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With Funding From Universal, Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Looks for Reinvention

21 minutes ago

Steven Spielberg cleared the way for the latest iteration of DreamWorks Studios a year ago, shifting distribution from Disney to Universal and announcing new investment from Jeff Skoll’s Participant Media, Reliance Entertainment of India, and Entertainment One of Canada.

That financing influx, along with Spielberg’s unusual move to chip in $50 million of his own money and the adoption of a new name, Amblin Partners, signaled the start of an attempted reinvention of the company the renowned director founded nearly a quarter century ago with David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg.

With an additional equity investment last week from Universal (amounting to roughly a 4% stake in the new operation) Amblin Partners has its financial house in order. That makes 2017 the year the company needs to do the same with its creative house — delivering more hits more consistently than DreamWorks did in its spotty recent history.

The plan is for Amblin, »


- James Rainey

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Film Review: ‘You’re Killing Me Susana’

29 minutes ago

Men and women prove equally adept at acting in arrogant, selfish ways in “You’re Killing Me Susana,” a romantic drama that goes heavy on the cacophonous commotion and light on the romance or drama. Adapted from José Agustín’s novel, Roberto Sneider’s third feature finds Gael García Bernal working hard to little end as a chauvinistic soap opera actor in search of his Mia wife, who’s more than his match when it comes to callously thinking of herself before all others. Locating little humor on either side of the Mexican-American border, this tone-deaf import should attract minimal interest with anyone other than Bernal completists.

Eligio (Bernal) is a two-bit thespian whose work on a TV show primarily entails making out with the make-up artist between takes — this despite the fact that he supposedly adores his author wife Susana (Verónica Echegui). When he returns home late at night, »


- Nick Schager

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George Clooney: President Trump and Steve Bannon Are ‘Hollywood Elitists’

1 hour ago

George Clooney called President Trump and his chief strategist Steve Bannon “Hollywood elitists” in an interview with French journalist Laurent Weil. Clooney did the interview ahead of France’s Cesar Awards on Friday, where he will receive an honorary award.

As part of the 13-minute-long interview, Clooney addressed Meryl Streep’s political speech at the Golden Globes that sparked outrage from certain right-wing political factions. Trump reacted by tweeting that she is “one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood.”

“There’s a really interesting argument, this is the part that makes you a little crazy,” Clooney said. “When Meryl spoke, everyone on that one side was, ‘Well that’s elitist Hollywood speaking.’ Donald Trump has 22 acting credits in television. He collects $120,000 a year in his Screen Actors Guild pension fund. He is a Hollywood elitist.”

Clooney went on to call out Bannon’s Hollywood ties as well.

Steve Bannon »


- Seth Kelley

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Variety Critics Weigh in on the Year in Film

2 hours ago

Were you thrilled or disappointed in the films this year? In an effort to sum up the themes of the last 12 months of cinema, we posed three questions to a panel of Variety critics and pundits.

1. How do you rate the 2016 slate against those of previous years?

2. What was the biggest scandal or most-talked-about issue of the year?

3. What aspect of film this year made you stand up and cheer?

Not surprising, there was wild variation among their answers. There were highs (“Moonlight”) and lows (the Nate Parker fiasco). Also not surprising: Politics were a big part of the conversation. Here’s how our panel weighed in.

Andrew Barker

Senior features writer

1. On the whole, 2016 had more than its share of disappointments: unusually soul-crushing sequels, middling attempted Oscar-bait, and some head-scratching misfires from typically reliable directors.

But any year in which moviegoers are treated to a genuine masterpiece from artists »


- Andrew Barker, Jenelle Riley, Geoff Berkshire, Peter Debruge, Owen Gleiberman and Tim Gray

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Disney, Imax Extend Slate Deal Through 2019, Including ‘Star Wars’ Films

2 hours ago

Imax and Disney have renewed their longstanding slate deal through 2019, and disclosed that director Rian Johnson shot key sequences of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” using Imax’s extremely high-resolution cameras.

“The Last Jedi” opens Dec. 15. The deal also covers the untitled Han Solo anthology film, which opens May 25, 2018, and “Star Wars: Episode IX.”

Additionally, the deal extends to Lucasfilm’s untitled Indiana Jones film,  Marvel’s “Black Panther,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” “Captain Marvel,” Avengers: Infinity War” and the untitled Avengers sequel; “Beauty and the Beast,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” and “Mulan”; Pixar’s “The Incredibles 2” and “Toy Story 4”; and Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Wreck-It Ralph” sequel.

The companies noted that they have previously announced that “Avengers: Infinity War” and the untitled Avengers sequel will be shot in their entirety by the Russo Brothers with Imax cameras.

“The Walt Disney Studios strives to bring great stories from visionary filmmakers »


- Dave McNary

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Seth Meyers Cries, Screams and Panders in ‘Oscar Bait’ Trailer (Watch)

2 hours ago

Seth Meyers, really, really wants an Oscar.

The late night host released a five and a half minute-long trailer on Tuesday night for “Oscar Bait,” a spoof of every trope in the award-winning film handbook.

“This winter — see a film that’s not afraid to pander to your emotions,” a voiceover says. “A film that is shamelessly tied to awards season.”

In the first scene a couple, fallen out of love, sits at the dinner table. Next, Meyers embraces a small child.

“‘Oscar Bait’ checks off all the boxes,” the voiceover continues, “Racial tension, latent homosexuality and a man starring at trains.”

As the trailer continues, more pandering attempts at artistic filmmaking include pretentiously artistic shots of a man’s hand grazing wheat, a long shot of a man playing solitaire and the revelation that Meyers suffers from a rare medical condition — balloon foot. If it pops, he dies.

Meyers screams in a car, »


- Seth Kelley

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Video of Harrison Ford Passenger Plane Incident Released

3 hours ago

Video of Harrison Ford’s incident on Monday when he mistakenly attempted to land on a taxiway at John Wayne Airport in Orange County while piloting his private plane, has been released. The footage shows Ford flying his Aviat Husky near a passenger plane, before landing on the taxiway.

Ford was allegedly heard on an air traffic control recording at the time saying, “Was that airliner meant to be underneath me?”

Ford’s rep declined to comment on the situation when it was originally reported. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident, and issued the following statement on Tuesday after the event took place:

“Air traffic controllers cleared the pilot of a single-engine Aviat Husky to land on Runway 20L at John Wayne Airport Monday afternoon. The pilot correctly read back the clearance. The pilot then landed on a taxiway that runs parallel to the runway, overflying a Boeing »


- Variety Staff

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Spanish TV Thriller ‘Lifeline’ Goes to VOD Service Walter Presents in the U.K., the U.S.

3 hours ago

Walter Presents, the U.K. streaming service devoted to foreign-language drama that is set to launch in the U.S. in March, has nabbed U.S. and U.K. VOD rights to Spanish TV skein “Pulsaciones” (“Lifeline”).

The 10-episode closed-end drama, a Mediapro Group Globomedia production for Spanish TV broadcaster Atresmedia, is co-distributed internationally by Mediapro’s Imagina International Sales and Atresmedia.

Co-created and directed by Spanish multi-hyphenate Emilio Aragón, “Lifeline” turns on a renowned surgeon who suffers from a heart attack, receives a heart transplant and starts to have strange nightmares related to the murder of his donor.

Key cast includes Leonor Watling, seen in Pedro Almodovar’s “Talk to Her,” Pablo Derqui, whose credits include Pablo Larrain’s “Neruda,” Ingrid Rubio (“La estrella”) and Juan Diego Botto (“Ismael”).

In Spain, the primetime drama scored a standout 3.0 million viewers and a 17.1 % audience share on its Jan. 10 debut for Atresmedia »


- Emiliano De Pablos

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Berlin Film Review: ‘Politics, Instruction Manual’

6 hours ago

For once, the title does not mislead: With a bit of trimming down from its slightly baggy two hours, Fernando León de Aranoa’s documentary on the rise of left-wing Spanish political force Podemos could be the Ikea self-assembly kit for how to turn generalized resistance into a party with parliamentary clout. León de Aranoa is better known as a feature director, with titles like “Family,” “Mondays in the Sun,” and, most recently, Cannes Directors’ Fortnight film “A Perfect Day.” But he turns his hand to nonfiction with a feature director’s eye for narrative arc, and, with unfettered access to the film’s principals, makes an engrossingly well-edited and polished, if formally unambitious, doc that presents a you-are-there immediacy in witnessing the birth of a political movement. Cineastes may long for a less straight-on, talking-heads-reliant movie, but activists, idealists, and the politicians of the future will be »


- Jessica Kiang

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‘Buñuel,’ ‘Zombillenium,’ ‘Fox’ Make Cartoon Movie Cut

7 hours ago

Barcelona– “Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles,” “Zombillenium,” and “The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales” are among the 55 projects selected for Cartoon Movie, Europe’s leading movie co-production event devoted to animation, which will take place in the French city of Bordeaux, kicking off March 8.

Much awaited, and produced by France’s Maybe Movies and Belgium’s Belvision, “Zombillenium” is based on Arthur de Pins’ eponymous comicbooks. Directed by Arthur de Pins and Alexis Ducord, it turns on a Halloween theme park that is the only place on earth where real monsters can hide. “Zombillenium” is in production and is represented for international sales by Urban Distribution International (Udi).

Sold by Studiocanal, “The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales”” marks another co-production between France, here Didier Brunner’s Folivari, and Belgium (Panique!), one of Europe’s most fertile production axes for upscale animated features.

Producers will be offering a sneak preview at Bordeaux. »


- Emilio Mayorga

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Maverick Japanese Director Seijun Suzuki Dies at 93

8 hours ago

Tokyo — Seijun Suzuki, a maverick director who was notoriously fired from the Nikkatsu studio for a film many consider his masterpiece, the 1967 actioner “Branded to Kill,” died in Tokyo on Feb. 13 at age 93. The cause was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

After failing to launch a directing career at Shochiku, Suzuki joined Nikkatsu in 1954, and made 40 films for the studio, mostly supporting pictures in double bills. With production designer Takeo Kimura and, beginning with 1963 film “The Bastard,” the two men together shaped the ‘Suzuki style,’ with its surreal visuals, Kabuki-esque staging, bold colors and action that seemed to be unfolding in a dreamscape.

Suzuki was fired after the flop of “Branded to Kill,” which starred Joe Shishido as a hitman who finds himself caught in a bizarre life-or-death struggle with a higher ranked rival. He won an out of court settlement, but was essentially banned from the industry for a decade. »


- Mark Schilling

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‘La La Land,’ ‘Doctor Strange,’ ‘The Crown’ Win Costume Designers Guild Awards

12 hours ago

Resilient awards season fixture “La La Land” won yet another honor at the 19th annual Costume Designers Guild Tuesday night. The film won in the contemporary design category, while “Hidden Figures” and “Doctor Strange” — two films not in the Oscar hunt — won period and fantasy, respectively.

American Horror Story: Roanoke,” “The Crown” and “Game of Thrones” won in the television categories.

Costumers Jeffrey Kurland and Lois DeArmond received honorary awards, along with actresses Lily Collins and Meryl Streep.

La La Land” is Oscar-nominated for costume design along with “Allied,” “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” “Florence Foster Jenkins” and “Jackie”

Game of Thrones” won the costume design Emmy last year.

Full list of 2017 Cdg award winners below.

Excellence in Contemporary Film

La La Land” (Mary Zophres)

Excellence in Period Film

Hidden Figures” (Renee Ehrlich Kalfus)

Excellence in Fantasy Film

Doctor Strange” (Alexandra Byrne)

Outstanding Contemporary Television Series

American Horror Story: Roanoke” (Lou Eyrich, »


- Kristopher Tapley

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Netflix Buys Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’ Starring Robert De Niro

14 hours ago

Netflix has acquired worldwide rights to Martin Scorsese’s gangster movie “The Irishman,” starring Robert De Niro.

Netflix would not comment on the deal but sources close to the project confirmed a report by IndieWire.

The Irishman” will be the ninth collaboration between Scorsese and De Niro. Steven Zaillian has written the script, based on the Charles Brandt’s 2004  book, “I Heard You Paint Houses,” which centered on the life of the mob hitman Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran.

Scorsese and De Niro first partnered on 1973’s “Mean Streets,” followed by “Taxi Driver,” “New York, New York,” “Raging Bull,” “The King of Comedy,” “Goodfellas,” “Cape Fear” and 1995’s “Casino.”

Production on “The Irishman” is expected to start later this year.

The project originated in 2008 at Paramount with De Niro’s Tribeca Productions and De Niro’s producing partner Jane Rosenthal along with Scorsese’s Sikelia Productions.

The book title “I Heard You Paint Houses »


- Dave McNary

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Steven Spielberg’s Mother, Leah Adler, Dies at 97

16 hours ago

Steven Spielberg’s mother, Leah Adler, known for operating The Milky Way restaurant in Los Angeles, died Tuesday at her Los Angeles home surrounded by her children. She was 97.

Adler, known as Lee Lee to her family and friends, was born in Cincinnati to Philip Posner and Jennie (Fridman) Posner. She developed a love of music when she learned piano at the age of five and later studied at the Music Conservatory in Cincinnati.

In 1945, she married Arnold Meyer Spielberg and they had four children – Steven, Anne, Sue and Nancy. Arnold Spielberg’s work as an electrical engineer kept the family on the move from Cincinnati to Haddonfield, N.J., where they lived for seven years before relocating to Phoenix in 1957, where she often performed piano solos and owned an art gallery, becoming known around town as “the lady with the Peter Pan haircut.”

In 1964, the family moved to Los Gatos, »


- Dave McNary

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Jennifer Garner Joins Nick Robinson’s ‘Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda’

16 hours ago

Jennifer Garner is in final talks to join the cast of Nick Robinson’s coming-of-age film “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” for Fox 2000.

The studio began developing “Simon” in October after it picked up movie rights to Becky Albertalli’s 2015 book about a gay teen who has not come out to his classmates. When an email he sends to a boy (that he’s never met) falls into the wrong hands, he finds himself in a complicated situation when he’s blackmailed by the class clown.

Greg Berlanti, one of the architects of DC’s television universe, is attached to direct from a script by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger. Fox-based Temple Hill, which has produced the “Twilight” and “Maze Runner” franchises along with “The Fault in Our Stars,” is producing “Simon” along with Pouya Shahbazian’s New Leaf Literary & Media.

Related

Alexandra Shipp in Talks for ‘Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda »


- Dave McNary

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Spirit Awards Hosts Nick Kroll and John Mulaney on Friendship, Indie Films and Day Drinking

17 hours ago

Nick Kroll and John Mulaney are best friends who genuinely love working together; it’s not difficult to imagine them doing this for the next 40 years — particularly since the pair are fresh off a record-breaking run of “Oh, Hello on Broadway” in which they portray elderly gadflys Gil Kaizon (Kroll) and George St. Geegland (Mulaney).

Next up, they’ll be hosting the Film Independent Spirit Awards on Feb. 25, a perfect fit for the comedians who clearly know their indie films – Mulaney is a writer/producer on “Documentary Now!” while Kroll played lawyer Bernard S. Cohen in last year’s acclaimed “Loving.” Variety sat down with the duo to discuss their friendship, drinking at awards shows, and the state of the  business where, as Mulaney puts it, “The only true independent film is Atm security footage.”

Independent films tend to cover serious subject matter; are you worried about finding the comedy as hosts? »


- Jenelle Riley

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Charlize Theron Boards Spy Thriller ‘Need to Know’ at Universal

17 hours ago

Charlize Theron will produce and star in the spy thriller “Need to Know” for Universal Pictures.

The studio has acquired the movie rights to the upcoming novel by Karen Cleveland, who has worked as a CIA analyst. The yet-to-be published book centers on a wife and mother who works as a CIA analyst who discovers a threat to herself and her family while searching for a Russian sleeper cell in the U.S.

Theron will produce with Beth Kono and A.J. Dix through their Denver & Delilah Films production company. Universal’s Kristin Lowe will oversee the project on behalf of the studio.

Related

The Fate of the Furious’ Trailer Drops During Super Bowl (Watch)

Theron’s upcoming films include Universal’s “The Fate of the Furious,” opening April 14, and Focus’ spy thriller “The Coldest City,” launching July 28. Theron is producing and starring in “The Coldest City,” with James McAvoy, Toby Jones, »


- Dave McNary

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Kyle Chandler to Co-Star as Millie Bobby Brown’s Dad in ‘Godzilla’ Sequel (Exclusive)

18 hours ago

It’s a Netflix reunion of sorts: Kyle Chandler, star of “Bloodline,” is set to join “Stranger Things” break-out Millie Bobby Brown in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, sources tell Variety.

Chandler will play Brown’s father in the Legendary sequel.

Krampus” helmer Michael Dougherty is directing the project and wrote the script with Zach Shields.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe and Elizabeth Olsen starred in the 2014 “Godzilla” reboot, directed by Gareth Edwards, though sources say only Watanabe is likely to return for the sequel.

Plot details are unknown.

Alex Garcia will oversee the tentpole for Legendary. “Godzilla: King of Monsters” is set for relase on Mar. 22, 2019, with the monster mash-up “Godzilla vs. Kong” slated to bow the following year on May 29, 2020.

Legendary and Warner Bros. announced in late 2015 that all future “King Kong” and “Godzilla” films would be developed by Legendary and distributed by Warner Bros., starting »


- Justin Kroll

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Academy Awards Voting Ends at 5 p.m. Today

20 hours ago

Tuesday at 5 p.m Pt marks the end of the Academy’s final voting period. Come Sunday, the votes will have been counted and Oscars distributed at the annual Academy Awards.

This voting period, ending less than one week out from Hollywood’s big night, is conducted online and with paper ballots. Over the next few days, the final ballots will be counted and tabulated, only to be revealed to two partners of PricewaterhouseCoopers. They’ll keep the results secret until the presenters announce the winners during the Oscars telecast, reading off cards held in the famous envelopes like so many before them.

Related

Final Oscar Predictions as the Season Hits the Home Stretch

The final voting period, which began last Monday, was announced with the rest of the Academy’s key dates in June 2016. This week of final voting follows the nominations period in early January and the Jan. »

- Dani Levy

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‘Game of Thrones’ Star Alfie Allen Joins ‘The Predator’ Reboot

20 hours ago

Game of Thrones” star Alfie Allen is joining Fox’s “The Predator,” a reboot of the alien action franchise that launched in 1987.

Shane Black is directing from a script by Fred Dekker. John Davis, Joel Silver, and Lawrence Gordon — who produced the original — are returning for the reboot as well. Fox has already scheduled “The Predator” for a Feb. 9, 2018, opening.

Major plot details are being kept under wraps other than the movie being set in suburbia. “Narcos” star Boyd Holbrook replaced Benicio del Toro as the lead back in October. The cast also includes Jacob Tremblay, Trevante Rhodes, Olivia MunnSterling K. Brown, and Keegan-Michael Key.

The original “Predator” was directed by John McTiernan and starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, and Jesse Ventura as commandos attempting to rescue hostages while being stalked in a jungle in Central America by a fearsome extra-terrestrial, played by Kevin Peter Hall.

Alfie Allen, who »


- Dave McNary

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