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‘Coco’ Edges ‘Justice League’ at Thanksgiving Day Box Office

6 hours ago

Disney-Pixar’s “Coco” topped Warner Bros.-DC Entertainment’s “Justice League” at the Thanksgiving Day box office by $400,000 with $8.9 million at 3,987 North American sites.

The animated musical has taken in $22.2 million in its first two days, while the superhero mashup grossed $18.9 million during the same period. Projections have shown that “Coco” will wind up the five-day Thanksgiving holiday with about $70 million during the Wednesday-Sunday period, beating  “Justice League” by about $10 million.

Coco” is performing significantly above pre-release forecasts, which had been in the $55 million to $60 million range. It received an A+ CinemaScore from moviegoers, indicating that the film could be lifted by strong word of mouth during the rest of the holidays.

On the same holiday weekend a year ago, Disney’s “Moana” scored $25.4 million on its first two days and went on to earn $82 million over the five days. That was the second-highest opening for the period, trailing only Disney’s “Frozen” at $93 million in 2013.

Directed »


- Dave McNary

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Singapore: ‘Scorpions’ Director Readies Third Film With Irrfan Khan (Exclusive)

23 hours ago

Top Indian director, Anup Singh is poised to reunite with star Irrfan Khan on “Lasya – The Gentle Dance.”

Singh’s “The Song of Scorpions,”, starring Khan, Golshifteh Farahani and Indian cinema legend Waheeda Rehman, is playing as a special presentation at the Singapore International Film Festival, part of the Singapore Media Festival. Singh’s previous film “Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost” also starred Khan.

“As with all film directors, I suppose, I have a few film scripts juggling in my head. I await the one that keeps flying in my imagination while the others steadily fall away,” Singh told Variety. “At the moment, that one seems to be my next film with Irrfan Khan. It will be my third film with him, a kind of conclusive trilogy bringing to some resolution, I hope, the themes that have been haunting me since “Qissa” and have continued to pursue me with “The Song of Scorpions.”

The film is »


- Naman Ramachandran

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Orange Poaches EuropaCorp’s Sales Exec Andreï Kamarowsky to Run Sales for New Film/TV Division

3 hours ago

Orange Studio has appointed Andreï Kamarowsky, former senior VP of international sales at EuropaCorp, to run sales for the French telco group’s new film/TV division.

The exec joins Orange Studio from EuropaCorp where he worked as senior VP of international sales since 2011.

He will report to David Kessler and Pascal Delarue, the co-managing directors of Orange Studio.

Kamarowsky is boarding Orange Studio at a pivotal moment. Under Kessler’s leadership, the company is getting ready to play a much bigger role in the film and TV landscapes in France and abroad.

The vertically-integrated banner, whose parent company Orange also operates pay TV channels Orange Cinema Series, signed a distribution deal a year ago with Ugc Images (a subsidiary of Europe’s second biggest cinema circuit) to kick off direct distribution in France under the label Orange Cinema Distribution. Meanwhile, Orange will also be distributing Ugc films starting in January.

As previously announced, »


- Elsa Keslassy

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‘Logan’ Director James Mangold Discusses His Early Career, Mentor Alexander Mackendrick

4 hours ago

James Mangold was first mentioned in Variety on June 30, 1982, when he won a $1,000 student prize for the sound on his film “Future View.” At California Institute of the Arts, he found a mentor in director Alexander Mackendrick (“The Ladykillers,” “Sweet Smell of Success”), who stressed the importance of character and story rather than “fine-art” film-school fanciness. It’s a lesson Mangold has used on all his films, including “Cop Land” (1997) “Walk the Line” (2005), “3:10 to Yuma” (2007) and his latest, “Logan,” a spinoff of the “X-Men” franchise. Still, Mangold convinced Fox to make “Logan” a film about real people, rather than a VFX green-screen extravaganza.

“Every tentpole seems to be about the end of the world. I felt the formula was tired,” he says. “I think even audiences are exhausted and certain aspects of storytelling have gotten monotonous.” Instead, he wanted to focus on a makeshift family and its members’ very human concerns.

The gamble »


- Tim Gray

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Uma Thurman Promises ‘More to Come’ in Fierce #MeToo Instagram

4 hours ago

Uma Thurman posted a Happy Thanksgiving message on Instagram in which she had some strong words for Harvey Weinstein and promised that she would have more to say about sexual harassment.

Using a still of herself from Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill,” she said “I said I was angry recently, and I have a few reasons, #metoo, in which you couldn’t tell by the look on my face.

“Happy Thanksgiving Everyone (except you Harvey, and all your wicked conspirators – I’m glad it’s going slowly – you don’t deserve a bullet.)

She said she feels it’s important to “take your time, be fair, be exact,” and then wrote “Stay tuned.”

In an interview from October, she appeared to be holding back barely suppressed rage.

“I don’t have a tidy sound bite for you,” she told the Access Hollywood interviewer. “So I’ve been waiting to feel less angry… and when I »


- Pat Saperstein

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‘Cuba and the Cameraman’ Documentary Captures Castro Era, Evolution of Video

4 hours ago

Participants in the personal video revolution of the 1970s will be thrilled as they watch the credits roll at the end of Jon Alpert’s documentary “Cuba and the Cameraman,” which debuts on Netflix and in theaters on Nov. 24.

Alpert, the pioneering journalist and filmmaker, has through the years reported from places like Vietnam, Cambodia, Iran, China and Afghanistan and has made films for broadcast networks PBS and HBO.

His latest project for Netflix encapsulates his travels to Cuba over five decades, during which he shot life on the island under Fidel Castro. He used portable technology that was in its infancy when he began and became more sophisticated over the years.

“This documentary is basically a museum of the entire evolution of electronic image-gathering.”

Jon Alpert

“The pot has been boiling for a long time, so to speak,” says Alpert. “We knew we wanted to make this film. I felt that it was an important mission »


- Valentina I. Valentini

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Mar del Plata: Argentina on the Rise – Gustavo Biazzi

6 hours ago

Mar Del Plata, Argentina — Lensed with a continuous verve from the first shot of the protagonist, Ernesto, running to catch his girlfriend at a viva at university, there’s hardly a shot in the first three-quarters of Gustavo Biazzi’s “Los Vagos” (“The Bums”) where Ernesto or the camera is not on the move, sometimes making highly technical demanding shots look easy. That of course is to be expected from one of Argentina’s most reputed young cinematographers, whose credits take in Santiago Mitre’s “The Student” and Cannes Critics’ Week winner “Paulina.” It also reflects the movie’s subject. On holiday in Misiones, Ernesto leaving behind his girlfriend from childhood, the high-achiever Paula, for a riverside holiday with his laddish friends back home. Together, they hit parties, chase girls, booze themselves into stupor, as Ernesto searches for he’s not sure what as an alternative to Paula. Produced by Santiago Carabante and La Union de los »


- John Hopewell

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‘Aladdin’ Turns 25: Creators on the Real Beginning of the Disney Renaissance

6 hours ago

Before Disney’s animated blockbuster “Aladdin” had its premiere in Japan, directors Ron Clements and John Musker were told not to worry if the audience didn’t laugh.

And it wasn’t because the Japanese performer who dubbed Robin Williams’ shape-shifting Genie didn’t capture the actor’s brilliant off-the-wall comedic performance.

“They tell you ahead of time, ‘don’t worry because the audience won’t laugh, because a Japanese audience doesn’t laugh,”’ noted Clements. “They just sit respectfully.”

But they did laugh at Genie, who turns into everybody from Ed Sullivan to William F. Buckley to former talk show host Arsenio Hall.

“Probably the biggest laugh in the whole screening was when he turned into Arsenio Hall and did his ‘Woof, woof, woof’ with his arm,” said Clements. “I was asking somebody afterward about that and why it got  such a big laugh. They said ‘Oh, we loved it when the Genie turned into Julia Roberts »


- Susan King

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Directors Call for Overhaul of Berlin Film Festival After Dieter Kosslick Departs

6 hours ago

A group of 79 German filmmakers including Maren Ade (“Tony Erdmann”), Fatih Akin (“In the Fade”) and Robert Schwentke (“The Captain”) has called for “a new start” for the Berlin Film Festival after longtime festival director Dieter Kosslick’s contract expires in 2019.

In an open letter published by Spiegel Online, the filmmakers recommend the formation of a gender-balanced international selection committee charged with finding Kosslick’s successor and weighing fundamental changes to the event.

“The goal must be to find an outstanding curatorial personality who is passionate about cinema, well-connected internationally and capable of leading the festival into the future on an equal footing with Cannes and Venice,” the letter read. “We want a transparent procedure and a new start.”

The letter, whose signatories also include Andreas Dresen, Sebastian Schipper, Volker Schlöndorff, Dominik Graf, Christian Petzold, Doris Dörrie, Maria Schrader, Hans-Christian Schmid and Rosa von Praunheim, is seen as a public rebuke of the Kosslick era, during which the »


- Ed Meza

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Songs For Screens: Active Child Offers Woke Spiritualism; Sonos Hosts A Deee-Lite-ful Dance Party

7 hours ago

“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.

Remember slow news days? Me neither. Where the latest news cycles have become relentlessly negative as the world does some serious soul-searching, pop music has become either deliberately escapist (witness Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” the entirety of Taylor Swift’s “Reputation”), innocuous (the back-to-back Hot 100 No. 1s of Cardi B and Post Malone) or downright nihilistic (hardcore rap).

As ad agencies and TV showrunners alike wrestle with how to incorporate the current political climate into their latest commercials and prime-time hits (some more successfully than others), a new niche is being carved »


- Andrew Hampp

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Sgiff: Movie Legend Waheeda Rehman Lauds Contemporary Indian Cinema

7 hours ago

Waheeda Rehman, the 79-year-old grande dame of Indian cinema who has worked with most of the legendary filmmakers of her country during her 62-year career is very complimentary about the kind of films being made today.

“All kinds of stories are being today,” Rehman said. “Back in the day, films used to be formulaic. There was a hero, heroine and a villain, and there would be a cabaret number thrown in for good measure. I got very bored and began looking for different roles.”

Rehman was speaking at an In Conversation event for “The Song of Scorpions” that showed as a special presentation at the Singapore International Film Festival on Friday. Other speakers included director Anup Singh and producers Shahaf Peled and Saskia Vischer.

The roles Rehman chose were in films that are considered classics in the annals of Indian cinema. She worked with Guru Dutt in “Pyaasa” (1957) and “Kaagaz Ke Phool” (1959), Satyajit Ray in “Abhijaan” (1962), Basu Bhattacharya »


- Naman Ramachandran

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ITV Studios Global Ent. To Handle Movistar+ Original ‘Felix’

9 hours ago

Confirming the large interest of Europe’s foremost TV sales houses in handling original series produced by Telefonica’s Movistar+, ITV Studios Global Ent. has acquired international distribution rights to Cesc Gay’s drama “Felix.”

Starring Argentina’s Leonardo Sbaraglia, “Felix” forms part of Movistar+’s ambitious original production plans, which sees an annual investment of €70 million ($83 million) in TV fiction productions.

This bet is allowing Movistar+, Spain’s leading paybox, to launch its first four original series -“The Zone,” “The Plague,” “Velvet Collection” and “Vergüenza”- by 2017, and release some 10 further new titles by the end of next year.

“Felix” is an instance of close creative collaboration between audience-friendly auteur Gay (“Truman,” “Krampack,” “In the City”) and thesp Sbaraglia (“Wild Tales”).

An eight-episode romantic thriller with doses of humor and mystery, “Felix” filmed on location in Andorra, Madrid and Barcelona for 19 weeks, enough time for a director and an actor “to construct a role and »


- Emiliano De Pablos

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Ventana Sur: Media Luna Picks Up Puenzo’s ‘The Unseen,’ Quintero’s ‘Angela’ (Exclusive)

16 hours ago

In the run up to Buenos Aires’ Ventana Sur, Cologne-based Media Luna New Films has picked up international sales rights to two features by up- and-coming directors: Nicolás Puenzo’s “Los últimos” (The Unseen) and Agamenon Quintero’s “Angela.”

Social issue thriller “The Unseen” tells the story of a couple, a pregnant Quechua girl and her creole partner, trekking in a desperate state across the Bolivian Highlands, now a post-apocalyptic wasteland devoid of natural resources and ruled by a bloody militia, in an attempt to reach the Pacific Ocean, where they hope a safe haven awaits them.

The film marks the helming feature debut of Nicolás Puenzo, son of veteran Argentine filmmaker Luis Puenzo, after many years working as a cinematographer or producer on projects such as “Cromo” and “The German Doctor”, both collaborations with his sister, the director Lucía Puenzo. In “Cromo,” a 12-episode TV drama currently streaming in Netflix, Nicolás Puenzo also co-directed. »


- Emiliano De Pablos

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Virtual Reality Conference Promises to Ignite Singapore Media Festival

23 hours ago

Virtual Reality is the buzz phrase these days at film festivals, big and small. They are keen to explore alternate means of entertainment that might just possibly the future. The Singapore Media Festival is no different and has set up a one-day event – the Vr X Smf Ignite Conference – that will unspool Nov. 29 with a packed line-up.

Kicking off proceedings will be the keynote presentation by Mohen Leo, creative director and visual effects supervisor at ILMxLAB, an immersive entertainment and Vr laboratory belonging to Lucasfilm, Industrial Light and Magic, and Skywalker Sound. While Leo is expected to share insights about storytelling for immersive entertainment, “Star Wars” fans in Singapore will be hoping that he provides a sneak peek into “Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire,” a Vr joint venture between ILMxLAB and The Void, that is designed to transport users to a galaxy far, far away.

The conference continues with Allen Foo, founder and chief »


- Naman Ramachandran

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Canal Plus Orders Thomas Lilti’s ‘Hippocrate’ Medical Series

23 November 2017 10:37 AM, PST

French helmer Thomas Lilti will be making his TV debut with “Hippocrate,” a medical drama series inspired by his 2014 film, which world premiered at Cannes’ Critics’ Week.

The contemporary series, comprising eight one-hour episodes, has been commissioned by French TV channel Canal Plus.

Lilti created the series with Anais Carpita (“Call My Agent!”), Claude Le Pape (“Love at First Fight”) and Julien Lilti. “Hippocrate” is being produced by Lilti’s regular partners, Agnes Vallée and Emmanuel Barraux at 31 Juin Films.

The plot will revolve around a public hospital located in suburb of a major city where doctors have being quarantined due to a health hazard. The series follows three interns lacking experience and a forensic medical expert who don’t know each other and must join forces to handle the entire hospital and patients alone while the quarantine gets unexpectedly extended.

Hippocrate” the film was sold by Le Pacte in major territories and turned out to be a »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Luca Guadagnino Relied on a Pair of Longtime Friends for ‘Call Me by Your Name’ Decor, Costumes

23 November 2017 10:15 AM, PST

Two longtime friends of director Luca Guadagnino added their personal touch to “Call Me by Your Name,” his sensual summer romance from Sony Pictures Classics that’s set in northern Italy in 1983.

An interior decorator by trade, first-time set decorator Violante Visconti (Luchino Visconti’s grandniece) dressed the 17th-century villa where young Elio (Timothée Chalamet) lives with his scholarly parents, the Perlmans (Michael Stuhlbarg and Amira Casar) and falls for the visiting American intern Oliver (Armie Hammer).

Fashion designer and repeat Guadagnino collaborator Giulia Piersanti created the film’s understated costumes.

Visconti conceptually married the Perlmans’ worldliness with the villa’s nostalgic past to attain the eclectic, lived-in feel of a deeply loved home. “[Much] of the furniture belonged to my father,” she says. “That made it cozy and personal. The Perl-mans are open-minded. They love books, music, history. … Their house is easygoing and non-structured, with flowers from the garden, furniture from their travels. It was there »


- Tomris Laffly

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Mar del Plata: Argentina on the Rise — Demián Rugna

23 November 2017 10:15 AM, PST

Mar Del Plata — “Is there any way of stopping this?” police commissioner Funes asks paranormal expert Albreck as the body count and unearthly beings proliferate at three common-or-garden Argentine suburban chalets in Demián Rugna’s “Aterrados” (Terrified). “No,” answers Albreck, a venerable bluestocking, just before a twig-lick arm snaps out of a crack in a chalet wall aiming for her head.

Shot in widescreen, “Terrified,” which sales agent Aura Films will screen at Ventana Sur, marks a move towards the mainstream for Rugna, being made with the aim of scaring the hell out of audiences, he explained. “People just want to be scared these days,” he said. Yet “Terrified” still bears the hallmarks of the Rugna style: an art film refusal to show human-beings conquering the supernatural; a smorgasbord of fantastic sub-genres — from chiller to shockfest to cop investigation and gothic baroque — and a darkly-knowing humor that pushes the movie, in a very Argentine style, »


- John Hopewell

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‘Coco’ Stuffing ‘Justice League’ at Thanksgiving Box Office

23 November 2017 8:57 AM, PST

Disney-Pixar’s “Coco” is heading for a clear victory over “Justice League” at the Thanksgiving holiday box office, estimates showed Thursday morning.

“Coco” should finish above $70 million at 3,958 North American locations in its first five days while “Justice League” will wind up around $60 million at 4,051 sites. “Coco” is performing significantly above pre-release forecasts, which had been in the $55 million to $60 million range.

Wednesday’s figures showed “Coco” with a first-day total of $13.2 million, which included $2.3 million from Tuesday night previews. The animated musical received an A+ CinemaScore from moviegoers, indicating that the film could be lifted by strong word of mouth during the rest of the holidays.

On the same holiday weekend a year ago, Disney’s “Moana” scored $15.5 million on its first day and went on to earn $82 million in five days. That was the second-highest opening for the period, trailing only Disney’s “Frozen” at $93 million in 2013.

“Coco” is already a blockbuster in Mexico with $48.8 million »


- Dave McNary

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Playback: Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan on ‘Lady Bird’ and Coming of Age

23 November 2017 8:31 AM, PST

Welcome to “Playback,” a Variety podcast bringing you exclusive conversations with the talents behind many of today’s hottest films.

This week, on a special Thanksgiving episode, we have “Lady Bird” writer-director Greta Gerwig and star Saoirse Ronan. It’s an apt day for the conversation, which you’ll gather if you’ve seen the film. “Lady Bird” marks Gerwig’s solo directorial debut and is sitting pretty as one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year, if not the most. After all, 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with 150 reviews counted is hard to argue with.

Listen to this week’s episode of “Playback” below. New episodes air every Thursday.

Click here for more episodes of “Playback.”

For Gerwig, hammering out a script isn’t about knowing the core of it and where it’s going from the outset. She’s found it more rewarding to explore casually and let her characters guide her through the process »


- Kristopher Tapley

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Gal Gadot and Kumail Nanjiani Riff on Their Parents’ Expectations and Name Mispronunciations

23 November 2017 8:00 AM, PST

Gal Gadot (“Wonder Woman”) and Kumail Nanjiani (“The Big Sick”) sat down for a chat for Variety’s “Actors on Actors,” which airs Jan. 2 to Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. on PBS SoCal Koce.

Kumail Nanjiani: So how did you end up playing “Wonder Woman”? How did that happen?

Gal Gadot: It’s kind of one thing led to the other. I never planned on becoming an actress, and then I had this opportunity where this casting director flew to Israel; she was looking for a new Bond girl. I did the audition, didn’t get the part, but through this experience I was like, “This is so much more interesting than going to law school.”

Nanjiani: You were in law school?

Gadot: Yeah, I know. Thank goodness life interrupts and comes in the way. It was weird because I didn’t know they were auditioning me for “Wonder Woman.” I knew I »


- Variety Staff

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