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15 items from 2007

Fox boosts Sewell to exec vp post

1 November 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Carol Sewell has been promoted to executive vp publicity and field marketing at 20th Century Fox.

Sewell replaces Breena Camden, who left to pursue new opportunities, and will report to the studio's heads of marketing, Pamela Levine and Tony Sella.

Sewell joined Fox in 1995 after a lengthy stint in publicity and marketing at Paramount. She has spearheaded several campaigns for Fox, including the Star Wars trilogy special edition, Moulin Rouge and The Devil Wears Prada. »

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Toho to remake Kurosawa's 'Fortress'

31 October 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

TOKYO -- Japanese film studio Toho is remaking Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress, famous for having large chunks of its story used by George Lucas in the original Star Wars.

The new version, first reported Monday in the Japanese media, will be directed by Shinji Higuchi, responsible for last year's hit The Sinking of Japan but best known for his special effects work.

The 1958 film -- known as Kakushi Toride no San Akunin in Japanese, or "The three villains of the hidden fortress" -- is an action comedy starring Toshiro Mifune. Taking the Mifune role will be romantic comedy star Hiroshi Abe. Masami Nagasawa will take the role of princess Uehara.

In a move guaranteed to raise the eyebrows of Kurosawa fans, the parts of the two peasant refugees, the inspiration for R2-D2 and C-3PO, will be combined into a single character, Takezo, from whose perspective the story will be told. Jun Matsumoto of the boy band Arashi will take that key role. »

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Edlund tapped for ASC award

22 October 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Visual effects veteran Richard Edlund will receive the American Society of Cinematographers Presidents Award.

Edlund has earned four Academy Awards for his visual effects work on Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi, as well as six additional nominations. He has also earned three Scientific and Engineering Awards.

Earlier this year, AMPAS presented the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation to Edlund in recognition of his significant contributions to the organization. Edlund has also earned an Emmy for creating visual effects for miniseries Battlestar Galactica, and an additional nomination for Mike Nichols' Angels in America.

Edlund's award will be presented at the 22nd Annual ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards, Jan. 26 at the Hollywood & Highland Grand Ballroom. »

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11 candles for AFI's big 4-0

13 September 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

AFI is celebrating its 40th anniversary by screening 11 classic American films simultaneously and hosting an iconic star or director from each.

The event, set for 7 p.m. Oct. 3 at the 14-screen ArcLight Hollywood, will include such Hollywood notables as Kirk Douglas introducing Spartacus, George Lucas presenting Star Wars: Episode IV -- A New Hope and Julie Andrews introducing The Sound of Music.

Other stars scheduled to appear include Warren Beatty (Bonnie and Clyde), Jack Nicholson (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest), Sylvester Stallone (Rocky) and Tippi Hedren (The Birds).

Representing more recent Hollywood fare will be Billy Crystal and Rob Reiner (When Harry Met Sally ...), Angela Lansbury (Beauty and the Beast), Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven) and Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption).

"What better way to celebrate 40 years of AFI than to bring together movie artists and moviegoers in the flickering light of these classic American films," AFI president and CEO Jean Picker Firstenberg said.

Tickets for the event, sponsored by Target, can be purchased beginning Wednesday at or the ArcLight boxoffice. »

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Potter film franchise usurps Bond's crown

11 September 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

That's Potter, Harry Potter.

Warner Bros. Pictures said Monday that the five Harry Potter movies have grossed $4.47 billion worldwide, surpassing boxoffice generated from 22 James Bond movies. That gives the Burbank studio bragging rights for the most lucrative film franchise ever -- with two Potter films yet to come.

"It is amazing to think what heights the franchise could reach by the end of the decade," said Warners' domestic distribution president Dan Fellman.

Fueled by worldwide grosses totaling $923.7 million for the currently playing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the franchise on Sept. 2 passed theatrical coin generated by the 007 films, which totals $4.44 billion.

The six-film Star Wars franchise sits third on the list of most-lucrative movie series, with $4.23 billion in worldwide boxoffice.

Order of the Phoenix continues to play in a dozen key markets including Japan, the U.K. and Germany. The latest Potter pic totes an international tally of $365.5 million and a $288.2 million domestic cume.

"The appeal of the 'Harry Potter' movies knows no border, no age limit and no language barrier," Warners international distribution president Veronika Kwan-Rubinek said. »

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'Bull' roars on new AFI list

21 June 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

"Raging Bull" and "Vertigo" are up, and "The Graduate" and "On the Waterfront" are down.

On Wednesday night, the American Film Institute revealed a new list of the 100 greatest movies of all time as part of the CBS broadcast "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movies --10th Anniversary Edition."

With votes cast by 1,500 filmmakers, critics and historians, the AFI compiled a new list of greatest movies as a mirror to the rankings it unveiled in 1998. The qualifier in the update is that the movies under consideration were narrative films with significant American elements.

Although some tastes may have changed, Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" topped both lists.

But this time around, Martin Scorsese's "Raging Bull" and Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" battled their way into the top 10, at No. 4 and No. 9, respectively. In the original list, "Bull" ranked No. 24 and "Vertigo" was No. 61.

They supplanted "The Graduate", which fell from No. 7 to No. 17, and "On the Waterfront", which sank from No. 8 to No. 19

Of the 43 films from the past decade, 1996-2006, that were on the 400-film ballot, only four made the cut: "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" (No. 50), "Saving Private Ryan" (71), "Titanic" (83) and "The Sixth Sense" (89).

New additions to the list from previous decades included "The General" (No. 17), "Intolerance" (49), "Nashville" (59), "Sullivan's Travels" (61), "Cabaret" (63) and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (67).

John Ford's Western "The Searchers" moved up the most of any film, going from No. 96 to No. 12. "City Lights" and "Unforgiven" also improved their standings.

The top 10: "Citizen Kane", "The Godfather", "Casablanca", "Raging Bull", "Singin' in the Rain", "Gone With the Wind", "Lawrence of Arabia", "Schindler's List", "Vertigo" and "The Wizard of Oz".

AFI's  100 Years...100 Movies

1. Citizen Kane, 1941

2.The Godfather, 1972

3. Casablanca, 1942

4. Raging Bull, 1980

5. Singin' in the Rain, 1952

6. Gone With the Wind, 1939

7. Lawrence of Arabia, 1962

8. Schindler's List, 1993

9. Vertigo, 1958

10. The Wizard of Oz, 1939

11. City Lights, 1931

12. The Searchers, 1956

13. Star Wars, 1977

14. Psycho, 1960

15. 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968

16. Sunset Blvd., 1950

17. The Graduate, 1967

18. The General, 1927

19. On the Waterfront, 1954

20. It's a Wonderful Life, 1946

21. Chinatown, 1974

22. Some Like It Hot, 1959

23. The Grapes of Wrath, 1940

24. E.T. »

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Portman Reps Upset About 'Star Wars' Snub Story

30 May 2007 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Actress Natalie Portman's publicist has fired back at reports the actress is upset she wasn't invited to attend the 30th anniversary celebrations of Star Wars in Los Angeles. British tabloids ran with the story yesterday, with Portman quoted as saying the apparent snub was "upsetting" as she would have loved to have been a part of the five-day Star Wars Celebration IV earlier this month. But the 25-year-old actress' publicist insists the story is untrue, Portman was misquoted and she wouldn't have been able to attend the party even if she had been invited. The rep says, "Natalie wasn't even in the country... The story is false and all the quotes are made up." »

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Force strongest with VES

11 May 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Star Wars, released 30 years ago this month, tops the Visual Effects Society's rankings of the 50 most-influential visual effects films of all time. The list was released today.

The seminal film from George Lucas helped inspire many of today's visual effects industry professionals to pursue the craft. "It revitalized the entire visual effects industry and created a new industry," said Jeff Okun, a visual effects supervisor and chairman of VES.

Said visual effects veteran Richard Edlund, who won Oscars for his work on all three films in the original Lucas trilogy: " 'Star Wars' woke up a sleeping giant. The audience enjoyed booing the villains and cheering the heroes. Since 'Star Wars, ' its audience salivates for new effects movies."

He added that the production also introduced the use of new visual effects techniques, including motion control.

Blade Runner captured the No. 2 spot on the VES list, 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Matrix tied for third, and Jurassic Park came in at No. 5. The top 10 is rounded out by Tron, King Kong (1933 version), "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," Alien and The Abyss.

A Trip to the Moon, the 1902 Georges Melies classic that features the iconic image of a spaceship landing in the eye of the "man in the moon," which is captured on the VES Awards trophy, is ranked No. »

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'Star Wars,' Lucas prey for 'Chicken'

25 April 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

"Robot Chicken" creators Seth Green and Matthew Senreich are channeling their inner geeks with "Robot Chicken: Star Wars", a special for Adult Swim.

The 30-minute stop-motion animation special, directed by Green, spoofs key scenes and favorite characters from the "Star Wars" universe, including the sci-fi saga's creator, George Lucas. It was done in collaboration with Lucasfilm, and Lucas is on board to voice the animated version of himself.

Additionally, "Robot Chicken: Star Wars" will feature Mark Hamill as the voice of Luke Skywalker in one sketch and a voice cast that includes Conan O'Brien, Seth MacFarlane, Robert Smigel, Malcolm McDowell, Hulk Hogan, James Van Der Beek, Donald Faison, Abraham Benrubi, Breckin Meyer and Joey Fatone.

The special, from Green and Senreich's Stoopid Monkey Prods. and Alex Bulkley and Corey Campodonico's ShadowMachine Films, will premiere at 10 p.m. June 17 on Adult Swim, kicking off a best-of "Robot Chicken" marathon that will feature reruns of the "Star Wars" special at the top of every hour.

The special stems from three "Star Wars" skits on "Robot Chicken", including the popular "Emperor's Phone Call", featuring Darth Vader calling Emperor Palpatine to tell him that the Death Star has been blown up. »

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Biz loves depth of 3-D potential

29 March 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Every major studio is working on big-budget 3-D movie releases, and the technology will be a boon to studios and exhibitors alike, Jeffrey Katzenberg told Wall Street analysts Wednesday during a Bank of America conference.

Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, which is readying two 3-D films for 2009, predicted that moviegoers will some day own their own glasses for 3-D viewing much like they own sunglasses today.

He said that moviegoers will gladly pay up to a 50% premium to watch 3-D films in a theater and that such a scenario will make the debate over collapsing distribution windows largely irrelevant. He noted that the exhibition industry hasn't used variable pricing strategies to boost it fortunes nearly to the extent that other industries have.

And one more added benefit: 3-D movies can't be easily pirated.

Directors Robert Zemeckis, James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are embracing 3-D, and George Lucas is giving Star Wars the 3-D treatment, he said.

"Once the alphas start to move, the herd gets restless and others start to follow," Katzenberg said.

Disney-Pixar also is planning Toy Story 3 in 3-D, Katzenberg said. "That's kind of the gossip inside. That will be their first authored in 3-D."

"We're not ready to talk about it," a Disney spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Katzenberg said he studied all major recent releases and came up with his list of 45 films that would have benefited immensely from 3-D, including Casino Royale and The Departed. He suggested that rereleases of 3-D versions of such classics as The Godfather, The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia would be profitable.

Katzenberg's enthusiasm almost was matched by that of Michael Campbell, chairman and CEO of Regal Entertainment, who also spoke at the conference.

Boxoffice results from the few 3-D movies Regal has shown, plus other data, indicates that audiences prefer 3-D movies over traditional ones by a 2-to-1 margin, Campbell said.

Even if exhibitors get just a 10% premium for 3-D movies, "that is a needle mover," Campbell said.

Katzenberg said that if a significant number of theaters can handle digital 3-D by 2009 »

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'Sunshine,' 'Disturbia' to bow at Fantastic fest

9 March 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

BRUSSELS -- Danny Boyle space drama Sunshine and Carrie-Anne Moss starrer Disturbia are among eight films that will have their European premieres next month at the 25th annual Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Film.

The BIFFF, which runs April 5-17, includes 76 movies from 27 nations and will feature the world premieres of Lloyd Kaufman's Poultrygeist, Michael Winnick's Shadow Puppets and Uwe Boll's In the Name of the King along with the European premieres of Wisit Sasanatieng's The Unseeable, Byeong-ki Ahn's Apt and Keita Amemiya's Unholy Women.

Sunshine, which will open the festival, stars Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans and Michele Yeoh in an Alex Garland-scripted sci-fi tale about a mission to re-ignite the sun. Suspense thriller Disturbia -- a modern retelling of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window -- will close the fest.

The festival also is moving to Brussels' refurbished Tour and Taxis industrial heritage complex, which includes a specially built 1,200-seat movie theater, the biggest in Belgium.

BIFFF will include a Star Wars 30th anniversary convention, a retrospective of the early works of Japanese director Sogo Ishii, a Japanimation Day, body art galleries and the annual Ball of the Vampires. »

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ILM back in the picture with visual effects win

26 February 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

For the latest coverage of the 2008 Academy Awards, go to

For the team behind "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," winning the Oscar for best visual effects was a bit like reclaiming a treasure that had long been buried.

While the victory gave lead effects house Industrial Light + Magic its 13th Academy Award in the category, it also ended a 14-year dry spell for the company, which had not brought home an Oscar for VFX since 1994, when it earned a statuette for "Forrest Gump".

ILM visual effects supervisor John Knoll thanked producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski as he accepted the award, which he shared with Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and Allen Hall.

Before 1994, ILM dominated the category, with staffers earning Oscars in 1993 for "Jurassic Park", 1992 ("Death Becomes Her"), 1991 ("Terminator 2: Judgment Day"), 1989 ("The Abyss"), 1988 ("Who Framed Roger Rabbit"), 1987 ("Innerspace"), 1985 ("Cocoon") and 1984 ("Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom").

ILM also won visual effects Oscars for all three films in the first "Star Wars" trilogy as well for as the classics "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial".

In recent years, though, the category has become increasingly competitive with the emergence of such companies as Digital Domain, Sony Pictures Imageworks and Weta Digital. »

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Publicists throw H'wood praise-a-thon

8 February 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Career kudos, bawdy jokes and Bob Barker were among the highlights of the ICG Publicists' annual awards luncheon Wednesday as Borat and Ugly Betty grabbed film and TV campaign honors, respectively.

George Lucas presented publicist-turned-producer Sid Ganis with a lifetime achievement award at the Beverly Hilton event.

"It's testament to his skills that ('The Empire Strikes Back') is considered the best 'Star Wars' film, even though it was the worst," Lucas joshed.

"The only reason I am standing here is what I learned, mimicked and copied from my mentors and my bosses," said Ganis, who added that his current role as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a PR gig if ever there was one.

The union publicists bestowed on Barker the ICG President's Award, with ICG IATSE Local 600 topper and cinematographer Steven Poster introducing the iconic game show host.

"I don't usually get that much applause without giving away a refrigerator," said Barker, who is set to retire as host of the long-running The Price Is Right.

A well-known animal rights activist, Barker couldn't resist adding his usual reminder, "Help protect the pets population and have our pets spayed and neutered."

Luncheon emcee Jimmy Kimmel had some repeated fun echoing that line and also riffed on the professional lot of Hollywood publicists. »

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Cameron To Direct First Movie in 10 Years

10 January 2007 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

James Cameron is to make new movie Avatar, his first film since 1997's Oscar-winning blockbuster Titanic. Fox Filmed Entertainment has confirmed Cameron is to start virtual photography on the sci-fi epic in April, followed by live-action work in August, ahead of a summer 2009 release. Cameron has also written the screenplay for the movie, which tells the story of a wounded marine who is sent to the faraway planet of Pandora against his wishes, and finds himself caught up in a battle of survival with the planet's inhabitants. The 52-year-old has spent years researching and developing the new filming techniques needed to create the movie's $190 million hybrid of action and animation, and he claims he's been "the busiest unemployed director in Hollywood." He vows, "We're going to blow you to the back wall of the theatre in a way you haven't seen for a long time. My goal is to rekindle those amazing mystical moments my generation felt when we first saw 2001: A Space Odyssey or the next generation's Star Wars. It took me 10 years to find something hard enough to be interesting." »

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Cameron sets live-action, CG epic for 2009

9 January 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

James Cameron is set to direct Avatar, his first dramatic feature since the Oscar-winning blockbuster Titanic in 1997.

Fox Filmed Entertainment chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman said Monday that Cameron will start virtual photography on the sci-fi epic in April, with live-action photography commencing in August, for a summer 2009 release. It will be filmed in a new digital 3-D format for release in 3-D.

The director already has spent years in R&D on the multiple processes needed to create a $190 million hybrid of live action and animation, which he vowed will never pass the $200 million mark. "I've been the busiest unemployed director in Hollywood," he said. "We're going to blow you to the back wall of the theater in a way you haven't seen for a long time. My goal is to rekindle those amazing mystical moments my generation felt when we first saw '2001: A Space Odyssey, ' or the next generation's 'Star Wars.' It took me 10 years to find something hard enough to be interesting."

Said Rothman: "Jim has taken the time to get it right, and we're taking the time to do it right. It's worth the wait."

Neither Cameron nor Fox want to repeat the budget overruns that plagued the $200 million Titanic, the director said. "We are shooting only 31 days of live action, all onstage. It's controllable. No weather conditions. No water on this one," he said. "When you come back to the table years later to make a movie of a certain scale, you want to make sure you cross all the t's and dot all the i's. We're 2 1/2 years out, and we've already shot 10 minutes of the film. The FX guys are working, the characters are designed, animators are already working."

Partly through its work on six documentary features including Ghosts of the Abyss, Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment team has researched a potentially groundbreaking mix of live-action cinematography and virtual photorealistic production techniques for Avatar, which will feature virtual characters.

Avatar, with a screenplay by Cameron, will mark the director's return to the sci-fi action-adventure genre. He first wrote an 80-page treatment 11 years ago. »

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