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Toronto Film Festival Lineup Includes Denzel Washington’s ‘Equalizer,’ Kate Winslet’s ‘A Little Chaos’

1 hour ago

The Toronto International Film Festival has announced over 40 titles — a mix of awards contenders, star-powered indies, and international art-house fare — screening in its Gala and Special Presentations program this September, including Denzel Washington’s “The Equalizer,” a pair of Reese Witherspoon projects and closing night film “A Little Chaos,” Alan Rickman’s period pic starring Kate Winslet as a landscape gardener assigned to construct the garden at Versailles.

World-preeming Galas announced this morning at the Tiff Bell Lightbox also include “Pawn Sacrifice,” Ed Zwick’s biopic on the legendary Cold War-era chess match between Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) and Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber), and “Black and White,” Mike Binder’s tale of a grieving widower (Kevin Costner) in a custody battle, as well as WB fall releases “The Judge” (Robert Downey Jr.) and Shawn Levy’s dysfunctional family comedy-drama “This Is Where I Leave You.”

International titles world-preeming on the »


- Jennie Punter

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Pac-Man, Donkey Kong Among ’80s Video Game Icons to Appear in Adam Sandler’s ‘Pixels’

2 hours ago

Disney has its “Wreck-It Ralph,” now Sony has “Pixels,” a family feature that includes characters from popular video games.

Just days before it presents the film at San Diego Comic-Con, Sony has revealed an impressive roster of icons from ’80s properties, including Pac-Man, Frogger and Donkey Kong, who will appear in the Adam Sandler comedy, directed by Chris Columbus.

Other properties set to appear in the movie include “Asteroids,” “Breakout,” “Centipede” and “Missile Command” from Atari Interactive; “Galaga” and “Dig-Dug” (Bandai Namco, who also owns “Pac-Man”); “Q*bert” (Columbia Pictures Industries); “Space Invaders” (Taito Corp); and “Joust,” “Defender,” “Robotron” and “Wizard of Wor” (Warner Bros. Interactive). Nintendo owns “Donkey Kong,” while Konami Digital Entertainment has “Frogger.”

“There would be no way to make the movie without these legendary characters,” Columbus said.

Based on a short film that had classic arcade characters invade New York City (see the original short below with Donkey Kong, »


- Marc Graser

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CBS Films Shake-Up: Terry Press Sole President, Wolfgang Hammer Out

2 hours ago

Terry Press is solely in charge of CBS Films after her co-president Wolfgang Hammer quietly stepped down last May, a company spokesman confirmed.

Hammer will reportedly continue to play a consulting role at CBS Corporate, advising on digital content. The studio also laid off five people, including Bob Kaplowitz, a senior vice president of distribution, and several administrative employees.

More headcount changes may take place, according to an individual with knowledge, but no layoffs are imminent.

The studio is getting ready to release the Daniel Radcliffe romantic comedy “What If” on Aug. 1 and just wrapped production on “The Duff” with Bella Thorne and Ken Jeong. The company is expected to announced another homegrown production in the coming weeks and will likely be an active buyer at the Toronto Film Festival.

Press originally got involved in CBS Films on a consulting basis through her company 7570 Marketing Inc. She took the reins »


- Brent Lang

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‘Mortal Instruments’ Star Robert Sheehan, Lily Cole Join ‘Messenger’

4 hours ago

Robert Sheehan (“The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones”), Jack Fox (“Dracula”) and Lily Cole (“Snow White and the Huntsman”) have joined the cast of “The Messenger,” which one of the producers compares to “The Sixth Sense.”

Pic also stars David O’Hara (“The Departed”) and Tamzin Merchant (“The Tudors”).

Screenplay is penned by Andrew Kirk and will be directed by David Blair, who won BAFTAs with “Takin’ Over the Asylum” and “The Street.” It is produced by Terry Stone for Gateway Films, Richard Turner and Richard Hart for Ratio Film, and Michael Knowles. It is being executive produced by Omega Capital, Investor Profit Portfolio and The Wealth Advisory.

Beverly Hills-based Cinema Management Group, headed by Edward Noeltner, will be handling worldwide sales outside of the U.K.

Stone commented that the screenplay had reminded him of “The Sixth Sense.” “When a screenplay makes the hairs on the back of your »


- Leo Barraclough

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Venice Film Festival Venice Days Section Unveils Diverse Lineup

4 hours ago

Rome — The Venice Film Festival’s independently run Venice Days, modeled on Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, has unveiled its lineup of 14 pics unspooling in the official selection which sees known names screening alongside emerging helmers, including U.S. writer-director Shawn Christensen whose “Before I Disappear” (pictured) is making its international bow.

As previously announced, the out-of-competition opener is prolific South Korean auteur Kim Ki-duk’s multiple murder thriller “One On One,” about the brutal rape and murder of a schoolgirl, which is launching internationally from the Lido after being released in South Korea.

The closer, also not competing, is “Messi,” a docu-feature portrait of hot Argentine soccer player Leo Messi, helmed by Spain’s Alex De La Iglesia and written by Jorge Valdano, a former prominent member of the Argentine team who went on to become a sports journalist as well as a manager and sports director of Spain’s Real Madrid club. »


- Nick Vivarelli

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One Direction Concert Movie to Be Released on 3,000 Screens Worldwide

6 hours ago

Event cinema distributor Arts Alliance has inked a pact with Simon Cowell’s Syco, Modest! and Sony Music Entertainment to release pop band One Direction’s latest concert movie in theaters worldwide.

Arts Alliance plans a release of more than 10,000 screenings in over 3,000 screens across 50 or more territories, which it claims to be the biggest global “event cinema” release ever.

“Where We Are — The Concert Film” will play for one weekend, Oct. 11-12. The movie, recorded at the San Siro stadium in Milan, includes all of One Direction’s biggest hits, plus a 15-minute interview cut with exclusive behind-the-scenes footage. The band is on a 69-date global tour.

Tickets for the screenings will go on sale from July 28. More information including locations of the screenings will be released in the coming weeks via the film website at http://www.1Dconcertfilm.com.

The pic is produced by Fullwell 73 and re-unites producing »


- Leo Barraclough

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Lgbt Characters Lacking in Studio Films, Study Finds

6 hours ago

After undertaking its Studio Responsibility Index (Sri) for the second year to exam the quantity and quality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender representation in mainstream Hollywood, nonprofit organization GLAAD has determined that the 2013 calendar year was a “depressing realization.”

Stating that little changed in the year since the first report, GLAAD’s findings covered films released by 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Sony Columbia, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Bros.

Of 102 film releases GLAAD counted from the studios, just 17 of them (16.7%) contained characters identified as either lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. And, only seven of the 17 films passed GLAAD’s Vito Russo test. (Much like the Bechdel test that looks for works of fiction where two women talk to each other about something besides a man, this exam looks for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender characters who are not solely or predominantly defined by their »


- Shelli Weinstein

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China Box Office: Big Time for ‘Tiny Times 3,’ as ‘Transformers 4′ Passes $300 million

11 hours ago

Aspirational Chinese tween movie “Tiny Times 3” ran away with the China box office this weekend.

But the weekend was also notable as the frame in which Transformers: Age of Extinction” officially passed $300 million at Middle Kingdom theaters.

“Tiny Times 3” grossed $50.12 million in four days from some 9.7 million ticket sales. “Transformers 4” added $26.1 million, keeping it in second place, and putting it on a 24-day cumulative total of $306 million, according to data from Entgroup.

The counter-programming and social marketing tactics of Tiny Times 3 distributors Le Vision Pictures and Huace Film appear to have worked well, and goes some way to justifying Huace’s $120 million investment in director Guo Jingming’s films and comic book company late last year.

The opening weekend of the third instalment exceeded the final $47 million gross of “Tiny Times 2” which was released in August last year as a pre-planned quick-fire follow-up to the first episode. »


- Patrick Frater

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Ewan McGregor Starrer ‘Son of a Gun’ Finds Buyers Worldwide

11 hours ago

Australian heist thriller “Son of a Gun,” which stars Ewan McGregor, has sold extensively following its Cannes market premiere. Altitude Film Sales has inked deals across Europe, Asia, South America and the Middle East.

European sales include Benelux (Dutch Filmworks), France (TF1), Greece and Cyprus (Seven/Spentzos), Portugal (Pris), and Spain (Flins & Piniculas).

Other European sales include Romania and Hungary (Prorom), Cis (All Media), Poland (Kino Swiat), and Yugoslavia (Cinemania/Discovery). Svensk will distribute across Scandinavia and Iceland.

California Filmes has taken the film for South and Central America, and Gulf Film for the Middle East.

Deals for South Asia include Japan (Kadokawa), Indonesia (Pt Prima), South Korea (Korea Screen), and Thailand (Mono Group).

Previously announced deals include U.K. (Koch Media), German-speaking Europe (Ascot Elite), Australian and New Zealand (Hopscotch Entertainment One), and Penny Black Media for airlines.

In Cannes, UTA Independent Film Group closed deals on behalf of »


- Leo Barraclough

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Shanghai Film Corp. Places 19-Theater IMAX Order

14 hours ago

Seoul – Shanghai Film Corporation has struck a deal to install a further 19 IMAX screens in its theaters throughout China.

The deal, described, as “significant” by IMAX is the third largest it has struck in China and makes Sfc IMAX’s fifth largest partner worldwide, with a total of 22 sites when the deal is completed.

The new theaters will be built into new construction projects that are part of the company’s Shanghai Film Corporation (Sfc), Shanghai United Circuit Co. Ltd. (Suc) and Shanghai Sfg-epr Cinema Development & Management Co. circuits. Moist of the sites have been positively identified and all will be installed by the end of 2015.

Since Sfc opened the first in 2004, IMAX’s giant screen concept has been a huge hit in China. The total number of sites in commercial operation was xxx at the end of June. In a statement IMAX said that year-to-date box office increased by »


- Patrick Frater

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Dwayne Johnson’s Quake Thriller ‘San Andreas’ Finally Shoots in San Francisco

14 hours ago

After serving as a rallying point for improving California’s film incentive program,  Dwayne Johnson’s quake thriller “San Andreas” has started shooting its final scenes in San Francisco after most of the film was shot in Australia.

The film’s first unit began shooting Sunday in San Francisco and will wrap on July 27. Second-unit shooting had started on July 8.

Mayor Ed Lee and San Francisco Film Commission exec director Susannah Greason Robbins visited the set Monday at a debris-laden At&T Park, where the home of the San Francisco Giants was being shot to show the impact of a mammoth 9.0 shaker.

Even though the movie takes place in a California ravaged by the fictional quake, almost none of it is shot in the Golden State. Johnson portrays a copter pilot who rescues his daughter in San Francisco.

Except for two days in May in Los Angeles, the rest of »


- Dave McNary

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John Fasano Dead: Writer, Director, Producer Dies at 52

15 hours ago

Writer, producer and director John Fasano died in his sleep Saturday night. He was 52.

In a career that career spanned more than 25 years, Fasano had more than 40 credits on feature films and primetime television as a writer, director or producer.

His feature credits include “Another 48 Hrs.,” “Tombstone,” “Universal Soldier: The Return” and “Alien 3,” as well as developing the stories for “Alien vs. Predator,” “Flushed Away,” “Ex-1,” Marvel Comics’ “Werewolf by Night” and, most recently, writing “Sniper 5,” “Sniper Reloaded” and “Hostel: Part III.”

In television, Fasano wrote more than 17 movies, including TNT’s “The Hunchback,” for which he received a Writers Guild Award nomination in 1996; the Tom Selleck hit “Stone Cold”; the Iraq war docudrama “Saving Jessica Lynch”; and Westerns such as “The Legend of Butch and Sundance” and “Hannah’s Law.”

In the digital space, John created and wrote “Woke Up Dead,” a series for Sony’s Crackle »


- Carmel Dagan

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Disney in Talks With Mike White to Write Gorilla Tale ‘The One and Only Ivan’ (Exclusive)

16 hours ago

Walt Disney Pictures is in negotiations with Mike White to write the adaptation of Katherine Applegate’s children’s gorilla story “The One and Only Ivan.”

The book, published by HarperCollins in 2011, centers on the silverback gorilla Ivan, who is in a cage at a shopping center with an elderly elephant named Stella and a stray dog named Bob. When a baby elephant arrives, Ivan regains his memories and plans an escape to protect the new elephant from their abusive owner.

The book, illustrated by Patricia Castelao and written in the voice of Ivan, won the 2013 Newbery Medal. Applegate based the story of a gorilla named Ivan who spent 27 years in a Washington mall before being transferred to an Atlanta zoo.

Allison Shearmur is producing “Ivan.” She’s also producing “Cinderella” for Disney.

White was the co-creator, co-executive producer, writer and actor for HBO’s “Enlightened” during its two-season run. »


- Dave McNary

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Amy Ryan, Alan Alda Join Tom Hanks in Steven Spielberg’s Cold War Thriller

16 hours ago

Amy Ryan, Alan Alda, Billy Magnussen (“Boardwalk Empire”) and Eve Hewson (“The Knick”) will star opposite Tom Hanks in Steven Spielberg’s Cold War spy thriller.

The film will start shooting in September in Berlin and New York with Fox and DreamWorks co-financing. The U.S. release has been set for Oct. 16, 2015.

Joel and Ethan Coen have been writing the script for the project, revising Matt Charman’s script. Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger will produce with Spielberg. Adam Somner and Daniel Lupi will exec produce.

The untitled project is based on the true story of James Donovan, whom Hanks will portray. Donovan was the American attorney enlisted by the CIA during the Cold War to surreptitiously negotiate the 1962 release of Francis Gary Powers, the U2 spy plane pilot who had been shot down over Russia two years earlier.

Ryan will play the Donovan’s wife. Mark Rylance came »


- Dave McNary

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Film Review: ‘Overheard 3’

17 hours ago

The third and final installment in the “Overheard” franchise boasts a timely, intriguing subject: the corruption and controversy surrounding the real-estate development of Hong Kong’s New Territories. With their skillful dialogue and direction, “Infernal Affairs” writers Felix Chong and Alan Mak keep individual scenes strikingly vital and engrossing throughout. But the venality and betrayal on display here become so predictably ubiquitous — and the characters so numerous, intertwined and underdeveloped — that the twists eventually lose their dramatic impact, and the film its forward momentum. A blockbuster at home, “Overheard 3” may remain a cult item outside Asia.

No familiarity with the two previous “Overheard” films is needed to appreciate the third: Aside from an emphasis on surveillance, the universality of greed and malfeasance, and the presence of star thesps Louis Koo, Sean Lau and Daniel Wu (playing completely different roles from film to film), nothing narratively links the three installments. »


- Ronnie Scheib

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Comic-Con: Revenge of the Girl Geeks

17 hours ago

Attention fanboys, lady nerds are here in force.

When more than 130,000 fans, geeks, comic book aficionados and superhero savants begin their stampede this week at San Diego’s Comic-Con, the four-day event will have an unprecedented 12 different panels focused on femmes.

Of course, men still outnumber women at the Con, though not by as much as some might think — attendance is typically around 60% male to 40% female. The programming tends to reflect those numbers. But with female interest growing both in comicbooks and superhero films — Marvel recently announced a female Thor and it’s no secret that Disney has talked about giving Black Widow her own film after her expanded role in the most recent “Captain America” – Comic-Con too is changing.

The box office success of the “Twilight” and “Hunger Games” franchises as well as “Frozen” and “The Fault in Our Stars” emphasizes the importance of entertainment driven by girls and women. »


- Alexandra Cheney

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Cameron Crowe Romantic Comedy Pushed Back to May 29

18 hours ago

Columbia Pictures and Regency Enterprises have moved back Cameron Crowe’s untitled romantic comedy from December to May 29.

Set in Hawaii, the film stars Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone and Rachel McAdams.

Cooper plays a military contractor who reconnects with a long-ago love (portrayed by McAdams) while unexpectedly falling for an Air Force watchdog, played by Stone. Bill Murray plays a billionaire launching a satellite system; John Krasinski, Danny McBride and Alec Baldwin also star.

“Once we saw the film, we knew that it would make a perfect summer release,” said Sony marketing chief Jeff Blake. “The movie is Cameron at his best.”

Crowe directed from his own script and produced with Scott Rudin.  Executive producers are Ilona Herzberg, Eli Bush and Ben Waisbren.

The film was formerly called “Deep Tiki” and “Volcano Romance.” Crowe shot his last film, “We Bought a Zoo,” in Southern California.

The film open against Focus »


- Dave McNary

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Film Review: ‘The Reconstruction of William Zero’

18 hours ago

A genetic engineer tormented by the accidental death of his son resorts to cloning in “The Reconstruction of William Zero,” a basement mad-scientist movie from Dan Bush, one third of the team behind 2007’s “The Signal.” Cinematically speaking, this high-concept, low-budget sci-fi mind-bender falls into the same category as Shane Carruth’s shoestring marvel “Primer,” relying on creative ingenuity rather than elaborate effects to keep geek auds ensnared by its multi-layered mystery. But the more apt comparison seems to be with such literary classics as “The Invisible Man” and “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” in which tragedy strikes when mortals fool with Mother Nature.

Four years after backing over his son’s bicycle on the way to work, Next Corp scientist William Blakely (played by co-writer Conal Byrne) still hasn’t found a way to cope with the guilt of his negligence. After the accident, he abandoned his grieving wife, »


- Peter Debruge

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Robert Downey Jr. Tops Forbes’ Highest-Paid Actors List for Second Year

19 hours ago

For the second year in a row, “Iron ManRobert Downey Jr. tops the Forbes annual list of highest earning actors with an estimated $75 million since June 2013, the same amount that Forbes estimated the year before.

Downey Jr.’s “Iron Man 3” crossed the billion dollar threshold in 2013. His turn in Jon Favreau’s “Chef” was more of a favor than a moneymaker, but he also appears the mystery drama “The Judge,” opening Oct. 13.

Downey Jr. received notable press for holding out on his contract for upcoming sequel “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” due to salary concerns. Though he has agreed to star in both “Age of Ultron” and an upcoming “The Avengers 3,” neither role has been confirmed.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the only other actor from last year’s Forbes top five to make this year’s top five again, placing second with $52 million. Johnson will star in “Hercules, »


- Sebastian Torrelio

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MPAA Taps Joanna McIntosh for Lobbying and Policy Post

20 hours ago

Joanna McIntosh is joining the MPAA as executive vice president for global policy and external affairs.

She comes to the trade association from Verizon, where she was vice president of federal government relations.

Michael O’Leary, the MPAA’s top official tasked with overseeing its lobbying and advocacy efforts, left his post as senior executive vice president for global policy and external affairs in June.

McIntosh joined Verizon in 2005, after serving as general counsel for the G8 Summit hosted by President George W. Bush in Sea Island, Ga.

She also has worked as a director at the Markle Foundation, and a vice president for international relations at At&T.

MPAA chairman and CEO Chris Dodd said McIntosh’s “extensive experience in working with the private sector and government agencies and strong legal background, she has demonstrated the kinds of skills that we believe are needed to help guide the MPAA »


- Ted Johnson

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