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‘Fast and Furious 7′ Likely Delayed Following Paul Walker’s Death

1 December 2013 1:09 PM, PST

The death of actor Paul Walker on Saturday leaves a major hole in Universal’s “Fast and Furious” series, the studio’s most successful active film franchise, which had been in production on its seventh installment since September for release next summer.

The film, which had been shooting in Los Angeles and Atlanta recently, had been scheduled for release on July 11, 2014, but a delay now seems likely.

Director James Wan reportedly held a conference with Universal execs Sunday morning to discuss the future of the film.

As of now, it is unclear how much of Walker’s footage had been shot, though judging by action photos posted on Twitter by the cast, it’s likely that the majority of footage lensed was costly action sequences. That makes it uncertain what creative solutions Wan and Universal are left with as they consider scenarios for Walker’s character, undercover Los Angeles police officer Brian O’Conner. »


- Andrew Stewart

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Juliette Binoche Talks ‘Godzilla,’ ‘Jurassic Park’ and Auteurs in Marrakech

1 December 2013 12:54 PM, PST

Marrakech — Attending the Marrakech Film Festival to receive a career tribute and present her latest film, Eric Poppe’s “A Thousand Times Good Night,” French thesp Juliette Binoche took the time to sit down with a handful of film journos at the Mamounia Hotel.

In “A Thousand Times Good Night,” Binoche – one of Gaul’s best-known actresses, whose credits include “Chocolat,” “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” and “The English Patient,” stars as a top war photographer torn between her family and her passion for her work.

Variety: While working on this film, how did you relate with the character you’re playing and what questions did it spark?

Binoche: I met with a war photographer who decided to stop, because it was too hard. Putting himself in such a dangerous place, there’s a moment where you think about your life, about why you need to go there. You can »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Paul Walker: Coroner’s Investigation Could Take 2-3 More Days

1 December 2013 12:26 PM, PST

The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office is in the process of comparing dental records on the victims in the crash that claimed the life of “Fast and the Furious” actor Paul Walker and one other person in a solo-car incident in Santa Clarita, Calif., on Saturday afternoon.

Video: Car on Fire Moments After Fatal Crash

Dana Bee, L.A. County deputy coroner, said on Sunday that his office had made contact with family members and was awaiting dental records to be compared with posthumous X-rays. The two victims were engulfed in flames after the car hit a pole in the 28300 block of Rye Canyon Loop, near a business park complex in the Valencia area of the northern L.A. County city. Bee said it would probably take another 48 to 72 hours for his office to complete the investigation and make a positive identification.

The stretch of Rye Canyon Loop where »


- Cynthia Littleton

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Paul Walker: How ‘Fast and the Furious’ Changed His Career from Hunk to Action Star

1 December 2013 11:24 AM, PST

The first time audiences really set their eyes on Paul Walker was in the 1998 dramedy “Pleasantville,” about two siblings (Reese Witherspoon and Tobey Maguire) transported inside a 1950s sitcom. The world they encounter is a cookie-cutter, black-and-white suburb straight out of “The Donna Reed Show,” and Walker played the handsome high school love interest for Witherspoon. With his hair slicked back and Ken doll dimples, Walker, 24 at the time, brought to mind a young Tab Hunter. His character was meant to be a squeaky-clean boy next door, but he didn’t stay that way. On a drive-in movie theater date, Witherspoon lunges at him and he experiences a sexual awakening.

Walker, who died on Saturday at 40 in a car crash in Valencia, Calif., was the dreamboat of choice for a generation of girls (and some boys) raised on “Saved by the Bell” and the WB Network. It’s no coincidence »


- Ramin Setoodeh

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Fernando Eimbcke’s ‘Club Sandwich’ Wins at Turin Film Festival

1 December 2013 8:56 AM, PST

Turin — The Turin Film Festival’s top prize, worth $20,400, went to Fernando Eimbcke’s comical “Club Sandwich,” which premiered at the Toronto Film Fest.

French relationship pic “2 Autumns 3 Winters,” helmed by Sebastien Betbeder, won the Special Jury award, while Mariana Rondon’s widely praised “Bad Hair,” from Venezuela, took home best actress for Samantha Castillo, as well as best script and several other prizes.

Best actor went to Gabriel Arcand for French-Canadian Cannes-preemed drama “Le Demantelement,” and the audience prize was nabbed by the popular Italian serio-comedy “The Mafia Kills Only in the Summer.”

In the international docu competition, Ben Rivers’ and Ben Russell’s “A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness” received the main award, with “The Ghosts of San Berillo,” directed by Edoardo Morabito, going home with the best Italo doc.

The festival closed Nov. 30 with a 34% increase in ticket sales from last year, proving once again that »


- Jay Weissberg

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Doha’s First Ajyal Youth Film Fest Awards Prizes

1 December 2013 8:52 AM, PST

Doha, Qatar – The inaugural Ajyal Youth Film Festival presented by the Doha Film Institute came to a close on Saturday evening with a ceremony that made up in cheer what it lacked in celebrity.

Fest, which took a page from the Giffoni Film Festival in Italy and featured an all-youth jury of local kids and teens from 8 to 21, wrapped up after five family-centered days in this rapidly expanding Gulf city with a pyrotechnic-packed event honoring the winners of the Doha Film Experience in-competition segments.

The youth jury was divided into three age categories – Mohaq (ages 8-12), Hilal (ages 13-17) and Bader (ages 18-21). In total the jury watched 42 films, with winners receiving $15,000 each for Best Feature Filmmakers as deemed by Hilal and Bader (18-21) groups; and $5,000 each for best filmmaker from each category.

Cash comes from the Ajyal Film Fund, a subsidiary of the Doha Film Institute. The winner of the Made in Qatar award, »


- Debra Kamin

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Thanksgiving Box Office: ‘Catching Fire,’ ‘Frozen’ Serve Up Holiday Records

1 December 2013 8:45 AM, PST

Powering up a record-setting Thanksgiving weekend at the movies, Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” brought in a whopping chart-topping estimated $110.2 million from Wednesday to Sunday, bringing the film’s Stateside total to $296.5 million. Globally, “Catching Fire” has amassed $573 million.

Meanwhile, providing icing on the … er … pie was Disney’s 3D animated musical “Frozen,” which technically bowed last weekend at a single-screen engagement but expanded nationwide Wednesday, grossing a projected $93 million through Sunday.

See Also: Film Review: ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Catching Fire” and “Frozen” now have the first and second largest three-day and five-day Thanksgiving grosses, respectively.

From Friday to Sunday, “Catching Fire” estimated $74.5 million, while “Frozen” collected $66.7 million over the three-day frame. (Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” previously held the record for both Thanksgiving tallies.)

“For a company whose foundation is built on animation, an opening like this is really great,” said Disney distribution exec Dave Hollis, »


- Andrew Stewart

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Paul Walker: Director Rob Cohen Praises Actor’s ‘American Beauty, Athleticism’

1 December 2013 6:10 AM, PST

Rob Cohen, director of the first “Fast and the Furious” pic, recalled actor Paul Walker as a “down-to-earth personality” who was a perfect fit with his career-making role as an undercover cop in the Universal action franchise.

“His American beauty, his athleticism, the directness of his approach to the character, his effusive, down-to-earth personality brought joy to me and everyone around him,” Cohen told Variety late Saturday following the news of Walker’s death in a car crash at age 40. “I will miss him all the rest of my days.”

Cohen recalled that the two had worked together on the 2000 crime drama “The Skulls.” They ran into each other in Maui that year over the Christmas holiday just as Cohen was starting work on the script for “Fast and the Furious.” Cohen offered him the part of Brian O’Conner on the spot.

“He committed on the spot and my commitment to him never wavered, »


- Variety Staff

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Vin Diesel ‘Speechless’ Over ‘Fast & Furious’ Co-Star’s Death

30 November 2013 8:36 PM, PST

Friends and associates of actor Paul Walker, who died Saturday in a car crash in Valencia, Calif., took to Twitter and Instagram to mourn the loss of the “Fast and Furious” actor.

Photos: Paul Walker’s Hollywood Career: A Timeline

Among the entertainment bizzers expressing their sorrow over his death were “Fast & Furious” co-stars Vin Diesel, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “Fast & Furious 7″ director James Wan, Walker’s “Flags of Our Fathers” co-star Ryan Philippe, choreographer/producer/director Adam Shankman, Ludacris, Todd Lieberman, who produced the Walker-starring movie “The Lazarus Project,” Tyrese and actor Michael Chiklis.

“Fast & Furious” star Vin Diesel posted a photo of the pair on his #therealvindiesel Instagram account, saying “Brother I will miss you very much. I am absolutely speechless. Heaven has gained a new Angel. Rest in Peace.”

All my strength, love & faith to the Walker family during this heartbreaking time. We find our strength.. in his light. »


- Variety Staff

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China’s Huace Buys Stake in ‘Tiny Times’ owner Zui

30 November 2013 8:00 PM, PST

Shanghai — Leading Chinese TV production group Huace Film & TV is to dramatically ramp up its feature film activities through a strategic alliance with Guo Jingming, celebrity internet novelist and director of the this year’s two hit “Tiny Times” movies.

Huace is paying $29.5 million (RMB180 million) to acquire a 26% stake in Guo’s four year old company Shanghai Zui Culture Development and signed a five year deal to develop and produce film and TV series with Guo (pictured, right).

Guo has a huge youth fan base and was able to leverage that online following to make hits out of his feature debuts – a third ‘Tiny Times” also begins production this month – and Huace says its backing for him represents a shift of power from film-makers to audiences.

“A shift of the focus from creators to audiences is a vital characteristic of the ‘new generation’,” said Zhao Yifang (pictured left), Huace general manager, »


- Patrick Frater

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‘Fast and Furious’ Star Paul Walker Dead at 40

30 November 2013 6:50 PM, PST

Paul Walker, star of Universal Pictures’ “Fast and the Furious” movie franchise, died Saturday following a single-car accident in Valencia, Calif., Variety has confirmed. He was 40.

Walker’s official Twitter and Facebook pages confirmed the death as well. Walker’s death was first reported by TMZ.

According to Walker’s official Facebook page, he was the passenger in a car driven by a friend following a charity event.

A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department could not confirm the identities of the two victims nor confirm the cause of the accident.

Authorities said they responded to the crash at about 3:30 p.m. Pt in the 28300 block of Rye Canyon Loop and found the car engulfed in flames. The victims were pronounced dead at the scene. The sheriff’s department said the L.A. County Coroner’s Office would determine the victims’ identities and cause of death.

Walker »


- Variety Staff

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‘In Bloom’ Wins Tokyo Filmex Grand Prix

30 November 2013 6:08 PM, PST

Tokyo — “In Bloom,” a coming-of-age drama by Georgian director Nana Ekvtimishvili and German director Simon Gross, was awarded the Grand Prize at the closing ceremony of the 15th Tokyo Filmex fest, held Nov. 23-Dec. 1 in Tokyo.

The pic, which premiered in the Berlin Forum, focuses on two teenage girls in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi in the turbulent early 1990s.

The Special Jury Prize was scooped by Emir Baigazin’s “Harmony Lessons,” which also won an Outstanding Artistic Contribution award at Berlin this year. Special Mentions went to Visra Vichit Vadakan’s “Karaoke Girl” and Koki Yoshida’s “Tokyo Bitch, I Love You” while the Audience Award was given to Anthony Chen’s “Ilo Ilo.”

The fest opened with Jia Zhang-ke’s “A Touch of Sin” and closed with Rithy Panh’s “The Missing Picture.”

Filmex has long focused on films from Japan, Asia and the Middle East, though »


- Mark Schilling

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Film Reviews: Opening This Week (Nov. 25-29, 2013)

30 November 2013 12:51 PM, PST

Frozen

(Disney)

Move over, Frosty. A quixotic snowman who longs to experience summer handily steals the show in “Frozen,” Disney’s 53rd in-house animated feature and one of its most classical, with a Hans Christian Andersen pedigree, a full-fledged showtune score and little of the ironic humor that has become the lingua franca of most contemporary toons. But this always enjoyable tale of mysterious magic, imperiled princesses and square-jawed men of action proves longer on striking visuals than on truly engaging or memorable characters. With the family crowd pretty much to itself this holiday season, “Frozen” should generate considerable box-office heat, if not quite the same level of critical and audience affection that attended the superior “Tangled” and “Wreck-It Ralph.”

— Scott Foundas

Read the full review

Oldboy

(FilmDistrict)

Revenge, like octopus, is a dish best served cold, but Spike Lee’s disappointingly straight remake of “Oldboy” is a lukewarm meal at best. »


- Variety Staff

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Actress Jean Kent, Who Starred Alongside Marilyn Monroe, Dies

30 November 2013 12:05 PM, PST

London — Jean Kent, one of the biggest British film stars of the 1940s and 1950s, has died. She was 92.

Kent was injured in a fall at her home in Suffolk, England, on Thursday, and died in hospital in Bury St. Edmunds on Friday.

She rose to fame playing in a series of costume melodramas for Gainsborough Pictures in the 1940s, such as “Fanny By Gaslight,” in which she starred with James Mason and Stewart Granger. She went on to appear in 45 films.

Among her notable perfs were “The Prince and the Showgirl” (1957), in which she co-starred with Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe, and “The Browning Version” (1951), where she played alongside Michael Redgrave.

She was honored by the British Film Institute on her 90th birthday in 2011.

Her friend Michael Thornton, an author and former film critic, told the Daily Telegraph: “She knew what it meant to be a star, and regarded »


- Leo Barraclough

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‘Frozen’ Opens Strong, While ‘Catching Fire’ is Still Cooking

30 November 2013 9:08 AM, PST

Disney should feel good about its frosty feature this frame. Among a crowded slate of newcomers, the Mouse’s “Frozen” appears to be the only one to break into the top five.

Leading the holdovers, Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is burning bright for the second weekend with an anticipated $110 million in five days. With a little luck, the dystopian actioner may cross $300 million domestically and should definitely cross $500 million worldwide by Monday.

Programming for families with children who may be too young for “Catching Fire,” “Frozen” is headed for second with around $90 million Wednesday-Sunday. The record-holders for Thanksgiving openers include “Toy Story 2″ and “Tangled” in the first and second slots, so Disney has proven its strategy with this frame and it’s paying off handsomely for “Frozen.”

Other strong holdovers this frame include Disney’s ”Thor: The Dark World” (est. five-day $15 million), Universal’s “The Best Man Holiday »


- Michael Sullivan

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‘Place Beyond the Pines’ Flies Onto Awards Radar

30 November 2013 8:49 AM, PST

Focus Features’ “The Place Beyond the Pines” is being buoyed by an awards factor that is often overlooked: In-flight movies. At a Friday luncheon, Bradley Cooper told Variety, “Countless people have come up to me to tell me how much they love the movie, and it turns out they’ve seen it recently on airplanes.”

Cooper is in L.A. for a few days, on a brief Thanksgiving hiatus from the untitled Cameron Crowe movie that’s filming in Hawaii. Focus took advantage of his presence to salute “Pines” at the Soho House.

Some pundits consider the film below the radar, since it opened in April instead of the usual awards-heavy fourth quarter. But writer-director Derek Cianfrance said he’s surprised at how many people, including awards voters, have seen his film two or three times.

Even with really good films, the audience can usually guess after 20 minutes how the film will end. »


- Tim Gray

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‘Adele’ Kicks off Cannes’ European Film Week in Buenos Aires

30 November 2013 4:54 AM, PST

Buenos Aires – In May, much of the world goes to Cannes. Outside May, Cannes goes to much of the world.

Exhibit A: One of the most established of Cannes’ increasingly far-flung initiatives: Ventana Sur’s 5th European Film Week in Buenos Aires, which bows Tuesday at the Argentine’s capital’s central Gaumont Cinema with a likely Sro screening of Cannes 2013 Palme d’Or winner “Adele: Chapters 1 & 2.”.

“Adele” director Abdellatif Kechiche, co-lead Adele Exarchopoulos and fellow cast Jeremie Laheurte and Mona Walravens will attend to present “Adele,” which has a second outing for the general public next Saturday.

Unspooling Dec 3-10, the European Film Week also highlights Un Certain Regard hit “Miele,” the feature directorial deb of Italian actress Valeria Golino (“Rain Man,” “Hot Shots”) which was produced by actor Ricardo Scarmarcio for Buena Onda and Rai Cinema, the film arm of the Italian broadcaster.

The euthanasia-themed “Miele” stars Jasmine Trinca »


- John Hopewell

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Film Review: ‘Bullett Raja’

30 November 2013 2:13 AM, PST

Much less crude than its pummeling trailers suggest, the fast-paced Bollywood gangster film “Bullett Raja” is, for most of its length, a tight, clever, blithely amoral crime drama about a buddy pair of hit men rising to the top of the mob heap in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. The film comes apart in the middle, in a long messy section in which even the gunfights feel like padding. But the introduction of a promising new Hindi action star in the final reel almost makes that worthwhile. Released on some 3500 screens worldwide (including more than 100 in North America), this heavily hyped Fox Star Studios production earned a disappointing $1.1 million in its first day of business.

The film’s winsome anti-heroes get into the crime business almost on a whim. Jobless and trouble-prone Raja (Saif Ali Khan) crashes a wedding in order to hide from a pack of angry thugs, and bonds with one of the guests, »


- David Chute

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Sweden’s top-grossing pic ‘Monica Z’ Set to Travel Overseas (Exclusive)

29 November 2013 2:48 PM, PST

Marrakech — Per Fly’s “Monica Z” (“Waltz For Monica”) Sweden’s highest-grossing film, is set to travel to a raft of overseas territories.

Deals were unveiled on Friday, the opening day of Marrakech Film Festival, where “Monica Z” will be playing as part of the focus on Scandinavian cinema.

Repped by Svensk Filmindustri, “Monica Z,” a biopic of jazz-singer-turned-thesp Monica Zetterlund, set in the 50s and 60s,  has sold to France (Chrysalis), Japan (Broadmedia Studios), South Korea (Focus & Company), Taiwan (Cineplex), Czech Republic (Film Europe), Estonia (Estinfilm), Greece (Hollywood Entertainment), China (Edko Films) and Turkey (Cinema TV).

 “A new generation has discovered the world and music of Monica Zetterlund which is what I hoped for when starting the project,” said Lena Rehnberg, who produced via Stella Nova Film.

Toplining up-and-comer Edda Magnason, “Monica Z” currently tops the Swedish B.O. with an estimated $6.9 million gross from over half-a-million tickets sold since its Sept. »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Lionsgate Re-titles Kellan Lutz’ Epic as ‘The Legend of Hercules’

29 November 2013 2:37 PM, PST

Lionsgate has re-titled its Kellan Lutz’ Hercules movie — opting for “The Legend of Hercules” rather than “Hercules: The Legend Begins.”

The studio had decided two weeks ago to move the U.S. release for the film forward a month to Jan. 10, where the actioner will be the only new wide release. “The Legend of Hercules” is opening six months before Paramount opens “Hercules,” starring Dwayne Johnson.

The Jan. 10 date will also see expansion of a trio of titles in limited release — Universal’s “Lone Survivor,” Warner Bros.Spike Jonze film “Her” and TWC’s “One Chance.”

“The Legend of Hercules” is directed by Renny Harlin from Daniel Giat’s screenplay and will be released in 3D and 2D nationwide. The origins story will track Hercules as he’s betrayed by his king, sold into slavery and fighting for his freedom to return to his true love, the Princess of Crete (played by Gaia Weiss).

“Hercules, »


- Dave McNary

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