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Cottonwood’s Pre-School Series ‘Ollie & Moon’ Sold to Italy, Finland

16 minutes ago

DeAGostini channel Super! in Italy and pubcaster Yle in Finland are the latest buyers on pre-school series “The Ollie & Moon Show,” a Cottonwood Media production distributed by Federation Kids & Family.

The deals add to the show’s global reach of over 150 territories already licensed. Previous key sales include to France Télévisions in France, NBC Sprout in the U.S., Tvo and Knowledge in Canada, Discovery in Latin America, D-Kids in Middle East and North Africa, Vrt in Belgium and Ietv in Israel.

An edutainment short-format series, “Ollie” follows a couple of six-year-old globe-trotting cats on a world tour, introducing to kids the joys of unlikely friendships, global citizenship, memorable adventures and new food, language, cities, and customs.

“These new acquisitions just go to show that good storytelling and magnetic characters are truly universal,” said Monica Levy, senior VP, co-production and sales at Federation Kids & Family, a joint-venture launched in 2015 by »


- Emiliano De Pablos

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Film Review: ‘Bokeh’

2 hours ago

“Last people on Earth” movies are practically a genre in themselves, having begun as a reaction to 1950s atom-bomb anxiety (“On the Beach,” “Five”), then remained a sporadic presence in all subsequent waves of screen sci-fi, including environmental and zombie apocalypses. “Bokeh” belongs to the category’s least populist corner, in which the catastrophic event itself is not depicted and/or left entirely mysterious, with the focus on the few survivors. and how they manage — or fail — to carry on after civilization’s end.

Movies of this stripe (like “Glen and Randa,” “The Quiet Earth” or, more recently, “The Road”) are bound to frustrate those anticipating any conventional fantasy thrills, while instead aiming to provide the abstract rewards of a speculative mood piece. That’s likely to be the reaction to “Bokeh,” which takes its name from the photographic term for blurry parts of a picture produced by variable lens focus. »


- Dennis Harvey

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Galaxy Weiying Receives Additional Investment

2 hours ago

Galaxy Weiying Entertainment, the Hong Kong-based investment vehicle, that last week revealed a stake in Paramount’s “Ghost in the Shell,” has received an additional cash injection.

The capital has come from family-controlled Huang’s Entertainment. The value of the injection was not disclosed.

Galaxy Weiying is a joint venture between Beijing Weiying Technology, one of China’s leading online ticketing firms, and investor Johnny Hsu. Gary Locke, former U.S. Ambassador to China, is an adviser to the fund. Hsu heads Lead Capital, a mergers and acquisitions boutique.

Weiying has moved upstream into film production and investment and aims to make use of its massive access to big data flowing from its cinema booking services and relationships with other companies including WeChat. In summer last year it launched Chinese production company Nextainment. With a more international investment outlook, Galaxy Weiying was established in December last year.

Weiying Galaxy says »


- Patrick Frater

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SXSW Film Review: ‘The Work’

5 hours ago

Locked away in Folsom State Prison, the tough, tattooed men seen in “The Work” are serving heavy-duty time, in some cases multiple life sentences, for violent crimes. Most will never be released, and yet, as we discover via Jairus McLeary’s remarkable vérité portrait — winner of the SXSW documentary competition — a handful of these maximum-security inmates are committed to mastering their tempers, getting in touch with their emotions, and making an effort to help outsiders do the same.

Pushing its cameras past the gates, past the guards, and even past the imaginary emotional barriers its subjects erected years ago in order to deal with their personal demons, “The Work” brings audiences into the “Inside Circle,” an intensive four-day group therapy program where society’s worst offenders interact with individuals from the free world. It’s not hard to imagine the benefit messed-up convicts might see in addressing their issues; less clear, »


- Peter Debruge

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Disney Eyes Thea Sharrock to Direct Gorilla Story ‘The One and Only Ivan’

9 hours ago

Disney is in talks with Thea Sharrock, director of “Me Before You,” to helm its movie version of the gorilla story “The One and Only Ivan.”

British director Mike Newell had been attached last year for the project, but is no longer involved. Variety first reported in 2014 that Mike White had come on board to script the adaptation of Katherine Applegate’s children’s story.

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 »


- Dave McNary

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Ryan Gosling Explains Why He Laughed During Oscars Best Picture Mix-Up

9 hours ago

Nearly a full month has passed since the 89th Academy Awards show committed what many have come to regard as one of the most egregious and high-profile faux pas in Oscars history: when “La La Land” was announced as best picture instead of the actual winner, “Moonlight.”

And yet, “La La Land” leading man and beloved Hollywood “nice guy,” Ryan Gosling, is only just now offering an explanation for his oddly blithe reaction to the best picture mix-up. Amid a legion of shock, bewilderment, and light chaos following the Academy’s correction, the camera panned to Gosling’s face as he erupted into a fit of laughter — picture that has since circulated the viral rounds of cyberspace.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight, Gosling explained that his reaction (which might have otherwise been interpreted as some derivative of bitterness) was actually motivated by a surge of relief.

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Inside »


- Emily Mae Czachor

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Bryan Cranston-Jennifer Garner Drama ‘Wakefield’ Gets May Release Date

10 hours ago

IFC Films has acquired the independent drama “Wakefield,” starring Bryan Cranston and Jennifer Garner, for a May 19 theatrical release and a May 26 VOD launch.

The film, which screened at the Telluride and Toronto festivals last year, also stars Jason O’Mara and Beverly D’Angelo. Producers are Julie Lynn, Bonnie Curtis, Wendy Federman, and Carl Moellenberg.

Wakefield” is directed by Robin Swicord from her adaptation of E.L. Doctorow’s short story, in which a successful suburbanite commuter vanishes without a trace and hides in the attic of his carriage house garage, surviving by scavenging at night. He secretly observes the lives of his wife (portrayed by Garner), children, and neighbors and slowly realizes that he has not in fact left his family — he has left himself.

Variety’s Peter Debruge said of Cranston in his Telluride review: “Like the snapping-point office drone Michael Douglas played in ‘Falling Down,’ he’s »


- Dave McNary

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Jay Z, Weinstein Company to Make Trayvon Martin Film and Documentary Series (Exclusive)

10 hours ago

Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and the Weinstein Company are partnering on an ambitious series of film and television projects about Trayvon Martin, Variety has learned.

The indie label and the rap icon won a heated bidding war for the rights to two books — “Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It” and “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin.” The 2012 shooting of the 17-year-old Martin sparked a national debate about racial profiling and inequities of the criminal justice system that brought about the Black Lives Matter movement. The African-American high school student was killed by George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old mixed race Hispanic man, who was a member of the neighborhood watch in his Florida community. He claimed he shot Martin, who was unarmed, in self defense after the two became involved in a physical altercation. Zimmerman’s acquittal »


- Justin Kroll and Brent Lang

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Steve Carell, Amy Schumer, Nicole Kidman to Star in Dramedy ‘She Came to Me’

11 hours ago

Steve Carell, Amy Schumer, and Nicole Kidman will star in the independent dramedy “She Came to Me.”

Schumer just exited the “Barbie” movie to make room in her schedule for this film.

Rebecca Miller is directing from her own script. “She Came to Me” will be produced under Miller and Damon Cardasis’ banner Round Films, alongside Odd Lot Entertainment’s Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane, with Melissa Rucker overseeing for Odd Lot.

The script covers two intertwining love stories, set in the world of contemporary opera and tug boats.

Related

Amy Schumer Drops Out of ‘Barbie’ Movie (Exclusive)

Miller’s credits as a director-writer include “Maggie’s Plan,” “Angela,” “The Ballad of Jack and Rose,” and “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee.” She is the daughter of photographer Inge Morath and playwright Arthur Miller.

Carell will be seen next opposite Emma Stone in “Battle of the Sexes.” Schumer is starring »


- Dave McNary

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Kristen Wiig in Talks to Star With Cate Blanchett in Richard Linklater’s ‘Where’d You Go Bernadette?’

11 hours ago

Kristen Wiig is in talks to star alongside Cate Blanchett in Richard Linklater’s adaptation of “Where'd You Go Bernadette?

Megan Ellison’s Annapurna and Nina Jacobson’s Color Force acquired the movie rights in 2013 to Maria Semple’s 2012 novel.

The story follows an architect-turned-recluse named Bernadette Fox (played by Blanchett), who goes missing prior to a family trip to Antarctica. Her 15-year-old daughter, Bee, narrates the story and goes on a quest with Bernadette’s husband to find her. Wiig would portray a family neighbor, Audrey, an uptight mother who annoys Bernadette.

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Jack Nicholson, Kristen Wiig to Star in ‘Toni Erdmann’ Remake (Exclusive)

The latest draft is penned by Holly Gent Palmo and Vincent Palmo Jr. with Linklater. The previous writers were Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. Producers are Ellison, Jacobson, and Brad Simpson of Color Force.

Linklater has directed 20 films, including last year’s “Everybody Wants Some! »


- Dave McNary

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Amy Schumer Drops Out of ‘Barbie’ Movie (Exclusive)

12 hours ago

Amy Schumer has parted ways with Sony’s live-action “Barbie” over a scheduling conflict, Variety has learned.

“Sadly, I’m no longer able to commit to Barbie due to scheduling conflicts,” the actress said in a statement to Variety. “The film has so much promise, and Sony and Mattel have been great partners. I’m bummed, but look forward to seeing Barbie on the big screen.”

The big screen adaptation of Mattel’s iconic toy line was expected to start production this summer on June 23, but Schumer’s busy schedule includes a lengthy promotional tour for her new Fox comedy “Snatched,” which opens in May.

Sony, however, needed to stick to its June 29, 2018 release date as Mattel already has merchandise and product cycles in motion–shifting the production to accommodate Schumer would have put on a strain on other partners on the film, according to insiders.

“We respect and support Amy’s decision, »


- Justin Kroll

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Miles Teller’s War Drama ‘Thank You for Your Service’ Gets Awards Season Release

12 hours ago

Universal has given an awards season release date of Oct. 27 for Miles Teller‘s drama “Thank You for Your Service.”

Based on David Finkel’s 2013 book, “Thank You for Your Service” follows a group of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq who struggle to integrate back into family and civilian life, while living with the memory of a war that threatens to destroy them long after they’ve left the battlefield. The cast includes Haley Bennett, Amy Schumer, Joe Cole, Beulah Koale, Scott Haze, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Brad Beyer, Omar Dorsey, and Jayson Warner Smith.

Jason Hall, who wrote the screenplay for “American Sniper,” makes his directorial debut. Jon Kilik (“The Hunger Games” series) produces the film, while Ann Ruark executive produces. »


- Dave McNary

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Jake Gyllenhaal, ‘Life’ Director Daniel Espinosa to Reteam on ‘The Anarchists vs ISIS’

13 hours ago

Jake Gyllenhaal and “Life” director Daniel Espinosa are teaming up on another movie: “The Anarchists vs Isis[/link].”

Gyllenhaal is attached to star with Espinosa on board to helm the film adaptation.

Gyllenhaal and Riva Marker, in association with Bold Films, optioned Seth Harp’s Rolling Stone piece, which the film is based on, with both on board to produce along with Espinosa.

Related

Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds Reminisce About On-Set Jokes at ‘Life’ SXSW World Premiere

Bold Films Chairman Michel Litvak will also produce, while CEO Gary Michael Walters executive produces.

The article tells the true story of a ragtag team of American volunteers, socialists, and outcasts, who are fighting alongside the Kurdish militia, known as the Ypg, to beat Isis in Syria and establish an anarchist collective amid the rubble of war.

“Jake and I are thrilled to partner with Daniel Espinosa on Seth Harp’s daring story. Thematically, »


- Justin Kroll

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NBCUniversal’s Ron Meyer to Deliver USC School of Cinematic Arts Commencement Address

13 hours ago

Ron Meyer, vice chairman at NBCUniversal and the former president and co-founder of Creative Artists Agency, is slated to deliver the keynote address at the USC School of Cinematic Arts’ 2017 commencement ceremony.

In delivering the commencement address, Meyer will join the ranks of an impressive register of distinguished industry forces — including Paul Feig, Sumner Redstone, and Jeffrey Katzenberg — who have delivered speeches at the internationally renowned media arts school in years past.

Additionally, producers Jennifer Todd (“Live by Night”) and Suzanne Todd (“Bad Moms”), both alums of the School of Cinematic Arts, will each receive the Mary Pickford Alumni Award during this year’s ceremony. Past recipients of the awards include Kevin Feige, William Fraker, Brian Grazer, Shonda Rhimes, Stacey Sher, and most recently, Susan Downey.

Jennifer and Suzanne Todd, as sisters and partners, have earned several prestigious accolades, including Women In Film’s celebrated Lucy Award, the Spirit Award for Best Picture, »

- Emily Mae Czachor

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Bob Iger Reveals ‘Star Wars’ Han Solo Spinoff Details, Talks Plans After ‘Episode IX’

14 hours ago

Disney CEO Bob Iger dropped some details about the upcoming “Star Wars” movies at a USC tech conference on Thursday.

At the conference, where he also confirmed that he’s “definitely” leaving in 2019, he said he has seen Episode 8, “The Last Jedi,” and addressed how the company is handling the death of Carrie Fisher, who appears extensively in the film.

“We are not changing ‘8’ to deal with her passing. Her performance remains as it was in ‘8,’” he said. “In ‘Rogue One’, we created digitally a few characters… We’re not doing that with Carrie.”

Related

Bob Iger Extends Contract as Disney CEO Through Mid-2019

Iger also revealed that the next film, a standalone project on Han Solo, will follow his life from the age of 18 through 24. The film will including “acquiring a certain vehicle and meeting a certain Wookie,” he said. “You’ll also discover how he got his name. »


- Gene Maddaus

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Sofia Vergara, Karl Urban, Andy Garcia to Star in Revenge Thriller ‘Bent’

14 hours ago

Karl Urban, Sofia Vergara and Andy Garcia have signed on to star in the revenge thriller “Bent[/link].” Bobby Moresco is attached to direct.

Producers are Andrea Iervolino and Monika Bacardi’s through their Ambi Media Group and Joseph O’Donnell’s Deadly Codes Productions.

Moresco, who won a best original screenplay Oscar for “Crash,” will direct the film from a screenplay he wrote himself, based on characters created by O’Donnell.

“Bent” is aimed at capturing the classic noir tradition in a redemptive tale of of a shamed and discredited narcotics detective, played by Urban. Upon his release from prison, he makes plans to seek revenge on the accuser who framed him and killed his partner and investigates the mysterious car bomb murder of a local bookie’s sister — discovering that the murder is connected to an elaborate conspiracy involving high-stakes treason with major international implications.

Vergara will play a ruthless, »


- Dave McNary

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‘The Batman’: Dylan Clark in Talks to Come on Board as Producer

14 hours ago

Dylan Clark, who produced Matt Reeves’ “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and the upcoming “War for the Planet of the Apes,” is in talks to join the director on “The Batman.”

Sources tell Variety that Clark and Reeves have a strong working relationship dating back to the “Apes” pics. While the deal hasn’t been completed yet for Clark to produce the standalone film, sources reveal that it’s on the horizon.

Related

Ben Affleck Will Not Direct ‘The Batman’ (Exclusive)

Reeves came on board last month to replace Ben Affleck as director. Affleck exited the director’s chair to focus on starring as the Caped Crusader.

“There are certain characters who hold a special place in the hearts of millions,” Affleck said in a statement released on Jan. 30. “Performing this role demands focus, passion, and the very best performance I can give. It has become clear that »


- Justin Kroll

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Nicolas Winding Refn’s ‘Maniac Cop’ Greenlit; Wild Bunch to Handle World Sales (Exclusive)

14 hours ago

Maniac Cop,” a modern adaptation of William Lustig’s 1988 cult classic that Nicolas Winding Refn and his partner Lene Børglum are producing, is set to shoot this summer in Los Angeles, with Wild Bunch on board to handle world sales.

Paul Brett at London-based Prescience Ma’s Merlin Funds has come on board to finance the pic, which is being produced by Refn and Børglum’s Copenhagen-set banner Space Rocket Nation, along with Bold Films.

Maniac Cop” was penned by Ed Brubaker (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Angel of Death”) in collaboration with Refn, and will be helmed by John Hyams (“Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning”).

Set in the present, “Maniac Cop” follows a determined L.A. police officer who sets out to reveal the truth about the brutal murders of innocent people by one of her fellow cops. Casting for the film is underway.

Lustig and Refn, who have »


- Elsa Keslassy

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‘Passengers,’ ‘Fences’ Can’t Keep ‘Moana’ From Top Spot on Disc Charts

14 hours ago

The musical fantasy “Moana,” the latest animated feature from Walt Disney Pictures, remained at No. 1 on both national home video sales charts its second week in stores, outselling three new releases that all debuted in the top 10.

Passengers,” from Sony Pictures, debuted at No. 2 the week ending March 19 on both the Npd VideoScan overall disc sales chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales, and Npd’s dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart.

The science-fiction thriller, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, and Laurence Fishburne, is about two people who wake up 90 years too early from an induced hibernation on board a spaceship enroute to a new planet. The film earned nearly $97 million in U.S. theaters.

Another new release, Paramount’s “Fences,” debuted at No. 3 on the overall disc sales chart and No. 4 on the Blu-ray Disc chart. With a domestic box office gross of just under $52 million, »


- Thomas K. Arnold

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‘Sherlock’ Star Sian Brooke Joins Tom Cruise in ‘Mission: Impossible 6’ (Exclusive)

15 hours ago

Sian Brooke, known for her turn as Sherlock Holmes’ sister on BBC’s “Sherlock,” has landed a key role in the next installment in the “Mission: Impossible” franchise starring Tom Cruise.

Vanessa Kirby (“The Crown”) and Henry Cavill have also joined the cast. Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, and Jeremy Renner are also expected to return, though it’s unknown in what capacity.

Christopher McQuarrie, who directed “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation,” is back to direct this sixth film from a script he wrote.

It is unknown what Brooke’s role is, and plot details are also being kept under wraps at this time. Production is expected to start in the spring.

Cruise, McQuarrie and David Ellison are producing the film.

Brooke became well-known in the U.K. for her work on popular British television series such as “All About George” and “Cape Wrath.” Her recent stint as Holmes long lost sister »


- Justin Kroll

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