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Arthouse Audit: 'Zero Dark Thirty' and 'Amour' Open Strong

23 December 2012 1:21 PM, PST

The two most awarded and critically-acclaimed films of 2012 both opened last Wednesday in New York and Los Angeles, earning the highest Metacritic scores of the year (among the best of recent years). Their performance through the first five days show that audiences are responding. While faced with major competition for adult audiences as well as the normal pre-holiday slump, both posted numbers that would be considered strong any time of the year. Four other major specialized films also opened in NY/La. "The Impossible" starring best actress contender Naomi Watts shows the most promise. Other recent ongoing releases struggled to show sufficient strength to thrive the holidays, with one exception - Weinstein's "Silver Linings Playbook," which had another minor fall just ahead of its Christmas day doubling of theaters as its very slow (but so far successful) rollout continues. A sign of the time of year is fewer new openings than any week for. »


- Tom Brueggemann

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Pre-Holiday Box Office is Weak: Christmas Can't Come Too Soon for Studios, Theaters

23 December 2012 10:03 AM, PST

Pre-Christmas weekends vary wildly in performance year by year, depending on where the dates fall (the closer to Christmas, the worse the business until December 25) and the strength of new openings. With the debuting films this year ranging for modest to weak, whatever strength there was came from the second week of "The Hobbit," which took a steep (but not unusual) fall from its smaller-than-expected opening. The result is a so-so total gross at best. It looks like the fate of this holiday is in the hands of next Tuesday's highly anticipated openers, "Les Miserables" and "Django Unchained" as well as "Parental Guidance." After an adult-and "Twilight"-driven superb Thanksgiving, Christmas could prove a letdown. But that remains to be seen: when Christmas comes, every weekday is a Saturday and audiences rebound in the largest numbers of the year. Apart from the top tem, the other big news is the strong weekend gross of. »


- Tom Brueggemann

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Pre-Holiday Box Office: 'Jack Reacher' Best of So-So New Openers

22 December 2012 2:39 PM, PST

Warning signs for this year's year-end box office prospects appeared in Friday's numbers. Even though pre-Christmas Friday was two days earlier this year (generally the closer the day is to the holiday, the fewer people are going to movies), the take for the Top Ten was only $28 million yesterday, compared to $37 million on the same Friday last year. That's despite the #1 film for the day - "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (Warner Brothers) - grossing more (because of 3-D and other surcharges) than last year's "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol," also in its second week. But while "The Hobbit" was tops for the day, the prequel dropped a staggering $26 million from its opening day. Even with the $13-million midnight first show grosses removed, it still dropped nearly 60% - not a good sign for a film that, while its Us and international take already is impressive (over $300 million), doesn't look certain to »


- Tom Brueggemann

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Weekly Wrap: The Best of Toh! - 'Zero Dark Thirty' Controversy, Apatow, and Beasts of Southern Wild Featurette

22 December 2012 10:58 AM, PST

Best of the Toh Week that Was: Holiday Weekend Preview 2012: 'Zero Dark Thirty,' 'Les Mis,' 'Django,' 'Impossible,' 'On the Road,' 'This is 40' and More Make a Christmas Movie Feast Director Kormakur Literally Jumped Into Iceland's 'Deep' with Oscar Entry, Plans Viking Adventure Oscar Foreign Shortlist Arrives; Nine Films Advance; 'Barbara,' Lore,' 'Pieta' Left Behind Updated Oscar Talk: 'Zero Dark Thirty,' 'Wreck-It Ralph,' Animation Race, and Oscar Campaigning Judd Apatow To Receive 'Critics' Choice Louis Xiii Genius Award' Producers Talk 'Les Mis,' 'Argo,' 'Django,' 'Hobbit,' 'Silver Linings, 'Master' at THR Roundtable Top Ten Lists of 2012: An Updated Guide to the Favorite Films of the Year Exclusive: New 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' Featurette Takes You On Set with »


- TOH!

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Director Kormakur Literally Jumped Into Iceland's 'Deep' with Oscar Entry, Plans Viking Adventure

21 December 2012 1:54 PM, PST

Iceland's shortlisted Oscar entry "The Deep" (spring 2013) is based on the true story of the sole survivor of a downed fishing boat. Baltasar Kormakur is a member of a growing band of truly international filmmakers who make films at home as well as Hollywood. Producer-star Mark Wahlberg starred in "Contraband," Kormakur's remake of his own "Reykjavik-Rotterdam," took a shine to the rugged Iceland actor-director, and went on to make another film with him, the upcoming $80-million actioner "Two Guns," co-starring Denzel Washington. Wahlberg is also producing an HBO pilot with him, "The Missionary." In a year that brought us "Life of Pi" and "The Impossible," it's striking that Kormakur opted to shoot his survival tale on real water. He and his cameraman bobbed in the Atlantic waves off Iceland in order to make believable the plight of his lonely swimmer, talking to birds and himself for hours on the »


- Anne Thompson

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Oscar Foreign Language Shortlist Films All Open or Set for Release by Early 2013

21 December 2012 1:27 PM, PST

Something funny happened on the way to the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar shortlist. Unusually, all nine contenders announced Friday morning have either already been released in the Us or will be during the first quarter of 2013. Because of separate eligibility rules for this category -- determined by their release dates in the country submitting a film rather than in the Us, unlike all other awards -- the nominees are often films virtually unknown to most American moviegoers, even those who follow foreign film. In some years -- including 2008, 2009 and 2010 -- the winner did not open theatrically until after the Oscar ceremony. Although plans are in flux for at least two of the unreleased films on the list ("Kon-Tiki" and "The Deep"), and at least one other ("Beyond the Hills") might move up its date before the awards, it is likely that at least three and possibly all five of »

- Tom Brueggemann

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Highlights from La Times Directors Roundtable with Bigelow, Affleck, Russell, Lee, Hooper and Gervasi

21 December 2012 12:59 PM, PST

Six directors talk shop for the La Times' directors roundtable. John Horn is joined by Kathryn Bigelow ("Zero Dark Thirty"), Ben Affleck ("Argo"), Tom Hooper ("Les Miserables"), David O. Russell ("Silver Linings Playbook"), Ang Lee ("Life of Pi") and Sacha Gervasi ("Hitchcock") to discuss their films, working with actors and the fears of directing. You can watch the full video of the roundtable here. You can also watch THR's directors roundtable. On being attracted to the fear in moviemaking: Ang Lee: I think being scared, fear, is our strongest emotion. Not even love. Fear is the No. 1 thing that tends to make us do the best thing. I don't think we're looking for the fall, but we just want to go to that edge. I want to feel like every movie I do, I'm like a virgin, doing it for the first time. Tom Hooper: I felt when I »


- Sophia Savage

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NRA Chief Blames Hollywood Media for Gun Violence, Names Oliver Stone's 1994 'Natural Born Killers'

21 December 2012 11:00 AM, PST

Oliver Stone can't get a break. Almost two decades after he directed uber-violent "Natural Born Killers," Hollywood's most famous Liberal remains a fat target for the National Rifle Association, which held a Washington, D.C. press conference Friday interrupted by protests. Finally responding to the horrific shooting spree at Newtown, Connecticut on December 15, when 20 children and six adults were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary school, NRA chief lobbyist Wayne Lapierre blamed Hollywood media for allowing violent culture to come into children's homes via movies, videogames and music videos. He described media conglomerates as "complicit co-onspirators." He also made reference to another dated film, "American Psycho." He couldn't come up with anything more recent? "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," Lapierre said. "In a race to the bottom, many conglomerates compete with »


- Anne Thompson

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Immersed in Movies: Costume Designer Jany Temime Talks 'Skyfall'

21 December 2012 10:30 AM, PST

Jany Temime effortlessly transitioned from dressing Harry Potter to James Bond because 007 has always been a part of her life. Temime knew exactly what she was getting into when she got the call from director Sam Mendes: "When you get to do a Bond, you take with you all that makes Bond," she proclaims. "When I was designing I knew I was going to have a suit, a sportswear outfit, a bathing suit, a tuxedo. But the interesting thing we had to do was make it new and fresh and especially in 2012 with the 50th anniversary." Of course, working on "Skyfall" revolved around fitting the needs of Daniel Craig, who first insisted that Tom Ford produce her designs and then requested a slim-fit '60s-style suit tailored very near his body, a suit that moved with his body during action scenes that fit like a second skin. "We both »


- Bill Desowitz

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'The Walking Dead' Loses Another Executive Producer, Will Show Chase Zombie Gore?

21 December 2012 10:20 AM, PST

Yet again there is a creative parting of the ways on hugely popular AMC series "The Walking Dead," which the cabler is renewing for a fourth season. "The Walking Dead" series based on Robert Kirkman's zombie graphic novels was first created by writer-director Frank Darabont ("The Shawshank Redeption"), who left after Season One. After that AMC and remaining executive producer Gale Anne Hurd relied on exec producer and showrunner Glen Mazzara, who shepherded Season Two and Three. For my money, Season One was the best-written and relied on strong characters to drive the plot, but there was enough DNA and juice from both the original graphic novels and Darabont's contributions to sustain Season Two. Season Three, however, while it was enhanced by the addition of sexy villain The Governor (Brit David Morrissey) to the ragtag band of survivors led by another Brit actor, Andrew Lincoln, went much more in »


- Anne Thompson

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Garcia Bernal and Larrain Just Say 'No' Exclusive Video

21 December 2012 9:26 AM, PST

"No," one of the best-received and most satisfying movies at Cannes 2012, which also screened in the Toronto and New York Film Festivals, comes from Chilean director Pablo Larraín and Mexican producer-star Gael García Bernal, who collaborated on a novel recreation of the 1988 ousting of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet after 15 long years of oppression. Sony Pictures Classics acquired all North American rights to the $2-million Participant Media-funded picture, which earned a rousing standing ovation when it debuted at the Director's Fortnight. Larraín and García Bernal were nervous before the showing, they admit in our flip cam interview below. García Bernal ("Babel," "The Motorcycle Diaries") gives a powerful, moving performance as courageous ad executive Rene Saavedra --under constant threat from Pinochet's thugs-- who spearheads the "happiness" ad campaign that led to an overwhelming victory »


- Anne Thompson

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Jarecki Talks Political Campaign for Sundance Doc Winner 'The House I Live In' - Coming to Digital and VOD Platforms January 15

21 December 2012 9:26 AM, PST

Update: Eugene Jarecki's incisive and incendiary "The House I Live In" arrives on all digital and VOD platforms on January 15. FilmBuff is handling the release, following its theatrical run last October. Jarecki states: “When this film premiered at Sundance this past January, talk of the drug war was an issue below the radar in most political and media circles.  Yet in just the past year, the zeitgeist has shifted, with an ever-growing chorus across the political spectrum demanding a wholesale rethinking of the war on drugs, which wrongly treats a matter of public health as a criminal justice matter.  We’ve worked hard to make the film available as an awareness-raising tool for use by those on the ground in states across the country to achieve the drug policy and criminal justice victories in last month’s election.  I am proud to see the film playing a role in »


- Anne Thompson

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Oscar Foreign Shortlist Arrives; Nine Films Advance; 'Barbara,' Lore,' 'Pieta' Left Behind Updated

21 December 2012 7:48 AM, PST

Thursday night in Los Angeles, the Oscar foreign-language film award executive committee met to find out from PricewaterhouseCoopers the six finalists from 71 foreign submissions, based on the best average scores from voters who saw the requisite number of foreign entries. Academy members have been screening the films, sometimes two to three a night, in order to get them seen in time. They have to watch them in a screening room, often not very full--which means that a small group can have an inordinate impact on the final results. That's one reason why the final three out of nine slots on the shortlist were filled by the 20-member exec committee. If by some chance the general voters didn't show the love for Palme d'Or winner and critics' group favorite "Amour," for example, they would add that to the list to avoid embarrassment. So we could count on that. Another film that »

- Anne Thompson

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Oscar Watch: Gurus 'O Gold Consolidates Its Top Ten Updated

20 December 2012 6:14 PM, PST

The Oscar best picture ten is starting to consolidate, finally. What the latest Gurus 'O Gold rankings suggest could actually happen. But Steve Pond of The Wrap believes there will be only eight nominations announced on January 10. We will see if his practice run with the Critics Choice ballots plays out. He doesn't say which eight. Six we can agree on: it's hard to say which of the last four on this list would be the seventh and eighth-- all will have passionate votes. Update: Here's the latest round of voting. Picture: 1. "Lincoln" 2.  "Zero Dark Thirty" 3.  "Les Miserables" 4. "Argo" 5.  "Silver Linings Playbook" 6.  "Life of Pi" 7. "Django Unchained" 8. "Beasts of the Southern Wild" 9. "Amour" 10. "Moonrise Kingdom" In the actor races, Movie City News' David Poland asked »


- Anne Thompson

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Judd Apatow To Receive 'Critics' Choice Louis Xiii Genius Award'

20 December 2012 4:44 PM, PST

Things are looking up for the 18th annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards ceremony which airs live at 8:00 Pm Et/Pt on The CW Network Thursday, January 10. (That's the same day the Oscar nominations are announced.) That's because the Broadcast Film Critics Association will award writer-producer-director Judd Apatow the “Critics' Choice Louis Xiii Genius Award” that night (named after a cognac) which he will be obliged to accept in person. He's a funny man who deserves this award honoring “an unprecedented demonstration of excellence in the cinematic arts.” (Toh! interviewed him here.) "I am very honored and flattered that there's finally an award with a name which convinces my family I am not just a schmuck,” said Apatow. “I am a schmuck who is a genius. I am very honored that they made this mistake." The writer-director-producer has displayed that genius over four movies, most recently “Knocked »


- Anne Thompson

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Holiday Weekend Preview 2012: 'Zero Dark Thirty,' 'Les Mis,' 'Django,' 'Impossible,' 'On the Road,' 'This is 40' and More Make a Christmas Movie Feast

20 December 2012 4:26 PM, PST

At last audiences can sink their teeth into Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty," which is inspiring debate as it enjoys a top spot on many Best of 2012 lists. If Jessica Chastain hunting down Osama bin Laden is not your thing, there's plenty to sample this pre-holiday weekend. Bigelow's excellent film, however, should be considered essential viewing as we head into the next phase of awards season. Ditto for Tom Hooper's "Les Miserables" and Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained," which both arrive on Christmas day next week. Judd Apatow's "This is 40," if not the revelation it sets out to be, does give Leslie Mann ample time to show off her talent. The other comedy opening is Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen's road-trip concoction, "The Guilt Trip." You may or may not find the idea of being trapped in a car with this duo appealing. "The Impossible »


- Sophia Savage

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Pre-Holiday Box Office: 'Zero Dark 30' 'Amour' Openings Boost Oscar Chances; 'Guilt Trip' 'Monsters 3D' Start Slow

20 December 2012 12:04 PM, PST

Four new films opened midweek, during the pre-Christmas period when most people postpone their moviegoing until the holiday. "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Amour" both opened well in limited release in NY/LA, particularly for the date. The two wide studio releases -- "Guilt Trip" and 3-D rerelease "Monsters 3D" fell far short of similar recent openings on a pre-Christmas Wednesday. Most of the focus has been on Sony's "Zero Dark Thirty," not only because of its awards prospects, but because of all the controversy surrounding aspects of the narrative, reinforced by a letter from three U.S. Senators yesterday asking producers to revise the "based on" description in the credits to indicate the possible conflict with official versions of the events shown in the film. The first day's results were excellent - just under $125,000 in 5 theaters, for a PSA of about $25,000. "Amour," which won the La Film »


- Tom Brueggemann

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New Epic Trailer for Baz Luhrmann's 'Great Gatsby' with a Smoldering Leonardo DiCaprio

20 December 2012 11:09 AM, PST

When Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" explodes onto screens on May 10 --and explode it will, if the trailer's outrageously epic footage is any indication--at least two subsets of people will have reason to celebrate: Fans of Luhrmann's extravagent creative license-taking (as successfully expressed in "Romeo + Juliet" and "Moulin Rouge," and to a far lesser extent in "Australia"); and fans of Leonardo DiCaprio as a devilishly good looking romantic lead. Generally things haven't gone well for him in that department (love poison, no room on the raft, crazy dead wives, etc) and he's avoided the romance altogether lately, opting for "J. Edgar" and the evil Calvin Candie in "Django Unchained." But his smolder has not been forgotten, and even if things don't end well for him in this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, we can look forward to the Jay Gatsby-Daisy Buchanan love affair. Take a »


- Sophia Savage

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Palm Springs Announces Complete Lineup: 'Blancanieves' and 'Unfinished Song' to Bookend Festival, Plus Eight of the Foreign Oscar Shortlist

20 December 2012 10:35 AM, PST

The complete lineup for the 24th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival is announced. The festival runs Janaury 3-13, and will be bookended by Spain's Oscar submission "Blancanieves," a silent adaptation of Snow White, and closing-night entry "Unfinished Song," from director Paul Andrew Williams and starring Terence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave and Gemma Arterton. The slate includes 180 films, with 68 countries represented and 61 world, North American and Us premieres. Eight of the nine shortlisted films for the Best Foreign Language Oscar are playing at the festival (all but Pablo Larrain's "No"). Festival director Darryl Macdonald states, "among these 180 accomplished new films are 63 debut features by first-time filmmakers, heralding an injection of fresh, audacious talent into the lifeblood of contemporary world cinema.” The complete lineup is listed below. The festival will honor several stars at its January 5 gala. »


- Sophia Savage

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Entertainment Weekly Posts Their Best and Worst of 2012

20 December 2012 10:22 AM, PST

Entertainment Weekly examines the trends, triumphs, and disasters of 2012 in a year-end double issue. Best films from critics Owen Gleiberman and Lisa Schwarzbaum start with "Lincoln" and "Zero Dark Thirty," respectively, followed by "Zero Dark Thirty," "Amour," and "Silver Linings Playbook." (Their complete lists are posted below.) EW's Great Performances highlights were not surprising: Daniel Day-Lewis in "Lincoln," Anne Hathaway as both Catwoman in "The Dark Knight Rises" and Fantine in "Les Miserables," and Philip Seymour Hoffman in "The Master" and on stage as Willy Loman in "Death of a Salesman."  Breakout Performances included Jessica Pare from "Mad Men" and Quvenzhané Wallis from "Beasts of the Southern Wild." EW's Owen Gleiberman List of Best Movies 1.  Lincoln 2.  Amour 3.  Silver Linings Playbook »


- Maggie Lange

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