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Box Office: ‘Maze Runner’ Sprints Past Liam Neeson With $32.5 Million

22 hours ago | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

The Maze Runner” showed that sometimes the weekend box office is a marathon, not a sprint.

Twentieth Century Fox’s adaptation of James Dashner’s post-apocalyptic novel took awhile to build up steam, but found its core audience by the weekend’s midpoint. It debuted to $32.5 million from 3,604 locations, in line with projections. That’s good news for the studio, which hopes to turn the story of a group of teenagers battling nasty creatures in a dangerous labyrinth into a franchise.

“All of the elements came together in accomplishing something that no one ever tried by launching a young adult film like this in September,” said Chris Aronson, Fox’s domestic distribution chief. “We like to stand out whenever we can and we selected this release date in order to be the first event film of the fall.”

The unique opening date allowed “The Maze Runner” to jet ahead of »

- Brent Lang

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Serena to world premiere in St Petersburg

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World premiere of Serena and Cannes Jury Prize winner Mommy set as opening and closing night galas.

Serena, the highly anticipated film starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper from Oscar-winning Danish director Susanne Bier, is to receive its world premiere as the closing film of the Saint Petersburg International Media Forum (Spimf) (Oct 1-10), organised by Roskino.

Based on Ron Rash’s North Carolina-set novel about logging magnate George Pemberton (Cooper) and his ruthless, brilliant wife Serena (Lawrence), the ‘perfect’ couple’s master plans come unstuck when they discover she can’t bear children and that George previously fathered a child out of wedlock.

Serena’s release in Russia is set for Oct 30 through distributor Vol’ga.

Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, which won the jury prize when it debuted in Competition at Cannes, will open Spimf on Oct 1. It will mark its Russian premiere.

The film tells the story of vivacious tattooed widow Diana (Anne Dorval) and her »

- michael.rosser@screendaily.com (Michael Rosser)

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Father, Million Miles win top Encounters awards

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Winning films will now be put forward for selection for the BAFTAs and Oscars.

The 20th Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival (Sept 16-21) has announced its award winners with Argentinian director Santiago ‘Bou’ Grasso winning the Animated Grand Prix for Padre (Father) and Us filmmaker Jennifer Reeder winning the Brief Grand Prix for A Million Miles Away.

The awards showcased both established and emerging talent, with the jury watching 219 short films in three days to determine the winning selection in 13 categories.

The jury presented the Animation Grand Prix to Padre and commented: “A powerful and poignant film which channels the spirit of Argentina’s missing to the world’s consciousness through subtle and haunting performance.”

Reeder was praised for her “imaginative and multi-layered approach to the film form, achieving depth and authenticity in both script and performance”. 

The animation jury also gave a special mention to Chris Landreth for his short film Subconscious Password, which it said »

- michael.rosser@screendaily.com (Michael Rosser)

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Vanishing director George Sluizer dies

18 minutes ago | ScreenDaily | See recent ScreenDaily news »

Dutch director was best known for The Vanishing and River Phoenix’s last film, Dark Blood.

George Sluizer, the Dutch director best known for The Vanishing and Dark Blood, River Phoenix’s last film, died in Amsterdam on Saturday (Sept 20) following a long illness, according to Dutch media. He was 82.

“Sluizer had been ill for a long time. In 2007 he barely survived a ruptured artery and after that his health remained fragile,” according to Dutch public broadcaster Nos, quoting relatives.

The director, producer and screenwriter was born in Paris, where he attended the Idhec film academy.

He made his first film in 1961, Hold Back the Sea, a documentary that won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.

Up until the early 1980s, Sluizer produced and directed many documentaries and TV specials. He also worked as a producer on numerous films, including Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo and Cancer Rising with Rutger Hauer.

As a writer »

- michael.rosser@screendaily.com (Michael Rosser)

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Abu Dhabi unveils Emirates competition films

45 minutes ago | ScreenDaily | See recent ScreenDaily news »

Women directors make up 70% of competition films.

Abu Dhabi Film Festival (Adff) (Oct 23-Nov 1) has announced the selection for this year’s Emirates Film Competition (Efc).

The upcoming edition of the competition features a total of 53 films, of which 37 films are directed by women, across a variety of genres.

The line up also features films by Emirati filmmakers such as Nasser Al Tamimi’s Female Scream, Nasser Al-Yaqoubi’s Haneen, Hassan Kiyani’s Marwan The Boxer and Ali Mostafa’s musical Rise. In addition, Sarah Al Agroobi’s Super Lochal is among the selected films.

Desire by Hala Matar (Bahrain, starring Johnny Knoxville) has been selected for Adff’s Short Film Competition along with Koshk, from Emirati director Abdullah Al-Kaabi. These two films will participate in both Efc and the Short Film Competition.

Highly anticipated films from the Gcc region include Now Showing directed by Abdullah Al Daihani (Kuwait), Rainbow directed by Mahmood Al-Shaikh (Bahrain) and 623 directed »

- michael.rosser@screendaily.com (Michael Rosser)

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Spain, Colombia Link on ‘Troubling Monsters’

51 minutes ago | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Spain’s Piaggiodematei and Colombia’s HierroAnimacion are uniting efforts on the project “Troubling Monsters,” to be pitched at Toulouse’s 25th Cartoon Forum on Thursday 25.

Monsters that could be hidden under kids’ beds or in closets trigger lots of fun and discovery adventures, where children will be able to deal with common fears through creativity and humor.

“‘Monsters’ takes the idea that when a kid can draw a monster, he or she is able to beat it, so the monster becomes funny or ridiculous and won’t be scary anymore,” said project director and producer Carlos Smith.

Made up of 26 x 7 minute episodes, “Monsters” is targeted on six- to eight-year-old children. “It’s a multiplatform media project with different expansion models; that is, there’s a difference between free and premium content, broadcast or streamed,” pointed out Laura Piaggio, Piaggiodematei CEO.

Project directors are Smith and Marcelo Dematei, co-production »

- Emilio Mayorga

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Gods reigns supreme in Gdynia

1 hour ago | ScreenDaily | See recent ScreenDaily news »

Lukasz Palkowski’s Gods was the big winner at this year’s annual showcase of Polish cinema at the Gdynia Film Festival which ended with a gala awards ceremony at the weekend.

Gods (Bogowie), based on the life of Zbigniew Religa who performed the first successful heart transplant in Poland in the 1980s, received the Grand Prix Golden Lions for best film as well as individual awards in the categories of screenplay, make-up, production design and actor in a leading role for Tomasz Kot.

In addition, Gods received the award of the Polish Film Festivals and Reviews Abroad as well as the Journalists’ Award, Elle magazine’s Star of the Stars award for lead actor Kot and Radio Gdansk’s Golden Claquer Award for the longest applauded film at a screening in the Musical Theatre for the Main Competition.

Palkowski made his feature directorial debut in 2007 with Reserve, which won three prize at the festival in Gdynia »

- screen.berlin@googlemail.com (Martin Blaney)

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Wulfie Animation, Monster Entertainment Set ‘Wulfie’

1 hour ago | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

“Wulfie,” a 2D toon TV skein, will be carrying the Irish flag at this year’s Cartoon Forum, the Toulouse-set three-day confab.

Produced by Ireland’s Wulfie Animation, the series is one of nine Irish projects pitched at the mini-mart.

“Wulfie” turns on the relationship between the 10-year-old Libby and her new best friend.  “It’s a comedy series about the ultimate friendship that grew from a bedtime story,” explained Lindsay J. Sedgwick, producer at Wulfie Animation.

Sedgwick is also an Irish writer and toon author, creator of the first mainstream toon skein, featuring a lead character with Down Syndrome, “Punky” –two seasons of 20 x 7 minutes–, which sold worldwide.

Dublin-based co-producer Monster Entertainment is a brand management shingle that produces and distributes worldwide mainly children’s mainstream animation but also handles documentaries and musicals aimed to kids. Its catalogue includes “The Travels of a Young Marco Polo” and “Planet Rock »

- Emilio Mayorga

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Doll in the Ceiling begins shoot

1 hour ago | ScreenDaily | See recent ScreenDaily news »

Revenge thriller marks first Norway-Canada co-production in 15 years.

Norwegian revenge thriller The Doll in the Ceiling (Dukken i taket) has begun principal photography in Norway.

The $2m (NOK16.4m) psychodrama marks the feature debut of director Kjersti Steinbø, who also adapted the novel of the same title by Norwegian novelist Ingvar Ambjørsen.

The story centres on a woman who seeks out her deceased sister’s rapist and embeds herself in his idyllic family to destroy his life. It is earmarked for release in autumn 2015.

Producers are Paul Barkin of Toronto’s Alcina Pictures and Kristine Knudsen of new Bergen-based company Den Siste Skilling. Executive producers are Lisa G. Black of Garnet Girl (Us) and Mark Gingras of Vigilante Productions.

It marks the second Norway-Canada treaty co-production, the last being more than 15 years ago.

“This is an exciting time for Nordic Cinema,” said Barkin. “Through co-production with Canada, films like [The Doll in the Ceiling] have a better opportunity at reaching North American »

- michael.rosser@screendaily.com (Michael Rosser)

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France Sends ‘Saint Laurent’ to Campaign For Foreign-Language Oscar Nominations

1 hour ago | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Paris– Bertrand Bonello’s “Saint-Laurent,” a sultry biopic of the French famed designer, is set to represent France in the foreign-language Oscar campaign.

The movie world-premiered in competition at Cannes where it was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics.

It’s produced by Eric and Nicolas Altmayer at Mandarin Cinema and Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp, which also handled international sales. Arte Cinema et Orange Studio co-produced. Thomas Bidegain, one of the screenwriters of Jacques Audiard’s “A Prophet,”co-wrote the script with Bonello. 

Bonello’s film stars Gaspard Ulliel, Louis Garrel and Lea Seydoux. The helmer’s credits include “House of Pleasures” (then titled “House of Tolerance”) and “Tiresia,” both of which competed at Cannes.

Another pic about the designer, “Yves Saint-Laurent,” directed by Jalil Lespert, was recently released by The Weinstein Company in the States.

Bonello’s take on Saint-Laurent is, however, more controversial and revealing than Lespert’s film, »

- Elsa Keslassy

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Thailand Writes ‘Teacher’s Diary’ Into Foreign-Language Oscar Race

1 hour ago | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Hong Kong — Thailand has selected comedy romance “Teacher’s Diary” to represent the country in the foreign-language Academy Awards category.

The film, directed by Nithiwat Tharatorn, is a story about a former wrestler who takes up an unusual position as a class teacher in an isolated rural spot. There he draws inspiration from the diary left behind by a particularly dedicated predecessor.

Selection was made by Thailand’s Federation of National Film Associations and announced on Monday.

“Diary” was produced by Jorkwang Films and released by local major Gmm Tai Hub on March 20.

Thailand has submitted 18 films to the Oscars since 1984. So far none have received nominations.


- Patrick Frater

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Caton-Jones drama begins shoot

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Exclusive: Shirley Henderson, Letitia Wright, Isabella Laughland star; Metro International to sell.

Shoot is underway in London on Michael Caton-Jones drama Urban Hymn, Nick Moorcroft’s (St. Trinian’s) script about the relationship between a young female offender and a determined social worker during the 2011 UK summer riots.

Shirley Henderson (Southcliffe) will star opposite Screen Star of Tomorrow Letitia Wright (Top Boy, My Brother The Devil) and Isabella Laughland (Now Is Good).

Additional cast includes Ian Hart, Steven Mackintosh and musician and activist Billy Bragg.

The coming of age story set in south-west London follows a wayward teen with a talent for singing who becomes torn between her loyalties towards an inspiring, unconventional care worker and her possessive and volatile best friend.

Caton-Jones commented: “I’m tremendously excited with the potential of Urban Hymn. Nick Moorcroft’s heartbreakingly beautiful screenplay perfectly captures a tale of hope and humanity and examines the transcendental nature of music in a cold »

- andreas.wiseman@screendaily.com (Andreas Wiseman)

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‘Jack,’ ‘Minuscule’ And ‘Happiness’ Nominated for European Film Awards

2 hours ago | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Paris– EuropaCorp’s “Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart,” Futurikon’s “Minuscule: Valley of The Lost Ants” and Mad Entertainment’s “The Art of Happiness” will compete for best animated feature at the upcoming European Film Awards.

Penned and directed by Mathias Malzieu and Stephane Berla, “Jack” was produced by Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp and co-produced by Belgium’s Walking the Dog. It world-premiered at Berlin in the Generation Kplus section and was picked up by The Shout Factory for U.S. distribution.

The arthouse film, set in 19th-century Edinburgh, tells the tale of a boy whose heart was replaced by a clock at birth. The music-filled toonpic features animation designs by Nicolette Ceccoli, Stéphane Martinez and Robert Cepo.

Alessandro Rak’s “Happiness” (“L’Arte de La Felicita”), which world-premiered at Venice’s Critics Week, is an adult-skewing drama set in Naples. Scored by Antonio Fresa and Luigi Scialdone, “Happiness »

- Elsa Keslassy

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Martin Scorsese exec'd Tomorrow starts shoot

2 hours ago | ScreenDaily | See recent ScreenDaily news »

Cast revealed to include Stephen Fry, Stephanie Leonidas, Joss Stone, Paul Kaye, Sebastian Street, Stuart Brennan and Sophie Kennedy-Clarke

The cast of Tomorrow, the first British drama to be executive produced by Martin Scorsese, has been uneveiled as the shoot begins in London.

The film, about the difficulty soldiers experience after returning from war, will star Stephen Fry (The Hobbit), Stephanie Leonidas (Defiance), Sebastian Street (Age of Heroes), Stuart Brennan (Risen), Sophie Kennedy-Clark (Nymphomaniac, Philomena), Paul Kaye (Game of Thrones) and Joss Stone (The Tudors).

Six weeks of principal photography has begun across London locations to include Battersea, Borough and Shoreditch, as well as Tedworth House in Wiltshire, home for recovering soldiers, and Spain in October.

The film, produced by London-based Roaring Mouse Productions and Studio 82, marks the feature directorial debut of Martha Pinson, Scorsese’s script supervisor.

Pinson previously directed award-winning short Don’t Nobody Love the Game More Than Me and off-Broadway plays as well »

- michael.rosser@screendaily.com (Michael Rosser)

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Rome Film Fest To Fete Japan’s Takashi Miike And Host World Preem Of His ‘As the Gods Will’

2 hours ago | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Rome – Prolific edgy Japanese helmer Takashi Miike will be honored with a career nod by the Rome Film Festival where his hotly anticipated new pic “As the Gods Will,” considered a potential Japanese competitor to “The Hunger Games” franchise, will have its world preem.

“As the Gods Will” (pictured) is based on the popular “Kamisama no lu Tori” horror manga written by Muneyuki Kanshiro and drawn by Akeji Fujimura, about an ordinary teen whose world is turned upside down one day at school, after he and his classmates find themselves forced to play games with deadly stakes. It was serialized in Kodansha Comic Magazine from March 2011 to November 2012 and has sold 1.5 million copies in paperback editions in Japan.

Toho, which produced the pic toplining Sota Fukushi (“Amachan”), has reportedly scheduled a Fall release for the pic in Japan.

Miike, whose 2012 hit “Lessons of the Evil,” with a similarly high teen-age body count, »

- Nick Vivarelli

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Martin Scorsese to Present Martha Pinson’s ‘Tomorrow’

3 hours ago | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Martin Scorsese is to executive produce “Tomorrow,” the directorial debut of Martha Pinson, his long-time script consultant.

The film, which explores the difficult reintegration into normal society of battle-worn soldiers, starts production in London today. It will continue in a Wiltshire home for recovering soldiers and also in Spain.

Confirmed cast includes Stephen Fry (“The Hobbit”), Sophie Kennedy-Clark (“Nymphomaniac” I and II), Paul Kaye (“Game of Thrones”) Stephanie Leonidas (“Defiance”), Sebastian Street (“Age of Heroes”), Staurt Brennan (“Risen”) and Joss Stone (“The Tudors”).

Tomorrow” is produced by U.K.-based Roaring Mouse Productions and Studio 82. Producers are screenwriters Brennan and Street, as well as Dean M. Woodford. Scorsese and Emma Tillinger Koskoff take executive producer credits.

Pinson has directed short films and stage plays and worked with Oliver Stone and Sidney Lumet. She worked alongside Scorsese four of his last features “The Aviator,” “The Departed,” “Shutter Island,” and “Hugo.”

“Through [Martha Pinson's] vision, »

- Patrick Frater

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Korea Box Office: ‘Maze Runner’ Trots to Top Spot

4 hours ago | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Seoul — After a several weeks when local films ruled, two Hollywood titles topped the South Korean weekend box office.

The Maze Runner,” which opened on Sept. 18, was the winner, taking a 37% market share, and scoring Us$5.43 million (Krw 5.65 billion).

Distributed by 20th Century Fox Korea, its box office popularity appears to have been helped by local media attention to the casting of Korean-born actor, Lee Ki-hong.

Begin Again” continued to show staying power, holding on to second place in its sixth week. It added 361,000 admissions for a ticket sales cumulative of 2.44 million, worth $18.7 million (Krw 19.4 billion.)

“Tazza 2,” a locally-produced gambling actioner handled by Lotte, slid 59% and dropped two places to third spot, only adding Us$1.77 million (Krw 1,85 billion) for a cumulative total of Us$28.1 million (Krw 29.3 billion) after three weeks of release.

Another Hollywood title entering the charts was Universal’s “A Walk Among the Tombstones.” Released on Sept. 18, it »

- Nemo Kim

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Emma Watson's Un speech: gender equality is a men's issue too video

4 hours ago | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

The Un Women's goodwill ambassador, Emma Watson, has launched the United Nation's HeForShe campaign by inviting men to take part in the global fight for equality. The Harry Potter actress told an audience of Un delegates that men, too, must take action against sexism around the world, and the fight for feminist ideals must not be confused with 'man-hating' Continue reading »

- Guardian Staff

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Film Review: ‘Two Night Stand’

5 hours ago | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

An uneven, intermittently charming indie romantic comedy, “Two Night Stand” means to embrace the jittery folkways of millennial dating and wrap them into a traditional love story. Given the hair-raising uncertainties of urban romance today, that may be a cake to have and eat only at the movies.  (Analeigh Tipton and Miles Teller) who meet on a casual dating site, spend the designated night together — then find themselves snowbound, stuck with one another, and having a real conversation. 

The movie is more or less a two-hander unfolding in two cramped rooms, so everything hangs on the banter, which alternates giddily between smart and smart-aleck; until a visual treat at the end, there isn’t much to look at. The result will likely go down easy with youngish singletons who dream of free-range hookups topped with love eternal. Moviegoing boomer parents who see it as a primer on the risks their »

- Ella Taylor

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‘The Boxtrolls’ L.A. Premiere Unpacks Fun, Bugs at Universal Hollywood

5 hours ago | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

It was bugs, balloons and barrels of fun at Focus Features’ pre-premiere party for Laika’s “The Boxtrolls” Sunday morning at Universal Studios Hollywood. One intriguing treat was a truck offering guests a chance to “Eat Like a Boxtroll,” with an assortment of crunchy critters on display, including such delicacies as Superworm Quesadillas, Chocolate Dipped Chappulines and Grasshopper Kabobs. No word on how many tried of these snacks. Meanwhile, studio execs, creatives, cast and guests got a chance to mingle and munch on other goodies as they played a variety of “Boxtroll” inspired games prior to strolling the red carpet for the screening.

Ben Kingsley, who plays a villainous exterminator in the film, was fascinated by the process of voicing an animated character, which is quite the solitary endeavor. “It’s a very extraordinary discipline. You can only use your voice,” he said. “There’s no point in using any »

- Terry Flores

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