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Venice Fest Lineup: New Pics By Mel Gibson, Tom Ford, Terrence Malik, Pablo Larrain

36 minutes ago

Rome — The Venice Film Festival’s 73rd edition will feature a batch of star-studded English-language dramas directed by Mel Gibson, Tom Ford, Pablo Larrain, Antoine Fuqua and Damian Chazelle, as well as promising new titles by big-name international auteurs such as Emir Kusturica, Francois Ozon, and Wim Wenders, plus plenty of potential discoveries.

This year’s selections look likely to reinforce the Lido’s status as a discerning and effective awards-season platform. Last year, the festival launched “Spotlight,” and, before that, “Birdman” and “Gravity” — all of which went on to win multiple Oscars.

The Gibson-directed “Hacksaw Ridge” (pictured) stars Andrew Garfield as Desmond T. Doss, an army medic who never carried a gun during World War II. Doss was the first conscientious objector in U.S. history to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. The topical drama, which is screening out-of-competition, is slated for a Nov. 4 U.S. release via Lionsgate. »


- Nick Vivarelli

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San Sebastian: ‘Smoke & Mirrors,’ ’May God Save Us,’ ‘La Reconquista’ Make Competition Cut

37 minutes ago

Madrid — Two of Spain’s most anticipated titles of the year – Alberto Rodriguez’s true-life Spanish espionage expose “Smoke & Mirrors” and Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s serial-killer procedural “May God Save Us” – will world premiere in main competition at the 64th San Sebastian Festival.

Also competing at the highest-profile film event in the Spanish-speaking world: Romantic dramedy “La Reconquista,” a first big fest bow for Jonas Trueba, an engaging, audience-friendly arthouse auteur..

Starring Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver and Felicity Jones, Spaniard Juan Antonio Bayona’s “A Monster Calls” will celebrate its European premiere at San Sebastian, screening out of competition, as announced last week.

Presented Thursday in Madrid, the 11 Spanish features selected for this year’s San Sebastian invite several off-the-cuff conclusions. First, eight are world premieres: The large spread of fresh films from Spain remains one of San Sebastian’s biggest lures.

Again, Spanish producers used to think thrice before premiering »


- John Hopewell

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What Film Can Learn From Asia’s Rising Art Fair Circuit

2 hours ago

The rise of art fairs and galleries in Asia could contribute to an evolution in the traditional sale and distribution of films around the region. Film and video-based works are increasingly being shown in fine art settings.

Spearheading the change in Asia is the giant Art Basel, which introduced a film sector to its Hong Kong edition in 2014, showing 49 works by 47 artists. This year’s fair in March showed 67 short films and five feature-length films, including “The Chinese Lives of Uli Sigg,” a documentary by Michael Schindhelm about the Swiss collector of Chinese contemporary art. (The picture plays again at next month’s Locarno Film Festival.)

Only films represented by galleries were eligible for selection in the fair’s film program. Short film “Tomorrow,” by Hong Kong-based cinematographer Christopher Doyle (“In The Mood for Love”,) was also screened.

In January, Singapore Contemporary, an offshoot of Hong Kong’s Asia Contemporary Art Show, »


- Vivienne Chow

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Jackie Chan’s ‘Bleeding Steel’ Adds Australian Cast

5 hours ago

Australian actors Tess Haubrich (“Alien: Covenant”) and Callan Mulvey (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” TV’s “Underbelly”) have joined Jackie Chan in the cast of Chinese-Australian sci-fi thriller “Bleeding Steel.”

The official start of production was announced Thursday at a ceremony at Sydney Opera House involving the state of New South Wales’ acting premier Troy Grant and minister for skills John Barilaro.

Producers repeated the assertion that “Bleeding Steel” is the biggest budget Chinese film ever to shoot in Australia. However, despite repeated inquiries by Variety, the producers refused to disclose any details that might substantiate such a claim — the overall production budget, the proportion that will be spent in Australia or the scale of the subsidies from Australian state and federal sources.

The film, which has actually been shooting in the streets of Sydney for the past few days, is backed by China’s Heyi Pictures and by Village Roadshow Pictures Asia. »


- Patrick Frater

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‘OpTic Gaming: Making of eSports Champions’ Movie in the Works (Exclusive)

8 hours ago

Producers John Sacchi and Matt Groesch have acquired movie and TV rights to the book “OpTic Gaming: The Making of eSports Champions,” Variety has learned exclusively.

The New York Times bestseller was published in March, co-authored by Ryan Dempsey and seven past and present OpTic members: Ryan Musselman, Nadeshot, Will Johnson, Scump, Hector Rodriguez, Ryan Wyatt and Ashley Glassel. OpTic is a professional American eSports team.

Sacchi and Groesch will produce under Sacchi’s 5 More Minutes banner, along with Bill Kenney (who most recently served as director of business development at Relativity Sports).

The book explores the requirements to succeed in professional video gaming; the consequences of newfound fame; the inception, rise and global popularity of eSports; and inside the minds of the elite players. OpTic has won the Call of Duty Major League Gaming championship four times since emerging in 2006 and includes players such as Matt “NaDeSHoT” Haag; Seth “Scump” Abner; Midnite, »


- Dave McNary

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‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ Grosses $3.8 Million in Two Nights

10 hours ago

Warner Bros. animated “Batman: The Killing Joke” has generated an impressive $3.8 million in its two-day theatrical run on Monday and Tuesday nights.

Warner Bros. and Fathom Events screened “The Killing Joke” at 1,325 locations on Monday night for a sterling $2,396 per site average — well above $1,592 number for box office leader “Star Trek Beyond.” It took in $600,000 in 810 locations on Tuesday night.

Batman: The Killing Joke” premiered last week at Comic-Con. The graphic novel-turned-movie reunites “Batman: The Animated Series” executive producer Bruce Timm with voice actors Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, who are reprising their roles as Batman and the Joker, respectively.

The movie is based on DC Comics’ 1988 graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore, which provided the origin story for the Joker as a supervillain. The showings included a special introduction from Hamill, a never-before-seen documentary about the actor and his passion for this project, and a behind-the-scenes »


- Dave McNary

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Sequel to Horror Film ‘Lights Out’ in the Works at New Line

11 hours ago

New Line is in early development on a sequel to horror-thriller “Lights Out,” which grossed $27 million domestically in its first five days on a budget of under $5 million.

The key creatives are returning for the project with David F. Sandberg back to direct from script by Eric Heisserer. James Wan will again produce through his Atomic Monster company along with Lawrence Grey through his Grey Matter shingle.

The film stars Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman, Billy Burke, Maria Bello and Sandberg’s spouse Lotta Losten. The story centers on a malevolent apparition that attacks in the dark with Heisserer’s script based on the 2013 short film that Sandberg made with his wife.

Lights Out” performed above expectations at the U.S. box office and added $8.5 million internationally  at 3,737 screens in 32 markets.

Sandberg is currently directing “Annabelle 2” for New Line, which has given that sequel a prime release date of May 19, 2017.

Annabelle, »


- Dave McNary

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Michael Keaton on Rumored ‘Beetlejuice’ Sequel: ‘It’s Possible That Ship Has Sailed’

11 hours ago

After “The Founder,” Michael Keaton will be seen in a film adaptation of Vince Flynn’s bestselling novel series, “American Assassin.”

And he’ll return to the superhero world in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” though rumor has him on the villain side this time.

Asked how he feels about moving from the DC world of “Batman” to Marvel’s “Spider-Man” universe, Keaton says: “You’re asking the wrong guy. I know so little about the entire culture; honestly it’s a little embarrassing. You’d think that even by osmosis I would know more about it.”

Fortunately, a friend has two young daughters who help him out. “They fill me in on the backstory of my character and all the other characters. So when I have questions, I call them.”

If people are interested in the roles Keaton takes on next, they’re obsessed with one that isn’t even confirmed: For years, »


- Jenelle Riley

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Film Review: ‘In the Shadow of the Hill’

11 hours ago

In first-time filmmaker Dan Jackson’s “In the Shadow of the Hill,” Brazil’s 2011 plan to rid the gargantuan Rio de Janeiro favela Rocinha of drug traffickers in advance of the 2014 World Cup and the upcoming Olympic games falters when one family’s very public protest of their disappeared patriarch goes global. Winner of the Documentary Australia Foundation Award at the Sydney Film Festival, the impressionistic yet resonant work is a natural for social justice-themed events and nonfiction sidebars.

At first, the elite yet now-notorious elite squad known as Bope is cautiously welcomed in the slum, having cleared out much of the criminal element without a shot being fired. It might have seemed a good idea on paper, but human nature being what it is the authorities end up policing the favela with an iron fist and remorseless demeanor (the cops’ notorious methods were dramatized in the popular 2007 feature “The »


- Eddie Cockrell

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Geoff Johns Promoted to President of DC Entertainment

11 hours ago

Warner Bros. has promoted Geoff Johns to the post of president of DC Entertainment as it continues to  reorganize the executives handling its DC movies.

Johns retains the chief operating officer title and continues to report to DC Entertainment topper Diane Nelson.

The promotion of Johns to the presidency of DC Entertainment actually took place two months ago but the studio had not confirmed the move until this week.

The studio disclosed on May 17 that it had given oversight of its DC Entertainment movies to Johns and Warner’s Executive VP Jon Berg through a recently created DC Films arm. Since then, Berg has been continuing to report to Greg Silverman, the president of creative development and worldwide production at Warner Bros. Pictures since 2013.

Johns has been a driving creative force along with Greg Berlanti behind DC’s successful television properties “Arrow,” “The Flash” and “Supergirl.”

The moves are part »


- Dave McNary

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Film Review: ‘Red Christmas’

11 hours ago

Ozploitation weighs in on the abortion debate with “Red Christmas,” in which an unsuccessfully terminated and hideously deformed fetus returns two decades later to wreak havoc during his family’s already volatile Yuletide celebration. Starring and co-produced by horror icon Dee Wallace (the original “The Hills Have Eyes,” “The Howling” and “Cujo,” not to mention the more family-friendly “E.T.”), the film is an energetic, candy-colored romp through genre tropes that manages to take its subject matter seriously while poking fun at itself at the same time. Following a lusty debut at the Sydney Film Festival, the title will be a natural fit for genre gatherings and ancillary.

In her sprawling rural estate (the film was shot on location in the verdant Southern Highlands of New South Wales), widowed yet spirited matriarch Diane (Wallace) has managed the not-insignificant task of gathering her disparate offspring and their partners to a Christmas Day feast. »


- Eddie Cockrell

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Michael Keaton Discusses Upcoming McDonald’s Biopic, Walk of Fame Honor

12 hours ago

After taking a few years off from acting, Michael Keaton has been making up for lost time with a string of impressive achievements — while making it all look so easy.

Mount an extraordinary comeback in “Birdman,” the role of a lifetime, and charm Hollywood with his self-effacing wit and humor? Check. Land his first Oscar nomination for said role? Done.

Show remarkable range by following the raging id of that role with the thoughtful, quiet performance of Boston Globe editor Walter “Robby” Robinson in “Spotlight?” Easy. Then see your two films win best-picture Oscars back-to-back? No problem.

Now comes another career milestone, as Keaton receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his career in film July 28. While he’s understandably thrilled, noting “it’s an amazing part of the life resume,” he can’t help but sneak in a zinger. “My biggest concern about having a star »


- Jenelle Riley

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Film Review: ‘Zach’s Ceremony’

12 hours ago

A perceptive, benevolent documentary about a contemporary and particularly high-stakes rite of passage from young adolescence to manhood, “Zach’s Ceremony” follows bright young Indigenous teenager Zacharias Doomadgee from the age of nine to 16 as he fends off prejudice in his Sydney community and prepares for his initiation ceremony in the far-north Queensland Aboriginal lands where his doggedly supportive yet unrelentingly tough father Alec grew up. “Not black, not white, sort of in the middle,” is how Zach describes himself. “I don’t know myself.” And it is this very poignancy of this struggle, patiently and gracefully assembled by director Aaron Petersen and producer-writer Sarah Linton, that earned the film the nonfiction Foxtel Movies Audience Awards at the Sydney Film Festival and will propel it to maturity on the festival circuit and in specialty situations.

Zach seems a genuinely engaging child who likes to hunt, fish, and play sport with his father and four siblings. »


- Eddie Cockrell

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‘Interstellar’ Star Mackenzie Foy to Lead Disney’s ‘The Nutcracker’ (Exclusive)

12 hours ago

Walt Disney Pictures has tapped rising star Mackenzie Foy to play Clara in its latest retelling of “The Nutcracker.”

Foy, who broke out as Matthew McConaughey’s daughter in Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar,” joins Misty Copeland who was recently announced as the lead ballerina in the films sole dance number.

The live action project is titled “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.” It is based on the 1816 story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E.T.A. Hoffmann in which a Clara (Foy) is charged by her parents with taking care of a Christmas toy Nutcracker doll which comes to life and defeats an evil Mouse King with seven heads.

Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov turned an Alexandre Dumas adaptation of the story into the ballet “The Nutcracker” in 1892.

For the upcoming film, Lasse Hallström came on board in March to direct from Ashleigh Powell’s script. »


- Justin Kroll

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Film Review: ‘Lace Crater’

14 hours ago

In a moment of vulnerability — to put it mildly — a young woman has a sexual encounter with a ghost and contracts an Std that can’t be Googled in “Lace Crater,” a deeply strange and intermittently creepy micro-indie that’s as inscrutable as its title. Threading a “Repulsion”-like portrait of female trauma and alienation through the sort of ambling relationship study associated with his producer, Joe Swanberg, first-time director Harrison Atkins never quite finds his own distinct voice. He dabbles in horror and deadpan comedy, experiments in discordant jags on the soundtrack, and suggests a more fluid boundary between the living and the dead, but the film remains stubbornly hazy and obscure in its intentions. Atkins’ audaciousness marks him as a filmmaker to watch, but few can be expected to pick up this calling card.

On a getaway to the Hamptons with friends, Ruth (Lindsay Burdge) numbs the ache »


- Scott Tobias

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Playwright David Auburn in Talks for ‘Charlie’s Angels’ Reboot

15 hours ago

Sony is in talks with Pulitzer Prize winner David Auburn to write the screenplay for the movie reboot of “Charlie's Angels.”

Auburn’s play “Proof” won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for drama and he co-wrote the script for the 2005 film starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, Hope Davis and Jake Gyllenhaal. Auburn also wrote “The Lake House,” starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, and directed and wrote “The Girl in the Park” with Sigourney Weaver and Kate Bosworth.

Elizabeth Banks came on board to direct the rebooted film in September. Banks will also produce via her Universal-based Brownstone production company with her husband and producing partner Max Handelman.

The show “Charlie's Angels” launched in 1976 on ABC and lasted five seasons with Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith portraying private detectives working for a benefactor named Charlie. Cheryl Ladd replaced Fawcett, with Shelley Hack and Tanya Roberts joining the series in later years. »


- Dave McNary

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‘Annabelle’ Director John Leonetti Boards Broad Green Thriller ‘Wish Upon’

16 hours ago

Annabelle” director John Leonetti will helm horror-thriller “Wish Upon” for Broad Green Pictures, with shooting starting this fall.

The project, named to the 2015 Black List, was written by Barbara Marshall (“The Listener”) and will be produced by Busted Shark Production’s Sherryl Clark (“Viral”).

The film centers on a 16-year-old misfit who finds a magic box that promises a chance at the life she’s always wanted only to discover that each wish would demand a deadly payment.

Leonetti was also the cinematographer on “The Conjuring” and “Insidious” prior to directing “The Conjuring” spinoff “Annabelle,” which was a massive hit for New Line with $265 million in worldwide grosses.

“We are thrilled that John has come onboard to direct ‘Wish Upon,'” said Broad Green Pictures COO Daniel Hammond. “His impeccable eye towards realism and talent for catching audiences off-guard will, without a doubt, make this film unforgettable.”

Two-year-old Broad Green »


- Dave McNary

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Pierce Brosnan’s Thriller ‘I.T.’ Gets Release Date

16 hours ago

Rlj Entertainment has acquired all North American rights to the Pierce Brosnan thriller “I.T.” with plans for a September release in theaters and on demand.

The film is directed by John Moore from a script by Dan Kay and William Wisher Jr. Brosnan stars with Anna Friel, Stefanie Scott and James Frecheville.

Brosnan plays a man with a gorgeous wife, a beautiful teenage daughter, and a state-of-the-art “smart home” who finds himself in a deadly, high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse when his I.T. consultant, played by Frecheville, starts using his skills to stalk Mike’s daughter and endanger his family, his business, and his life.

I.T.” is produced by David T. Friendly (“Little Miss Sunshine”), Beau St. Clair, Nicolas Chartier (“The Hurt Locker”), and Craig J. Flores. Executive producers are Brosnan, Dominic Rustam, Frank Hildebrand, Elika Portnoy (“Beasts of No Nation”), and Valentina Gardani.

It was the last film produced by St. Clair, »


- Dave McNary

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‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Scandal Casts Wide Net of Suspicion

16 hours ago

The Wolf of Wall Street” traced the rise and fall of a real-life penny-stock swindler. Such scams are not uncommon, but the filmmakers managed to weave an epic tale of greed and debauchery.

It now appears they would have had a much grander story to tell had they turned the camera around. In a court filing released last week, the U.S. Justice Dept. accused the film’s producers and their associates of looting billions of dollars — corruption on a scale that can be carried off only with state sponsorship.

The case — in fact, several cases, one of which is titled United States of America v. “The Wolf of Wall Street” Motion Picture — spans the globe, from banks in Singapore to penthouses in London to art auctions in New York.

At its center are two friends: Riza Aziz, CEO of Red Granite Pictures, and Jho Low, a 34-year-old financier. Though neither was criminally charged, »


- Gene Maddaus and James Rainey

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Film Review: ‘Hieronymus Bosch: Touched by the Devil’

17 hours ago

If you look closely at the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch — they’re jammed with so many tiny, tucked-away micro-portraits that you almost have to look closely at them — you’ll see images that, you’d swear, look as if they might have come straight out of a Salvador Dalí dreamscape, or off the cover of a ’70s heavy-metal album, or maybe out of John Carpenter’s “The Thing.” You might, for instance, stop to gawk at the image of a fish swallowing a naked man, whose lower body consists of two frog’s legs in pointed boots; or a head walking on pincer arms; or a sloth-like beast raping a man, with a sword shoved through the animal’s back; or a bloody naked body laying prone on the edge of a gigantic knife; or a bird, with long hanging dog ears, wearing a cap that looks like a tin oil-can… »


- Owen Gleiberman

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