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Nate Parker Talks Rape Controversy with Ebony: ‘The Definitions of So Many Things Have Changed’

16 hours ago

Nate Parker broke his silence on Saturday over two weeks after Variety and Deadline published interviews in which he addressed being charged — along with his “Birth of a Nation” co-writer Jean Celestin — with raping a 18-year-old female student while attending Penn State in 1999.

In the new interview, published by Ebony, Parker says that his original comments came from a “standpoint of ignorance.” He also said that he did not know at the time that the woman who accused him of rape had died by committing suicide in 2012.

“I was acting as if I was the victim, and that’s wrong,” he said. “I was acting as if I was the victim because I felt like, my only thought was I’m innocent and everyone needs to know. I didn’t even think for a second about her, not even for a second.”

The interviewer had commented earlier that Parker could »


- Seth Kelley

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‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’ Daisy Ridley Says it Will ‘Be a While’ Before Title is Revealed

21 hours ago

Daisy Ridley heard a title for “Star Wars: Episode VIII,” but she’s not telling.

On a recent episode of the podcast “My Dad Wrote a Porno” — a delightful show about a man who discovered that his dad wrote an outlandish dirty book, and rather than keep it to himself, he’s reading it out loud for the world to enjoy — Daisy Ridley confessed that she was, at one point, told a title for the film.

“I heard a title, and I’m not sure if it’s going to be that. I really don’t know much about anything,” she said, trying to avoid the question. Then she added, “I have heard it, but I heard it a long time ago before we started filming. So I feel like some things have tweaked slightly during [production], but it’s going to be a while before it’s released, I’d imagine. »


- Seth Kelley

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Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’: Producer Releases Cogsworth and Lumiere First Look

21 hours ago

Photos from the upcoming “Beauty and the Beast” live-action remake? Be our guest.

Jack Morrissey, who is credited as a co-producer, posted several images on his Facebook page on Friday — one in particular showing concept art of the showy French candelabra Lumiere and his ally Cogsworth. While the film will be live-action, starring Emma Watson as Belle and Luke Evans as Gaston, the candle and clock appear meticulously drawn.

“These designs are close but may not be final,” the producer wrote.

Morrissey teased that the images will be included in a special sneak peek that will be released next month with the 25th Anniversary Edition of Disney’s 1991 animated “Beauty and the Beast.”

Ewan McGregor will play Lumiere and Ian McKellen will be Cogsworth in the remake.

Bill Condon is directing the film with David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman of Mandeville Films producing. The script was written by Evan Spiliotopoulos and rewritten by Stephen Chbosky. »


- Seth Kelley

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Box Office: ‘Don’t Breathe’ Inhales $10 Million on Friday, Blows Away Competition

23 hours ago

The horror genre proves to be frighteningly reliable this season as “Don’t Breathe” is the latest scary flick to have an impressive box office showing. The film, from Sony and Screen Gems, earned $10 million on Friday at 3,051 locations, and is eyeing a $22 million opening weekend.

Suicide Squad” will steal second place this weekend with about $11 million at 3,582 locations. The Warner Bros. film is in its fourth frame and has already earned well over $500 million worldwide.

Jason Statham will carry Lionsgate’s “Mechanic: Resurrection” to a disappointing opening of $7 million at 2,258 locations after earning $2.6 million on Friday. The film, about an assassin forced out of retirement, follows up on 2011’s “The Mechanic” and the latest in a number of underperforming sequels.

After a $1 million Friday, “Southside with You” from Roadside Attractions and Miramax is projecting to finish with $3 million at 813 sites, while TWC’s boxing biopic “Hands of Stone” will »


- Seth Kelley

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Ryan Lochte, Nate Parker and When Apology Tours Come Up Short

26 August 2016 6:15 PM, PDT

It’s become an all-too-familiar phenomenon: A well-known person’s name stays in the headlines day after day, as a controversy, usually of his or her own making, swirls through the news media. The past week or two, the sagas of “Birth of a Nation” director Nate Parker and Team USA swimmer Ryan Lochte have garnered a long string of headlines, and it’s not difficult to see why. Their circumstances are obviously quite different, but in some ways, their responses to controversy are not.

The reason so many celebrity apologies fall flat is because the people at the center of them don’t convey the idea that, on deep and important level, they’ve learned anything and feel profound regret. Sometimes saying sorry isn’t enough: There has to be a sense that the apologizer actually means it and has been forever altered by the experience they’ve been through. »


- Maureen Ryan

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Gabriel Byrne, Nathan Lane’s ‘No Pay, Nudity’ Scheduled for November Release

26 August 2016 5:32 PM, PDT

Monterey Media has bought all U.S. and Canada rights to Lee Wilkof’s “No Pay, Nudity,” starring Gabriel Byrne, Nathan Lane and Frances Conroy.

The film, Wilkof’s directorial debut, is written by Ethan Sandler. Tani Cohen is the producer with Cliff Chenfeld and Seth Greenland executive producing.

“No Pay, Nudity” premiered in July at the Stony Brook Film Festival and won the Special Jury Prize Achievement in Filmmaking. The U.S. theatrical launch is planned for November.

“Funny and charming, and also infused with the emotions faced by so many of us as life doesn’t always deliver the hoped for rewards, were my first wonderful thoughts upon seeing the film,” said Scott Mansfield, Monterey Media managing partner.

Byrne portrays a middle-aged actor who has lost his way and how he relies on his friends (Lane and Conroy) in the Equity Lounge. He returns to his hometown in Dayton, »


- Dave McNary

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Oscars: Controversy Erupts Over Brazilian Film ‘Aquarius’

26 August 2016 5:17 PM, PDT

At the Cannes Film Festival in May, filmmaker Kleber Mendonça Filho and the cast and crew of his film “Aquarius” staged a protest against the suspension of Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff. They held signs reading “Brazil is experiencing a coup d’etat” and “54,501,118 votes set on fire!”

Now, according to Filho and his supporters, the country’s interim government is making them pay for it.

“Join all the dots,” Filho told Variety in an interview. “There’s a lot of talk about the possibility of the film being sabotaged by the illegitimate government.”

Earlier this week, “Aquarius” — set for release Sept. 1 in Brazil — received an 18+ rating from the country’s Ministry of Justice for “explicit sex” and “drugs.” However, many believe it’s too harsh a classification and is merely an attempt to damage the film’s commercial prospects in retaliation for the protest.

The 18+ rating is extremely rare in Brazil. »


- Kristopher Tapley, Shalini Dore and Anna Marie de la Fuente

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‘Louder Than Bombs,’ ‘The Wave’ Take Top Norwegian Film Prizes

26 August 2016 4:59 PM, PDT

Norwegian director Joachim Trier’s “Louder than Bombs,” which in 2015 was Norway’s first Cannes Competition entry in 36 years, won four Norwegian national film prizes, dubbed the Amandas,  Aug. 26 on the closing night of the 44th Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund, Norway.

Trier’s third feature, and first English-language pic, starred an international cast: Gabriel Byrne, Isabelle Huppert, Jesse Eisenberg, and Devin Druid. It won director, original screenplay (Eskil Vogt, Trier), cinematography (Jakob Ihre) and editing (Olivier Bugge Coutté) prizes. Next month the writer-dirctor will start principal photography for “Thelma,” a supernatural thriller, also co-scripted by Vogt and produced by Thomas Robsahm for Motlys.

The prize for best feature went to “The Wave” from Norwegian director Roar Uthaug. The film sold 832,649 admissions in Norway and became 2015’s the No. 1 film in the country, and repped Norway in the foreign-language Oscar race. It also won visual effects (Lars Erik Hansen »


- Jorn Rossing Jensen

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Helmer Zwart Treks to Norway’s Arctic Circle for ’12th Man’ Shoot

26 August 2016 4:35 PM, PDT

Director Harald Zwart, who last made a feature in the country eight years ago, has returned to Norway with “The 12th Man,”which has begun its local shoot for producer Aage Aaberge and Nordisk Film Production.

Co-produced by Norway’s Motion Blur (co-owned by Zwart), the $6.8 million tells the story of Norwegian war hero Jan Baalsrud, who was one of 12 Norwegian resistance fighters crossing the North Sea on a fishing boat, to blow up the Bardufoss Airport in March 1943, during the Nazi occupation. Their boat is discovered,  and the saboteurs blow it up, trying to escape in a smaller boat. But 11 of them are captured, and killed by the enemy; only 25-year-old Baalsrud manages to escape, and after hiding in a snow cave on the fjell for two months, he is able to cross the border to neutral Sweden.

Zwart started shooting north of the Arctic Circle in April, starting with the ending. »


- Jorn Rossing Jensen

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Animated ‘Stork’ Bows at New Nordic Film Market

26 August 2016 4:34 PM, PDT

A teenage sparrow raised by a stork family and who thinks he is one of them, is the lead character in German directors Toby Genkel and Reza Memari’s “Richard the Stork,” a CGI-animated feature that presented its first footage at the New Nordic Films market, which ran Aug. 23-26 during the Norwegian Intl. Film Festival in Haugesund, Norway. The animated pic is close to finishing production after 2½ years, according to Norwegian-German producer Kristine M.I. Knudsen of Berlin’s Knudsen & Streuber Medienmanufaktur which produced with Bergen’s Den Sidste Skilling. Munich’s Global Screen has sold the pic worldwide “except for North America, the U.K./Ireland, France and Spain, where the distributors want to see it first, but there is a strong interest,” she explained.

A film enthusiast, Knudsen began her cinema studies at university, but realized it was too academic for her; instead, she began working for »


- Jorn Rossing Jensen

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Pernilla August Explores Forbidden Love in Drama ‘Serious Game’

26 August 2016 3:57 PM, PDT

Why film a love story from 1912? That’s one of the questions asked by Swedish actress-writer-director Pernilla August when talking about her latest feature, “A Serious Game,” adapted from Hjalmar Söderberg’s novel. Film screened at the Norwegian Intl. Film Festival, which ran Aug. 20-26 in Haugesund, Norway.

August has a good answer for that: “Söderberg’s novel is a real classic, and everybody who has been in love will emotionally recognize the characters. It is also existential, about how we make our choices in life; I have been around for a long time, so I can identify both with Lydia, Arvid and Dagmar,” said August at the Norwegian Intl. Film Festival in Haugesund.

Set in Stockholm at the beginning of the 20th century, the film follows the love-at-first sight love story of Lydia, the daughter of a landscape painter, and Arvid, a young journalist. But the time is wrong: »


- Jorn Rossing Jensen

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Ty Burrell Joins Scarlett Johansson in Raunchy Comedy ‘Rock That Body’

26 August 2016 3:10 PM, PDT

Modern Family” star Ty Burrell has joined Scarlett Johansson in the raunchy comedy “Rock That Body,” with shooting underway in New York.

The cast includes Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, Zoe Kravitz and Demi Moore. Sony has set the release for June 23, when it will open against Paramount’s “Transformers: The Last Knight.”

Rock That Body” follows a group of five friends who rent a beach house in Miami for a wild bachelorette party that goes off the rails. The film is directed by Lucia Aniello from a script she wrote with her writing partner Paul W. Downs.

The script for “Rock That Body” appeared on the Black List in 2015. Sony picked up the project last year in an aggressive bidding war. Both Aniello and Downs will produce the film through their Paulilu banner. Matt Tolmach and Dave Becky will also produce.

Burrell is in the voice cast for »


- Dave McNary

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Norwegian Fest Honors Pernilla August as Doc ‘Magnus’ Takes Top Prize

26 August 2016 2:23 PM, PDT

The Norwegian Intl. Film Festival handed out its prizes Aug. 25, with Norwegian director Benjamin Ree’s documentary “Magnus” nabbing the Ray of Sunshine prize from the the Norwegian Exhibitors’ Assn. A hit at several international festivals, “Magnus” tells the story of 26-year-old Norwegian chess champion Magnus Carlsen’s rise to the top.

For the first time the International Film Critics Assn. presented its Fipresci prize at Haugesund, with Danish director Jesper W. Nielsen’s “The Day Will Come” taking the honors. The Norwegian Film Critics’ favorite was Maren Ade’s Cannes hit and German B.O. hit, “Toni Erdmann,” while “Perfect Strangers,” from Italy’s Paolo Genovese, took the Audience Award.

Swedish actress-writer-director Pernilla August was presented at the Norwegian Intl. Film Festival Aug. 24 with Ullmann Award, named after the legendary actress-director Liv Ullmann and presented to August by the trophy’s namesake, for “her significant contribution to film art, »


- Jorn Rossing Jensen

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Box Office: ‘Don’t Breathe’ Eyes $20 Million-Plus Opening Weekend

26 August 2016 1:49 PM, PDT

Sony’s horror-thriller “Don’t Breathe” is dominating moviegoing this weekend with more than $20 million at 3,051 North American locations, early estimates showed Friday.

Sony remained more cautious abut the forecasts, opting in the early afternoon for a projection in the mid-teens while other trackers offered forecasts as high as $24 million. Even at the lower level, “Don’t Breathe” is a profitable play for the studio, given the film’s price tag of less than $10 million.

“Don’t Breathe” will be well above the closest rival — the fourth frame of Warner Bros.’ “Suicide Squad,” which is expected to gross in the $10 million range. The supervillain tentpole should finish the weekend with more than $280 million in its first 24 days in the U.S.

Lionsgate’s “Mechanic: Resurrection” is heading for a mild launch in the $6 million to $7 million range at 2,258 sites and will trail Sony’s third weekend of “Sausage Party,” which »


- Dave McNary

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Film Review: ‘Marija’

26 August 2016 1:27 PM, PDT

At a time when right-wing politicians across Europe and America are stoking anti-immigrant sentiment in the general population, even the most classically straightforward study of outsider life can gain an urgent, of-the-moment resonance. So it is with “Marija,” a crisp, unfussy, morally nuanced portrait of a Ukrainian migrant worker doing what she must — and possibly what she shouldn’t — to get by on the unforgiving streets of Dortmund, Germany. An incisive, confidently unsentimental debut feature for writer-director Michael Koch, this steel-cut slice of life persistently avoids easy ethical dichotomies: Audience sympathy for its prickly, midjudgment-prone title character isn’t taken for granted, but the film’s tough, practically-minded humanity wins through. Following festival dates at Locarno and Toronto, “Marija’s” internationally relatable politics should help it with niche distributors and VOD platforms.

A Swiss-born filmmaker whose short film work has been much-gilded on the festival circuit, Koch makes little attempt »


- Guy Lodge

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Elizabeth Olsen Joins Jason Sudeikis, Ed Harris Road-Trip Drama ‘Kodachrome’

26 August 2016 12:54 PM, PDT

Elizabeth Olsen has joined the road-trip drama “Kodachrome” opposite Jason Sudeikis and Ed Harris.

The actress had been linked to “Kodachrome” before the Cannes Film Festival, but producers had not confirmed her involvement with the project until Friday. Shooting is starting this week in Toronto.

Mark Raso (“Copenhagen”) is directing from a script by Jonathan Tropper. The film is based on A.G. Sulzberger’s 2010 New York Times article “For Kodachrome Fans, Road Ends at Photo Lab in Kansas” about a father and son who take a road trip to Kansas in order to develop photographs at Kodak’s last Kodachrome lab before it closes its doors for good.

Producers are Tropper; Gotham Group’s Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Eric Robinson; 21 Laps Entertainment’s Dan Levine and Shawn Levy; and Leon Clarance of Motion Picture Capital, which is fully financing. Jo Monk and Dan Cohen are executive producing.

Harris and Sudeikis joined »


- Dave McNary

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Sumner Redstone Battle: Judge to Sign Off on Philippe Dauman Settlement After Lawyers Strike Deal for Granddaughter

26 August 2016 11:41 AM, PDT

After a contentious hearing that hinged on the question of Sumner Redstone’s mental capacity, lawyers for the mogul and one of his granddaughters came to terms in a Massachusetts courtroom Friday on a deal that paves the way for the end of litigation against Redstone by former Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman.

Keryn Redstone’s challenge to the settlement agreement reached by Dauman and Sumner Redstone’s camp last week was seen as a last-ditch effort to press the case that the 93-year-old mogul is mentally incapacitated and that his daughter Shari has subverted his will in decision-making about his empire and the Redstone family trust.

But Keryn, Sumner Redstone’s 30-something granddaughter, emerged with victories as Judge George Phelan praised the lawyers for reaching “a reasonable and human outcome to a human issue” and commended them for their “flexibility and common sense.” (The hearing in the Canton, Mass., courthouse »


- Cynthia Littleton and James Rainey

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Trailer for Dennis Quaid’s ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Asks ‘What Is the Meaning of Life?’

26 August 2016 10:36 AM, PDT

Universal has released its first trailer for “A Dog’s Purpose,” with a canine asking in voiceovers such existential questions as “What is the meaning of life?” and “Why does food taste better in the trash?”

The Friday release coincided with National Dog Day. The movie has a Jan. 27, 2017, release date in the U.S. for the Amblin Entertainment and Walden Media film, starring Dennis Quaid, Peggy Lipton and Britt Robertson.

Based on the bestselling 2010 novel by W. Bruce Cameron, “A Dog’s Purpose” is directed by Lasse Hallström (“The 100-Foot Journey”) and centers on one devoted dog who finds the meaning of his own existence through the lives of the humans he loves by teaching them to laugh and love.

“If I can get you licking and loving, I have my purpose,” the dog notes at one point.

The book is written in the voice of a dog who is reincarnated several times. »


- Dave McNary

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Guillermo del Toro’s Cold War Love Story ‘Shape of Water’ Casts Nick Searcy

26 August 2016 9:49 AM, PDT

Justified” star Nick Searcy has joined the cast of Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming fantasy film “The Shape of Water” for Fox Searchlight, Variety has learned exclusively.

Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Octavia Spencer have already been announced as cast members.

The film is being produced by del Toro and J. Miles Dale (“The Vow”). Details of the plot are being kept under wraps other than being described as “a mysterious and magical journey” and “an other-worldly story set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1963.”

Del Toro has revealed that the plot focuses on a mysterious creature, played by Jones.

Searcy was most recently seen on Hulu’s J.J. Abrams series “11/22/63.” His film credits include “The Fugitive,” “Runaway Jury,” and “The Ugly Truth.”

Searcy is represented by Apa, Haven Entertainment, and Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Entertainment Law Firm.

»


- Dave McNary

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Indie Sales Acquires Lucia Carreras’ ‘Tamara & the Ladybug’ Ahead of Toronto (Exclusive)

26 August 2016 9:33 AM, PDT

Paris– Ramping up its world cinema slate, Indie Sales has acquired Lucia Carreras’s “Tamara & the Ladybug” (“Tamara y la Catarina”) which will premiere at Toronto’s contemporary world section.

A heartfelt drama showcasing Mexico’s popular culture, “Tamara & The Ladybug” centers on a forty-year old woman suffering a mental illness who takes a seemingly abandoned baby girl under her wing.

“Tamara & The Ladybug” stars Angeles Cruz (“The Violin”) and Angelina Pelaez. It’s produced by Ana Bojorquez who produced Carreras’s “The Greatest House in the World,” which played at Berlin, and Sandra Paredes, whose credits include Cannes Critics Week’s screener “Blue Eyelids.”

Besides “The Greatest House in the World,” Carreras has directed “Missing Dad.” A critically-aclaimed screenwriter, Carreras also co-wrote the script of Un certain regard player “The Golden Dream” and Cannes Golden Camera winner “Leap Year.”

At Toronto, Nicolas Eschbach’s Indie Sales reps Chloe Robichaud’s “Boundaries, »


- Elsa Keslassy

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