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1-20 of 32 items from 2006   « Prev | Next »


'Casino' keeps winning o'seas

27 November 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Sony Pictures Releasing International's Casino Royale solidified its position as the hottest holiday attraction internationally during the weekend, snaring an estimated $66.2 million from 6,600 screens in 50 markets -- the sixth-biggest weekend boxoffice gross of the year -- and propelling the distributor to a new overseas boxoffice record.

The latest James Bond offering, starring British actor Daniel Craig as Agent 007, stormed Europe with No. 1 openings in 18 markets from Norway to Spain, yielding an estimated $40.4 million from these new territories.

That figure tops by 44% the comparable boxoffice total accumulated in the same 18 markets by 2002's Die Another Day, the Pierce Brosnan starrer that went on to gross $432 million worldwide, more than any previous Bond title.

In all, Casino finished No. 1 in at least 40 of the 50 markets it played for the weekend and moved its international boxoffice total to $128.2 million; the worldwide total stands at $222.4 million.

The biggest of the overseas markets was the U.K., where Casino grabbed an estimated $16.6 million in its second weekend -- a relatively benign 24% drop from the opening stanza -- from 991 screens. The U.K. market total to date is $53.6 million, just $3.7 million shy of Die Another Day's total over the course of its entire U.K. run.

The best result of the new markets came from Germany, where the weekend tally is an estimated $12 million from 1,180 screens. In France, Casino won an estimated $8.4 million from 823 screens. In Spain, the weekend estimate is $4 million from 500 prints.

The per-screen averages were especially impressive in Denmark ($25,000, or an estimated $2.5 million from 101 locations), Switzerland (nearly $19,000, or $3 million from 161 screens) and Sweden ($16,000, or $2.1 million from 133 prints).

Casino bows Friday in the key market of Japan, then Dec. 7 in Australia.

Thanks to a strong roster of international hits this year, including The Da Vinci Code, Open Season and Casino, Sony films have tallied an annual overseas gross of $1.385 billion, SPRI distribution president Mark Zucker said. »

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'Casino' keeps winning o'seas

27 November 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Sony Pictures Releasing International's Casino Royale solidified its position as the hottest holiday attraction internationally during the weekend, snaring an estimated $66.2 million from 6,600 screens in 50 markets -- the sixth-biggest weekend boxoffice gross of the year -- and propelling the distributor to a new overseas boxoffice record.

The latest James Bond offering, starring British actor Daniel Craig as Agent 007, stormed Europe with No. 1 openings in 18 markets from Norway to Spain, yielding an estimated $40.4 million from these new territories.

That figure tops by 44% the comparable boxoffice total accumulated in the same 18 markets by 2002's Die Another Day, the Pierce Brosnan starrer that went on to gross $432 million worldwide, more than any previous Bond title.

In all, Casino finished No. 1 in at least 40 of the 50 markets it played for the weekend and moved its international boxoffice total to $128.2 million; the worldwide total stands at $222.4 million.

The biggest of the overseas markets was the U.K., where Casino grabbed an estimated $16.6 million in its second weekend -- a relatively benign 24% drop from the opening stanza -- from 991 screens. The U.K. market total to date is $53.6 million, just $3.7 million shy of Die Another Day's total over the course of its entire U.K. run.

The best result of the new markets came from Germany, where the weekend tally is an estimated $12 million from 1,180 screens. In France, Casino won an estimated $8.4 million from 823 screens. In Spain, the weekend estimate is $4 million from 500 prints.

The per-screen averages were especially impressive in Denmark ($25,000, or an estimated $2.5 million from 101 locations), Switzerland (nearly $19,000, or $3 million from 161 screens) and Sweden ($16,000, or $2.1 million from 133 prints).

Casino bows Friday in the key market of Japan, then Dec. 7 in Australia.

Thanks to a strong roster of international hits this year, including The Da Vinci Code, Open Season and Casino, Sony films have tallied an annual overseas gross of $1.385 billion, SPRI distribution president Mark Zucker said. »

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Notro's AFM pickups

27 November 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

MADRID -- Spanish distribution house Notro Films said Monday it has picked up Spanish rights to eight movies, including Julian Jarrold's Becoming Jane, Sarah Polley's Away from Her and the final episode in the Japanese terror saga One Missed Call: Final.

The hefty shopping bag, which Notro takes home following this year's American Film Market, shows the ambition for the Barcelona-based distributor, which presently has Copying Beethoven in Spanish theaters.

"It coincided that Notro is growing and that we found a lot of films at AFM that were in keeping with the very clearly defined line of films that Notro handles," said Notro acquisitions' chief Raquel Luque. "If we're growing, it's clear we need to add to our slate."

Other titles picked up include Bruce Beresford's A Woman of No Importance, starring Pierce Brosnan, Annette Bening and Lindsay Lohan, Terry Gilliam's Tideland, and the odd comedy Special, in which Michael Rapaport plays a man who acquires new powers after taking medication.

Also from Japan, Notro bought Yoji Yamada's Love and Honor and Takeshi Furusawa Ghost Train. »

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'Casino' keeps winning o'seas

26 November 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Sony Pictures Releasing International's Casino Royale solidified its position as the hottest holiday attraction internationally during the weekend, snaring an estimated $66.2 million from 6,600 screens in 50 markets -- the sixth-biggest weekend boxoffice gross of the year -- and propelling the distributor to a new overseas boxoffice record.

The latest James Bond offering, starring British actor Daniel Craig as Agent 007, stormed Europe with No. 1 openings in 18 markets from Norway to Spain, yielding an estimated $40.4 million from these new territories.

That figure tops by 44% the comparable boxoffice total accumulated in the same 18 markets by 2002's Die Another Day, the Pierce Brosnan starrer that went on to gross $432 million worldwide, more than any previous Bond title.

In all, Casino finished No. 1 in at least 40 of the 50 markets it played for the weekend and moved its international boxoffice total to $128.2 million; the worldwide total stands at $222.4 million.

The biggest of the overseas markets was the U.K., where Casino grabbed an estimated $16.6 million in its second weekend -- a relatively benign 24% drop from the opening stanza -- from 991 screens. The U.K. market total to date is $53.6 million, just $3.7 million shy of Die Another Day's total over the course of its entire U.K. run.

The best result of the new markets came from Germany, where the weekend tally is an estimated $12 million from 1,180 screens. In France, Casino won an estimated $8.4 million from 823 screens. In Spain, the weekend estimate is $4 million from 500 prints.

The per-screen averages were especially impressive in Denmark ($25,000, or an estimated $2.5 million from 101 locations), Switzerland (nearly $19,000, or $3 million from 161 screens) and Sweden ($16,000, or $2.1 million from 133 prints).

Casino bows Friday in the key market of Japan, then Dec. 7 in Australia.

Thanks to a strong roster of international hits this year, including The Da Vinci Code, Open Season and Casino, Sony films have tallied an annual overseas gross of $1.385 billion, SPRI distribution president Mark Zucker said. »

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007 pic 'Royale' reigns globally

23 November 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

After a four-year absence from theaters, a reconfigured James Bond burst onto 3,063 international screens during the weekend in 27 markets, with Casino Royale grossing an estimated $42.2 million and emerging with stylish ease as the dominant No. 1 overseas attraction. With British actor Daniel Craig succeeding Pierce Brosnan as Agent 007, Casino snared more than 60% of its total weekend tally from just one market, the U.K., where the estimate is $25.6 million from 988 sites over three days plus two previews.

According to distributor Sony Pictures Releasing International, Casino is the biggest Bond opening ever in the U.K., besting by 46% the last title in the franchise, 2002's Die Another Day.

On a three-day-weekend basis, Casino, with a gross of about $22 million, tied Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest as the second-best launch ever in the U.K., Sony says. The market's best three-day opening was recorded by 2005's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Casino finished No. 1 in each of the markets it played. Sony calculates that its opening takes exceeded by a huge 70% the combined opening tallies in the same territories four years ago of Die Another Day, which went on to secure $432 million in worldwide boxoffice.

The latest in the 44-year-old Bond franchise finished No. 2 for the weekend domestically with a tally of $40.6 million. Produced for $150 million, Casino's worldwide gross stands at $82.8 million.

In addition to the U.K., Casino's overseas playdates for the frame included what Sony termed the Asian piracy territories: India, Russia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Key Western European territories and Japan are still to come.

In India, Casino performed sensationally with an estimated gross of $3.2 million from 427 screens, the biggest market opening ever for a non-Indian title, exceeding by a whopping 87% the comparable opening gross of the previous record holder, 2004's Spider-Man 2. In Russia, the weekend estimate is $3.8 million from 633 screens, the eighth-biggest launch all time for a non-Russian film.

In Greece, the Bond actioner pulled an estimated $1.3 million from 111 screens for a $11,700 per screen average. »

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007 pic 'Royale' reigns globally

20 November 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

After a four-year absence from theaters, a reconfigured James Bond burst onto 3,063 international screens during the weekend in 27 markets, with Casino Royale grossing an estimated $42.2 million and emerging with stylish ease as the dominant No. 1 overseas attraction.

With British actor Daniel Craig succeeding Pierce Brosnan as Agent 007, Casino snared more than 60% of its total weekend tally from just one market, the U.K., where the estimate is $25.6 million from 988 sites over three days plus two previews.

According to distributor Sony Pictures Releasing International, Casino is the biggest Bond opening ever in the U.K., besting by 46% the last title in the franchise, 2002's Die Another Day.

On a three-day-weekend basis, Casino, with a gross of about $22 million, tied Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest as the second-best launch ever in the U.K., Sony says. The market's best three-day opening was recorded by 2005's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Casino finished No. 1 in each of the markets it played. Sony calculates that its opening takes exceeded by a huge 70% the combined opening tallies in the same territories four years ago of Die Another Day, which went on to secure $432 million in worldwide boxoffice.

The latest in the 44-year-old Bond franchise finished No. 2 for the weekend domestically with a tally of $40.6 million. Produced for $150 million, Casino's worldwide gross stands at $82.8 million.

In addition to the U.K., Casino's overseas playdates for the frame included what Sony termed the Asian piracy territories: India, Russia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Key Western European territories and Japan are still to come.

In India, Casino performed sensationally with an estimated gross of $3.2 million from 427 screens, the biggest market opening ever for a non-Indian title, exceeding by a whopping 87% the comparable opening gross of the previous record holder, 2004's Spider-Man 2. In Russia, the weekend estimate is $3.8 million from 633 screens, the eighth-biggest launch all time for a non-Russian film.

In Greece, the Bond actioner pulled an estimated $1.3 million from 111 screens for a $11,700 per screen average. »

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007 pic 'Royale' reigns globally

19 November 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

After a four-year absence from theaters, a reconfigured James Bond burst onto 3,063 international screens during the weekend in 27 markets, with Casino Royale grossing an estimated $42.2 million and emerging with stylish ease as the dominant No. 1 overseas attraction.

With British actor Daniel Craig succeeding Pierce Brosnan as Agent 007, Casino snared more than 60% of its total weekend tally from just one market, the U.K., where the estimate is $25.6 million from 988 sites over three days plus two previews.

According to distributor Sony Pictures Releasing International, Casino is the biggest Bond opening ever in the U.K., besting by 46% the last title in the franchise, 2002's Die Another Day.

On a three-day-weekend basis, Casino, with a gross of about $22 million, tied "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" as the second-best launch ever in the U.K., Sony says. The market's best three-day opening was recorded by 2005's "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."

Casino finished No. 1 in each of the markets it played. Sony calculates that its opening takes exceeded by a huge 70% the combined opening tallies in the same territories four years ago of Die Another Day, which went on to secure $432 million in worldwide boxoffice.

The latest in the 44-year-old Bond franchise finished No. 2 for the weekend domestically with a tally of $40.6 million. Produced for $150 million, Casino's worldwide gross stands at $82.8 million.

In addition to the U.K., Casino's overseas playdates for the frame included what Sony termed the Asian piracy territories: India, Russia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Key Western European territories and Japan are still to come.

In India, Casino performed sensationally with an estimated gross of $3.2 million from 427 screens, the biggest market opening ever for a non-Indian title, exceeding by a whopping 87% the comparable opening gross of the previous record holder, 2004's Spider-Man 2. In Russia, the weekend estimate is $3.8 million from 633 screens, the eighth-biggest launch all time for a non-Russian film.

In Greece, the Bond actioner pulled an estimated $1.3 million from 111 screens for a $11,700 per screen average. »

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'Happy Feet' on top but 007 in hot pursuit

19 November 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

It looks as if the animated penguins beat out James Bond for first place at the North American boxoffice on the weekend before Thanksgiving. But with the two movies so close, it could be that Monday afternoon's final numbers will be the true determinant of who wins the frame.

As it stood Sunday, estimates reported by each of the studios indicated that Warner Bros. Pictures' Happy Feet is the winner by a $1.7 million margin. The PG-rated CG-animated film earned an estimated $42.3 million compared with Sony Pictures' Casino Royale, a Columbia Pictures/MGM co-production, which grossed $40.6 million.

The other new wide release, Universal Pictures' Let's Go to Prison, bowed at a dismal $2.1 million, good for 12th place overall.

Even with two $40 million-plus openers, the weekend still was down a staggering 22.3% compared with last year at this time, when Warners' juggernaut Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire bowed to $102 million and 20th Century Fox's Walk the Line opened to $22.3 million.

Today's numbers will be telling, considering that Casino is handicapped by a 140-minute run time, while Happy Feet's family-friendly themes will attract a lot of kid-priced tickets. Nonetheless, the two well-reviewed films each scored in the range expected.

For Warners, Happy Feet marked the company's largest bow for an animated movie. It also was the largest-opening animated Imax movie, pulling in an estimated $2.4 million on 79 screens, beating out the $2.1 million 3-D bow of The Polar Express. Overall, the penguin movie from director George Miller (Babe), a Village Roadshow co-production, grossed a solid per-theater average of an estimated $11,125.

"We're in great shape," Warners distribution president Dan Fellman said. "Historically, family movies are outstanding over the holiday, so we are well positioned now. We think we'll play well through Christmas and the end of the year."

Armed with strong reviews and a debonair new Bond in British actor Daniel Craig, Casino definitely caught fire with audiences. Although it didn't open to the record-breaking $47 million of the last Bond outing, 2002's Die Another Day, the PG-13 Casino -- featuring Eva Green as the new Bond girl -- certainly could be deemed a success.

"Considering that Pierce Brosnan) began opening 'Bond' in the $20 million range and worked his way up to $40 million, the strength of Craig's terrific new Bond is evident," Sony distribution president Rory Bruer said. »

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U.K. all in for new 'Casino'

17 November 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Daniel Craig's performance as the new James Bond is going down as smooth as a shaken martini in Great Britain. According to early numbers from Thursday's opening of Casino Royale in the U.K., the film is shaping up as the largest Bond opener ever on the superspy's native soil. Rated PG-13, the film from director Martin Campbell grossed £1.7 million ($3.2 million) during its opening day. That compares favorably with 2002's Die Another Day, which notched a Thursday opening number of £1.1 million.

Casino, which opened in 988 theaters in the U.K., generated a per-theater average of £1,731 ($3,267) compared with Day, which bowed in 830 theaters to a per-theater average of £1,339.

Opening today in 3,434 theaters in the U.S., the film is expected to perform in the $40 million range for the weekend in the opinion of boxoffice prognosticators. Die Another Day bowed to $47 million its opening weekend in the U.S., but it featured a known Bond in Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry as that feature's Bond girl. »

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'Stu' is next target for Brosnan

17 November 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Pierce Brosnan can't get enough of playing a spy. The former James Bond is going back to the spy world, signing on to star in Spy vs. Stu, a comedy for New Line Cinema. Brosnan also will produce the movie though his Irish Dream production shingle.

Based on an original screenplay from the writing team of Keith Mitchell and Allie Dvorin, the comedy centers on Stu, a commitment-phobe who plans to propose to his girlfriend during an island vacation. Unbeknownst to him, a handsome, debonair spy (Brosnan) is on the other end of the island, having just finished saving the world. When the bored spy takes a serious liking to Stu's girl, Stu is forced to compete with the ultrasuave superspy in order to win the heart of his true love.

No director is on board yet.

New Line production executives Richard Brener and Jeff Katz will oversee the project for the studio. The studio spent the past year wooing Brosnan, getting him comfortable with revisiting the filmic world of intrigue and to celebrate his image as a suave spy and not mock it. »

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Casino Royale

10 November 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

In Casino Royale, James Bond is back. Back to his roots as Ian Fleming's driven, bare-knuckled, rough-around-the-edges sociopathic killer in Her Majesty's Secret Service. The movie is so retro it begins with a black-and-white sequence in which Bond brutally earn his 00 status with two textbook-perfect killings.

With every new actor who steps into the role of Bond, the producing team descended from the original producer, Cubby Broccoli, retools the series. For Daniel Craig, the handsome English actor who appears chiseled from raw granite, director Martin Campbell and producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli go back to Fleming's first novel, published in 1953, Casino Royale -- previously made as a joke movie with comics Peter Sellers and Woody Allen -- to re-establish Bond's origins in sex, sadism, murder and dry martinis.

What a relief to escape the series' increasing bondage to high-tech gimmicks in favor of intrigue and suspense featuring richly nuanced characters and women who think the body's sexiest organ is the brain. To demonstrate the difference, the movie's first major set piece is a five-minute foot chase, albeit with the acrobatic stunts one associates with Hong Kong action movies.

The film is far too long, with a protracted third act pushing running time to 144 minutes. Yet the new Bond should help newcomers and older viewers rediscover what made Sean Connery's early Bond movies the best of the series. Boxoffice looks promising here and overseas.

It's been awhile since a Bond movie was actually based on a Fleming novel, but the screenplay by Bond veterans Neal Purvis & Robert Wade with an assist by Paul Haggis does take many of the characters, settings and themes from the original novel while eliminating the Cold War trappings in favor of cell phones, computers and infinite data basis that now rule the world of international chicanery and espionage. It all still comes down to a high-stakes card game at the Casino Royale only instead of Chemin de Fer, it's Texas Hold 'Em.

For Casino Royale, things begin afresh with Craig's Bond evolving from wannabe assassin to the real deal -- his first hit, first major mistake, first dressing down by M (Judi Dench, who too seems reinvigorated by this more "realistic" Bond), a woman to fall in love with and a slap in the face to form his callous, cold-hearted character forever. It's so early in his career he tells a barman he doesn't care how his martini is made.

The surrounding cast has been retooled as well. Instead of a megalomaniac out to rule the world, the villain is Le Chiffre (Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen), "the Cipher," a banker to international terrorists who is only in the game for the money. His quirks are a tear duct that drips blood and the need for an inhaler.

The heroine is Vesper Lynd (French actress Eva Green), a female counterpart to Bond -- cool, calculating, untrusting but drawn to sexual adventure if it comes packaged to suit her whim. Their exchanges contain none of the usual tired double entendres but rather sharp dialogue as the two suss each other out.

Jeffrey Wright is suitably low key as Bond's CIA ally Felix Leiter, while Italian veteran Giancarlo Giannini is his unruffled local contact. Caterina Murino, also Italian, plays Bond's first sexual conquest, who pays dearly for her extramarital fling.

Major sequences -- that chase in and around an African construction site, a fight aboard a runaway fuel truck on an airport tarmac, a shootout in a collapsing Venice, Italy, canal building and a grueling torture sequence -- emphasize the physicality of the stunt work rather than special effects. The old James Bond musical theme is saved for the end as David Arnold's superb score chooses to mirror the rise and fall of tensions and emotions. Phil Meheux's cinematography and Peter Lamont's design take full advantage of the great locations ranging from Prague and Venice to Lake Como and the Bahamas. Campbell, who previously retooled the series when Pierce Brosnan came aboard for GoldenEye (1995), has done the series proud.

»

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Watts To Battle 'The Birds'?

18 October 2006 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Australian actress Naomi Watts has reportedly been offered the lead role in the remake of Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 horror classic The Birds. Armageddon director Michael Bay's company will produce the new version of the film. She would play the role of Melanie Daniels, which was played by Tippi Hedren, in the original, according to moviehole.net. The script is being re-worked by Leslie Dixon, who updated The Thomas Crown Affair for Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo in 1999. The movie features a wealthy San Francisco socialite who follows a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town where birds suddenly begin to launch vicious attacks on people. »

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MIPCOM abuzz about multiplatform opportunities

9 October 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

CANNES -- Sunshine and blue skies greeted buyers and sellers on the opening day of this year's MIPCOM, with distributors upbeat about the continued resurgence of U.S. drama fare and new multiplatform revenue opportunities. This year's market is also enjoying more than a touch of Hollywood celebrity glamor. MGM brought in Pierce Brosnan to promote the sequel to The Thomas Crown Affair and to host a dinner with major buyers, while 20th Century Fox hosted a series of press conferences and buyer meet and greets with Prison Break stars Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell. Adverts for studio product festooned the hotels fronting the world famous Croisette, giving the Riviera-side market a more U.S. look than in previous years. »

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SPTI scores Apted's 'Grand Finale' at MIPCOM

8 October 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Sony Pictures Television International kicks off at MIPCOM Monday with a major programming coup -- a winning bid for worldwide distribution rights to The Grand Finale, the only officially sanctioned film about the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Directed by Michael Apted, and narrated by Pierce Brosnan, the film features never before seen footage of the World Cup. SPTI bid against other U.S. studios and numerous international entities for the rights, confirmed SPTI executive vp distribution Keith LeGoy. "If you are any major network and you aired the World Cup then this is the perfect crescendo and if you did not have the World Cup then this is the perfect way to get a piece of that action," LeGoy added in an interview. »

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Owen Defends Bond Rival Craig

20 September 2006 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Clive Owen is the latest star to defend the casting of Daniel Craig as James Bond, even though he originally hoped to land the role. The Sin City actor was tipped for the coveted part of the suave superspy before Craig was announced as Pierce Brosnan's successor last year. But Owen is thrilled that a "proper actor" has finally been cast as 007, and insists new movie Casino Royale will silence Craig's critics. He says, "I think when Craig first took the part he got a pretty rough ride, which to a certain extent is inevitable because there are so many different people who have so many different ideas about something like that. You are never going to please everybody. The thing that is really exciting is that he is a proper actor. He is not shallow or posing, they have cast a really serious actor and I think that when the film comes out everyone will see what a great choice he was." »

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Seraphim Falls

18 September 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

This review was written for the festival screening of "Seraphim Falls".TORONTO -- Irishmen Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan play opposing soldiers in the post-Civil War entry "Seraphim Falls", a beautifully shot (by Oscar-winning cinematographer John Toll) but dramatically empty pursuit picture set in the untamed West.

A first feature by busy TV director David Von Ancken, the sparsely written film has the visual resonance of a John Ford Western but ultimately moves slower'n a tumbleweed in a vat o'molasses.

Even two such charismatic actors as Neeson and Brosnan, all scruffy but no less photogenic, are hard-pressed to inject some much-needed vitality into their sparse lines, which have a habit of drifting off into those wide open spaces.

Technical attributes aside, this Icon Prods. effort looks to have an uphill climb at the boxoffice, even with its name actors.

From the outset, Brosnan's Gideon is a wanted man. Just exactly what he's wanted for is unclear, but it is very clear that Neeson's Carver, a former Confederate Army colonel, wants him dead, and he's even hired a posse of trackers to get the job done.

But even after taking a bullet to the shoulder, Gideon proves to be one tough hombre, constantly eluding Carver and his men during a prolonged pursuit across snowy mountains and down into the savannas before slowing to a virtual crawl in the stifling New Mexican desert.

Along the way there's no shortage of grisly blood-letting - it is the wild West after all - but by the time director/co-writer (with Abby Everett Jaques) Von Ancken gets around to revealing the motivation for the Javert-Jean Valjean-type pursuit, the viewer has been exposed to one too many methodically slow, existential "chase" sequences to muster up much compassion.

Although the film carries an obvious anti-war message that comes sharply into focus in the final minutes (during which Anjelica Huston comes out of nowhere as a cure-dispensing pistol in a crimson dress (could she be ... Satan?), "Seraphim Falls" ultimately fails to engage.

One ends up caring a lot more for the numbers of innocent horses who are shot, disemboweled or otherwise abused (presumably stunt horses were employed) than their two-legged counterparts.

Even Oscar-winning editor Conrad Buff ("Titanic"), who has an arsenal of action movies in his resume, isn't able to effectively kick-start this one, and the situation isn't helped by Harry Gregson-Williams' droning rumble of a score. »

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Seraphim Falls

18 September 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

TORONTO -- Irishmen Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan play opposing soldiers in the post-Civil War entry Seraphim Falls, a beautifully shot (by Oscar-winning cinematographer John Toll) but dramatically empty pursuit picture set in the untamed West.

A first feature by busy TV director David Von Ancken, the sparsely written film has the visual resonance of a John Ford Western but ultimately moves slower'n a tumbleweed in a vat o'molasses.

Even two such charismatic actors as Neeson and Brosnan, all scruffy but no less photogenic, are hard-pressed to inject some much-needed vitality into their sparse lines, which have a habit of drifting off into those wide open spaces.

Technical attributes aside, this Icon Prods. effort looks to have an uphill climb at the boxoffice, even with its name actors.

From the outset, Brosnan's Gideon is a wanted man. Just exactly what he's wanted for is unclear, but it is very clear that Neeson's Carver, a former Confederate Army colonel, wants him dead, and he's even hired a posse of trackers to get the job done.

But even after taking a bullet to the shoulder, Gideon proves to be one tough hombre, constantly eluding Carver and his men during a prolonged pursuit across snowy mountains and down into the savannas before slowing to a virtual crawl in the stifling New Mexican desert.

Along the way there's no shortage of grisly blood-letting -- it is the wild West after all -- but by the time director/co-writer (with Abby Everett Jaques) Von Ancken gets around to revealing the motivation for the Javert-Jean Valjean-type pursuit, the viewer has been exposed to one too many methodically slow, existential "chase" sequences to muster up much compassion.

Although the film carries an obvious anti-war message that comes sharply into focus in the final minutes (during which Anjelica Huston comes out of nowhere as a cure-dispensing pistol in a crimson dress (could she be ... Satan?), Seraphim Falls ultimately fails to engage.

One ends up caring a lot more for the numbers of innocent horses who are shot, disemboweled or otherwise abused (presumably stunt horses were employed) than their two-legged counterparts.

Even Oscar-winning editor Conrad Buff (Titanic), who has an arsenal of action movies in his resume, isn't able to effectively kick-start this one, and the situation isn't helped by Harry Gregson-Williams' droning rumble of a score.

Seraphim Falls

Samuel Goldwyn Films/Destination Films

Credits:

Director: David Von Ancken

Screenwriters: David Von Ancken, Abby Everett Jaques

Producers: Bruce Davey, David Flynn

Executive producer: Stan Wlodkowski

Director of photography: John Toll

Production designer: Michael Hanan

Editor: Conrad Buff

Costume designer: Deborah L. Scott

Music: Harry Gregson-Williams

Cast:

Carver: Liam Neeson

Gideon: Pierce Brosnan

Madame Louise: Anjelica Huston

Hayes: Michael Wincott

Parsons: Ed Lauter

Pope: Robert Baker

Kid: John Robinson

Henry: Kevin J. O'Connor

MPAA rating R

Running time -- 115 minutes »

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Craig Stunned by Backlash

31 July 2006 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

New James Bond star Daniel Craig has been stunned by the bitter backlash he has received since replacing Pierce Brosnan as the secret agent last year. Craig, whose first appearance as James Bond will be in Casino Royale, was disheartened when thousands of fans called on film-makers Eon to ditch him and bring back Brosnan - claiming the Munich star was "too ugly" for the role. The 38-year-old star says, "I didn't expect this backlash. You take it in, you can't help it. I've been trying to give 110 per cent since the beginning but after all the fuss, maybe I started giving 115 per cent." »

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Cornell: "I Almost Turned Down Bond Theme"

28 July 2006 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Chris Cornell almost turned down the chance to record the new James Bond film's theme song, because he disliked Pierce Brosnan's recent 007 movies. The Audioslave frontman has been selected for the soundtrack of Casino Royale. But Cornell only agreed to compose the track once he had watched a rough edit of the upcoming Daniel Craig-starring movie. He tells VH1, "I wasn't really sure about doing a Bond theme, because I wasn't really a big fan of the last several movies. And then I heard that there was going to be a new guy - Daniel Craig - who was going to play Bond. And he's so different. I have seen him in several movies, and I was kind of intrigued. So I went to Prague (in Czech Republic), where they were shooting the movie, and they showed me a rough edit of it. I was just completely blown away by it, because it's unlike any Bond film ever, really. Craig is an actor's actor, and there's emotional content to the movie. He's not like the swaggering, winking sort of super-agent guy. He's like a human being in this movie, and it's going to completely readjust the way people think of the character." »

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Bond Footage Screened in Amsterdam

3 July 2006 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Twenty minutes of footage from upcoming James Bond movie Casino Royale was screened at the Amsterdam Cinema Expo this week, leaving journalists impressed with Daniel Craig's gritty portrayal of the superspy. The glossy edge of the Pierce Brosnan movies has been replaced by brutal fight scenes as director Martin Campbell delves into the dark side of Bond's psyche and past. US publication Variety writes, "The footage showed off Craig as a grittier Bond, with scenes of more intense, visceral hand-to-hand combat than 007 has tackled in recent pics. One black-and-white scene flashed back to Bond's first ever (brutal and hard-to-pull-off) kill as an agent, as well as his (much more sleek and signature) second assassination." »

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