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It’s a Coppola World: Inside the Filmmaking Co-Op That is Sofia, Eleanor, Roman, and Francis

24 June 2017 9:00 AM, PDT

Sofia Coppola is the promotional circuit with “The Beguiled” (June 23, Focus Features). So is her 81-year-old mother, Eleanor, who wrote and directed her first narrative feature, the romantic road movie “Paris Can Wait;” Sony Pictures Classics is releasing it around the country to strong reviews and box office. Mother and daughter will meet, with their films, at this week’s Munich International Film Festival, where they’ll be joined by the man who began the family film dynasty, Francis Ford Coppola.

Sofia and her older brother, director and screenwriter Roman Coppola, also own San Francisco production company American Zoetrope, which their father launched in 1979; Roman runs it day to day. “They seek each other’s help when it’s needed,” said long-time family producer and casting guru Fred Roos.

Roos has been Francis Ford’s producer and casting director since “The Godfather.” And from the beginning of Sofia’s career, »


- Anne Thompson

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How ‘The Beguiled’ Star Kirsten Dunst Took Control of Her Career by Owning Her Taste for Depressives, Smart Directors, and Powerful TV

22 June 2017 3:03 PM, PDT

Welcome to Career Watch, a vocational checkup of top actors and directors, and those who hope to get there. In this edition we take on Kirsten Dunst, who steals the show from Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell in Cannes director-winner Sofia Coppola’s Civil War potboiler “The Beguiled” (June 23, Focus Features). It’s her fourth collaboration with Coppola.

Bottom Line: Dunst steered toward playing strong women from an early age, with films that include political comedy “Dick” with Michelle Williams, John Stockwell’s “Crazy/Beautiful” with Jay Hernandez, and Peyton Reed and Jessica Bendinger’s cheerleader sleeper “Bring It On,” shot the year she graduated from Los Angeles’ Catholic high school Notre Dame. She has never settled for The Girlfriend or romantic lead, although she made a memorable Mary Jane Watson in the “Spider-Man” franchise. “Looking back, I’m proud of the choices that I’ve made,” she said. “A »


- Anne Thompson

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Anatomy of a Disaster: Inside the ‘Buena Vista Social Club’ Sequel That Became a Fiasco

21 June 2017 11:28 AM, PDT

Back in January, Lucy Walker was on the verge of debuting her fifth feature at Sundance — the high-profile sequel to Wim Wenders’ 1999 Oscar-nominated documentary, “The Buena Vista Social Club.” It was the best-possible launchpad, with a prime slot of January 20, the first full day of the festival. Sundance had good reason to bet on the title: It continued a story that grossed $23 million worldwide and created a platinum-selling album, and could carry fresh meaning with the changes in Cuban-American relations. As Sundance described it:

As the sun sets on the careers of Cuba’s finest musicians, the Buena Vista Social Club, we get their side of the whole story, which stretches back to the beginning of the Cuban Republic, through the Grammy-winning 1998 album and Wim Wenders’ film, up to the new Cuba today.

And then, hours before the premiere, distributor Broad Green Pictures did the unthinkable: It pulled the film from the lineup.

“We at Broad Green are disappointed that we will not be able to premiere this compelling documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival,” Broad Green said in a statement. “The film’s post production process has taken longer than expected and thus the decision was made to wait to introduce the film to audiences until it can be presented in its best possible iteration.”

Broad Green CEO Gabriel Hammond’s decision seemed bizarre: While there’s no shame in a documentary playing Sundance in less-than-final form — in 2013 Jehane Noujaim’s “The Square” premiered as a work in progress, and went on to receive an Oscar nomination — pulling a film from the festival, much less moments before its debut, was virtually unheard of.

No one was more baffled than Walker. An ambitious, high-profile documentarian with a Sundance audience award and two Oscar nominations to her credit, she had rushed to the Sundance-submission finish line. She thought she had finished her movie.

And then the mystery deepened. Two weeks later, in a February 1 Instagram post, she commented, “it’s not clear for now if that work will be seen or appreciated which is the purgatorial pitstop we are in currently.” Later, she added: “Any minute now we’ll be able to explain! I’m still dreaming the beautiful film we made might be seen ever again.”

When Walker tried to reach Hammond after the festival, he was unreachable for a month, at which point movers arrived at her Venice office to cart editing equipment away.

Now, nearly six months later, it’s clear that the filmmaker never regained control of her movie. On April 22, she only learned that her film had a May 26 release date when she read about it on IndieWire. Broad Green released the overhauled film in 80 theaters for a two-week run. (Total gross: $123,445.) To this day, she hasn’t seen the film.

Walker has kept silent in the press, limiting herself to several carefully worded social media posts like this @lucywalkerfilm tweet:

Buena Vista Social Club Adios (my follow-up film) has been significantly changed (shots & scenes including narrative spine removed, other scenes added so it’s overall longer ) since I finished it before Sundance. Apparently it’s being released this week in lots of theaters (for a doc). I haven’t seen it myself but I hope audiences enjoy it.

What went wrong? We talked to a number of participants in this debacle, and no one comes out ahead.

Related storiesLucy Walker's Buena Vista Social Club Documentary Finally Gets a Title and Release DateBroad Green Pictures Is Missing Release Dates and Angering Filmmakers. Here's Why.IndieWire and FilmStruck's 'Movies That Inspire Me': Lucy Walker on Seeing Cuban Music Come Alive in 'Buena Vista Social Club' »


- Anne Thompson

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Netflix’s Next Big Move? Hacking the Oscars

20 June 2017 10:50 AM, PDT

Watch chief content officer Ted Sarandos work the room at the recent Produced By Conference, or at the AFI tribute to Diane Keaton, and he looks like a studio chief. And with yesterday’s announcement of Lionsgate executive Julie Fontaine’s hire as head of motion picture publicity, Sarandos confirmed his intent to make Netflix Hollywood’s premier film and television studio — and that includes winning Oscars.

Fontaine is a veteran of both Disney and Miramax, and most recently ran awards campaigns on four Lionsgate releases. Last year saw 26 nominations for Best Picture nominees “La La Land” and “Hacksaw Ridge,” as well as partner CBS Films’ “Hell or High Water” and “Deepwater Horizon.” Joining her on Netflix’s Oscar visonquest are Los Angeles PR firm Ginsberg/Libby, as well as not one but two top-flight Oscar strategists in Cynthia Swartz and Lisa Taback.

Read More: Ted Sarandos, Jerry Seinfeld, and »


- Anne Thompson

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‘The Young Pope’: How Jude Law Went Weird with Paolo Sorrentino for His Best Work In Years

19 June 2017 11:03 AM, PDT

Welcome to Career Watch, a vocational checkup of top actors and directors, and those who hope to get there. In this edition we take on Jude Law, who’s always been hard to pin down, and his title role in HBO Emmy Contender “The Young Pope” is no exception. 

Bottom Line: As he embraces his mid-40s, Jude Law has morphed from British golden boy to globally bankable character actor. His range is wide, from tragic robot Gigolo Joe in Steven Spielberg’s “A.I.” to Robert Downey, Jr.’s comedy sidekick Dr. Watson in Guy Ritchie’s blockbuster “Sherlock Holmes” franchise. Still stunningly handsome, Law is gaining grit and gravitas as he gets older. But there’s a sense he’s still holding back.

Latest Misfires: Law took on evil power-monger Vortigern opposite Charlie Hunnam as Arthur in Ritchie’s attempt to similarly update “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, »


- Anne Thompson

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