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Arthouse Audit: VOD Vet 'John Dies at the End' Scores, 'Quartet' Builds

27 January 2013 1:19 PM, PST

The contrast between the fevered buying at the just completed Sundance and the pace of business, particularly for new openings, at specialized theaters was fairly stark this weekend. Among those new films reporting grosses, each opened in only one city (two in New York, one in Los Angeles), all getting a least some sampling among initial viewers. Magnolia's "John Dies at the End" seems to have the biggest overall potential, particularly with (as well as despite) it already having had multiple week video on demand exposure. The other two -- "Happy People: A Year on the Taiga" and "Yossi" -- showed enough initial appeal to guarantee at least niche big city bookings in upcoming weeks. Already playing much broader than arthouses, both "Quartet" and "Amour," similar in their elderly casts but miles apart in tone and appeal, both show continued strength as they expand. Opening "John Dies at the »


- Tom Brueggemann

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Sundance Awards: Both Ryan Coogler Drama 'Fruitvale,' Doc 'Blood Brother' Nab Grand Jury and Audience Awards Updated

27 January 2013 10:43 AM, PST

At the Sundance Film Festival Awards ceremony on Saturday, director John Cooper broke down in tears. Why? Because it was such a damned fine festival, where so many filmmakers were discovered and lauded. We are in a sweet zone for indie cinema, and Sundance helped to make that so. One of the tortures for many of us attending was simply not being able to see as many films as we would like. You catch the stream and see what you see and interview who you want to and in the end you take your slice. There is no other way to roll. You can't see everything. Rodrigo Perez of The Playlist wondered why anyone would go to a party when they could see another movie. But the fest is many things to many people. I wouldn't have missed the IMDb dinner with Col Needham, Lucy Walker, Lynn Shelton and others--during »


- Anne Thompson

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Weekend Box Office Top Ten: Weak Openers Led by 'Hansel and Gretel'

27 January 2013 10:26 AM, PST

Things picked up on Saturday after poor box office performance Friday due to Eastern weather. But it was still a weak result overall, with the Top Ten down about 25% from last weekend (even without major football competition) and about $6 million under last year (which saw a slight bump for two new Oscar nominees). Both of the two top films are genre flicks with appeal to the younger audience which has been recently underserved. Paramount's worefully reviewed "Hansel and Gretel" ended up with a credible performance, with Universal's "Mama" coming down to earth after last week's stronger opening. But two other new openings -- "Parker" (FilmDistrict") and "Movie 43" (Relativity) --showed little life. Meantime, two Oscar contenders -- Weinstein's "Silver Linings Playbook" and Sony's "Zero Dark Thirty"-- continued to play well in their expanded runs, with the former holding particularly well. »


- Tom Brueggemann

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PGA Awards: 'Argo' Wins Big, Plus 'Sugarman,' 'Homeland,' 'Modern Family'; Tributes to Weinsteins, Abrams & Working Title

27 January 2013 12:34 AM, PST

"Argo" is on a roll. Ben Affleck's movie won again at the Producers Guild Awards, setting the tone for the weeks leading to the Oscars as one of statistical chances. Without also receiving a Best Director Oscar nomination, four other films have won the PGA's top prize ("Driving Miss Daisy," "Apollo 13," "Moulin Rouge," and "Little Miss Sunshine"). Since the PGAs have predicted the Oscars' Best Picture winner five years in a row, 2012 may be one for the history books. Or, this super-competitive year is not easy to call. "Lincoln" and SAg-favorite "Silver Linings Playbook" --not to mention "Life of Pi," are still in the running. Before Affleck accepted the award for "Argo," (his speech started with "I'm really surprised, I am not even a member of the Producers Guild!"), the Guild presented many other awards--for Oscar doc fave "Searching for Sugar Man," »


- Sophia Savage

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Weekend Box Office Preview: Weak Openers, 'Silver Linings' Holds Strong

26 January 2013 11:07 AM, PST

Did you look at the movie ads this weekend and decide maybe it was a good time to stay home? Apparently you weren't alone. Three new openings failed to spark much interest, and combined with other post-Christmas releases that got whatever attention they deserved on their first few days, business collapsed last night. Recent weekends bolstered by the lingering strength of late 2012 releases masked real concerns that box office might be going south again after a decent holiday period. Is this just the dog days of January, or do these results suggest a troubling year ahead? Grosses for the top 10 films fell by about a third from last Friday's hardly luminous results. And this is a not an undesirable weekend to launch a film, with no competition from football for the first time in months. Next week, the attention-grabbing Super Bowl will be a double whammy, scaring most new films away. »

- Tom Brueggemann

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Best of the Week: Sundance in Full Swing, First Look at 'Inside Llewyn Davis' Trailer, Cinematographers Janusz Kaminski and Claudio Miranda Talk

25 January 2013 4:35 PM, PST

The best stories of the week from Toh! Video: Exclusive Trailer Leak: The Coen Brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis" Sundance: Review Roundup: Tame "Lovelace" Goes Down Too Smooth Magnolia Picks Up David Gordon Green's "Prince Avalanche," Plus Review and Roundup Review: "Fruitvale" Is a Tearjerker Sundance Her Infinite Variety Panel: Women Writer-Directors Talk Turkey Review: Garcia Bernal Mystery Doc "Who Is Dayani Cristal?" Sundance Sex in Cinema: Gordon-Levitt's "Don Jon's Addiction," Winterbottom's "The Look of Love" Review: Nick Ryan's Riveting Doc "The Summit" Shows Death and Heroism on K2 Television: "Girls" Recap 2: The Girls "Get Ideas," But What Do They Want? Interviews: Immersed in Movies: Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski Talks "Lincoln" Immersed in Movies: Cinematographer »


- TOH!

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Oscar Talk: 'Argo' vs. 'Lincoln,' PGA, DGA, SAG Predicts, Sundance Recap

25 January 2013 1:52 PM, PST

Kris Tapley and I go toe to toe in this week's post-Sundance, pre-pga, SAG and DGA Oscar Talk. Kris is sanguine about "Argo"'s PGA and Oscar chances, while I think "Life of Pi" and "Silver Linings Playbook" have more momentum; SAG could go for the latter in a big way, we agree. We recap Sundance: Sony Pictures Classic pick-up "Before Midnight" is the only feature contender, we think; some of the terrific Sundance docs are bound to emerge as well. »


- Anne Thompson

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Michael Moore, In Defense of 'Zero Dark Thirty' - A Movie 'About How We Don't Listen to Women'

25 January 2013 12:12 PM, PST

Michael Moore wrote this In Defense of "Zero Dark Thirty" and posted it on his Facebook page before an edited version appeared on Time.com. In Defense of "Zero Dark Thirty

" There comes a point about two-thirds of the way through 'Zero Dark Thirty' where it is clear something, or someone, on high has changed. The mood at the CIA has shifted, become subdued. It appears that the torture-approving guy who's been president for the past eight years seems to be, well, gone. And, just as a fish rots from the head down, the stench also seems to be gone. Word then comes down that – get this! – we can't torture any more! The CIA agents seem a bit disgruntled and dumbfounded. I mean, torture has worked soooo well these past eight years! Why can't we torture any more??? 

The answer is provided on a TV screen in the »


- Michael Moore

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Weekend Preview: Critics Hating on 'Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters' and 'Movie 43'; Indie 'Supporting Characters' Best Bet

25 January 2013 11:59 AM, PST

Stars in duds is the theme of this weekend. "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters," starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton, and "Movie 43," starring Emma Stone, Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet (among many others), both have atrocious Tomatometer scores. The critics are a bit warmer to Jason Statham vehicle "Parker," directed by Taylor Hackford. In the indie arena, fest favorite comedy-horror title "John Dies at the End" is getting mixed reviews, while NY twentysomething comedy "Supporting Characters" is garnering praise. "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" Dir. Tommy Wirkola, USA | Paramount Pictures | Cast: Gemma Arterton, Jeremy Renner, Peter Stormare | 10% Rotten | The Hollywood Reporter: "The film is smart enough to wear out its welcome. But that's the only sign of intelligence in this juvenile caper." "Parker" Dir. Taylor Hackford, USA | FilmDistrict | Cast: Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, »


- Beth Hanna

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Immersed in Movies: Exploring 'ParaNorman' VFX

25 January 2013 11:57 AM, PST

In addition to its best animated feature Oscar nomination, the stop-motion "ParaNorman" has also distinguished itself with a few VFX noms from the Visual Effects Society (whose 11th annual Ves Awards takes place February 5 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel). It's a testament to both "ParaNorman's" individual accomplishment in pushing verisimilitude and Laika's commitment to transcending the limitations of stop-motion while still retaining the hand-crafted nature of the animation. "It's not exaggerating to say that 'ParaNorman' couldn't have been made without VFX," says director Chris Butler. "And that's what was always exciting to me about the project in the first place. We were pushing stop-motion into new territory, which included the scope and the scale. And those are two things couldn't have been realized if the movie had been done entirely practically. We wouldn't have been able to have the town be such »


- Bill Desowitz

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Linklater, Hawkes and Delpy Return to Sony with "Before Midnight'

25 January 2013 11:46 AM, PST

John Sloss did the right thing. The Cinetic Media chief was pacing the second floor of Zoom in Park City Monday night as his annual Sundance Film Festival party raged around him. He was weighing the offers that had come pouring in for "Before Midnight," the third film in Richard Linklater's trilogy about Celine and Jesse, who first met 18 years ago in "Before Sunrise," and reignited their romance nine years ago in "Before Sunset," which nabbed an Oscar nomination for Adapted Screenplay. He could have shown the pre-branded film to distributors before the fest, but opted to wait. Castle Rock and Sony's Columbia produced the first one, while Warner Independent released the second. Seven buyers including Lionsgate were in the hunt, but finally Sloss closed a high seven-figure deal yesterday with Sony Pictures Classics for North American and UK rights. The movie scored huge audience reaction over the past week after its Sunday debut. »


- Anne Thompson

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'Star Trek' Guru J.J. Abrams Directing 'Star Wars' Ignites Reaction: Why He Can Do Both

25 January 2013 11:27 AM, PST

Emotions are running high with the news that J.J. Abrams will direct the newest installment of "Star Wars," due in theaters in 2015. Below, a roundup from the web, including Abrams' past words about his reservations to direct the storied franchise, rumors of other directors, a selection of amusing Tweets from fans, and more. Some folks don't like the idea that the same director would be putting his stamp on both the "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" franchises, which are, after all, very different. First, what Abrams knows how to do is create very different movie universes, from "Mission Impossible" to "Super 8," which was an homage to vintage Steven Spielberg. He's nothing if not a chameleon with a wide lexicon of movie knowledge. As a writer he gets the inner workings of what makes these worlds tick. He also works with smart writers. Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman helped to »


- Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna

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Cesar Nominations Announced, 'Camille Redouble' Leads with 13, 'Amour' Gets 10, 'Argo' Nabs Foreign-Language Nod

25 January 2013 11:00 AM, PST

Nominations for the Cesar Awards, France's equivalent to the Oscar, have been announced. Noemie Lvovsky's "Camille Redouble" scored 13 nominations, while Michael Haneke's "Amour" received 10. Leos Carax's "Holy Motors," Benoit Jacquot's "Farewell, My Queen," and Jacques Audiard's "Rust & Bone" also scored Best Picture nods. Full list below. Meanwhile, Ben Affleck's "Argo" and Nikolaj Arcel's "A Royal Affair" made it into the Best Foreign-Language nominees. Best Picture Farewell, My Queen Amour Camille Redouble In The House Rust & Bone Holy Motors What’s In A Name Best Director Benoît Jacquot, Farewell, My Queen Michael Haneke, Amour Noémie Lvovsky, Camille Redouble François Ozon, In The House Jacques Audiard, Rust & Bone Leos Carax, Holy Motors Stéphane Brizé, »


- Beth Hanna

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JFK Assassination Pic 'Parkland' Begins Lensing in Austin with Giamatti, Thornton, Weaver, Harden, Strong, Haley and Hanks

25 January 2013 10:56 AM, PST

JFK assassination film "Parkland," adapted from author and former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi's book "Reclaiming History: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy," has begun shooting in Austin, Texas. The film stars Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton, Jacki Weaver, Marcia Gay Harden, Zac Efron, Jeremy Strong, Jackie Earle Haley, Colin Hanks, David Harbour and Ron Livingston. "Parkland" is produced by Playtone’s Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, plus Exclusive Media, The American Film Company and Bill Paxton. Peter Landseman wrote the screenplay from Bugliosi's massive tome, and is also making his directorial debut. Barry Ackroyd ("The Hurt Locker") is director of photography. "Parkland" centers on the chaotic events at Parkland Hospital on the day of JFK's assassination in Dallas in 1963. A late 2013 release is planned, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 35th president's death. Bugliosi previously »


- Sophia Savage

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Weinstein Co. Begins Production on 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' Sequel in May

25 January 2013 9:54 AM, PST

The Weinstein Company will reportedly start production in May on a sequel to Ang Lee's Oscar-winning "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Lee is not returning to helm the film; directing reins will instead go to veteran Chinese director Ronny Yu. The sequel is based on the same source material as the original, Wang Du Lu's "The Crane-Iron Pentology." John Fusco penned the new script; Hui-Ling Wang, James Schamus and Kuo Jung Tsai shared writing credits on the original "Crouching Tiger" screenplay. Deadline reports that it's unclear which actors from the original, if any, will reprise their roles. Chow Yun-Fat, Zhang Ziyi, Michelle Yeoh and Chang Chen toplined. "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" won four Oscars in 2001: Best Foreign-Language Film, Cinematography, Art Direction and Original Score. Lee's "Life of Pi" is currently nominated for 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, Director, Cinematography and Visual »


- Beth Hanna

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Leonard Maltin to Host 3-D Creative Arts Awards, Ang Lee Honored with Creative Achievement Award for 'Life of Pi'

25 January 2013 9:43 AM, PST

Renowned critic, author and film historian Leonard Maltin will host the International 3-D Society's fourth annual 3-D Creative Arts Awards on February 6. Director Ang Lee will be honored with the society's Harold Lloyd Award for creative achievement on his Oscar-nominated film "Life of Pi." Additionally, DreamWorks Animation will receive the Sir Charles Wheatstone Award for education and creative achievement, while Panasonic Corporation will be honored with the Century Award for bringing the 2012 Olympic Games to millions of 3-D viewers around the world. International 3-D Society president Jim Chabin states, "Leonard Maltin is revered as one of our film industry's most trusted voices. He brings a keen eye, a love of movies, and a sense of history to our celebration of this year's best 3-D." Check out Maltin's Indiewire blog Movie Crazy here. »


- Beth Hanna

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Sundance Deal: IFC Picks Up 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints'

25 January 2013 9:11 AM, PST

IFC has sealed a deal for U.S. rights to David Lowery's Sundance favorite "Ain't Them Bodies Saints." The acquisition reportedly came after a battle involving the company and three other distributors that lasted through the night of January 24 and into the morning of the 25th. The Western-neo-noir hybrid stars Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck and Ben Foster, and has been receiving rave reviews since its premiere in Park City on January 20. The film is penned by Lowery, and follows an outlaw who must travel across Texas to reunite with his wife and the daughter he's never met. Stay tuned for our video interview with the rising Texas writer-director; the film is likely to win a prize or two at Saturday's Sundance Awards ceremony.  Deadline is reporting that the acquisition is just over $1 million. Check out our review and roundup of the film here. »


- Beth Hanna

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Sundance Review Roundup: 'Blue Caprice' an Eerie Thriller Exploring the 2002 Beltway Snipers

25 January 2013 8:40 AM, PST

Critics are raving about Sundance Next section entry "Blue Caprice," directed by Alexandre Moors and based on the 2002 sniper attacks in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia. The film is an "eerie, disquieting, veritie-style exploration" of the killers' psychologies, while refusing any easy thrills. In fact, the Next section came out well all around this Sundance (Iw surveys all ten entries.) Roundup below. The Hollywood Reporter: Among the lead candidates to be this year’s breakout title from the Next section at Sundance is Blue Caprice, a disturbing, masterfully controlled thriller based on the 2002 sniper attacks in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Renewed national discussion of mass shootings and gun control stands to heighten the impact of director Alexandre Moors’ head-turning debut, which is driven by performances of brooding intensity from Isaiah Washington and Tequan Richmond. Indiewire: From the outset, »


- Beth Hanna

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Trailers from Hell: Brian Trenchard-Smith on Hammer's 'Pirates of Blood River'

25 January 2013 7:55 AM, PST

Get Hammered! week concludes at Trailers from Hell with director Brian Trenchard-Smith introducing the Brit horror studio's "The Pirates of Blood River," in which Hammer regular Christopher Lee steals the show as a ruthless pirate captain invading an island settlement looking for treasure. There aren't a lot of movies about Huguenots, but this landlocked pirate epic is one of them. Made as part of Hammer's coproduction deal with Columbia, American contract players Kerwin Mathews and Glenn Corbett seem a bit out of place, although Mathews and Lee provide some formidable swordsmanship. British censor problems led to a lot of back-and-forth to secure a less restrictive rating. »


- Trailers From Hell

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Sundance: Magnolia Eyeing 'V/H/S' Anthology Sequel 'S-vhs'

24 January 2013 1:52 PM, PST

Magnolia is set to press play with "S-vhs," the sequel to horror anthology "V/H/S." The new pic includes entries from directors Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Eduardo Sanchez and Gregg Hale, Jason Eisener, and Gareth Huw Evans and Timo Tjahjanto. Word on the Sundance streets is that the sequel is better than the original. "V/H/S" made its money on VOD; it took in over $100K at the domestic box office, and $622K overseas. It scored 53% rotten on the Tomatometer. /Film says "S-vhs" improves on the original in every way. ThePlaylist declares it a whole lot of fun. "S-vhs" is produced by Brad Miska of Bloody Disgusting as well as Roxanne Benjamin and Gary Binkow.   »


- Sophia Savage

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