the world of film, there are still plenty of people who want physical copies of their content, especially if it’s packaged the right way. France’s UniversCine has come up with a new way of satisfying that sector of the market, while continuing to cash in on digital.

In Lyon to represent the company at the Lumière Festival are UniversCine and Blaq Out CEO Jean-Yves Bloch, and head of editions Charles Hembert. The two sister-companies are looking to update the ways that French audiences access classic, arthouse, documentary, short-form and animated films.

In the digital distribution business for nearly 15 years, UniversCine has navigated the ever-changing markets facing digital distributors.

“We’ve spent the last three years renovating and updating our platforms, because we’ve seen a shift in the digital market from transactional »


- Jamie Lang

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‘Wonderstruck’ Director Todd Haynes Emphasizes Importance of Film’s Score: It’s ‘Almost a Character’

13 hours ago

Todd Haynes’ latest film “Wonderstruck” opened at the Los Angeles Theatre in Downtown L.A. Tuesday. The unusually warm October evening was graced by director Haynes, as well as stars Oakes Fegley and Jaden Michael, screenwriter Brian Selznick, executive producer and costume designer Sandy Powell, and composer Carter Burwell. Julianne Moore and newcomer Millicent Simmonds, who also star in the film, were unable to attend.

Based on the novel also written by Selznick, “Wonderstruck” flips between two narratives in separate eras — the 1920s and 1970s. Simmonds and Fegley portray Rose and Ben (respectively), two deaf children who embark on distinctive, personal journeys in New York City. The Los Angeles Theatre was decorated to reflect both eras, with ushers dressed as either flappers or ‘70s socialites. Kettle corn and old fashioned sodas were also served during the screening.

Seldom does Hollywood see screenplays adapted from a novel written by the novelist himself. However, Selznick »


- Arya Roshanian

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Lumière Festival: Bertrand Tavernier on His Lifelong Love of Classic Westerns

13 hours ago

This year’s 9th Lumière Festival includes a section dedicated to classic American Westerns, selected by French helmer Bertrand Tavernier (“The French Minister”), who is also curating a collection of books dedicated to the genre, published by Actes Sud.

The fourteen films to be screened span the period between 1943 and 1962, including titles such as William A. Wellman’s “The Ox-Bow Incident” (1943), John Ford’s “My Darling Clementine” (1946), Howard Hawks’ “Red River” (1948), Delmer Daves’ “Broken Arrow” (1950), King Vidor’s “Man Without a Star” (1955) and John Ford’s “The Man who Shot Liberty Valance” (1962).

Tavernier will personally present each film. He has been a fan of American Westerns since he was a teenager and became an avid reader of Western novels as soon as he learned how to read English, in his early twenties.

Through this section and also a book collection published by Actes Sud, Tavernier is paying his own personal tribute to this quintessentially American genre. He is »


- Martin Dale

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Elizabeth Olsen, Jane Rosenthal Demand Justice for Sexual Assault Victims at Chanel Tribeca Lunch

16 hours ago

“So I don’t know about all of you, but I’m having a Howard Beale moment,” said Tribeca EnterprisesJane Rosenthal to the women in film who gathered at Locanda Verde on Tuesday for the third annual Tribeca Chanel Through Her Lens Women’s Filmmaker Program lunch. “Like the character Peter Finch plays in ‘Network,’ I’m mad as hell.”

And, as an increasing number of women come forward with stories of sexual assault and misconduct by Harvey Weinstein and other males in the industry, Rosenthal isn’t alone in her anger.

“I was surprised and not as surprised,” Elizabeth Olsen, who’s volunteered at the Rape Treatment Center, told Variety, “because I’m around women and children who’ve been sexually assaulted every week. I think we have a really insane epidemic, and it’s amazing to hear women who feel comfortable or safe enough to speak out.” She hopes it »


- Jasmin Rosemberg

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Bill Pullman Doubles His Treasure at the Woodstock Film Festival

18 hours ago

During the Woodstock Film Festival’s Maverick Awards ceremony on Saturday night (Oct. 14), actor Bill Pullman graciously received an honorary award for Excellence In Acting and, as if on cue, allowed the trophy to fall to the floor and break in half. Holding up the pieces of his broken prize, Pullman quipped, “Oh my God, I’ve got two awards tonight!”

Maverick gestures aside, Pullman was also in Woodstock for the featured film “The Ballad of Lefty Brown,” an old-fashioned western drama, in which he stars. It screened at the Woodstock Playhouse for an enthusiastic crowd.

For the 2017 edition of the self-declared “fiercely independent” fest, currently in its 18th year and held Oct. 10 through 15, the programming was eco-friendly, class-conscious, gender-aware and racially sensitive — a fitting environment for the handful of host towns surrounding the area.

The Best Narrative Feature award went to the surreal comedy “Infinity Baby,” which was directed by Bob Byington and stars Kieran Culkin, [link »


- Mitch Myers

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