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Academy Buys ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ Shuttle for $344,000

1 hour ago

It looks like the Academy is ramping up their collection for their upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, nabbing the Aries 1B Trans-Lunar Space Shuttle from “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

The Academy bought the model at the Premiere Prop’s Hollywood Extravaganza Auction on Saturday for a sizeable $344,000.

The shuttle can be seen at length in a memorable sequence in “2001,” as it transports Dr. Heywood R. Floyd (William Sylvester) from the International Space Station to investigate a monolith that was buried on the crater Clavius by unknown aliens. The model is approximately 32″ high, 27″ wide and 28″ deep with a diameter of 94″.

According to the auction house, the director of the landmark 1968 film, Stanley Kubrick, purposely destroyed most of the props, sets, models and costumes from the movie so that they could not be used for other films. The shuttle, however, survived, with an art teacher acquiring it in 1975 under an agreement »

- Alex Stedman

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‘Cinderella,’ ‘Kingsman’ Cross $300 Million at Global Box Office

2 hours ago

Cinderella” danced its way past $300 million at the global box office after opening in a number of key foreign markets.

The Disney live-action remake of the animated classic topped overseas charts, earning $38.7 million after debuting in Spain, the United Kingdom, Brazil, France and Australia. The rags-to-riches story of a woman who captures a prince’s heart while losing her shoe is also the studio’s second highest-grossing live-action release in China, having made $65.1 million in the People’s Republic. Globally, its total stands at a regal $336.2 million.

“The Divergent Series: Insurgent” continued to improve upon its predecessor’s overseas haul, picking up $29.9 million in its second week of release. The strength of the dollar is making comparisons with “Divergent” difficult to calculate, but Lionsgate, the studio behind “Insurgent,” reports that the second chapter in the series is trumping the prior film in a number of key markets. In France, “Insurgent »

- Brent Lang

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Miroslav Ondricek, Oscar-Nominated Czech Cinematographer, Dies at 80

2 hours ago

Miroslav Ondricek, a Czech cinematographer who worked frequently with director Milos Forman and was nominated twice for Academy Awards, has died, according to several reports. He was 80.

Ondricek’s son David, who is also a filmmaker, announced the death to Czech television, though no cause was given.

Ondricek worked on more than 40 films in his career, about a dozen of which were shot in the U.S. He is perhaps best known for his work with friend Forman.

The two worked together on “Ragtime” and “Amadeus,” both garnering Oscar nominations for Ondricek for his cinematography. Ondricek won a BAFTA in 1984 for “Amadeus.” Ondricek and Forman, who currently lives in New York, also worked together on “Fireman’s Ball” early in Forman’s career and “Hair.”

Ondricek stayed busy throughout the ’90s, working with U.S. director Penny Marshall on 1990’s “Awakenings,” starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams, and 1992 comedy “A League of Their Own, »

- Alex Stedman

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‘Home': How DreamWorks Animation Brought in Girls and Beat the Critics

2 hours ago

Heading into the weekend, “Home” looked like yet another box office disappointment for DreamWorks Animation.

The studio has suffered through a grueling period of film flops like “Mr. Peabody and Sherman,” “Penguins of Madagascar” and “Turbo.” “Home,” with a projected opening of $30 million to $35 million, seemed unlikely to break the cold streak.

For one thing, reviews of the story about a cute alien who befriends a young girl after earth is invaded were mediocre at best. Plus, the film is of the most dangerous of gambles — it doesn’t have a numeral affixed to its title.

Instead, “Home” put box office prognosticators to shame when it kicked off to $54 million stateside, the company’s third-biggest non-sequel opening ever, behind only “Kung Fu Panda” ($60.2 million) and “Monsters vs. Aliens” ($59.3 million). Overseas the film pulled in $24 million, pushing its global total to $102 million after two weeks in foreign theaters.

“It shows there »

- Brent Lang

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‘It Follows’ on Track to Be Radius-TWC’s Highest-Grossing Release

3 hours ago

It Follows” is on pace to be the top-grossing film in Radius-twc’s history after the low-budget horror film pulled in $4 million in its first weekend of wide release.

That was a strong enough showing to crack the weekend top five, despite heavy competition from the likes of “Get Hard,” “Home” and “Insurgent.” Credit critics with lifting this one out of the arthouse and into the mainstream. The creepy story of a young girl who experiences a supernatural stalker after a bizarre sexual experience currently enjoys a 95% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a rare feat given that horror is one of the most critically derided genres.

“When you know you’ve got something big, you’ve got to get it out there,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “They’re building an audience the same way that you would with an indie platform release. They’ve got terrific buzz, »

- Brent Lang

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Gene Saks, Director of Neil Simon on Stage and Screen, Dies at 93

4 hours ago

Stage and screen director Gene Saks, who helmed many Neil Simon plays on Broadway and won Tonys for the Cy Coleman-Michael Stewart musical “I Love My Wife” plus Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and “Biloxi Blues,” died Saturday, according to the New York Times. He was 93.

His wife, Keren, told the New York Times that he died from pneumonia in his East Hampton, N.Y. home.

Saks did not direct many feature films, but those he did included Simon adaptations “The Odd Couple,” “Barefoot in the Park,” “Last of the Red Hot Lovers” and “Brighton Beach Memoirs.” He also helmed 1974’s “Mame,” which he had previously directed on Broadway to a best musical Tony and a directing nomination for him (both the stage and screen versions of “Mame” co-starred Saks’ then-wife Bea Arthur). In “Cactus Flower,” he directed Goldie Hawn to an Oscar for supporting actress.

Saks started »

- Carmel Dagan

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Box Office: ‘Home’ Trumps Expectations With $54 Million Debut

6 hours ago

Jeffrey Katzenberg must be breathing a huge sigh of relief after the embattled DreamWorks Animation chief scored a much needed box office win with the release of “Home.”

The family film was the weekend’s top ticket seller, pulling in a sterling $54 million, easily eclipsing projections that had it bowing to between $30 million and $35 million. It’s one of the studio’s best-ever openings for an original movie and the biggest debut it has had since 2012’s “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” kicked off to $60.3 million in 2012.

The studio has suffered through a string of film flops such as “Turbo” and “Mr. Peabody and Sherman,” as well as failed sales to Hasbro and SoftBank. “Home” is the only film it is releasing this year, so expectations for the movie about an alien invasion were high and scrutiny was intense. “Home” cost $130 million to produce and launched in 3,708 locations. Fox distributed the picture. »

- Brent Lang

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Screen Australia Appoints Nicholas Moore as Chairman

6 hours ago

Nicholas Moore has been appointed as the new chairman of the board of Screen Australia, the federal film support organization.

Attorney General George Brandis described Moore as “a distinguished Australian with extensive financial and business management credentials.”

Moore, who receives a three-year term, has been group managing director and CEO of banking and investment firm Macquarie Group Limited since 2008.

“He will help Screen Australia ensure Australian production companies achieve commercial success while continuing to engage audiences both here and abroad,” Brandis said.

“Australian screen production businesses understand the need to be nimble, entrepreneurial and innovative. With an increased focus on international engagement, the sector is looking harder than ever at investment opportunities and business partnerships. It’s timely that Mr. Moore will bring his considerable expertise in the corporate sector to his new role,” said trade group Screen Producers Australia in a written reaction.

The Screen Australia post has been »

- Patrick Frater

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Gael Garcia Bernal Starrer ‘Eva No Duerme’ Tops Toulouse Films in Progress

28 March 2015 1:53 PM, PDT

Building its credentials for a berth at Cannes or another major fest, Pablo Aguero’s “Eva No Duerme” (Eva Doesn’t Sleep), a chronicle of the 25-year odyssey of Eva Peron’s embalmed corpse, took top honors at France’s Toulouse CineLatino Festival’s Films in Progress, which also prized “From Afar,” Venezuelan Lorenzo Vigas’ directorial debut.

A pics-in-post showcase, taking place twice-a-year at Toulouse and San Sebastian, the 27th Films in Progress ran March 26-27.

Aguero’s third feature, after his debut, “Salamandra,” screened at Cannes’ 2008 Directors’ Fortnight and “77 Doronship” at the 15th Films in Progress and San Sebastian’s New Directors section, “Eva No Duerme” won both the Toulouse Films in Progress Prize and the Cine Plus Films in Progress Special Prize:

“Far Away” took awards from Mactari and Titra Tvs, Europa Distribution, the International Confederation of Art Cinemas (Cicae) and the Cannes Festival’s Producers’ Network.

Starring »

- John Hopewell

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Watch: First Trailer for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Zombie Movie ‘Maggie’

28 March 2015 1:05 PM, PDT

Abigail Breslin is all grown up and wants to protect Arnold Schwarzenegger in the first trailer for their indie zombie movie “Maggie.”

The catch? She wants to protect him from herself.

Breslin plays the titular character who becomes infected with a virus and transforms in a full-fledged zombie in a matter of weeks. This leaves her father with only three options: cure her, save her or kill her. None of those choices is going to be easy.

Maggie” premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival next month and hits theaters on May 8.


- Maane Khatchatourian

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Rob Long on Why Hollywood Leans Democratic (Listen)

28 March 2015 12:27 PM, PDT

Producer-writer Rob Long, one of the co-founders of the conservative site Ricochet, says that there are a number of reasons why the entertainment industry has for some time leaned left politically — maybe even more so today than a decade ago.

There have been a lot of theories as to why the industry — which, during the studio era, was actually quite conservative — is now lopsided in favor of Democrats.

“I think that in Hollywood, part of the problem is that everyone gets paid a lot of money — the ones who are setting the culture, the tone of the culture,” Long tells Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM. “They don’t always see what they get. I always say the best piece of direct mail persuasion for the Republican Party is the pay stub. Everybody has that experience when you look at your check. You look at your pay stub, and you see »

- Ted Johnson

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Film Review: ‘High Society’

28 March 2015 12:18 PM, PDT

Contemplative understatement marks Julie Lopes-Curval’s fourth feature, “High Society,” a nuanced character study of a demure working-class girl thrust into an upscale milieu of intellectual sophistication when she is accepted into a Parisian school of design. Her ensuing affair with a rebellious upper-class artist, potentially the stuff of melodrama and/or class stereotyping, subtly subverts familiar tropes by interiorizing them as part of an ongoing sentimental education. The result is a triumph of minor-key storytelling, one whose virtues are likely to go largely unnoticed in this era of high-octane emoting, though a less tiredly translated English title might help.

A chance encounter between 20-year-old Alice (Ana Girardot), working in a pastry shop, and rich fashion-house owner Agnes (Aurelia Petit), who praises Alice’s self-made, sea-colored sweater, results in her help in writing a letter to a well-known design school; Agnes’ son Antoine (Bastien Bouillon) recommends a place to live in Paris. »

- Ronnie Scheib

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Film Review: ‘Racing Extinction’

28 March 2015 11:26 AM, PDT

Whereas marine activist Louie Psihoyos’ “The Cove” took an environmental crisis — specifically, the slaughter and sale of dolphins off the coast of Japan — and turned it into a white-knuckle suspense thriller, his even higher-stakes follow-up, “Racing Extinction,” feels disappointingly conventional by comparison, like something junior-high kids might watch on a slow day in science class. Though extremely well produced and loaded with even more covert save-the-world stunts, the film doesn’t engage in quite the same way, perhaps because Psihoyos’ squad has been so good about getting the word out along the way. Still, he’s right to recognize that a documentary will have a wider reach than his National Geographic and other old-media contributions do, bound to be amplified when Discovery Channel puts its muscle behind a worldwide broadcast premiere later this year.

Whether you believe the Earth has been around for 4.5 billion years, or just 6,000; whether you consider »

- Peter Debruge

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Hugh Jackman Will Play Wolverine Only One More Time

28 March 2015 11:24 AM, PDT

Hugh Jackman is retracting his claws once and for all.

The actor revealed on Saturday that he will be playing the “X-Men” character one final time. “Wolverine … One Last Time,” he captioned an Instagram photo of a single pair of claws.

Wolverine …One Last Time. Hj

A photo posted by Hugh Jackman (@thehughjackman) on Mar 28, 2015 at 10:40am Pdt

This means that the actor will likely not play Wolverine in “X-Men: Apocalypse,” with the upcoming sequel to “The Wolverine” spinoff serving as his swan song. The movie is set for release on March 3, 2017.

Jackman first played the mutant in 2000’s “X-Men,” taking over the role from Dougray Scott after the actor sustained an injury. He has now assumed the role an unrivaled seven times, including two turns in his own offshoots — “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and “The Wolverine.”

It’s unclear whether the actor will make cameos in “Apocalypse” and/or “Deadpool, »

- Maane Khatchatourian

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Watch: ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ Featurette Focuses on Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch

28 March 2015 11:10 AM, PDT

What sets “Avengers: Age of Ultron” apart from the first film? The introduction of “massively important new characters,” for one thing.

Director Joss Whedon talks about the characters, super-siblings Scarlet Witch (played by Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), in a new behind-the-scenes featurette.

Aside from showing brief footage from the “Avengers” sequel, the clip, released by Marvel U.K., also explores the twins’ superpowers. Scarlet Witch has telekinetic abilities that ultimately drive that Avengers crazy, while Quicksilver moves as fast as a bullet.

Avengers: Age of Ultron” opens in theaters on May 1.


- Maane Khatchatourian

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Watch: New ‘Terminator: Genisys’ Trailer Spotlights J.K. Simmons

28 March 2015 10:35 AM, PDT

Paramount has released a new one-minute TV spot for “Terminator: Genisys” that puts J.K. Simmons front and center.

The upcoming film’s first trailer and Super Bowl spot already gave audiences glimpses of a young militaristic Sarah Connor (played by “Game of Thrones'” Emilia Clarke), and we already knew that Arnold Schwarzenegger was back as an aging, reprogrammed T-800, but Simmons’ role wasn’t highlighted until now.

Simmons, who just won a supporting actor Oscar for his role in “Whiplash,” plays washed-up Detective O’Brien, who teams up with Connor and Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) to try to reset the future.

Directed by Alan Taylor, “Terminator: Genisys” also stars Jason Clarke and Matt Smith. The film hits theaters on July 1.


- Maane Khatchatourian

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‘Star Trek 3′ Reflects ‘Spirit of the TV Show,’ Simon Pegg Says

28 March 2015 9:42 AM, PDT

Rejoice, Trekkies! The latest sequel to the rebooted “Star Trek” franchise will capture the spirit of the original TV show.

Co-writer and star Simon Pegg told Comic Book Resources that “Star Trek 3,” whose script was recently completely overhauled, will have more familiar notes than the previous two films.

“I think we just want to take it forward with the spirit of the TV show,” Pegg told the site.

Pegg, who will return to play engineering chief Scotty, also said that the new film will be infused with the same optimism and sense of adventure that characterized the original stories.

“And it’s a story about frontierism and adventure and optimism and fun, and that’s where we want to take it, you know, where no man has gone before — where no one has gone before, sensibly corrected for a slighter more enlightened generation,” he said. “But yeah, that’s the mood at the moment. »

- Maane Khatchatourian

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Box Office: ‘Home’ Blasts Off for Massive $59 Million Weekend

28 March 2015 7:40 AM, PDT

The animated comedy “Home” is headed for a box office home run.

DreamWorks Animation’s family film defied expectations, to say the least, opening to $15.6 million on Friday, which set it on course for just under $59 million this weekend. This is one of the best debuts in recent years for a DreamWorks Animation original title. However, the studio has a more modest estimate of $55.5 million.

Meanwhile, Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart’s R-rated buddy comedy “Get Hard” is headed for $35.5 million.

This is a stellar start for “Home” as only 15% of K-12 schools are on spring break. Recent forecasts had pegged “Home” in the $30 million to $35 million range.

Now, the musical comedy is more than likely to finish far above Fox’s “Rio 2,” which debuted to $39.3 million around this time last year.

The pic, which cost $130 million to produce, also stands to outperform other recent DreamWorks releases handled by Fox, »

- Maane Khatchatourian

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Film Review: ‘Domino Effect’

28 March 2015 2:48 AM, PDT

If documentarians Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosolowski had set out to make a purely fictional Eastern European black comedy, they may not have succeeded in capturing the pathos and absurdity that reality (along with judicious editing) so amply supplies in “Domino Effect.” Set in Abkhazia, a largely unrecognized country in the Caucuses that broke off from Georgia following intense warfare, the film revolves around the recent cross-cultural marriage of sports minister Rafael Ampar and his pregnant Russian opera-singer-wannabe wife, Natasha. Lacking obvious hooks, “Domino Effect” will need savvy marketing and strong critical support to attract the audiences it deserves.

Abkhazia’s hard-won independence bred a fierce nationalism, a policy of excluding all things not Abkhazian and a lingering, ambivalent resentment of its almost total economic dependence on Russia.  This directly impacts on Russian-born Natasha’s attempts to make a home for herself in this foreign land.  Natasha feels excluded and »

- Ronnie Scheib

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Film Review: ‘Nightlight’

28 March 2015 2:26 AM, PDT

A variation on found-footage horror — here, the p.o.v. isn’t that of an actual camera but a flashlight, a pretty silly concept one is best off ignoring — “Nightlight” manages some creepily atmospheric moments. They exist in direct inverse proportion to the amount of yapping done by the pic’s lost-in-the-woods teenage protagonists, often simply and unnecessarily talking to themselves. This uneven new project from writing-directing duo Scott Beck and Bryan Woods is a mixed bag whose scares will play best in a darkened theater, though inevitably it will be more widely seen via VOD. It’s being released in that format as well as opening at 10 U.S. theaters March 27.

After a prologue in which depressed young Ethan (Kyle Fain) records his fragile hopes that things will improve — they didn’t, since the video is framed as police evidence of his suicidal intent — we meet Robin (Shelby Young »

- Dennis Harvey

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