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Shirley MacLaine Joins Anna Kendrick in Female Santa Claus Movie ‘Nicole’ (Exclusive)

59 minutes ago

Shirley MacLaine has signed on to join Anna Kendrick in Disney’s female Santa Claus film “Nicole,” sources tell Variety.

Bill Hader and Billy Eichner are also on board. “Miss Congeniality” scribe Marc Lawrence is directing and writing the script.

The movie revolves around Santa’s daughter, presumably the titular Nicole, who is forced to take over the family business when her father retires and brother ends up getting cold feet prior to his first big Christmas Eve flight. MacLaine will play Elf Polly who was Nicole’s nanny and helped raise her all of her life.

Suzanne Todd is producing, while Louie Provost is overseeing the project for Disney. Production is expected to start sometime this fall. The film hits theaters on Nov. 8, 2019.

While this movie is not related to Disney’s “The Santa Clause” trilogy starring Tim Allen, the studio seems to be in the Kris Kringle business, as »


- Justin Kroll

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San Sebastián: Brillante Mendoza Produces Daniel Palacio Debut ‘Underground’

1 hour ago

San Sebastian — Brillante Mendoza, Cannes’ 2009 best director for “Kinatay,” will be premiering a new film at this year’s San Sebastian Film Festival –  only this time he will be acting as executive producer. The Philippines most respected filmmaker, Mendoza and his company Center Stage Productions, are backing first-time feature director Daniel R. Palacio’s drama, “Underground.”

In the Philippines, cemeteries are built above-ground, where the graves are stacked on top of each other which form walls that create a labyrinth-like effect. Within those grim walls, the countries homeless often co-habit alongside their deceased counterparts inside unvisited mausoleums. It is in just such a setting that Palacio first was inspired to write the script for “Underground.”

The film starts as a family drama, then quickly turns into a heist movie, all the while making religious and political commentary. The film focuses on a family of three, father Bangis, Mother Barbie and sickly daughter Ningning, who »


- Jamie Lang

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San Sebastián: Director Ira Opper Discusses Savage Cinema Title ‘Secrets of Desert Point’

1 hour ago

San Sebastian — You would be hard pressed to find a more respectful regard towards action-sports films than the San Sebastian’s Savage Cinema program. Each year, the industry’s biggest game changers make their way to the shores of the Bay of Biscay and screen for cinephiles and industry professionals alike. This year, surf-history will be on display when surf filmmaking legend Ira Opper ’s ethnographic documentary, “Secrets of Desert Point” receives itsEuropean premiere on Wednesday.

The film is a composition of interviews, highlight reels and a classic “dirtbag” story that would almost certainly never happen today. Most of the footage was recorded by William and Bill Heick from the mid ’70s through the start of the ’80s. The film documents a bygone era in surfing when the sport was a counter culture movement and relegated largely to the fringes of polite society.

William Heick was a classic photographer who trained at the California School of Fine »


- Jamie Lang

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Kaya Scodelario, Josh Hutcherson to Star in Action-Romance ‘Die in a Gunfight’

1 hour ago

Kaya Scodelario, Josh Hutcherson, Olivia Munn, and Helen Hunt are starring in the action-romance “Die in a Gunfight” as an update on William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

The Mark Gordon Company is producing the film, with photography set to begin next month in Boston. Collin Schiffli will direct the film. His 2014 movie “Animals” won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2014 SXSW Film Festival.

Producers are Tom Butterfield, Mark Gordon and Allyson Seeger of Sunday Night. Sara Smith of Mark Gordon Company will be an executive producer.

Scodelario and Hutcherson will play the star-crossed lovers who share an eagerness to break from the confines of their lives that fuels their passion for each other and leads to an all-out struggle for their love against a backdrop of corporate espionage, revenge, and a long-standing feud between their families. Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari, who teamed on Marvel’s upcoming “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” wrote the screenplay. »


- Dave McNary

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Tahra Grant Promoted to Replace Jean Guerin as Sony Svp, Media Relations

2 hours ago

Sony Pictures on Monday announced two changes in its corporate communications office, announcing that Jean Guerin, senior vice president, media relations for Sony’s motion picture group will leave the studio at the end of October and be replaced by Tahra Grant.

Grant, who will report to Bob Lawson, joined Sony more than a year ago from Rubenstein, the New York-based communications agency where she served as a vice president in the entertainment division. There she handled communications for clients that included the Tribeca Film Festival, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Orchard.

Since joining Sony, the film division has been Grant’s main area of focus. “As such, she is well-positioned to ensure a smooth transition, without interruption to our day-to-day activities, and to lead our corporate communications efforts in the film group moving forward,” Lawson wrote in the staffing announcement. Guerin, he said, “has been a terrific colleague and partner throughout some of the studio’s »


- Ricardo Lopez

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‘Clifford the Big Red Dog’ Movie Fetches New Director

2 hours ago

Walt Becker will direct Paramount Pictures’ live-action/CG hybrid movie adaptation of “Clifford the Big Red Dog.”

The studio began developing the project last year when it hired Justin Malen to pen the screenplay about the 25-foot-tall dog. Ellen Rapoport is re-writing the script.

Silvertongue FilmsDeborah Forte will produce the film, based on Scholastic’s book series by Norman Bridwell. Jared Mass is overseeing the project for Paramount.

The first book centered on a young girl who received a red puppy for her birthday that grew to be 25 feet tall. It was published by Scholastic in 1963, leading to more than 60 titles and 127 million copies in print. Clifford is Scholastic’s official mascot.

Scholastic produced the “Clifford the Big Red Dog” TV series, which which originally aired on PBS Kids from 2000 to 2003. The “Clifford the Big Red Dog” movie had been in development at Universal for several years with the studio announcing in 2014 that it would be »


- Dave McNary

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Alicia Vikander’s ‘Tomb Raider’ Fights to Top of Social Media Charts

4 hours ago

Alicia Vikander’s “Tomb Raider” easily topped social media buzz last week with 54,000 new conversations in the wake of the movie’s first trailer, according to media-measurement firm comScore and its PreAct service.

Warner Bros. released a teaser and poster on Sept. 18, followed by the action-packed trailer the next day, and a featurette on Sept. 20. The trailer made Croft’s mission clear: “Close the tomb once and for all.”

Roar Uthaug directed the movie based on a script by Geneva Robertson-Dworet. Daniel Wu and Dominic West also star. The film is adapted from a popular video game. Angelina Jolie played the character in two movies — 2001’s “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” and the sequel, “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.” The reboot opens on March 16.

Related

Alicia Vikander Is Lara Croft in First Trailer for ‘Tomb Raider’ (Watch)

Disney-Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok” generated nearly 40,000 new conversations last week as the studio released an Imax poster on »


- Dave McNary

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Dylan O’Brien Returns to ‘Maze Runner’ Franchise in First ‘Death Cure’ Trailer (Watch)

5 hours ago

Salvation is the dominant theme in the action-packed trailer for “Maze Runner: The Death Cure.”

In the trailer, Dylan O’Brien’s character (Thomas) and his allies attempt to break into the Last City via train.

“You can’t save everyone,” he’s told by one of his friends.

“I can try,” he replies.

Later in the trailer, O’Brien has a confrontation with Patricia Clarkson’s cold-blooded Ava Paige character, who also tells him that he can either save his friends or he can save everyone.

Fox released the new trailer Monday, four months ahead of its Jan. 26 release. The film has been pushed back a year due to the need for O’Brien to recover from his March, 2016 injuries after an on-set car accident.

The movie — the third in the Maze Runner trilogy — is directed by Wes Ball. O’Brien’s character is on a mission to find a cure to the “Flare,” a »


- Dave McNary

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‘The Princess Bride’ Turns 30: Rob Reiner, Robin Wright, Billy Crystal Dish About Making the Cult Classic

7 hours ago

It’s no secret “The Princess Bride” was not a box office success when it opened in 1987. And it’s also no secret that thanks to home video, cable, DVD, and now Blu-ray, the charmingly funny fractured fairy tale directed by Rob Reiner and adapted by William Goldman from his 1973 novel, has become part of the cultural landscape.

Stars Chris Sarandon, Cary Elwes, and Wallace Shawn once did a Q&A after a screening for an audience of 5,000 people. Rabid fans approached the stars reciting their lines — especially Mandy Patinkin’s “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die,” and Shawn’s “Inconceivable.” Even Ted Cruz reenacted the hilarious scene featuring Billy Crystal as Miracle Max and Carol Kane as his wife Valerie during the 2016 presidential campaign.

But did you know the film once saved a woman’s life?

“Honestly, I’m not making this up,” said Reiner. »


- Susan King

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‘The Princess Bride’ 30th Anniversary: Cast Then and Now

7 hours ago

With “The Princess Bride” turning 30, we look back at the cast of the film then and now.

Related stories'The Princess Bride' Turns 30: Rob Reiner, Robin Wright, Billy Crystal Dish About Making the Cult Classic'The Birds,' 'The Lion King,' 'Thelma & Louise' Join National Film RegistryAndre The Giant Biopic in the Works (Exclusive) »


- Jacob Bryant

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Korea Box Office: ‘I Can Speak’ Leads Weekend

7 hours ago

Local comedy, “I Can Speak” debuted on top of the South Korean box office after a Thursday release. The indie picture earned $5.18 million from 727,000 admissions over four days, and accounted for 46% of the weekend box office.

Produced by Myung Films, the Kim Hyun-seok film sees the story of an elderly woman who befriends a junior civil servant as she files complaints with the local government.

Showbox’s “Memoir of a Murderer” slipped to second. It earned $1.6 million from 215,00 admissions between Friday and Sunday for $17.7 million after three weekends on release.

Sony’s “Baby Driver” dropped to third, earning $1.16 million for a total of $5.21 million after two weekends. Despite a drop of 53%, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” jumped to fourth from the previous week’s fifth, as “American Made” suffered a steeper 81% drop. “Bodyguard” earned $429,000 for a total of $11.7 million after four weekends on release. “American Made” earned $301,000 for a cumulative of $2.71 million after two weekends.

“The »


- Sonia Kil

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Warner, Azure Partner for India Remake of ‘Infernal Affairs’

8 hours ago

Fledgling Mumbai-based production outfit Azure Entertainment and Warner Bros. India have announced a collaboration to jointly invest in and produce an Indian remake of classic Hong Kong crime thriller “Infernal Affairs.” The director and cast are yet to be finalized.

The 2002 original was directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak and was the first part of a trilogy. Martin Scorsese remade it as “The Departed” in 2006.

The project is the first of a two-picture deal to develop, produce and distribute titles from the Warner Bros. library for the Indian market.

Azure was set up by Sunir Kheterpal, who previously had stints with Adlabs-Reliance Entertainment and the Hinduja Group. It produced the Hindi-language remake of Korean film “The Man From Nowhere,” titled “Rocky Handsome.”

The company’s remake development slate includes deals with Rodar y Rodar for Spanish film “The Body,” Atresmedia for Spanish film “The Invisible Guest,” with Gaumont for French titles “Gang Story” and “Point Blank” and »


- Naman Ramachandran

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San Sebastián: Arnold Wants to Save The World Again, This Time for Real with Cousteau Doc ‘Wonders of the Sea 3D’

8 hours ago

San Sebastian – As the “Terminator” theme music played, assembled press scurried to the front of a packed hall to get photos of one of Europe’s greatest cinematic exports. Clean shaven with a smile a mile wide, Arnold Schwarzenegger, accompanied by the cast and crew of his most recent project, “Wonders of the Sea 3D,” took questions about their underwater documentary Monday afternoon.

If it ever seemed unlikely that a bodybuilder with a thick Austrian accent could become the most famous action star in the world, or that he would then become governor of the state of California, it must seem only slightly less so that he would be asked to be narrator on one of the biggest documentaries to screen at this year’s San Sebastián Film Festival.

It would be folly to insinuate that “Wonders of the Sea 3D,” the latest Cousteau documentary to come from the royal family of the aquatic kingdom, Schwarzenegger »


- Jamie Lang

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California Production Tax Credit Boosting Below-the-Line Work by 12% in 2016

9 hours ago

California’s below-the-line entertainment industry employees saw a 12% hike in hours worked in 2016, compared with 2014, the state’s film commission reported Monday.

The commission said the hike was due to the expansion of the state’s Film and Television Tax Credit Program, which is aimed at halting the erosion of California-based production to states with bigger incentives, such as Georgia and New York. The annual allocation was increased during the 2015-16 fiscal year from $100 million to $330 million, and applications are ranked on how many jobs they will produce, rather than being selected by lottery.

The report said the expanded Program 2.0 has attracted or retained 100 film and television projects generating an estimated $3.7 billion in direct in-state spending, including $1.4 billion in below-the-line wages.

“The encouraging short-term results we reported in last year’s annual report have evolved into sustained and very encouraging long-term results for Program 2.0,” said California Film Commission Executive Director Amy Lemisch. “The »


- Dave McNary

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Casey Affleck’s Production Company Signs Deal With Amazon Studios (Exclusive)

9 hours ago

Casey Affleck’s newly launched production company Sea Change Media has signed an exclusive first look deal with Amazon Studios, Variety has learned. It makes sense that Affleck’s banner would want to hang its hat with Amazon. The actor picked up an Oscar for best actor for his work in “Manchester by the Sea,” which Amazon bought out of Sundance and successfully pushed for awards attention.

The two-year deal will cover both film and television projects. Sea Change Media says it wants to back stores that shine a light on underrepresented voices. It goes on to say that its lodestar will be a “philosophy of inclusivity and collaboration.” Hollywood has been engulfed in a debate about the lack of films about women and people of color in recent years, so Sea Change Media is clearly looking to help promote more diversity in film and television. Whitaker Lader, who previously worked at the Sundance Institute, serves »


- Brent Lang

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Egyptian Director Amr Salama on ‘Iraqi Sniper,’ His Riposte to ‘American Sniper’

10 hours ago

Egyptian director Amr Salama has a bent for tackling hot-button issues that spring forth from his personal experiences. His most recent drama, “Sheikh Jackson,” is about a conservative Muslim cleric tormented by a burning passion for Michael Jackson. Now Salama is developing “Iraqi Sniper,” a riposte to “American Sniper” that’s intended to lend perspective to Mustafa, the Iraqi insurgent in Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning movie. Salama spoke to Variety during the inaugural edition of the El Gouna Film Festival in Egypt, where “Sheikh Jackson” was the opener following a Toronto bow.

Simply put, it sounds like with “Iraqi Sniper” you want to tell another side of the “American Sniper” story. Is that right?

I really hope from the bottom of my heart that this will be my next movie, but it’s actually one of several projects I have in the pipeline. And I want to make it very clear that it’s not an anti- »


- Nick Vivarelli

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Location Basque Country: Upcoming Basque Movies

14 hours ago

San Sebastian — The strength of the Basque industry as a potential co-production partner for Basque Country shoots will be seen, when push comes to shove, in its movies. Here, profiles of upcoming Basque movies whether playing this year’s San Sebastián Festival, in production or projects.

Advantages Of Traveling By Train

Pre-acquired by Entertainment One’s Seville International and co-produced by San Sebastian-based Señor y Señora and Madrid’s Morena Films “Advantages” marks the much-awaited feature debut of Aritz Moreno. Film –in pre-production– is penned by Javier Gullón (Denis Villeneuve’s “Enemy”) adapting Spain’s Antonio Orejudo novel.

Another Day Of Life

One of Europe’s most awaited animation films, the Indie Sales-sold “Day” revolves around the truth of war through the near-suicidal journey across Angola of Polish famed war reporter Ryszard Kapuściński. Raúl de la Fuente and Damian Nenow direct a hybrid animation-live action inspired by but not adapting the journalist’s first novel. Produced »


- Emilio Mayorga

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San Sebastián: Film Factory Entertainment Acquires ‘Black is Beltza’ (Exclusive)

15 hours ago

San Sebastian — Spain’s Film Factory has acquired international rights to Fermin Muguruza’s adult animation feature debut “Black is Beltza.”

The project will be offered to buyers at the Berlinale’s next European Film Market, Film Factory CEO Vicente Canales told Variety. A teaser will be screened at Berlin, where Muguruza has promised a “noteworthy” musical landing, as well.

“’Black is Beltza’ is very different for the Spanish adult animation scene so far, and originality is exactly what the market is demanding,” Canales said, adding that the project is perfectly suited for combining international theatrical releases with launches on digital platforms and VOD services.

Co-produced by Basque country Talka Records & Film and Catalonia’s Setmagic, “Beltza” will offer a colorful canvas of the 60’s counterculture era, kicking off in October 1965 when a group of giants and carnival heads –inspired by Pamplona’s 17th century parades– is invited to march down New York’s 5th Avenue on »


- Emilio Mayorga

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Location Basque Country: Some Key Locations

15 hours ago

San Sebastian — Bizkaia’s 10th century chapel of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, built on a rock in the sea, served as one of the real-life locations for Dragonstone, the home to Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) in Season 7 of “Game of Thrones.”

Over July to October 2016, production teams at HBO and Spanish services company Fresco Film established one of “Game of Thrones” production headquarters in Bilbao, also filming series’ scenes on the beaches of Muriola, in Bizkaia’s Barrika, and Itzuru, in Gipuzkoa’s Zumaia, which boasts a singular geo-park featuring Flysch rock formation.

ABC’s “The Bachelor” also filmed at San Juan de Gaztelugatxe this year.

High-profile international shoots in the Basque Country have some standout precedents. In the early ‘70s, Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen spent nearly a week in Hondarribia, a Gipuzkoan town near the French border, shooting Franklin J. Schaffner’s prison drama “Papillon.” Hondarribia, alongside San Sebastian and Zarauz, was »


- Emiliano De Pablos

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Location Basque Country: A Tale of Three Provinces

15 hours ago

San Sebastian — The three Basque provinces, Alava, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa, share green and mountainous landscapes and one of the more attractive tax credits in Spain: a 30% tax shelter for local film, TV and animated productions. Their respective film commissions are teaming to co-ordinate in joint actions for international promotion under the Film Basque Country umbrella. “We are not competitors but strategic allies,” says Bizkaia’s Bilbao city councilor Xabier Ochandiano. But there are some nuances in each territory’s film offer.

Alava

Vitoria, capital of the Basque Country, is re-launching its film office, as the big-screen adaptation of best-selling novel “El silencio de la ciudad blanca,” a benchmark for the city’s image, is scheduled to roll there by next year.

The feature adaptation of Eva García Sáenz de Urturi’s crime-thriller book, “El silencio” is produced by Atresmedia Cine, the powerful film arm of Spanish broadcaster Atresmedia, in partnership with Barcelona’s Rodar y Rodar (“The »


- Emiliano De Pablos

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