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‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ Gets China Release Date

1 hour ago

Chinese authorities have given an Aug. 25 release date to Luc Besson’s sci-fi epic “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.”

EuropaCorp’s “Valerian” will be one of the first imported films allowed into China following the usual summer blackout period. A rep for the company confirmed the date to Variety. An official announcement is expected to come later this week.

“Valerian” flopped in its U.S. opening, debuting to $17 million, and caused the Paris-based company’s stock value to slide.

The film was released in 16 international markets, where it took in $25 million. It opened on Wednesday in Besson’s home territory of France with $3.7 million with 375,400 admissions on 970 screens for the second-highest first day of the year.

China’s Fundamental Films has invested as much as $50 million in “Valerian,” an adaptation of the French comic series.

The movie stars Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as 28th century special agents preventing the destruction of the universe »


- Dave McNary

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Sundance Next Fest to Include Conversations with Ava DuVernay, Larry Wilmore

1 hour ago

Ava DuVernay and Larry Willmore have been added to the lineup of Sundance Next Fest, which runs Aug. 10-13 at Los Angeles’ Theatre at Ace Hotel. Conversations between talented filmmakers, music video world premieres and three female comedians as hosts are part of the slate.

On Aug. 12, DuVernay will join “Gook” director Justin Chon in conversation after a 4 p.m. screening of the film. America Ferrera, executive producer of “Gente-fied,” will talk with the series’s director, creator and co-writer Marvin Lemus, co-writer Linda Yvette Chavez and producer Aaliyah Williams after a noon screening of all seven episodes of the new series.

Wilmore will join directors Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles on Aug. 13 for a conversation following the screening of “Dina,” a new documentary about an unconventional relationship. Peter Bogdanovich will be in conversation with filmmaker Alex Ross Perry following the 4 p.m. screening of “Golden Exits.”

In addition to musical performances by Lizzo, Electric Guest »


- Erin Nyren

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Taylor Sheridan Waited to Prove Himself as a Storyteller Before Directing ‘Wind River’

3 hours ago

After a long journey to the big screen, “Wind River” made its way to The Theatre at Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday. Writer-director Taylor Sheridan was joined at the premiere by Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner, Jon Bernthal, and Gil Birmingham.

The Weinstein Company’s “Wind River” made its debut earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival to positive reviews, and eventually made its way to Cannes, where Sheridan won best director in the Un Certain Regard sidebar. In his first directorial effort in six years — after he helmed his first film: the little-known 2011 microbudget indie-horror “Vile” — Sheridan describes his process as a “constant evolution.”

“Once I finished ‘Sicario,’ I knew I wanted to follow it up with ‘Hell or High Water,’” Sheridan said. “It’s something I’ve been waiting for, and have been patient with, until I had proven myself as a storyteller and [been] trusted with the responsibility.”

The »


- Arya Roshanian

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Robert Pattinson Says He Was Almost Fired From ‘Twilight’ for Not Smiling Enough

3 hours ago

The enigmatic Robert Pattinson was surprisingly open during a recent interview with Howard Stern.

Pattinson went on Stern’s Sirius Xm show Tuesday to promote his movie “Good Time,” during which he discussed his breakout role as brooding vampire Edward Cullen in the “Twilight” series.

In the interview, Pattinson revealed he almost got fired for how seriously he took the role. Pattinson said he tapped into the book’s perspective — where Cullen has a very dark demeanor and sees himself as a monster — a little too much, and envisioned a different relationship between his character and human teenager Bella Swan, portrayed by Kristen Stewart.

Related

Film Review: Robert Pattinson in ‘Good Time

“If you’re going into a relationship with someone, the way to make it really intense is if you can barely talk to each other, you can barely touch each other, it’s incredibly serious all the time,” he told Stern. »


- Rebecca Rubin

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Film Review: ‘The Emoji Movie’

3 hours ago

If you’re going to build an animated film around a concept that’s dumb, flat, goofy, and obvious, and maybe a tad corrupt in its cartoon-to-toy-box opportunism, then you could probably do worse than the idea behind “The Emoji Movie.” On the one hand, it has the feeling of scraping — as in, we’ve had Trolls, Smurfs, and Lego, now here come the funny-faced “expressive” ideograms on your smartphone. What’s next: “Automated Siri Voice When You’re Put On Hold: The Movie”?

Yet let’s come out and admit that the notion of a digitally animated feature that brings emojis to life does have its hokey-irresistible side. It goes right back to the feeling you had the first time you ever used an emoji — not ironically, but because you saw that it was tapping your inner child in a way that was kind of cool, especially when you realized that yes, you »


- Owen Gleiberman

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‘Kong: Skull Island’ Stomps to No. 1 on Home-Video Charts

3 hours ago

Warner’s “Kong: Skull Island” debuted at No. 1 on the Npd VideoScan First Alert sales chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc chart the week ended July 23.

The latest “King Kong” reboot earned $168 million at the domestic box office and links the famous ape to another reboot, 2014’s “Godzilla,” setting up a movie scheduled for 2020 in which the two mega-monsters fight.

In fact, a Walmart-exclusive Blu-ray two-pack of “Kong: Skull Island” and “Godzilla” was No. 10 on the Blu-ray chart.

“Kong” pushed the previous week’s top seller, Universal Pictures’ “The Fate of the Furious,” to No. 2 on both charts.

Rising to No. 3 on both charts, from the sixth spot the previous week, was Warner’s “The Lego Batman Movie” in its sixth week on disc.

Rounding out the overall top five were Sony Pictures’ “Smurfs: The Lost Village” at No. 4 and Walt Disney Studios’ live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast” at »


- John Latchem

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‘Godfather’ Producer Al Ruddy, Good Films Team on World War II Drama (Exclusive)

3 hours ago

Good Films is partnering with Al Ruddy on a movie based on the World War II novel “In the Hours of the Night,” Variety has learned.

Ruddy won Academy Awards for best picture for 1972’s “The Godfather” and 2004’s “Million Dollar Baby.” He will produce through his Albert S. Ruddy Productions.

“In the Hours of the Night” is being adapted by Chris Starr from the William Bradford Huie novel, set in 1945 in the weeks after the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. The story centers on a man thrown into a military psychiatric hospital to save him from himself and to save America from a breach of Q-clearance — the highest security clearance available — after the dropping of the bombs, of which he was instrumental in developing.

Good Films managing director Miriam Segal said, “Al Ruddy is an icon whose legendary films range from the Academy Award-winning pictures ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Million Dollar Baby,’ to »


- Dave McNary

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Jon Hamm-Rosamund Pike Thriller ‘High Wire Act’ Lands at Bleecker Street

4 hours ago

Bleecker Street has nabbed U.S. distribution rights to “High Wire Act.”

The political thriller stars “Mad Men’s” Jon Hamm as a top diplomat on a dangerous mission in Lebanon. Rosamund Pike, who turned heads with her Oscar-nominated turn in “Gone Girl,” portrays a CIA operative. The film is directed by Brad Anderson (“The Call”) and boasts a script by Tony Gilroy (“Michael Clayton”).

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Toronto Film Festival Lineup Includes Movies From Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Alexander Payne

“Brad’s film is the kind of adult thriller a smarthouse audience craves,” said Bleecker Street CEO Andrew Karpen. “It’s tense, personal, and well-crafted right through its final heart-pounding moments.”

The film is produced by Mike Weber of Radar Pictures, Gilroy, and Shivani Rawat and Monica Levinson of ShivHans Pictures. Executive producers are Ted Field and Steve Saeta. The cast includes Dean Norris, Mark Pellegrino, Larry Pine, Shea Whigham, Alon Moni Aboutboul, Idir Chender, »


- Brent Lang

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Migrant Worker Drama ‘Lupe Under the Sun’ Acquired by Cinema Slate (Exclusive)

4 hours ago

Cinema Slate has acquired all North American rights to Rodrigo Reyes’ migrant worker drama “Lupe Under the Sun” and plans a winter theatrical release, Variety has learned exclusively.

Lupe Under the Sun” is described by filmmakers as a neorealist parable of an aging migrant worker living in California who longs to return to his home country of Mexico. The film won the Best Narrative Feature Film award at the 2017 Brooklyn Film Festival and a Special Mention from the Los Angeles Film Festival World Fiction Jury.

The movie is a Grumpy Squared Production, produced by Su Kim, Inti Cordera, Justin Chin and Pablo Mondragón. The executive producer is Pau Brunet.

The film was made with the support of the Canon Filmmaker Award from Film Independent and the Mexican Film Institute.

Lupe Under the Sun” was made with a cast of nonprofessional actors, real farmworkers and authentic locations.

Lupe, played by Daniel Muratalla, is »


- Dave McNary

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Nick Offerman to Star in Music Drama ‘Hearts Beat Loud’ With Kiersey Clemons

4 hours ago

Nick Offerman will star in Brett Haley’s upcoming musical drama “Hearts Beat Loud” opposite Kiersey Clemons.

Park Pictures, Burn Later Productions, and Houston King Productions also announced on Thursday that Ted Danson, Sasha Lane, Blythe Danner, and Toni Collette are also joining the cast. Clemons will play the daughter of Offerman’s character as they form a songwriting team during the  summer before she leaves for college.

Hearts Beat Loud” will include four original songs and a score by Keegan DeWitt. Offerman and Clemons will both sing in the film.

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‘The Flash’ Actress Kiersey Clemons to Star in Drama ‘Hearts Beat Loud’ (Exclusive)

The movie will be produced by Houston King, Sam Bisbee, and Sam Slater. The executive producers include Franklin Carson, Paul Bernon, David Bernon, Theodora Dunlap, Jackie Kelman Bisbee, Lance Acord, Danny Rifkin, Frank Brenner, and Offerman. Amy Jarvela and Rowan Riley are co-producing.

The drama will shoot in New York City in »


- Dave McNary

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Czech Locations, Stages Give ‘Hamlet’ Reimagining ‘Ophelia’ a Medieval Look

5 hours ago

The recently wrapped film “Ophelia,” a reimagining of “Hamlet” told from the perspective of one of its most ambivalent and least understood characters, gives its title character “more dimension and gravitas than she was afforded in Shakespeare’s original story,” says director Claire McCarthy.

The feature — the first to be completed by indie production, finance and sales outfit Covert Media — brings Ophelia, Hamlet’s love interest whose internal conflicts drive her to madness, to the forefront of the story. The movie was filmed in the Czech Republic at historical locations and in re-created medieval interiors at Barrandov Studios in Prague. Daisy Ridley plays Ophelia as a secret confidante and favorite of Naomi WattsQueen Gertrude. George MacKay (“Captain Fantastic”) plays Hamlet.

But it’s the devious Claudius (Clive Owen) who turns the Danish court from a place of beauty and grace — at least in the eyes of Ophelia — into a web of lies soon to be strewn »


- Will Tizard

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New ‘It’ Trailer: Pennywise the Clown Rears Its Menacing Head (Watch)

5 hours ago

The new trailer for New Line’s horror movie “It” includes plenty of Stephen King’s iconic clown Pennywise — starting with him reaching out of a sewer to offer a kid his lost paper boat. “Here … take it,” the clown smiles.

The trailer, released Thursday, starts with shots of the fictional small town of Derry, Maine, with a chilling voiceover from a boy.

“When you’re a kid, you think the universe revolves around you and that you’ll always be protected,” he intones. “You don’t know the monsters are getting closer until it’s too late.”

The trailer includes a missing child poster on a phone pole and Pennywise standing in a room full of clown dolls and coming after one of the children.

The New Line film, from “Mama” director Andy Muschietti, stars “Hemlock Grove” actor Bill Skarsgard as the evil clown Pennywise. Some of the terrorized children include “Stranger Things” star Finn Wolfhard, “Midnight Special »


- Dave McNary

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‘Patti Cake$’ Star Danielle Macdonald on Learning to Rap for Sundance Film

5 hours ago

Danielle Macdonald found her niche appearing in suburban-themed TV movies and series like “The Rachels,” “The Middle” and “The Valley.” But the Sundance film “Patti Cake$” took the Australian actress out of her comfort zone and challenged her to build up her rapping skills to take on the role of Patricia Dombrowski, an unlikely hip-hop talent.

How did you prepare to play a rap star like Patti Cake$? 

It was just time and practice and faking confidence until you somehow just do it. I had to get over my own fears or insecurities because learning a new skill is always difficult, and having to perform that like you’ve been doing it your whole life was intimidating. I think listening to a lot of different songs and just doing them alone in my car or my closet when no one could hear me really helped.

What drew you to the role? 

They »


- Dixie Limbachia

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Matt Damon Goes After Gangsters in First Trailer for George Clooney’s ‘Suburbicon’

5 hours ago

Matt Damon’s life is falling apart in the violence-laden trailer for the 1950s dark comedy “Suburbicon,” in which his buttoned-down character deals with the mob.

Paramount’s trailer opens by presenting Suburbicon as a peaceful suburban community with affordable homes and manicured lawns — “a town of great wonder and excitement built with the promise of prosperity for all,” a promotional clip promises.

But Damon’s Gardner Lodge has to descend into the town’s dark side to deal with mobsters after his wife is murdered over some unspecified debt. He’s punched in the face by a mobster and reaches the breaking point after they go after his son.

Related

Venice Lineup: Aronofsky’s ‘Mother!’ Lands on the Lido, Plus Films by Clooney, Del Toro, Kechiche

“These animals took everything from us,” he tells his sister-in-law, played by Julianne Moore.

Damon’s character then murders someone in the street in the middle of the night, but »


- Dave McNary

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Dogwoof Picks Up Venice-Bound Documentary ‘This Is Congo’ for Worldwide Sales (Exclusive)

6 hours ago

London-based sales outfit Dogwoof has picked up the documentary “This Is Congo,” which will have its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, for worldwide sales.

The BBC has already bought British television rights to the film, which looks at the deadly ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo through the eyes of four people, described as a whistleblower, a patriotic military commander, a mineral dealer, and a displaced tailor. The conflict has stretched across two decades and claimed millions of lives but has escaped the attention of many in the West.

This Is Congo” was unveiled Thursday as one of the seven titles in the Venice Film Festival’s nonfiction section, along with other documentaries such as “The Exorcist” director William Friedkin’s look at real-life exorcism in “The Devil and Father Amorth.”

This Is Congo” is directed by Daniel McCabe and produced by McCabe, Geoff McLean, and Alyse Ardell Spiegel. »


- Henry Chu

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Oscars: Venice, Telluride, Toronto Lineups Provide Awards Season Snapshot

6 hours ago

As it does every July, just after the Comic-Con dust has settled and the year’s third quarter begins barreling toward a close, the fall festival landscape is coming into focus, providing an Oscar season snapshot before we dive headlong into the fray.

Announcements emanating from Venice, Telluride, Colo., Toronto, New York, and London have signaled the starting gun as studios jockey to best position their prestige product — with an eye toward leveraging the awards circuit, of course.

Kicking things off will be the Venice Film Festival on Aug. 30 and the world premiere of Alexander Payne’s “Downsizing,” news of which was broken by Variety. That early drop ought to help rip the band-aid off the film’s bizarre logline — a man agrees to have himself physically shrunk in order to live out the rest of his days in one of many government-subsidized mini-resorts — and set Paramount’s central player up for a run at the gold »


- Kristopher Tapley

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Amazon Moves Into Self-Distribution With Woody Allen’s ‘Wonder Wheel’ (Exclusive)

7 hours ago

Amazon is moving into self-distributing its own movies, putting it on the path to becoming a full-fledged film studio.

The company will release Woody Allen’s “Wonder Wheel” without bringing in a distribution partner. The film opens in theaters on Dec. 1, 2017, and is expected to be an Oscar contender.

Amazon began buying and producing films in 2015, working with filmmakers such as Whit Stillman and Spike Lee, and earning Academy Awards for last year’s “Manchester By the Sea” and “The Salesman.” However, it has relied on independent studios such as Bleecker Street, Roadside Attractions, and Lionsgate to bring its film to theaters.

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Amazon, Retail Behemoth, Taking Smaller Steps Into Hollywood

With their deep pockets and big ambitions, Amazon and Netflix have upended the film distribution landscape, although they have taken different approaches. Netflix is solely focused on servicing its streaming service subscribers. Amazon believes in premiering movies in theaters before offering them on its Prime digital »


- Brent Lang

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‘Wonder Woman’s’ Chris Pine, Patty Jenkins to Reteam on TNT Series ‘One Day She’ll Darken’

7 hours ago

After delivering a smash hit with “Wonder Woman,” director Patty Jenkins and star Chris Pine will re-team on the new TNT drama series “One Day She’ll Darken.”

TNT has given a green light a straight-to-series order with Jenkins attached to direct the pilot and potentially additional episodes. Pine is attached to star in all six episodes.

Sam Sheridan, author of “A Fighter’s Heart and The Disaster Diaries” is set to write the six-episode series, inspired by the autobiography of Fauna Hodel. The series is being produced by Turner’s Studio T, with Jenkins, Michael Sugar, Sheridan and Pine serving as executive producers. Plans are to shoot the show this fall.

“One Day She’ll Darken” tells the story of Hodel who was given away by her teenage birth mother to a black restroom attendant in a Nevada casino in 1949. As Hodel begins to investigate the secrets to her past, she »


- Justin Kroll

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French Producers, Vet Industry Players Partner Up to Form Zorg Studios (Exclusive)

9 hours ago

Paris – Gaspard de Chavagnac, the former boss of Zodiak Media France and FremantleMedia, has come on board Zorg Studios, a Paris-based production banner recently launched by a pair of independent producers, Erwan Marinopoulos (“Les Geeks”) and Edouard Duprey (“I Kissed a Girl”).

With offices in Paris and London, Zorg Studios also counts Romain Bessi, the former COO of Studiocanal, as a member of its strategic board.

Zorg Studios is currently developing five to six high-concept genre projects, all of which will be shot in English.

The company’s mandate is to emulate the model of Blumhouse, focusing on “tightly budgeted, concept-driven movies which can click with young audiences,” said Marinopoulos, who launched his own banner Skits in 2009 and produced the hit series “Les Geeks,” among other series aimed at teen audiences.

“We want to create a European-style Blumhouse, focusing on original stories set against European backdrops which range from the Versailles Palace to black sand beaches in »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Venice Lineup: Aronofsky’s ‘Mother!’ Lands on the Lido, Plus Films by Clooney, Del Toro, Kechiche

12 hours ago

Rome – Darren Aronofsky’s horror thriller “Mother!” and new films by George Clooney and Guillermo del Toro will world premiere at the 74th Venice Film Festival, along with hotly anticipated titles from directors such as France’s Abdellatif Kechiche.

Aronofsky’s “Mother!”, which stars Jennifer Lawrence, had not been expected on the Lido. The horror film is scheduled for release in the U.S. on Sept. 15.

As previously reported by Variety, Clooney’s “Suburbicon” (pictured), a black comedy starring Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Josh Brolin, and Oscar Isaac, will launch from the Lido. The film is one of three Paramount titles destined for Venice, along with “Mother!” and festival opener “Downsizing” by Alexander Payne. All three movies will also screen in Toronto.

In “Suburbicon,” Damon plays the father in a well-to-do suburban family that finds itself caught in a violent spiral. The actor also stars in “Downsizing,” a social satire in which his character agrees to have »


- Nick Vivarelli

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