I Am Legend
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1-20 of 24 items from 2007   « Prev | Next »


'07 int'l boxoffice the stuff of 'Legend'

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

By keeping pace with 2006's solid finish internationally, 2007 appears to be a shoo-in for a record overseas year, with a double-digit gross increase looming. I Am Legend continued to hold on to the No. 1 spot during the weekend, grossing an estimated $46.1 million at about 3,000 screens in 25 markets.

The strong weekend boosted the totals for the Will Smith starrer to $117 million internationally and $311.6 million worldwide.

Legend was followed by No. 2 The Golden Compass, which maintained its torrid pace internationally with a weekend estimate of $34 million from 7,600 screens in 54 markets, good for an overseas cume of $187 million.

Distributor New Line said Compass had a huge bow in Australia -- an estimated $5 million over five days on 327 screens -- while Warner Bros. International touted Legend's No. 1 U.K. debut of an estimated $21.8 million (including previews) from 670 screens, claiming "almost half of the top five market share."

Newcomers for the stanza included 20th Century Fox International's Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, a sci-fi outing directed by brothers Colin and Greg Strause. It grossed an estimated $15.9 million from 1,784 screens in 20 markets, enough to place fifth overall for the weekend.

Requiem had an explosive bow in Germany (an estimated $4.8 million from 553 screens), while the results in Japan ($2.4 million from 392 sites) and Australia ($2.8 million from 181 locations) also were impressive. Fox said the Malaysia result -- $1.2 million from 125 screens -- was the studio's biggest ever in the market and the fourth-highest Malaysia opening from any studio. »

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Paramount is transformed in '07

28 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Paramount will cop the 2007 boxoffice laurels, offering tangible evidence of how much its DreamWorks acquisition has paid off for the once-struggling studio.

The five-day New Year's weekend will further pad distributor and industry boxoffice tallies, but it's already apparent that Par will be at the top of the distributor rankings. The studio rang up $1.47 billion through Christmas, safely north of the $1.34 billion registered by Warner Bros.' films.

Warners executives expect a big third session for the Will Smith smash I Am Legend, and grosses for Paramount's DreamWorks-produced Sweeney Todd likely are to be confined to the single-digit millions. But another $25 million or so for Legend won't affect the final market share pecking order.

Elsewhere among the year's top distributor rankings, Disney is sure to grab the bronze medal position, with $1.27 billion in studio coffers through Tuesday. Sony will be fourth on the year with $1.21 billion through Christmas, while Universal finishes fifth with $1.07 billion and counting.

In a heartening triumph for always-anxious theatrical executives, 2007 represents the first year in which five distributors have grossed more than $1 billion domestically. It also is likely that the year will mark annual upticks in grosses and admissions, with $9.23 billion in industry grosses representing a 5.4% improvement compared the same portion of last year and easily outpacing any ticket-price inflation.

Paramount crossed the $1 billion threshold for the second time, first doing so with Titanic in 1998 when it last topped the domestic boxoffice. This time, Par managed its feat largely on the strength of its DreamWorks-produced movies like Transformers, which contributed $319.1 million, and films Par distributed for DreamWorks Animation including Shrek the Third, a $321 million performer. »

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Warners laps rivals at overseas b.o.

28 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

The six Hollywood majors will set an all-time record at the overseas boxoffice during 2007, raking in about 15% more than last year with a peak of nearly $10 billion.

The half-dozen MPA companies each topped $1 billion for the first time in industry history, according to preliminary data. An estimate for the full year places Warner Bros.' international theatrical arm in the No. 1 spot with $2.15 billion.

Disney's analogous unit is next with about $1.66 billion, followed by 20th Century Fox at $1.64 billion, Paramount Pictures at $1.60 billion, Sony Pictures at $1.27 billion and Universal Pictures at a touch above $1 billion.

The figures and standings are tentative because most of the companies have titles in release during the final days of the lucrative year-end holiday period.

On Warners' current slate are I Am Legend, Beowulf and Fred Claus. Disney still has to include the foreign returns from National Treasure: Book of Secrets and more dates on Enchanted, Fox has Alvin and the Chipmunks, Paramount has Bee Movie and Universal has American Gangster, Atonement and Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

A highlight of the 2007 boxoffice bonanza was the entry of Par's PPI and Universal's UPI in the $1 billion ranks. Both were operating for the first time as stand-alone overseas distributors following the breakup of their longtime partnership in United Pictures International.

For Warner Bros. Pictures International, its tally marks the seventh straight year that it has exceeded $1 billion in foreign boxoffice. The more than $2 billion this year represents the company's second-highest gross, trailing only the $2.2 billion achieved in 2004 as the industry standard. »

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Beasties crash Christmas boxoffice blowout

27 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Those darn aliens and predators upset the boxoffice hierarchy established during the weekend before Christmas.

Bowing on Christmas Day, Fox's "Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem", the second installment in the intergalactic smackdown, took the third-place slot with a single-day gross of $9.5 million.

But while "AVP" flaunted its status as R-rated holiday counterprogramming with the ad line "No Peace on Earth", the day's other new arrivals struck a more hopeful, seasonal note.

The inspirational period drama "The Great Debaters", which MGM is releasing for the Weinstein Co., debuted in sixth place with $3.6 million but enjoyed a per-theater average that ranked just below the top wide releases.

The Scottish-accented fantasy "The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep," a Sony release, squeezed into ninth place with $2.4 million.

In exclusive release, Warner Bros.' "The Bucket List", starring warhorses Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, chalked up $161,840 in just 16 theaters for a per-screen average of $10,115, while Sony Classics' release of the animated Iranian history lesson "Persepolis" captured $37,118 on seven screens for a per-screen average of $5,303.

After dipping on Monday as many theaters closed early for Christmas Eve, the overall boxoffice rebounded on Christmas Day. And with so many businesses making do with skeletal staffs through year's end, distributors looked forward to weekend-like business throughout the rest of the week.

Disney's sequel "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," which bowed Friday, easily held on to the top spot for Christmas Day, luring in an additional $13.7 million as it hit the $65 million mark.

In just 12 days of release, Warners' apocalyptic Will Smith starrer "I Am Legend" crossed the $150 million line as it attracted an additional $9.8 million Tuesday, remaining in second place. »

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Smith Plans Simple Wedding Anniversary Celebrations

26 December 2007 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Will Smith and his actress wife Jada Pinkett Smith will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary on New Year's Eve - with a "high-five". The I Am Legend star admits they have such a dull life, they will probably just laze around the house when their anniversary comes around. He says, "We're a very boring couple. We sit around more than we do anything. We've said we'll probably give each other a high-five slap on the butt and go to bed. It's going to be very simple. This is just the first 10 years is how we look at it." And The Matrix Reloaded star Jada should not be expecting any extravagant gifts from her spouse. He adds, "She had said, 'You know, we have us and we have a happy family, and... ' she's set me up, hasn't she?" »

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What becomes a 'Legend' most?

24 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

While family-oriented fare flourished amid the school holidays overseas, I Am Legend proved strong enough to snatch the No. 1 spot internationally, grossing an estimated $25.3 million by drawing more than 3 million admissions in 15 markets for the three-day frame ending Sunday.

Legend's cume is $54.3 million overseas and $191.8 million worldwide.

Disney's National Treasure: Book of Secrets opened internationally day-and-date with its $45.5 million No. 1 domestic debut, grabbing the third spot for the weekend. Its tally was a lusty $10,852 per location from 2,055 screens in 17 markets, good for an opening overseas gross estimate of $22.3 million.

New Line's The Golden Compass, which ranked No. 1 for two consecutive weekends, finished second in the stanza with an estimated $23.9 million from 6,776 screens in 49 markets, lifting its international total to $130 million. An opening in Korea produced an estimated $8 million over a five-day period at about 400 spots.

Warner Bros. International's release of Legend finished first in each of its seven opening territories. France produced an estimated $7.6 million from 607 sites for a $12,521 per-screen average. Spain came up with $5.8 million from 442 situations, or an average of $13,122. Holdovers in Japan and Korea also were strong, with the former territory providing an estimated $3.2 million from 424 screens, down just 37% from the previous weekend's torrid market bow. »

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Cage finds more boxoffice gold with 'Treasure' debut

24 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Disney's action sequel "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" booked a lucrative place at the top of the domestic boxoffice, opening with an estimated $65 million during the five-day yuletide frame.

The Will Smith-toplined horror film "I Am Legend" from Warner Bros./Village Roadshow finished second despite a 57% drop from its opening weekend, with its $47.5 million holiday haul wrapping a 12-day bounty of $150.8 million.

Fox declined to provide a five-day estimate for its live-action with animation comedy "Alvin and the Chipmunks", which held third place during the holiday weekend on a modest 36% drop from its first frame and a four-day tally of $32.8 million. "Alvin" toted a $88.7 million cume into Tuesday.

Universal's Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts starrer "Charlie Wilson's War" opened sturdily with $14.8 million in fourth place, while DreamWorks/Paramount's Tim Burton musical "Sweeney Todd" bowed roughly as expected with $12.8 million in fifth.

Warners/Alcon Entertainment romancer "P.S. I Love You" wooed $9.1 million in an acceptable sixth-place start. But Sony's music biopic spoof "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" debuted softly with just $5.8 million in eighth.

In a limited bow reflecting relatively thin art-film business during the holiday frame, Sony Pictures Classics unspooled extreme-skiing documentary "Steep" in 17 locations and grossed $30,689, or $1,805 per site. SPC's Francis Ford Coppola drama "Youth Without Youth" added 12 engagements for a total of 18 and grossed $40,090, or $2,227 per playdate with a cume of $84,436.

Elsewhere in the specialty market, Miramax's Coen brothers adventure "No Country for Old Men" rung up $2.6 million from 1,222 theaters, or $2,127 per venue with a $37.6 million cume.

Paramount Vantage's release of DreamWorks' Afghan drama "The Kite Runner" grossed $1.8 million from 377 runs, or $4,774 per location with a $2.5 million cume.

Vantage's "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" fetched $200,000 from 28 playdates, or a solid $7,143 per engagement with a $494,000 cume. »

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Loads of 'Treasure' under the tree

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

Boxoffice weekends just don't come any bigger than this one.

Five wide openers boasting solid appeal in one or more audience demographics are set to unspool Friday. And one of those -- Disney's Nicolas Cage sequel National Treasure: Books of Secrets -- has "monster hit" written all over it.

Throw in DreamWorks/Paramount's Johnny Depp-toplined musical Sweeney Todd, Sony's music-bio spoof Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Warner Bros.' ladies-get-the-hankies romance P.S. I Love You and Universal's Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts starrer Charlie Wilson's War, and things could get bloody crazy -- or maybe just plain bloody, given the cutthroat competition for screens and moviegoers.

Oh, and by the way, a 50% hold for Warners' I Am Legend would give the Will Smith starrer a $38 million sophomore session.

"The marketplace is going to expand, but there's a limit as to how far it can expand," a top distributor said.

Now consider that three more films open wide on Christmas: Fox's action sequel Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, MGM/Weinstein Co.'sDenzel Washington drama The Great Debaters and the Sony-Revolution-Walden family fantasy "The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep."

There's simply never been a more crowded Christmas session. Seven wide openers battled it out in 1994 and again in 2001, but eight is a first.

Small wonder that distributors are sputtering to guess what the boxoffice chart might look like once all the dust has settled.

" 'Charlie Wilson's War' could get clobbered," one boxoffice handicapper said.

" 'Sweeney Todd' could end up being this year's 'Rent, ' " was the similarly ungenerous assessment of another.

Walk Hard shows good audience awareness in prerelease tracking data, but its "first-choice (data) is just OK," another well-placed industry observer said. »

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Palm Springs fest fetes composer Howard

20 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

James Newton Howard will receive the Frederick Loewe Award for Film Composing at the 19th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival.

His film scores have included Andrew Davis' The Fugitive, P.J. Hogan's My Best Friend's Wedding and M. Night Shyamalan's The Village, which were all Oscar nominees for best original score. Howard also received three Grammy nominations, for music from Disney's Dinosaur, M. Night Shyamalan's Signs and a song from Michael Hoffman's One Fine Day.

Howard has been honored with ASCAP's Henry Mancini Award for Lifetime Achievement and now has over 100 films to his credit.

His film scores for 2007 include The Great Debaters, Michael Clayton, Charlie Wilson's War, "The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep," The Lookout and I Am Legend.

Other film scores include M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense, and Unbreakable; Taylor Hackford's The Devil's Advocate; Michael Mann's Collateral, Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins and Edward Zwick's Blood Diamond.

The award will be presented Jan. 5 at the Festival's annual Awards Gala. »

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'Compass' points to int'l power

17 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

The holiday blockbuster season internationally grew more crowded and more robust over the weekend as The Golden Compass hung on to its No. 1 spot for the second consecutive frame while I Am Legend, starring Will Smith, rolled up huge returns from a debut in just eight Asian markets.

Overall, the weekend was stronger than last year's comparable frame, a trend reflected in broader numbers.

According to a studio source, international boxoffice from January through November for the big six Hollywood studios -- Warners, Universal, 20th Century Fox, Disney, Paramount and Sony -- is tracking a full 16% ahead of 2006's comparable period. Even discounting the fall of the U.S. dollar against other world currencies, indications are that 2007 looms as a strong if not record boxoffice year for the majors overseas.

Spurred by a pre-opening publicity blitz with Smith touring key Asian territories, Legend, which opened No. 1 domestically, tied for No. 2 on the weekend with an estimated $20 million gleaned from more than 1,300 screens. In Japan, the tally was an estimated $6.4 million from 426 locations for a per-screen average of $15,024.

The sci-fi horror outing released by Warner Bros. International drew $6.3 million from 267 situations in Korea, for an average of $23,596 per site. In Taiwan, the per-screen average was $19,200 thanks to a gross of $2.4 million from 125 prints. Legend also had lucrative bows in Thailand, India, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Tied with Legend for the No. 2 spot on the weekend was DreamWorks/Paramount Pictures International's Bee Movie, which also grossed $20 million. But that tally was drawn from 44 territories, half of them new. »

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Where there's a Will, there's a $76.5 million way

17 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Warner Bros.' Will Smith starrer I Am Legend opened famously indeed this weekend, ringing up an estimated $76.5 million in estimated domestic boxoffice to notch Smith's -- and even December's -- best-ever bow.

Fox's live action-with-animation comedy Alvin and the Chipmunks chipped in $45 million in an incredibly strong second-place opening that additionally helped to stir the recently somnolent marketplace.

New Line's family fantasy The Golden Compass was far behind with $9 million in third place, marking a big 65% drop from its opening grosses and a 10-day cume of $41 million. Yari Film Group's seasonal comedy The Perfect Holiday had a first-weekend haul of almost $3 million to nab sixth place, with a Wednesday bow pushing cume to $3.6 million.

Industrywide, the weekend's $163 million in collective boxoffice marked a big 35% uptick against the same frame last year, according to data tracker Nielsen EDI. A year ago, Smith's The Pursuit of Happyness topped the charts with $26.5 million in opening grosses.

Year-to-date, EDI data shows the industry is 5% ahead of the same period of 2006 with a collective $8.93 billion in domestic grosses. But even with this weekend's big haul, the holiday season is lagging behind that of a year ago by 5%, with $760.7 million in the seasonal register to date.

In a limited bow this weekend, Paramount Vantage debuted the DreamWorks-produced drama The Kite Runner with 35 playdates and grossed $450,970. That represented a notable $12,885 per engagement, with plans to expand the literary adaptation to 350 runs on Friday.

Sony Pictures Classics unspooled Francis Ford Coppola's Youth Without Youth in six venues -- three in Los Angeles, two in New York and one in San Francisco -- and grossed $27,815, or an acceptable $4,636 per venue.

The weekend also featured notable expansions of specialty pics including Universal/Working Title's Golden Globes magnet Atonement, a 1930s drama that added 85 engagements for a total 117 to gross $1.9 million in ninth place. »

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I Am Legend

14 December 2007 10:17 AM, PST | The Scorecard Review | See recent Scorecard Review news »

The Scorecard Review by Jeff Bayer Plot: Based on the 1950s novel, “I Am Legend” tells the story of Robert Neville (Will Smith), the last known survivor of a virus known as Kv. Robert is still attempting to find a cure, since the infection has a lasting, horrific effect on its victims. Who’s it for: Will Smith pretty much guarantees box-office success, especially with action films, but this is more of a slow-paced thriller, with just a few exciting moments. Expectations: I loved the teaser, with Smith trying to continue life alone, and plus there aren’t many other actors I would rather have in an action flick. Scorecard Actors: Will Smith as Robert Neville: Smith has clearly put some time in the gym. The best part »

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Smith Puts Fresh Prints in Walk of Fame

11 December 2007 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Will Smith planted his hand and footprints into the cement outside Hollywood landmark Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Monday and received an unexpected tribute from pal Tom Cruise. The I Am Legend movie star wasn't expecting the Top Gun actor to show up for his big honor. He said, "That kinda caught me off guard a little bit." Cruise insisted Smith was deserving of the honor, stating, "He's an extraordinary guy... he's truly an exceptional human being." »

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I Am Legend

10 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Will Smith plays a military virologist who has inexplicably survived a man-made virus that wiped out mankind in the third or fourth film -- depending on what you count -- based on a 1954 Richard Matheson science fiction novel. But the film can never quite decide whether it's speculative fiction or a B-movie horror show.

I Am Legend, the third or fourth film -- depending on what you count -- based on the 1954 apocalyptic science fiction novel by Richard Matheson, nails the emotional core in Matheson's story: What would it be like to be a last man on Earth?

Will Smith is, seemingly, that man: Robert Neville, a military virologist who has inexplicably survived a man-made virus that wiped out mankind. All of Manhattan is his home where he exercises, patrols and hunts with his dog Sam by day. At night, he hunkers down in his Washington Square townhouse with memories, videos and old albums that recall a vanished civilization. Vegetation and wildlife have reclaimed the eerily quiet canyons of gleaming yet useless high rises. The sight of Robert speeding in a car through such familiar streets, otherwise empty of human life yet littered with the debris of a populace that fled deadly bacterium, produces genuine shock.

Akiva Goldsman, rewriting a screenplay by Mark Protosevich for a project originally going to be made in the 1990s with Arnold Schwarzenegger starring and Ridley Scott directing, has made intelligent updates and revisions on this half-century-old story. But the writers retain the vampire element inherited from the literary source. Thus, the film can never quite decide whether it's speculative fiction or a B-movie horror show. It's not a fatal flaw, though, as Legend will be one of the most commercial holiday releases.

It seems the virus, developed initially to combat cancer (Emma Thompson puts in a brief cameo as the guilty inventor), not only wiped out most of the Earth's population but also caused severe mutation among survivors. They became vampire/zombies that shun the light but venture into the night to eat flesh. These humanoids made by CGI and motion-capture technology are annoyingly fake creatures that add a risible element to an otherwise overly serious epic.

As dusk comes each day, Robert boards up his abode, which is heavily fortified. Now 1,000 days into his ordeal -- the year is 2012 -- he broadcasts daily radio messages in search of fellow survivors. He also hunts and traps these Dark Seekers to experiment on their bodies with his immune blood to find a way to reverse the virus' effects. Then one day the creatures turn the tables: They trap him. He is wounded, and Sam gets bitten by plague-carrying dogs.

The third act either ups the ante of action and suspense or falls apart, depending on one's taste in science fiction. A young woman and child (Brazilian actress Alice Braga and Charlie Tahan) suddenly appear out of nowhere. A Judeo-Christian theme gets introduced, the creatures lay siege to the townhouse, and Robert discovers the antidote for the plague. All of which leads to an upbeat ending few are going to swallow.

Some viewers also might wonder at peculiar phenomena in this post-apocalyptic world: All utilities work perfectly, which might come as a shock to New Yorkers who experience problems with water, gas or electricity when a full work force mans those departments. While Robert's race through empty streets is visually thrilling, what's his hurry? And how did he single-handedly build a state-of-the-art lab in his basement?

Smith, sporting a newly buffed physique, delivers an extraordinary performance as a man slowly coming unglued under the strain of no human contact and a constantly alternating role of hunter and prey. The action and suspense do quicken the pulse under the assured direction of Francis Lawrence. A video director with one previous film credit -- the intriguing 2005 sci-fi'er Constantine -- Lawrence is in complete control of his actors, stunt people and visual effects. These, when blended with Naomi Shohan's knock-out production design, Andrew Lesnie's mobile camera and James Newton Howard's magisterial score, create a New York City that is a literally an urban jungle.

I AM LEGEND

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. presents in association with Village Roadshow a Weed Road/Overbrook Entertainment production

Credits:

Director: Francis Lawrence

Screenwriters: Mark Protosevich, Akiva Goldsman

Based on a screenplay by: John William, Joyce H. Corrington

Based on a novel by: Richard Matheson

Producers: Akiva Goldsman, James Lassiter, David Heyman, Neil Moritz

Executive producers: Michael Tadross, Erwin Stoff

Dana Goldberg, Bruce Berman

Director of photography: Andrew Lesnie

Production designer: Naomi Shohan

Music: James Newton Howard

Co-producer: Tracy Torme

Visual effects supervisor: Janek Sirrs

Costume designer: Michael Kaplan

Editor: Wayne Wahrman

Cast:

Robert Neville: Will Smith

Anna: Alice Braga

Ethan: Charlie Tahan

Zoe: Salli Richardson

Marley: Willow Smith

Running time 100 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

»

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Imax day for 'Knight'

7 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

The bat signal will appear next week, eight stories high -- on Imax screens.

The first six minutes of Warner Bros.' The Dark Knight, a prologue that introduces Heath Ledger as the Joker, will appear as a preview in Imax theaters before the studio's I Am Legend, which opens Dec. 14.

Dark Knight, the next film in the successful Batman franchise, was lensed in part using Imax cameras, a Hollywood first and a creative decision made by director Christopher Nolan, who also helmed 2005's Batman Begins.

The prologue is one of the scenes photographed in the 70mm Imax format. The rest of the film was lensed in 35mm and will be remastered to the Imax format for release in Imax theaters. In those theaters, the 70mm-lensed sequences will fill the screen and the 35mm-lensed scenes will appear letterboxed. (In traditional theaters, the aspect ratio will remain the same, though some expect that audiences might see a shift in image quality.)

"It's different, the experience you will get watching the film this way," Nolan said of Imax. "It will look great in 35mm as well, but (the Imax preview) might encourage people to go out of their way to see it this way." »

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The Perfect Holiday

7 December 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

If This Christmas served up a crowd-pleasing portion of yuletide Soul Food, then The Perfect Holiday offers dried-out leftovers.

The sentiments of the season ring awfully hollow in this uninspired urban comedy, even with the likes of Queen Latifah, Terrence Howard, Gabrielle Union, Morris Chestnut and Charles Murphy among the ensemble.

Even if it had been better, this stale sophomore effort from filmmaker Lance Rivera (The Cookout) would be facing a considerable challenge at the ticket counters, seeing as it's catering to the same audience so recently sated by This Christmas, not to mention the fact that it's opening the same week as I Am Legend, starring Mr. Boxoffice himself, Will Smith.

Meet Benjamin (Chestnut), a struggling songwriter working as an outlet-mall Santa, accompanied by his pal/oversized elf, Jamal (Faizon Love).

Meet Nancy (Union), the romance-starved, divorced mother of three young children whose ex is a pompous boob of a rapper-producer called J-Jizzy (Murphy).

It's clear that Benjamin and Nancy were meant to be together (this is, after all, something like the fourth time Chestnut and Union have shared the screen), even if her eldest son, John-John (Malik Hammond), does what he can to discourage the liaison.

Meanwhile, Latifah and Howard occasionally pop in and out as an angel/devil duo, though it often seems like they're not in the same film, or at least not on the same shooting days as the rest of the cast.

There's not a single scene in Holiday that doesn't feel like it was copied from any number of other cookie-cutter rom coms, Christmas-themed or otherwise, nor are there any moments in the script -- penned by Rivera and Marc E. Calixte -- that would qualify as genuinely heartwarming, believable or remotely funny.

Even with the easy-on-the-eyes presence of Union and Chestnut, as well as the normally amusing Murphy (as demonstrated on "Chappelle's Show") and Katt Williams as Murphy's long-suffering assistant, this shot-in-New Jersey production feels about as inviting as warm eggnog.

THE PERFECT HOLIDAY

Yari Film Group Releasing

Destination Films, Capital Arts Entertainment, Truenorth, Flavor Unit Films

Credits:

Director: Lance Rivera

Screenwriters: Marc E. Calixte, Lance Rivera

Producers: Shakim Compere, Leifur B. Dagfinnsson, Mike Elliott, Joseph P. Grenier, Queen Latifah, Marvin Peart, Lance Rivera

Director of photography: Teodoro Maniaci

Production designer: Anne Stuhler

Music: Christopher Lennertz

Costume designer: Francine Jamison-Tanchuk

Editor: Paul Trejo

Cast:

Benjamin: Morris Chestnut

Nancy: Gabrielle Union

Narrator: Queen Latifah

Bah-Humbug: Terrence Howard

Jamal: Faizon Love

Delicious: Katt Williams

Brenda: Rachel True

Robin: Jill Marie Jones

J-Jizzy: Charles Murphy

Mikey: Jeremy Gumbs

John-John: Malik Hammond

Emily: Khail Bryant

Running time -- 96 minutes

MPAA rating: PG

»

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Sony Pics explores possible investment

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

Sony Picture Entertainment has retained investment bank Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin to place a value on Sony Pictures Imageworks and Sony Pictures Animation. The company is exploring possible investment, prompted by an expression of interest.

Said Jim Kennedy, senior vp corporate communications for Sony Pictures Entertainment: "As we have in other areas of our business, we are open to exploring equity partnerships, and it's no surprise that there is market interest in our visual effects and animation businesses. Having worked on everything from Spider-Man and Superman to Polar Express and Beowulf, Imageworks is one of the most respected visual effects studios in the industry. Sony Pictures Animation has produced two critically acclaimed films, and we continue to maintain a strong commitment to making animated movies going forward."

Sony Pictures Animation, which recently completed Surf's Up, has announced upcoming features Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, slated for March 2009; and Hotel Translvannia, which is scheduled to open later that year.

Visual effects business Imageworks, the company behind the visual effects in the Spider-Man films, just completed Robert Zemeckis' Beowulf. In the works is the December release I Am Legend, starring Will Smith. »

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Mann & Smith to build an "Empire"

11 October 2007 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- Columbia Prictures has acquired the rights to Empire- a Will Smith vehicle to be helmed by Michael Mann, who previously directed Smith to an Oscar nom in 2001's Ali. The film with be written by hot scribe John Logan. Plot details are sketchy but word has it that Smith will play a contemporary global media mogul. Smith's dance card has been full these days. His latest film, I Am Legend opens Dec. 14, with John Hancock (from Peter Berg, who recently helmed the Mann produced The Kingdom) to follow next summer. Empire will have to wait until Smith completes production on Seven Pounds- which reunites him with Pursuit of Happiness director Gabriele Muccino. Michael Mann has always been one of my favorite directors, and the prospect of him re-teaming with Will Smith is very exciting. Considering that Miami Vice tanked last summer- it's probably not a bad thing that »

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Agents work overtime to book clients

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

Tick, tick, tick.

That's the sound of a big clock above the heads of agents who anxiously attempt to book their clients work in the greenlighted movies that are going into production before a potential writers strike.

On the flip side, studio execs have pressure to fill slots for movies from a dwindling supply of name actors.

Some actors are booked solid, while others have potential slots they can fill. Jim Carrey is looking to shoot Warner Bros. Pictures' Yes Man in October, followed by A Christmas Carol, which Robert Zemeckis is directing for Walt Disney Pictures, and then a third movie. Christian Bale is shooting the Batman movie The Dark Knight until year's end, then is freed up. Will Smith is shooting Columbia Pictures' John Hancock, previously known as Tonight He Comes, then will be on a press tour for I Am Legend at year's end.

Meanwhile, some actors aren't sweating the work. Matt Damon is said to be taking a break, though he could move to Universal Pictures and Working Title's Iraq War drama "Imperial Life in the Emerald City." Johnny Depp is rumored to be taking time off until 2008. »

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Reitman's 'Juno' added to 07' calender

31 July 2007 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- It was flying so low on my radar that I wasn’t even aware that the production was completed. Today Fox Searchlight Pictures announces that it has pegged a December 14th date for Jason Reitman’s sophomore feature as a director in Juno. Why are we looking forward to this film? We thought that Thank You for Smoking had some great moments (so did the folks at Fox Searchlight who quickly signed up the director for a 2nd project and third: Bonzai Shadowhands) and we very much like the diminutive yet powerful actress Ellen Page.   Scripted by Diablo Cody, this sees is a whip-smart teen (Ellen Page) confronting an unplanned pregnancy by her classmate Bleeker (Michael Cera). With the help of her hot best friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby), Juno finds her unborn child a “perfect” set of parents: an affluent suburban couple, Mark and Vanessa (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner), longing to adopt. »

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