6 items from 2007
8 October 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
SAN RAFAEL, California -- The tribute to filmmaker Ang Lee at the Mill Valley Film Festival Friday evening was something of a homecoming for the Oscar winning director of Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. When Lee brought out his first film, Pushing Hands, in 1992, Mill Valley "was the only place in the world that would show my film," Lee told the audience. "Even Sundance turned it down."
Then again, in 1997, Mill Valley screened his The Ice Storm when he was still a virtually unknown director. When he finally returned to Marin County several years later to live for the better part of a year while doing special visual effects at ILM for The Hulk, he was world famous, having made the most successful Chinese-language film ever with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Lee's latest film, Lust, Caution, an intense psycho-sexual drama set in Japanese-occupied China during World War II -- which has opened to significant boxoffice in Asia, especially Taiwan and Hong Kong, but divided Western critics so far -- opened the festival the night before, kicking off Mill Valley's 30th anniversary celebration.
So his love of the area and of its festival, one of the key regional festivals in the country, was unmistakable, as was the emotional response to his work by a packed house.
Between film clips from his 10 feature films, Lee took the audience through the cultural and cinematic education of a Taiwanese man who has become a major international moviemaker.
Lee spent the first 23 years of his life in his native country, including college and military service. "I was culturally rooted and I didn't speak English," he noted. "I didn't learn to speak English until after 'Sense and Sensibility. I felt sorry for the actors I had to direct."
His initial love affair was with the theater, not film. Standing on stage, facing an audience for the first time, an experience he re-creates in Lust, Caution, thrilled him. There was also, he pointed out, no filmmaking tradition in Taiwan at the time.
Coming to New York and not knowing English well, he knew he could not act so he moved into directing. In delving into Western stage drama, he had to break with his own cultural biases. »
Jason Bourne returns to America in his quest to discover his true identity, and North American moviegoers embraced his homecoming as "The Bourne Ultimatum" rushed to an estimated $70.2 million opening weekend.
Although Universal Pictures' propulsive chase movie dominated the frame, Buena Vista Pictures' "Underdog" found some favor with family audiences. But the weekend's other new wide arrivals, Paramount Pictures' comedy "Hot Rod" and Lionsgate's teen outing "Bratz: The Movie", received the cold shoulder.
The PG-13 "Ultimatum" -- with Paul Greengrass, who directed "The Bourne Supremacy" three years ago, again at the helm -- raced past the bows of 2002's "The Bourne Identity", which opened to $27.2 million, and 2004's "Supremacy", which arrived to $52.5 million.
Applauded by critics -- it earned a 94% approval rating at RottenTomatoes.com -- the film written by Tony Gilroy, Scott Z. Burns and George Nolfi and produced by Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley and Paul Sandberg earned an A from moviegoers according to CinemaScore as it racked up a per-theater average of $19,175.
The latest film in the spy series based on the Robert Ludlum novels established a new record for the best August opening, surpassing the $67.4 million bow of "Rush Hour 2" in 2001. Its Friday gross of $24.65 million was a new in-house record for Universal, whose previous best Friday had been posted by 2003's "Hulk". It also topped all the openings of the James Bond movies and established personal bests for Greengrass and star Matt Damon.
"Moviegoers seemed to sense that something great was going to happen -- reviewers and audiences alike rated this one the best one yet," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said. "Matt Damon, Paul Greengrass and Frank Marshall all delivered, and all the stars just aligned right."
Led by "Bourne", the weekend's top 10 films collected $158.8 million, up 37% from the comparable frame a year ago, according to Nielsen EDI. Last year at this time, Sony Pictures' "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" bowed to $47 million, followed by Paramount's animated "Barnyard" in the second spot with $15.8 million. »
Actor Eric Bana has praised movie bosses for replacing him with Edward Norton in upcoming sequel The Incredible Hulk. Bana, who played Bruce Banner in filmmaker Ang Lee's original 2003 movie Hulk, is pleased he wasn't offered the role as he may not have subsequently landed critically acclaimed parts in movies such as Munich. He tells Australia's Herald Sun newspaper, "If it came up in the right amount of time I might have (done it) but, you know, in an ideal world it has not been a bad thing for me. I think it's even better that they've got a new guy and better again that they've got someone of the caliber of Edward Norton. You know, I can't wait to see it. And I suppose if they had come back in the right amount of time I wouldn't have been doing films like Munich." But Bana insists he never considered making more than one Hulk movie when he signed up to appear in the original film. He adds, "I never went into the first one thinking I was going to do three films. I didn't think the word franchise, or the word sequel. To me it always appeared as a one-off opportunity." Shooting on The Incredible Hulk is scheduled to begin this summer in Toronto, Canada. »
Universal Pictures is distributing.
Roth would play Emil Blonsky, a vicious mercenary who turns into the Abomination, a gamma-spawned being stronger than the Hulk. Louis Leterrier is directing the latest big-screen rendition for the jade juggernaut from a Zak Penn screenplay.
The story begins with Hulk-houser Bruce Banner on the run, trying to avoid capture long enough to cure the condition that turns him into a monster.
In comic book annals, the Abomination was a KGB agent who deliberately exposed himself to radiation to gain strength. The character, who was created in the 1960s, did not appear in the 2003 Ang Lee movie "Hulk".
Shooting for the new "Hulk" is slated to begin in June in Toronto.
- If Batman can do it - so can the Hulk. Like the Warner Bros. re-launch of the Batman franchise, it didn’t take 3 or 4 sequels and an Arnold Schwarzenegger/Jim Carrey appearance for Universal to press the restart button. While I was one among a dozen or so who thought that the comic book to movie adaptation had actually taken an interesting turn under the hand of auteur filmmaker Ang Lee, at the request set by the folks at Marvel, the comic book company wanted Universal to “think again”. Part one was the hiring of the action-specialist filmmaker Louis Leterrier (Unleashed). If Bana can do it so can Edward Norton. The actor certainly had an aura about him in The Illusionist – we totally believed in his Eisenheim character and since magicians sort of look like crazy scientists and since Norton has proven that he can generate rage on screen »
The Hulk is getting a makeover.
Rhythm & Hues Studios said that it has been named the lead visual effects house on "The Incredible Hulk" from Marvel Studios, which is scheduled to start production in June in Toronto. Louis Leterrier will direct.
Rhythm & Hues was selected after several months of R&D that included the creation of a CG Hulk.
The company is well known for its character animation. For "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," the studio's work included the film's well-received CG lion Aslan. Earlier character work included "Babe", which won an Academy Award for achievement in visual effects.
Pointing to the company's history with creating animals, Rhythm & Hues film division president Lee Berger sees "Hulk" as a great next project. "It's the first time Rhythm & Hues has been able to take a human-like character to its full exposition," he said. »
6 items from 2007
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