The Hot Blog Archive for July, 2009

DP/30 – Adam

Actors Peter Gallagher & Rose Byrne and writer/director Max Mayer (in the middle).
The full video interview is after the jump…

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DP/30 – Yoo Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg

Aviva Kempner, who was also the director of The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg and Partisans of Vilna, directs this doc about Gertrude Berg, the woman who was Lucy before Lucy, Miltie before Miltie, and for a moment went higher, farther, and faster than any other American… and is now all but forgotten.
The full video interview is after the jump…

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DP/30 – Thirst dir. Chan-wook Park

Chan-wook Park is a young legend in the genre film world, already having delivered titles like Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, plus one-third of Three Extremes and J.S.A.: Joint Security Area.. all before his 45th birthday.
We talked, with the help of a translator, about his career, his latest film, Thirst – the first being released domestically by a division of a major studio – and his commitment to both a Korean revival house movement and to anti-piracy efforts.
Here’s the sneak peek…

The full video interview is after the jump…

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The Most Hijacked "Exclusive" Private Video Of The Day?

It’s funny enough to look at…
Ben Stiller, Stuart Cornfeld, and Jeremy Kramer are talking their Red Hour production company to Fox, heading out of cash-tight DreamWorks on the heels of the pricey Tropic Thunder. This piece was clearly produced for some in-house event, as it is so inside baseball that even a ShoWest audiences wouldn’t get half the references.
Movieline claimed the exclusive, but also claimed that it was not necessarily meant to be public, so they exclusively found it, I guess?
The only thing remotely controversial here is the question of who actually footed the bill for this wank, which surely didn’t cost $800k, as joked about in the clip, but probably cost at least $150k… without clearances from Quincy Jones or anyone else.


New Boss, Not Quite The Same As The Old Boss

Anne Thompson moves from Variety to indieWIRE and a new experiment begins.
While Nikki Finke talks about turning her blog into a website by September – we’ll see what it becomes… my guess is still pretty much the same… more pages to view… more freelancers – and Sharon Waxman tries to get the exclusive scoop on whether Michael Jackson washed his hands every time he changed Bubbles’ diapers so she can create ad revenue that hasn’t much shown itself yet, Anne is doing something similar to what Nikki did at Village Voice Media’s LA Weekly, to much more success for Nikki than for VVM.
indieWIRE’s Oscar-season profile – in terms of ad sales – is good, but not great. As we head into another season, Oscar is the Holy Grail of movie site ads. Sites with access to voters get premium prices. Enter Anne.
With Ted Leonsis in fiscal control and spending, indieWIRE is now getting serious about selling ad space. And this will be the ad team’s first really big test. Even before Anne’s arrival, indieWIRE’s media kit’s first image is an Oscar statue in a screen grab of an Oscar story.
So the question – Can indieWIRE convert Anne in to at least $150,000 in ad sales this season? I would estimate that this is the figure at which both sides are happy in the marriage.
Keep in mind, it is likely more than Nikki ever earned for Village Voice Media in a given year. They aren’t going to get there on page views and normal CPMs.
If you are a critic or a writer, you should – as I am – be rooting for Anne and indieWIRE to succeed in this ambition because it suggests more potential than there seems to be out there right now for a lot of high-profile, high-quality writers. The potential for more writers without organized sales efforts earning $50,000 or more (or less) becomes real if this works.
Of course, there is the odd flip side. If Anne becomes the biggest single earner at indieWIRE – which is possible – what does that say about spending to support infrastructure if one person can draw such a high percentage of a site’s revenues?
No doubt, the folks at indieWIRE get this better and have more of an interest in experimenting than Variety did… at least after Charlie Koones left.
Let the games begin.

Is This The Single Worst Idea In History?

Wow… when Michael Fleming scoops, he comes up with some craaaaazy shit.
Rob Marshall directing the fourth Pirates movie for Disney.
I mean… mind boggling… truly… it takes my breath away.
In what sick, demented universe would a company like Disney put a guy who has never shot action, never directed anything bigger than a stage, and is struggling with an overlong cut of his third film right now after one hit – Chicago – and one utter flop – Memoirs of a Geisha in charge of their billion-dollar-gross-a-film franchise? Is it really down to this? Is Johnny Depp trying to destroy his meal ticket so he won’t have to put on the pirate’s cap ever again?
I wish Rob Marshall well. If anyone can help him get Nine into shape for a successful Oscar and box office run, it’s Harvey Weinstein, who has a bad rep for overcutting good films, but deserves a lot of credit for being about to fix problem films as well as any producer ever has.
But Pirates 4?
McG for Terminator Salvation at least made some sense. I can only assume that Disney is looking at the Harry Potter series and David Yates coming in to handle the last four films of the series to success so far. But Yates had a lot more experience as a director than Marshall does. And the Potter franchise has a lot of chiefs in place who haven’t changed. Pirates, for which Gore Verbinski did not get enough credit because Depp charmed so intensively, requires some real imagination. I mean, will every action sequence dissolve into a memory that Captain Jack Sparrow has of a dance number in a musical hall somewhere?
Really… if someone at a party told me that I couldn’t guess in a million years who would be directing the next Pirates movie and gave me 100 guesses, somewhere around guess 47, I would, in exhaustion, perhaps choke out Rob Marshall’s name with a laugh because wouldn’t that be funny. Paul WS Anderson is more qualified. And Dominic Sena would probably do a much better job, just letting Bruckheimer tell him what to do.
Is this an April Fool’s joke? Come on… someone… tell me… it’s a joke… right? Gotta be… right?


BYOB Weekend – Try The Sand Aps


Funny People Video Review


Need A 2 Minute Scene To Get A Real Feel Here…



Jewboy that I am, I am IN LOVE with this trailer… it is so brilliantly Coen… and then, it is so insanely smart, even in this small bite, about being Jew.
The only real flaw (nod to Chucky) is that the name-checking of all their movies at the end is really lame. If you know the Coens, you don’t need the list. If you don’t, you sure as hell are not going to this film.
As for Oscar, Focus is focused elsewhere. They don’t want to hear Oscar touting for this film. And I get that. But with 10 films and our tribe’s well-known power base in the voting, if the movie comes close to the promise of this trailer, it will be a nominee for Best Picture.

(You can get the HD and other larger versions here.)


The Disney Quarter

There is a lot of short-cut writing on the Disney 3rd Qtr result released today. I thought I would add a dew details to the conversation.
Disney’s fiscal Q3 ended June 27, 2009. So, the quarter is March 27 – June 27.
This year’s Q3 domestic theatrical box office is, literally and ironically, UP this year from last year. (It was down last year, a year after Pirates 3.)
Race To Witch Mountain (partial) – $18 million gross
Hannah Montana Movie (all theatrical) – $79.5m gross
Up (partial) – $246.2m gross
The Proposal (partial) – $63.9m
G-Force – $0
TOTAL GROSS – $407.6m
Step Up 2 – $15.2
College Road Trip $5.7m
Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian – $137.4m
Wall-E – $45.3m
TOTAL GROSS – $203.6
It’s even very close to Q3 2007, when Pirates 3 launched
Pirates 3 (partial) – $290.7
Meet The Robinsons (total) – $95.5
Wild Hogs (partial) $42.2
TOTAL GROSS – $428.4
And for the record, in anticipation of Q4…
Up (partial) – $20m to-date
The Proposal (partial) – $79.1m to-date
G-Force – $45.4 to-date
Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian – $1.7m
Wall-E – $178.5m
Swing Vote – $16.3m
Miracle At St Anna – $3.5
The culprit, as pointed out in the Quarterly Report, is DVD. Bedtime Stories, Confessions of a Shopaholic and Bolt were not competitive, as a group, with National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets and Enchanted, which shipped nearly 17 million units between them.
But what people probably don’t realize is that Enchanted did about 12% more than Bedtime Stories at the box office. And Bolt did about 10% less than DWA’s Bee movie the least before. If DVD corrolated directly, that would mean the two titles would have shipped about 14m units with a third film (Shopaholic) there to make up the difference. Dan In Real Life shipped about 2.3 million units with a similar gross the year before. So it should be pretty close.
But it’s not.
My estimate would be about 12.5m units shipping for those 3 titles, as opposed to the 2 big titles from the year before. That’s not a quality call. That’s a strong shift in the marketplace.
So… this is not so much a defense of Disney as it is a defense against quick and misleading assumptions. In domestic theatrical, Disney is doing better this summer. In the next quarter, even with G-Force holding strong, theatrical will probably be slightly down in the next quarter. But the only division doing better this year than last is interactive, which is still losing money, just losing less.
But note… as always… how small domestic theatrical seems in comparison to the big picture at these companies, whether it is up or down. There are many more balls in the air than people seem to realize… or want to spend the time to consider.


Do You Respond Or Just Let It Go?

Our good pal, Ouroboros, is alive and well in Hollywood tonight, as Summit offered a press release to respond the the actress who got fired of the third Twilight film.
I understand that the actress publicly whining about losing the job is not the norm, that she may lose work because of it – in the silence of Movie Space – and that Summit felt compelled to speak to the matter. But geez… maybe it would better to enjoy the silly publicity and move along. As I wrote yesterday, Ms. Howard is unlikely to sell more tickets… but she won’t likely sell less tickets either. Is Summit responding to a real public issue or just getting sucked into a public discussion of a private issue for fear of the franchise’s fans… as though whinny fans were news.
How would YOU handle it?
The release is after the jump…

Read the full article »


Inglourious Basterds Video Review


Starship Troopers Without The Subtext?

Breznican gets on the buzz box about GI Joe in USA Today…
But word around the studio is that the movie is so incredibly bad that it may be a comic delight, worthy of multiple viewings from those who hate it the most. Really. The kind of film that will end up as a Midnight Movie and have friends doing shots everything some catch phrase is uttered or a machine does something only possible via CG magic.
And really, wouldn’t it be fun to have a movie that bad to enjoy? An unintentional Eight Legged Freaks? Lake Placid with Betty White and Oliver Platt playing it straight. Rachel Nichols icing Sienna Miller’s figurative PG nipples and then jumping into that pool, smashing herself into the water, over and over, until Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s cobra rises.
Let’s HOPE it’s that bad. Really, Can’t take another Mummy 3… I just can’t.


Press Release – Reader Crosses $100m Worldwide

When the heat leave the Oscars and the domestic box office, things fall away. If you look at Box Office Mojo, you will see this film at $89 million worldwide. But The Weinstein Co is a little more interested in keeping track of those numbers… yet another cautionary tale about assuming that what you read, even on otherwise legit information sites, can come up short in some areas. In this case, it’s BOM not cribbing foreign box office info from a variety of other sources, as it has no facility to gather foreign box office itself.
Oh yeah… and congrats to The Reader, the third $100 million worldwide grosser in TWC’s history.
The release…
NEW YORK, NY–July 29, 2009 — The Weinstein Company (TWC) is pleased to announce that THE READER, starring Academy Award-winner Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes has crossed over $100 million in worldwide box office receipts since its initial domestic release on December 10, 2008.
The film has been an international success for TWC and its foreign distribution partners, having been released in 46 countries and 32 languages to date. Most notably, in Germany, THE READER is the sixth highest grossing film of 2009, earning approximately $19 million to date since its release on February 26 through Senator. Other significant releases include the UK which earned approximately $8.5M since its release on January 2, 2009 through Entertainment Film; France, where it was released through SND on July 15, 2009 and earned approximately $3 million to date; Australia/New Zealand where the film has earned approximately $3.6M since its release on February 19, 2009 through Village Roadshow; and Spain which earned approximately $6.6M since its release on February 13, 2009 through On Pictures.
“The success of this film is really fulfilling as we made a movie that captivated a worldwide audience and it


The Hot Blog

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon