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Constance Wu Slams Matt Damon Casting in ‘The Great Wall’: It Perpetuates a ‘Racist Myth’

4 hours ago

Fresh Off the Boat” star Constance Wu criticized the casting of Matt Damon in “The Great Wall,”, arguing that is perpetuates a stereotype that heroes are played by white men.

“We have to stop perpetuating the racist myth that only a white man can save the world,” she wrote on Twitter on Friday. “Our heroes don’t look like Matt Damon. “They look like Malala. [Gandhi]. Mandela. Your big sister when she stood up for you to those bullies that one time.”

The film, from Legendary and Universal, is set on the Great Wall of China as a group of elite warriors band together to keep out and defeat mythical creatures. Wu, a Taiwanese-American actress, calls Damon’s casting “hero-bias.”

“Remember it’s not about blaming individuals…” she wrote. “Rather, it’s about repeatedly pointing out the racist notion that white people are superior to [people of color] and that Poc need salvation from »

- Seth Kelley

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Box Office: Matt Damon’s ‘Jason Bourne’ Rules with $61 Million

5 hours ago

Matt Damon’s “Jason Bourne” is dominating moviegoing with an estimated $61 million opening weekend at the domestic box office.

That’s more than double its closest rival, raunchy comedy “Bad Moms” with about $27 million and as much as $30 million at 3,215 locations.

Universal’s fifth film in its sturdy Bourne franchise is performing well above forecasts with an opening day taking in about $23 million at 4,026 sites. Stx’s “Bad Moms” grossed $9.6 million on Friday at 3,215 locations.

Lionsgate’s thriller “Nerve,” which opened Wednesday, took in $3.2 million on Friday at 2,538 theaters for a weekend of up to $9 million and a five-day total of about $15 million.

“Jason Bourne” is Damon’s fourth film as a former CIA assassin dealing with memory loss. The franchise launched with 2002’s “The Bourne Identity,” followed by 2004’s “The Bourne Supremacy” and 2007’s “The Bourne Ultimatum.” Damon did not appear in 2012’s “The Bourne Legacy,” which starred Jeremy Renner. »

- Dave McNary and Seth Kelley

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Frank Zappa in ‘Eat That Question’: A Blast of Sanity From the Rock Past

16 hours ago

In the late ’60s, the last time that America seemed as divided as it is now (back then it was the counterculture vs. the establishment; today it’s reality-based thinking vs. rabbit-hole fantasy), there was a popular technique of rudeness known as “the put-on.” The obnoxious idea was that if you found yourself confronting someone who was clueless, you should coax out their cluelessness even more by saying things you don’t believe: more far-out than you thought — or maybe more far in. As the lively new documentary “Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words” makes clear, Frank Zappa was a master of the put-on — but not just because he bamboozled the “squares.” He presented a put-on to the counterculture too. He was a quirky, daring, idiosyncratic, out-of-the-box musician, but he was also a straight arrow in hippie-anarchist clothing. He hated blandness and fakery and selling out, but »

- Owen Gleiberman

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Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Will be One Movie, Not Two

19 hours ago

Disney has confirmed that it will make only one “Avengers: Infinity” movie rather than the two it had announced previously.

Disney said on Friday that it still plans to release Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” as planned on May 4, 2018. But what was slated to be the second part in that story, “Avengers: Infinity War Part II,” has now been renamed as an “Untitled Avengers” project while retaining the May 3, 2019 release date.

The two “Infinity War” movies were announced together in October, 2014, with both directed by Anthony and Joe Russo. Two months ago, the Russo brothers told the Uproxx site that the third and fourth Avengers were being retitled in part to clarify that the films would be two separate films rather than one large film split in half.

Production of “Avengers: Infinity War” is expected to begin later this year. The Russos are directing from a script by the writing »

- Dave McNary

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Morgan Freeman in Talks to Join Misty Copeland in Disney’s ‘Nutcracker’

19 hours ago

Morgan Freeman is in negotiations to star in Disney’s upcoming live-action film “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” opposite Misty Copeland and Mackenzie Foy.

The live action project is based on the 1816 story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E.T.A. Hoffmann in which a girl named Clara 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.

Lasse Hallström came on board in March to direct from Ashleigh Powell’s script. Mark Gordon is producing. Lindy Goldstein is executive producing.

Sam Dickerman and Allison Erlikhman are overseeing the project for Disney. Sara Smith is overseeing for The Mark Gordon Company.

Variety reported Wednesday that “Interstellar »

- Dave McNary

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Paul Dano to Make Directorial Debut With Indie Drama ‘Wildlife’

20 hours ago

Paul Dano will make his feature directorial debut with the coming-of-age drama “Wildlife,” helming from a script he’s written with Zoe Kazan.

“Wildlife,” based on the 1990 Richard Ford novel, is being produced by Alex Saks for June Pictures with Oren Moverman, Ann Ruark and Dano. Kazan is executive producing.

The narrator of the book is a teenage boy who watches his parents’ marriage start to come apart after the family moves to Montana. ”In the fall of 1960, when I was 16 and my father was for a time not working, my mother met a man named Warren Miller and fell in love with him,” the book begins.

Neither Dano nor Kazan are expected to act in “Wildlife.” Dano’s credits include “Little Miss Sunshine,” “There Will Be Blood,” “12 Years a Slave,” “Love & Mercy” and “Swiss Army Man.” He’s currently in production on “Okja” with “Snowpiercer director Bong Joon-Ho.

Dano »

- Dave McNary

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Astro-Nomical Launching with ‘Mean Margaret’ Animated Movie

22 hours ago

Animation veterans Jay Ahn and Chris Henderson are launching Astro-Nomical Entertainment with “Mean Margaret” as its first project.

The company is touting itself as a full-service development and production company making animated family films. Backed by China-based Characterplan, Astro-Nomical Entertainment is preparing to commence production on “Mean Margaret” and is in talks with “Mulan” director Barry Cook to helm.

Based in Burbank, Astro-Nomical is aiming at mid-budget animated films and franchises, generating ongoing revenue streams across multiple media platforms. It will cater to both the domestic and  international markets, with a particular strategic focus on China.

Kevin Niu is on board as the company’s business adviser and industry expert David Alper will also serve as an adviser.

Mean Margaret,” based on the children’s book by Tor Seidler, centers on a cranky toddler from a family of nine who is taken in by two woodchucks and raised as their own. »

- Dave McNary

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Box Office: Matt Damon’s ‘Jason Bourne’ Targets $55 Million, ‘Bad Moms’ Eyes Strong Launch

22 hours ago

Jason Bourne” is heading for a $55 million opening weekend at the domestic box office while “Bad Moms” is generating as much as $35 million, early estimates showed Friday.

Universal’s actioner is performing slightly above forecasts with an opening day taking in about $20 million at 4,026 sites, while Stx’s “Bad Moms” will earn as much as $12 million on Friday at 3,215 locations.

Lionsgate’s thriller “Nerve,” which opened Wednesday, will gross an estimated $3 million on Friday at 2,538 theaters for a weekend of up to $9 million and a five-day total of about $15 million.

Matt Damon’s fourth “Bourne” movie took in a solid $4.2 million in Thursday night previews. His last film in the franchise, “The Bourne Ultimatum,” launched domestically with $69.3 million in 2007.

The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum” helmer Paul Greengrass returns to direct “Jason Bourne,” which also stars Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Julia Stiles, and Riz Ahmed.

Should the early estimates hold, »

- Dave McNary

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‘Bad Boys 3’ Director Joe Carnahan to Write ‘Uncharted’ Adaptation for Sony (Exclusive)

29 July 2016 12:21 PM, PDT

Sony has recruited Joe Carnahan to write the latest draft of the script for its adaptation of the popular video game “Uncharted.”

Carnahan, who is also an accomplished director and producer, told Variety that he’s unable to also helm, unless production is pushed back, due to schedule constraints. “Bad Boys 3” will be his next directing gig. Production on the sequel gears up early next year — after Will Smith wraps David Ayer’s “Bright.”

In a perfect world I would love to do both, but right now, I’m only on board to write the script,” he said.

Uncharted” is an action-adventure film based on the critically-acclaimed and top-selling PlayStation video game series, which follows the adventures of treasure hunter Nathan Drake.

Carnahan said entering the world of Nathan Drake is a dream come true.

“Archaeology today is in itself an antiquity, but that world has always fascinated me. »

- Justin Kroll

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Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson’s ‘Central Intelligence’ Breaks $200 Million at Global Box Office

29 July 2016 12:12 PM, PDT

Central Intelligence” has crossed the $200 million milestone at the global box office, making it the highest-earning action comedy this year.

Central Intelligence,” starring Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson, is being handled by New Line Cinema domestically and Universal Pictures internationally.

The film opened with $35.5 million in its first weekend in North America and generated strong holdover numbers, topping $124 million. International grosses have reached $75.9 million.

Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, president of worldwide distribution for Warner Bros. Pictures, stated: “We knew audiences would respond to the unbeatable chemistry of Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart in this fun, action-packed comedy. ‘Central Intelligence’ plays big and delivers across a wide demographic.”

In the film, Johnson portrays a CIA agent who was bullied in high school and Hart plays his high school friend and reluctant recruit. Rawson Marshall Thurber directed from a script he co-wrote with Ike Barinholtz and David Stassen.

The film also stars Amy Ryan, »

- Dave McNary

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John Carpenter Wins Second Round of Plagiarism Case vs. Luc Besson Over ‘Lockout’

29 July 2016 11:49 AM, PDT

Rome — A Paris appeals court on Friday found French director-producer Luc Besson guilty of plagiarizing John Carpenter’s 1981 cult classic “Escape from New York” with the 2012 space-set movie “Lockout.”

The court ordered his EuropaCorp production company to pay  450,000 Euros ($502,000) in damages to the U.S. horror helmer, according to a report on French news service Bfmtv.

Besson, who is France’s most international director and recently drew applause at Comic-Con with footage of his big-budget sci-fier “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” had denied the charge. The suit was brought by Carpenter and his “Escape” co-writer Nick Castle in 2014.

Besson did not direct “Lockout.” He co-wrote it with Stephen Saint Leger and James Mather, who co-directed it. His EuropaCorp produced the film at the center of the plagiarism suit.

There was no comment from EuropaCorp on Friday.

The court ruled that “Lockout” had “massively borrowed key elements” of “Escape, »

- Nick Vivarelli

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Rosamund Pike, Daniel Bruhl, Vincent Cassel in Talks for Hijacking Drama ‘Entebbe’

29 July 2016 11:38 AM, PDT

Rosamund Pike, Daniel Bruhl, and Vincent Cassel are in negotiations to star in Working Title’s hijacking drama “Entebbe.”

If their deals close, Pike and Bruhl will play German terrorists in the movie, based on the 1976 hijacking of an Air France plane headed from Tel Aviv to Paris. A total of 248 hostages were held at Entebbe Airport in Uganda, then rescued by Israeli forces.

The plane was hijacked by two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and two members of the German Revolutionary Cells.

RoboCop” director Jose Padilha will direct from a script by Greg Burke. He’s an executive producer of the Netflix series “Narcos.”

Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Liza Chasin are producing alongside Kate Solomon. Participant Media is co-financing and co-producing.

Pike received an Academy Award nomination for best actress for 2014’s “Gone Girl.” She is currently filming Scott Cooper’s “Hostiles. »

- Dave McNary

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Visual-Effects Pioneer Douglas Trumbull on ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ Digital Innovations

29 July 2016 10:15 AM, PDT

Visual-effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull first appeared in Variety on Dec. 17, 1968, in a review of the sex satire “Candy,” for which he created two outer-space sequences. His other movie credit that year was more memorable: “2001: A Space Odyssey,” on which he was one of the masterminds behind the groundbreaking special effects.

Trumbull — also known for his effects work on such films as  “Blade Runner” and “The Tree of Life,” and for directing 1972’s influential “Silent Running” — continues to push the boundaries of filmmaking, working on digital innovations and theater design as part of his ongoing quest to create a new and immersive experience for moviegoers. He spoke recently with Variety about how he got his career off the ground by working on the Stanley Kubrick classic.

Your father worked on the effects on “The Wizard of Oz.” Was he an influence on your VFX work?

No, by the time I was born, »

- Tim Gray

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U.K.’s Secret Cinema Draws Audiences With Immersive Events for Classic Films

29 July 2016 9:45 AM, PDT

Theater owners have bemoaned declining audience numbers for years. So it might be a surprise to learn of one exhibitor that packs them in despite showing old movies and charging upward of $85 a ticket.

Secret Cinema has been putting on films in London since 2007. The latest, 1987’s “Dirty Dancing,” wrapped July 24 after six days of sold-out screenings that raked in $2.5 million. The company offers an “immersive,” interactive experience, with sophisticated sets, actors, and staged events. Audience members are encouraged to wear costumes.

For “Dirty Dancing,” 30,000 attendees descended on an East London park that had been converted into a fictional Catskills resort. Decked out in ’60s attire, they indulged in outdoor games and laughed at cheesy stage acts for hours before the film finally lit up the huge outdoor screen.

Some of Secret Cinema’s previous productions have been even more ambitious. Its 2014 “Back to the Future” extravaganza re-created a ’50s-era American town. »

- Henry Chu

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Funding Completed for Ross McCall Crime Thriller ‘Beautiful Ones’

29 July 2016 8:11 AM, PDT

Scatena & Rosner Films has provided finishing funds on Ross McCall’s crime thriller “The Beautiful Ones” for final color and effects, Variety has learned exclusively.

S&R has secured all sales rights as a condition of the deal. Director and veteran stunt coordinator Jesse V. Johnson collaborated with McCall to tell the story of a shylock falling in love with the wrong woman amidst the atmosphere of organized crime in Los Angeles.

The film also stars Brian Tee (“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows”), Jessy Schram (“Nashville”), Fernanda Andrade (“The Devil Inside”), and Eric Roberts.

Johnson is the producer with Anthony Pugliese executive producing. McCall starred in the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers” and the USA series “White Collar.”

The deal was negotiated at San Diego Comic-Con by Gato Scatena and Johnson.


- Dave McNary

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Box Office: Matt Damon’s ‘Jason Bourne’ Shoots Down $4.2 Million on Thursday

29 July 2016 7:04 AM, PDT

Universal’s “Jason Bourne” has opened with a solid $4.2 million on Thursday night.

The actioner screened at 2,928 locations in North America in showings starting at 7 p.m.

Stx Entertainment’s raunchy comedy “Bad Moms” took in $2.1 million in Thursday night previews.

Matt Damon’s fourth “Bourne” movie is expected to dominate the weekend with about $50 million at 4,025 theaters. He’s returning to the signature role as a former CIA assassin for the first time since “The Bourne Ultimatum,” which launched with $69.3 million in 2007.

Paul Greengrass directs “Jason Bourne,” which also stars Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Julia Stiles, and Riz Ahmed. Greengrass also directed “The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum.”

Tom Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” opened with $55.5 million over the same weekend last year, including $4 million from Thursday night previews. “The Bourne Legacy,” starring Jeremy Renner, debuted with $38 million in 2012 with Damon not appearing.

Universal »

- Dave McNary

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Q&A: ‘Tallulah’ Director Sian Heder on Working With Ellen Page, Allison Janney and a Baby

29 July 2016 6:00 AM, PDT

Writer and director Sian Heder’s new film “Tallulah” explores the concept of motherhood — specifically whether someone can and should be a mother. Ellen Page stars as the free-spirited Tallulah and Allison Janney plays Morgan, the mother of Tallulah’s boyfriend. The film follows its titular character in a haphazard effort to rescue a neglected baby and convince Morgan that it’s her granddaughter.

Tallulah” is the longer version of Heder’s critically acclaimed short film “Mother.” The creator spoke with Variety about the balancing act of writing and directing her own feature, what she learned from Jenji Kohan and Ray Romano and working with a 15-month old on set.

How did you come up with the concept “Tallulah”?

Tallulah the character was based on a friend of mine basically who was living out of a van and traveling around the country, finding odd jobs. She was a bit of »

- Maria Cavassuto

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‘The Wailing’ Wins Top Prize at Bucheon Fantasy Festival

29 July 2016 5:02 AM, PDT

Local director Na Hong-jin’s “The Wailing” was named as winner of the Bucheon Choice award at the 20th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, Korea’s largest genre movie festival.

The occult thriller which premiered in Cannes also won the Nh Audience award. The film was recently released in Korea and scored a smashing $49.5 million (KRW55.7 billion) at the box office.

British director Babak Anvari’s horror “Under the Shadow” took the Jury’s Choice award. French actress Karin Viard earned best actress for “21 Nights with Pattie,” while India’s Deepak Sampat won best actor for crime drama “Autohead.”

Feature award-winners were selected by a jury including veteran local actors Chang Mi-hee and Jung Jin-yeong, Cannes’ Christian Jeune, Filipino director Khavn De La Cruz and American producer Garrick Dion.

At the end of the festival’s new 7-day industry program BiFan Industry Gathering (BiG), “Mogwai,” a sci fi horror »

- Sonia Kil

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Venice: The Match Factory Acquires Competition Player ‘Spira Mirabilis,’ Horizons’ ‘White Sun’ (Exclusive)

28 July 2016 11:00 PM, PDT

Germany’s The Match Factory has acquired world sales rights to Venice competition entry “Spira Mirabilis” and Horizons player “White Sun,” building one of the biggest sales slates of any company on the Lido this year.

Other Venice titles for The Match Factory, giving it a four-picture slate two years in a row, include a second competition title, “La region salvaje,” Mexican Amat Escalante’s follow-up to his 2014 Cannes best director winner “Heli,” and Israeli Rama Burshtein’s “Through the Wall,” which screens in Horizons.

Since it launched in 2006, few companies have pushed harder into auteur world cinema than The Match Factory. That’s reflected in its Venice slate. A creative essay on immortality, “Spira Mirabilis,” an Italy-Switzerland docu-feature, is directed by husband-and-wife team Massimo d’Anolfi and Martina Parenti.

Described as a “visual symphony” and shot around the world, “Spira Mirabilis” plumbs different manifestations of immortality, or at least »

- John Hopewell

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Fox ‘s Fourth ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ Movie in the Works

28 July 2016 6:55 PM, PDT

Fox is rebooting its “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” franchise with Jason Ian Drucker and Owen Asztalos on board for the fourth film in the series.

David Bowers, who directed “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days,” has been tapped to helm the new film based on Jeff Kinney’s book “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul.”

Fox’s Wimpy Kid films are all produced by Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson via their Color Force production company. Based on Kinney’s book series, the three films grossed a total worldwide box office of $225 million with Zachary Gordon starring as the main character Greg Heffley.

Gordon has aged out of the part with Drucker taking over the role. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” follows Greg Heffley, who goes on a summer road trip with his family »

- Dave McNary

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