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Summer Slows to a Crawl as 'Hitman's Bodyguard' and 'Logan Lucky' Debut
The downward trend continues this weekend. Two new releases arrive in theaters and neither will debut with enough to even marginally turn the summer box office tide. In fact, we may be looking at the worst weekend at the box office this year with a top twelve that could struggle to generate a combined $80 million. As for the new releases, Lionsgate's release of The Hitman's Bodyguard will do what it can to challenge Annabelle: Creation for the weekend's top spot while Bleecker Street's release of Logan Lucky is a fascinating study in and of itself and whether it pushes higher than $10 million will be something to watch. At the top of the weekend box office it's looking like a competitive race between last weekend's strong opening performance for WB and New Line's Annabelle: Creation and Lionsgate and Summit's The Hitman's Bodyguard. Annabelle delivered a $35 million opening, which is just a »
- Brad Brevet <email@example.com>
'Star Wars' Obi-Wan Kenobi Film in the Works (Exclusive)
Sources say talks are at the earliest of stages and that the project has no script. If a deal makes, Daldry would oversee the development and writing with Lucasfilm brass. It's not known at this stage if Ewan McGregor will reprise his role.
The Obi-Wan Kenobi standalone is one of several projects being developed by Lucasfilm and Disney that fall outside the trilogies telling the »
- Borys Kit
Amazon Studios, Warner Bros. Teaming on ‘The Goldfinch’ (Exclusive)
As part of the pact, Amazon will invest more than a third of the movie’s budget, which is estimated to be in the $40 million range, according to insiders. In return, it will get streaming rights to the picture and debut it on home entertainment platforms in what is commonly referred to as the pay-tv window, the term for when movies debut on HBO and Showtime.
Warner Bros. will distribute the film in theaters worldwide. There were several other parties interested in boarding the project, but Amazon was the most aggressive. The e-retailer believes the project is a good fit for its customer base, because Tartt’s novel was a big seller on its platform. It also views the partnership on the movie as a good branding opportunity. »
- Brent Lang
Director David F. Sandberg gives an update on Shazam and his comic book inspirations
Fresh from the box office success of Annabelle: Creation, director David F. Sandberg is now turning his attention to the DC Extended Universe and his next project, Shazam!. Speaking to Film Riot (via Heroic Hollywood), Sandberg has provided an update on Shazam!, confirming that the script is ready and it will be the next DC movie to go into production after Aquaman.
“There’s a script, it’s the next DC movie to shoot,” said Sandberg, who also confirmed that Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam will no longer feature in the film. “There’ve been variations of the script, like before I came along, where… you know, variations where Black Adam was in and out and, you know. But now, this is about Shazam.”
Sandberg also talked about which comic books he’s been reading in preparation for the project: “I’m taking it all in. Some of those really old ones are quite fun, »
- Gary Collinson
The Jetsons Live-Action Sitcom From Robert Zemeckis Lands at ABC
ABC, meet George Jetson. George Jetson, meet ABC.
The Alphabet network has given a put-pilot order to a live-action sitcom reboot of The Jetsons, TVLine has learned. The remake, first reported here back in June, will update the classic 1960s Hanna-Barbera cartoon about a futuristic family, this time as a traditional multi-camera sitcom. Oscar-winning director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Back to the Future) will serve as an executive producer, with Family Guy writer Gary Janetti penning the pilot.
Janetti’s presence may be a hint about the tone of these new-look Jetsons, which “looks at America’s favorite future family through a modern filter, »
'It' Tracking for Record $50M Debut in U.S.
The Warner Bros. and New Line horror film, rolling out in theaters Sept. 8, could clear $50 million or more in its first weekend, besting Hotel Transylvania 2 ($48 million) to score the biggest start ever for the month of September, not adjusting for inflation. Some even believe it could approach $60 million.
Warners insiders are being more cautious and saying $40 million-$45 million, noting the sluggish marketplace and the fact that September has never been known for huge openings. Also, It is rated R.
- Pamela McClintock
A Tribute to the Truly Bungled Release of Tulip Fever
Has there ever been a film as enjoyably cursed as Tulip Fever? »
- Kyle Buchanan
BritBox Beefs Up Offering With Idris Elba, Sean Bean Series in Fall Lineup
A joint venture between the BBC and ITV, BritBox offers the largest collection of British television in the U.S. But upon its launch in March, it came under some criticism that it mostly offered recycled classics and lacked many of the BBC and ITV’s new headline shows, possibly because those were reserved for other outlets such as BBC America. The new fall lineup, announced Thursday, brings a number of fresh offerings.
Critically acclaimed BBC drama “Broken” (pictured), which stars Bean as a maverick Catholic priest presiding over a parish in Northern England, will make its American debut after having launched in Britain in May. The show, created and written by Jimmy McGovern, co-stars Anna Friel, Adrian Dunbar and “Ray Donovan” star Paula Malcomson.
- Robert Mitchell
Tina Fey Delivers Takedown of President Trump, White Supremacists on ‘Weekend Update’ (Watch)
Tina Fey turned up on Thursday’s edition of “Saturday Night Live’s” special summer “Weekend Update” episode to deliver a biting commentary on the violence in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend and President Donald Trump’s response.
Fey encouraged anguished Americans to engage in “sheetcaking,” or the process of binge eating a sheet cake with an American flag design on the icing. Fey told viewers that she graduated from the University of Virginia, which is in Charlottesville, in 1992. She wore a gray sweatshirt emblazoned with the university’s logo.
“It broke my heart to see these evil forces descend on Charlottesville,” Fey said of the white supremacists rally held on Friday and Saturday. The melee among protesters and counter-protester on Saturday left a 32-year-old woman dead.
- Variety Staff
‘Dirty Dancing’ at 30: How Baby and Johnny Won Over the Skeptics
It’s been 30 years since Baby and Johnny had the time of their life, but “Dirty Dancing” remains as popular as when it opened on Aug. 21, 1987. Actually, it’s even more popular: When the ABC remake aired May 24 this year, fans immediately registered anger and/or disappointment on social media. It was a reminder that the magic of the 1987 version could not be duplicated.
The original “Dirty Dancing” was one of the summer’s biggest surprises. It was filmed on a $6 million budget and earned $213 million at the box office, plus has a long and booming afterlife in video and spinoffs.
Filming of the Vestron movie — written by Eleanor Bergstein and directed by Emile Ardolino — was done on two main locations: Lake Lure in N.C., and the Mountain Lake Lodge in Giles County, Va. Mountain Lake was responsible for many of the exterior shots. The lodge, built in the 1930s, had »
- Tim Gray
Protest Art: What Is It Good For?
Digging through the Whitney’s archive of resistance. »
- Carl Swanson
‘Scary Mother’ Wins at Sarajevo Film Festival; Bosnia-Herzegovina Selects Oscar Entry
The 23rd Sarajevo Film Festival has wrapped with the announcement of Ana Urushadze’s “Scary Mother” as winner of the fest’s top prize, while host country Bosnia-Herzegovina has picked its entry in the race for the foreign-language Academy Award.
“Scary Mother” won the Heart of Sarajevo on Wednesday night, the festival’s prize for best feature film which includes a €16,000 ($18,800) award. The Georgian-language movie, which is a co-production between Georgia and Estonia, was written and directed by Urushadze (pictured center).
The drama stars Nata Murvanidze (pictured, far right) as a 50-year-old housewife struggling to choose between her family life and a passion for writing which she has suppressed for years. Deciding to following her passion, she plunges into writing, sacrificing herself mentally and physically. The film, produced by Lasha Khalvashi (holding the Heart of Sarajevo) and Tinatin Kajrislvili (far left), also won the Cineuropa Nagrada partner’s award from the Association of Filmmakers of Bosnia and »
- Robert Mitchell
Australian Courts Order 59 Piracy Sites to be Blocked
In major victories for Hollywood and the local film industries, Australian Federal courts have ordered the country’s major telecoms and Internet providers to block access to 59 websites that carry pirated film and TV content. The studios and distributors have been fighting legal battles Down Under for several years.
The decisions came on Friday in two separate rulings. In a case brought by Village Roadshow, the judge ordered telcos including Telstra, Optus and Tpg to block 42 piracy sites. In a case brought by Foxtel, a second judge ordered the blocking of another 17 sites.
In the Village Roadshow case the judge said that copyright violations were “flagrant and reflect a blatant disregard for copyright owners.” Some, he said, offer tutorials on “how to frustrate any legal action.” The ISPs have 15 days to block the 59 sites and 127 domains.
Sites to be blocked include PrimeWire, MegaShare, Eztv, Limetorrents, Project Free TV, Watch Series, KissCartoon, »
- Patrick Frater
Haugesund: ‘Sound of Noise’ Producer Steps up Ambitions (Exclusive)
New Swedish production company Silver Films is launching with the English-lingo psycho thriller “Car:y” The feature project will be pitched at New Nordic Films’ Nordic Genre Boost strand in Haugesund, which runs Aug. 22-25, and will epitomize what Silver Films stands for: Audience-driven artistic content.
The new Stockholm-based company is co-founded by writer/director/producer Olivier Guerpillon – whose production credits include the critically-acclaimed “Sound of Noise,” released by Magnolia Pictures in the U.S., and “Broken Hills Blues” – and writer/producer Anna Byvald (“Maggie in Wonderland”).
“In a highly polarized Swedish market where creators of smaller films struggle to stay afloat, it makes sense for two indie producers with similar paths and tastes to join forces,” said the French-Swedish producer who intends to build on his tight relationships with the French and European film industry to create ‘internationally oriented content with a unique point of view’.
He added: “We want to take our expertise to the next »
- Annika Pham
Sanfic: Fernando Guzzoni Prepares First English-language Feature (Exclusive)
“We’ve been in talks since Toronto [where “Jesus” had its world premiere] where they asked me to present them a project,” said Guzzoni.
Titled “People Still Die of Love,” the romantic drama is a “reflection on the crisis of modern love, where relationships are often fleeting,” but tinged with dark humor, said Guzzoni. He has written a first draft in Spanish, which he’ll later write in English, he said.
Since it has an urban setting, he’s hoping to shoot in New York or Los Angeles, or possibly the U.K.
Guzzoni is closing co-production deals for his third feature, “Blanca,” with Argentina’s Ivan Granovsky and Marion Klotz of Autocroma boarding the project. He’s also in talks with potential co-producers from France, Germany, Mexico and the U.S. »
- Anna Marie de la Fuente
San Sebastian: Glenn Close-starrer ‘The Wife’ Selected as Closing Night Film
Madrid — Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce-starrer “The Wife” will close the 65th San Sebastian Festival on Sept. 30, where the film’s European premiere will see the festival end with an upscale tale of a woman’s belated empowerment, a showcase for Close and Pryce’ mano a mano acting talents and, in industrial terms, a blue-chip U.S.-U.K.-Scandinavia production.
Produced by Anonymous Content, Meta Film,Tempo Productions, Spark Film and Television, and Silver Reel, “The Wife” turns on Joan Castleman (Close) who is married to a Nobel Prize-winning American novelist (Pryce), the kind of man who thinks he owns the world and his wife.
On the eve of the Nobel Prize award ceremony, Close, who has “spent 40 years ignoring her own literary talents to fan the »
- John Hopewell
Netflix Orders Batch of Japanese Animation, Including ‘Saint Seiya’ Reboot
Netflix has ordered more than 20 new animation titles in Japan, including a reboot of the classic anime and manga “Saint Seiya.”
Greg Peters, Netflix’s chief product officer, announced the new batch of animated series in Tokyo earlier this month. He said that 90% of the Japanese animation titles carried by the streaming service are watched in territories outside of Japan. He also said Netflix was focused on working with Japanese studios and production companies to meet the high demand for animated shows.
Two announced titles that have caused a stir are “Cannon Busters” and “Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya.” The original “Saint Seiya” manga was released more than 30 years ago, but remains popular in South America, France, Italy and China. “Saint Seiya” has already been adapted in the past into a TV series and six feature films. A new live-action “Saint Seiya” is in the works.
- Variety Japan
Film Review: ‘Shot Caller’
While American audiences wait for the Hollywood remake of Jacques Audiard’s gritty 2010 French thriller “A Prophet,” Ric Roman Waugh swoops in with a comparably gritty prison epic of his own: Debuting on DirecTV two weeks before hitting theaters, “Shot Caller” dramatizes how a hardcore stint behind bars transforms an otherwise docile citizen — in this case, a white-collar wheeler-dealer (Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) convicted of a DUI manslaughter charge and tossed in with the violent offenders — into a ruthless crime boss.
The character’s arc proves considerably more complex than that description suggests, as Waugh forgoes cheap action-movie gimmicks, offering up instead a haunting psychological portrait of an intelligent man forced to completely reinvent himself before he can even dream of seeking redemption for his previous sins. “Shot Caller” marks the third time that writer-director Waugh (who previously helmed “Felon” and “Snitch”) has taken audiences into this intimidating underworld, and the tough, no-punches-pulled »
- Peter Debruge
Dealing With the Past: Sarajevo Film Festival Addresses Balkan Wars
Two decades after the bloody Balkan wars, reconciliation in the region can still be hard to come by. The Sarajevo Film Festival is trying to do its part with Dealing with the Past, a program launched last year that comprises a festival sidebar of films dealing with the wars and their aftermath and an industry section called the True Stories Market.
The market seeks to connect filmmakers with organizations that are documenting and researching the conflict with the aim of bringing dramatic fact-based stories to light and to wider audiences through documentaries, feature films, and television productions.
This year’s True Stories Market presented nine stories, including “Profile of a Mercenary – Making Money Off the War or Crimes,” by the Sarajevo-based Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (Birn). The story focuses on a former convict who had served time for robbery and attempted murder before going on to serve as a mercenary, first »
- Ed Meza
‘The Defenders': What is K’un-Lun? A Quick Explainer of the Heavenly, Mystical City
(Some light spoilers ahead for early episodes of “Marvel’s Iron Fist” and “The Defenders” on Netflix.) When Danny Rand (Finn Jones) shows up back in the New York in Netflix’s “Iron Fist,” he’s been missing for some 15 years. Presumed dead in a plane crash over the Himalayas, nobody he knows even believes he really is who he says he is. Where has he been all this time? According to Danny, he was living in a city called K’un-Lun. Danny returns to New York a changed man from the boy who disappeared at age 10. He’s a martial arts master, »
- Phil Hornshaw
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