Saturday, March 31, 2007

RIP Herman Stein (1915-2007)



Philadelphia born film music composer Herman Stein died on March 15th of heart failure. He was 91 years old.

His name may not be instantly recognized, but trust me, he was a true pioneer in his field. Throughout his career, his skills were put to use in a wide variety of movies. Under contract at Universal Pictures is where he achieved his greatest success-composing scores for such sci-fi/horror gems like The Thing That Couldn't Die, The Monolith Monsters, Love Slaves of the Amazons (a personal fave), The Incredible Shrinking Man, It Came from Outer Space and who can forget Creature from the Black Lagoon. I remember watching that one with my mom on TV--IN 3-D no less! What a treat ...

He showed off his comedic side for Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops, Abbott and Costello Go to Mars and Ma and Pa Kettle on Vacation.

The amazing thing is, more often than not, his film work would go uncredited. Still, for fans like me, his style is instantly appreciated.

In the 60's he composed music for episodic TV shows "Lost in Space" and "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea"

Read the LA Times obituary for more...

Friday, March 30, 2007

Meet And Greet

Among the big openers this weekend--A smaller film is sandwiched between two giants-ready to face off.

Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt has built quite a career as an Indie film favorite since the end of his TV sit-com 3rd Rock from the Sun. His new thriller, The Lookout (reviews) may have solid critical praise...




But it faces an uphill climb, with the CGI animated Meet the Robinsons (reviews) and the comedy Blades of Glory (reviews) getting all of the attention...

Ian Mohr and Dave McNary of Variety talk about this trio of big releases and a gaggle of smaller flicks:

Will 3-D toons be able to take down a same-sex figuring skating duo at the multiplexes this weekend?

Disney is hoping that its "Meet the Robinsons" -- about a doodad-obsessed orphan who travels to the future -- will be able to power to No. 1 past Paramount/DreamWorks' laffer "Blades of Glory," starring Will Ferrell and Jon Heder, on the strength of the roughly 600 3-D screens the CGI pic will play.

"Robinsons" is running in 3,413 theaters overall as the frame's widest new rollout. Some key markets are blanketed with 3-D showings: If you want to see "Robsinons" in [New York City], for example, you'll be wearing 3-D glasses this weekend.

Sliding into 3,000 theaters is "Blades," the comedy in which Ferrell and Heder ham it up as unlikely ice-skaters.

Coin from 3-D screens on "Robinsons," which is aiming squarely at families, could be a wild card in the battle for No. 1. ("300," Warner Bros.' f/x heavy hit has been a big draw with tech-heads on IMAX screens throughout its run so far.)

High-stakes NCAA tourney games running in prime time could possibly prove a drain on "Blades"' Saturday biz as that pic aims for some of the same young males.

Coming into the market as a limited release -- and a distribution experiment -- to 615 theaters, meantime, is Universal's New Age drama "Peaceful Warrior."

Rather than plow money into a trad marketing campaign, U has instead offered the public $15 million in free tickets to the pic, in a partnership with retailer Best Buy, to try and ignite word of mouth.

Pic was previously released theatrically through Lions gate, but not via any nationwide run.

In other less wide releases over the weekend will include Miramax's "The Lookout," playing in just under 1,000 theaters, as well as the Weinstein Co.'s "Nomad," which attacks 60.

TWC had a No. 1 last frame, in a partnership with Warner Bros., in "TMNT," the latest "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" pic.

Green guys lead a host of holdovers vying for extra ducats this weekend, including Sony's "Reign Over Me," Par's "Shooter," New Line's "The Last Mimzy," Fox's "The Hills Have Eyes II," Lionsgate's "Pride" and B.O. biggies "300" (Warners) and "Wild Hogs" (Disney).

IFC rolls with Danish helmer Susanne Bier's "After the Wedding," ThinkFilm shoots out "Live Free or Die," Strand flies with "The Hawk Is Dying," and Shadow Distribution rocks docu "Air Guitar Nation."

The complete weekend landscape is discussed here...

Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly thinks that

Will Ferrell ice-skating romp will cut an impressive figure -- say, $45 mil -- freezing out all challengers...

I know that I'm probably on thin ice here, but, I actually believe Will Ferrell has become vastly over-rated of late. His last pure comedy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby may have made lots of cash--but I didn't think it wasn't all that funny. That said though, I aggree with Rich's assessment: Blades will make a small mint over the weekend and land in the top spot comr Monday.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Coming Home

Recent Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg will be spending part of Summer '07 in The City Of Brotherly Love...

Michael Fleming of Variety:

Mark Wahlberg has been set to star in "The Happening," the thriller that M. Night Shyamalan will direct in August in Philadelphia.

Shyamalan set a spec deal for the spooky apocalyptic pic at the studio earlier this month (Daily Variety, March 7, 2007).

Wahlberg will play a man who takes his family on the run when the world turns upside and a cataclysmic natural crisis threatens to end the world...

Studio confirmed both Wahlberg and the date.

Twentieth Century Fox has carved out plans to release the film worldwide on Friday, June 13, 2008.

"Friday the 13th has very distinctive, global connotations, which make it the ideal launching pad for this frightening thriller," 20th domestic distribution president Bruce Snyder said in a statement.

At the time that Shyamalan made his deal with Fox, he'd already been making inroads to get Wahlberg aboard the film.


The actor, who just opened in "Shooter," is also getting in the ring with Matt Damon and director Darren Aronofsky on the Paramount film "The Fighter."

"Mark has a unique blend of charisma, humanity, authenticity and skillfulness as an actor," Shyamalan said. "All of which coalesced at this moment in his career, making him the perfect person to take on the role of Eliot Moore, the science teacher at the center of this event."

Here's the complete article....

Shyamalan calls Philadelphia home, having grown up in a suburb of the city, and has shot many of his previous films there as well. As for Wahlbergh, he is no stranger to the area, having made last year's feel good sports flick Invincible in town.

I must admit, as cynical as I am, I can't help but get a little excited, when I hear that folks from tinseltown are going to be playing in my neck of the woods.

Time Heals All Wounds

Jim Carrey is looking to put an end to his career slump by returning to his comedic roots. His most recent film, the Joel Schumacher helmed thriller, The Number 23 totally tanked at the cineplex...

Pamela McClintock and Michael Fleming of Variety have details on the hopeful fix

Jim Carrey is looking to become a house husband in comedy "Me Time" for 20th Century Fox.

Principato-Young is producing with Carrey. Fox picked up the spec script from writing duo Ian Roberts and Jay Martel to develop into a feature for Carrey to topline.

Story revolves around a writer penning a book about his great-great-grandmother, a frontier woman. When his pregnant wife has to go on bed rest, leaving him to care for the house and their other child, his confidence is shaken as he reads his ancestor's diary, in which she describes raising a family, plowing the fields and taming the wild environs.

Carrey is coming off New Line 's "The Number 23," which has fizzled at the domestic B.O. with $35 million.

Last year, two Carrey projects were shelved over budget concerns, "Used Guys" at Fox and Sony and "Ripley's Believe It or Not! " at Paramount. Then he voluntarily pulled himself out of Focus Features' "A Little Game" weeks before it was set to start shooting. (Cameron Diaz pulled out at the same time.)

"Ripley's," however, is back on track, with Carrey and director Tim Burton aboard again. Par decided to resurrect the project and hired scribe Steve Oedekerk to rewrite the script. Oedekerk's take is due to be delivered in the next couple of weeks.

Read the entire article...

While comedy is indeed Carrey's forte--it's no longer a sure bet that Jimbo will have a hit--just the same. Witness the poor performance of his last yuks flick Fun With Dick And Jane--which was really disappointing, in that, it wasn't at all that funny.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Soldier's Story...

Garth Franklin of Dark Horizons:

Escape Artists has acquired the rights to Dana Canedy's first-person essay published in January in the New York Times as a producing and potential starring vehicle for Denzel Washington [pictured] reports Reuters.



[Writer] John Burnham Schwartz ("Reservation Road") has been tapped to adapt the story about a journal penned by a solider who died just before finishing his tour of duty in Iraq.

The journal was written for his son who was born after he had left for the Middle East and aimed to impart words of wisdom to his son.

Sony Pictures is expected to distribute the film

Anyone who has the soldier's Journal in the NYT already knows how powerful the material is. Washington would certainly be up to the challenge of bringing this emotional story to the big screen.

Good "Night" And Good Luck

A recent Oscar winner is not resting on his success...


Pamela McClintock and Michael Fleming of Variety

Forest Whitaker [pictured] is getting ready to patrol with Keanu Reeves in "The Night Watchman" the James Ellroy-scripted drama that David Ayer will direct.

Pic, co-financed by Fox Searchlight and New Regency, begins production May 21...

Reeves was set last month (Daily Variety, Feb. 21) to play a member of an elite group of LAPD cops who questions the ruthless tactics he has used to become such an effective force in solving murders and battling gang violence and drugs. Whitaker will play a captain of the elite unit called Ad/Vice.

For Whitaker, film deal would mark his first major pact since he won the Oscar for "Last King of Scotland."

Whitaker is set to star with Kate Beckinsale in the Rowan Woods-directed indie "Winged Creatures." He is also producing the Tim Bui-directed indie "Powder Blue"

Whitaker is a great addition to that "Watchman" project. His casting sets up an interesting dynamic for him working with Reeves. The chemistry between both actors will be key...Hopefully it won't be in short supply. Even though he's been around awhile-Reeves has a great opportunity to take it to the next level here. I hope he doesn't let it go to waste with Whitaker watching his back.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Movie Mystery

The Sleuth remake has already finished filming (Boy, that was fast, wasn't it?) and is ready to start its last leg of the pre-release phase.

Archie Thomas of Variety offers the update:

Paramount Pictures Intl has acquired U.K., Australia, New Zealand and South Africa distribution rights to Jude Law starrer "Sleuth ," helmed by Kenneth Branagh.

Pic stars Law as an out-of-work actor who becomes embroiled in a tense game of cat and mouse with Michael Caine's wealthy thriller writer character.

The movie, which recently finished filming at London's Twickenham Studios, is an updated version of
Anthony Shaffer's play from a new script by Harold Pinter -- his first screenplay in a decade...

Sony Pictures Classics snapped up North American and Latin American rights to the film in January.

Joseph L. Mankiewicz' 1972 big screen adaptation of the original Shaffer play, which starred Caine and Laurence Olivier, earned four Oscar nominations...



I love the original! While I have faith in Branagh to turn out a good flick--Law has been phoning in his career of late-It's going to be interesting to see if KB can help Law regain his footing.

Final Round?

A director for that Matt Damon/Mark Wahlberg boxing movie may be officially announced very soon...And the guy in the thick of it--is a surprise--when you consider his previous films.

Pamela McClintock and Michael Fleming of Variety:

Darren Aronofsky [pictured] is in talks to direct Mark Wahlberg and Matt Damon in boxing drama "The Fighter" for Paramount Pictures.

"In Talks"

Pic would mark Aronofsky's studio project. Sci-fi romancer "The Fountain" fell flat at the box office when Warner Bros. Pictures released it fall.

Project is based on the rise of Boston boxer "Irish" Micky Ward, who nabbed the world lightweight title with the help of his once down-and-out half-brother Dicky, who became a trainer.

While Par would look for Aronofsky to turn in a pic with broad appeal, he isn't necessarily expected to take a traditional approach...

Wahlberg and Damon are ready to commit to making "Fighter" their next movie if they like a rewrite that scribe
Paul Attanasio is doing.

If the two thesps give their OK, lensing could begin in early summer in Massachusetts.

Attanasio, who will focus on the themes of brotherhood and redemption, is rewriting a draft by , Eric Johnson and Paul Tamasy.

Attanasio recently adapted
John Steinbeck 's "East of Eden" for Imagine.

Aronofsky's other directing credits are "
Requiem for a Dream" and "Pi"

While I enjoyed Pi and "Requiem", and did not see "Fountain", Aronofsky would indeed seem an unlikely choice for "Fighter" That said, this is his chance to break out and increase his appeal beyond his core of followers...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Men At Work

Pamela McClintock of Variety reports that another cinematic reunion is in the works...

Martin Scorsese is looking to direct Leonardo DiCaprio in the film adaptation of Jordan Belfort' s upcoming tell-all autobiography "The Wolf of Wall Street" for Warner Bros. Pictures, with "The Sopranos" scribe Terence Winter aboard to write.

Leo And Marty Are Set To Do A 4th Film Together

Alexandra Milchan. will produce with DiCaprio's [production company] Appian Way, which has a first-look deal with Warners. Scorsese's Sikelia Productions is attached to produce.

It's unknown, however, where "Wolf" stands on the list of potential directing projects that have been announced for Scorsese since the Academy Awards.

Deal with Warners for "Wolf" was consummated Friday night, following a brief but aggressive bidding war between Warners and Appian on one side and Paramount Pictures and Brad Pitt's [production company] Plan B on the other.

Plan B wanted to produce for Par, where that shingle is based. Pitt wasn't necessarily attached to star.

...no official deals are in place for Scorsese to direct or DiCaprio to star.

In "Wolf of Wall Street" DiCaprio would play Belfort, a Long Island penny stockbroker who served 20 months in prison for refusing to cooperate in a massive 1990s securities fraud case that involved widespread corruption on Wall Street and in the corporate banking world, including mob infiltration....


Like "Catch Me If You Can," "Wolf" would be a two-hander with a key part for a second star: Much of the film would hinge on Belfort's relationship with the FBI agent who tried to make him an informant.

The bidding war between Paramount and Warners was preemptive, meaning that other studios didn't have the chance to bid.

Par does have the option to co-finance half of any project that Scorsese directs or produces elsewhere under the terms of its recently inked first-look deal with the filmmaker. A signed deal has to be in place before Par's option kicks in.


Scorsese has strong ties at Warners, where he made "The Departed" which earned him his first Oscar for director, along with the best pic prize. Paramount topper Brad Grey, then a producer, brought Scorsese aboard "Departed."

DiCaprio's next [movie] will be the film adaptation of Richard Yates' 1961 tome "Revolutionary Road," reuniting him with Kate Winslet.

Here's the complete story...

This news, is of course, not a surprise. Given how Scorsese and DiCaprio feel about working with each other--I'm surprised the announcement took this long...

The "Wolf" autobio hits bookstores this Fall...

To "Shell" And Back

After 2 weeks on top, the Spartans of 300 finally met their defeat, settling for second place at the hands of those sewer dwelling Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles...

Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo:

Coming out of its shell with an estimated $25.5 million, TMNT stood out among six new wide releases, while 300 stayed strong in its third frame...

More Mojo can be found here...



Ian Mohr of Variety:

Over a weekend that one studio exec dubbed "a car crash" at the multiplexes -- as six new major movies careered into theaters -- CG-animated "TMNT," the latest installment in the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" franchise, came out on top.

The fourth pic in the Turtles saga, from Warner Bros. and the Weinstein Co., debuted to $24.4 million in the U.S. and Canada. It was one of three PG-rated movies to roll out over the latest frame.

Pic managed to displace Warners' own "300" from the top of the heap; the dark, R-rated action epic fell to No. 2 in its third frame.

"TMNT" took a sharp bite out of other new releases -- Paramount's Mark Wahlberg actioner "Shooter," New Line's fantasy pic "The Last Mimzy" and Sony's Adam Sandler drama "Reign ver Me" -- as it unexpectedly reeled in adults that had grown up on the franchise for solid nighttime biz.

"It soaked up a lot of business, and more than anyone expected," said a distribution exec at a rival studio of the Turtles pic. "They did business late at night, and in ethnic markets, so this was a movie that wasn't just for kids."

Overall B.O. jumped appreciably, as the top 10 combined for $120.5 million, up from $100.7 million a week ago. Top 10 over the same frame last year accounted for just $95 million, with Universal's "Inside Man" topping the charts then.

While it dropped to No. 2, "300's" ticket sales dipped just 38% from the previous frame; cume is $162.3 million after three weekends in theaters.

Disney's "Wild Hogs," in its fourth frame, was another solid holdover, barely missing the No. 3 slot as ticket sales slipped just 25% from the previous frame. Cume is $123.8 million.

The R-rated "Shooter" barely edged out "Hogs," landing in third place by about $139,000 over the weekend, according to studio estimates. Pic, which stars Wahlberg and Danny Glover, debuted to $14.5 million at 2,806, averaging $5,168 per theater.

New Line's kidlit adaptation "The Last Mimzy" -- which, like "TMNT," was gunning for the family crowd with a PG rating -- bowed to $10.2 million from 3,017. Pic was helmed by studio co-topper Bob Shaye and was likely dented in its bow by "TMNT's" surprise surge.

Further down the charts, Sony's "Reign Over Me," an R-rated drama with Adam Sandler in a serious role, bowed at No. 8, taking in just $8 million from 1,671 for a per-theater average of $4,788.

Movie's perf was way off from Sandler's usual comedic efforts. His last, "Click," opened to $40 million for Sony last summer. "Reign," a limited rollout as compared with Sandler's broader pics, was more in line with his past dramatic vehicles. His 2004 film "Spanglish" opened to $8.8 million in 2004, and the more experimental "Punch Drunk Love" bowed to $4 million when it debuted in 2002.

Auds haven't exactly been turning out in droves this year to see comedians in serious fare; Jim Carrey starrer "The Number 23" also failed to generate big digits.

Yet another opener, Fox's horror sequel "The Hills Have Eyes 2," slashed an even $10 million in its debut to land in seventh place. Pic was off from the previous installment's opening of $15.7 million just a year ago. Sequel was modestly budgeted at around $15 million.

Rounding out the new wide releases, Lionsgate sports drama "Pride" wasn't able to get much traction in its first frame. Movie, about an urban swimming squad, floated to $4 million from 1,518 for a per-theater average of $2,635.

With so many new releases butting heads in theaters, other pics were sent sliding off the charts...

The complete article can be found here...

And finally, Entertainment Weekly's Joshua Rich writes in his weekend wrap-up:

The animated kids' flick earns $25.5 mil, while ''300'' and ''Wild Hogs'' stay strong

Who knew the TMNT's still had an fan following this big? I sure didn't think the new film would so as well as it did...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Costume Party

Have you ever wanted to own a piece of movie history? For me, as a movie buff, the answer to that question is yes. It's too bad that the items discussed in this Sci-fi Wire story are more than a little out of my current price range...Sigh.

Christopher Reeve's costume from the first Superman movie and a Batsuit worn by Batman Forever star Val Kilmer are among the rare items being offered for auction by
Profiles In History on April 5.

Reeve's red-and-blue suit from 1978's Superman is expected to fetch between $50,000 and $70,000, as is Kilmer's costume.

Superman's Active Wear Is going On The Block

Also for sale in the auction, which begins at 11 a.m. PT, is a Wicked Witch of the West "Winkie" guard costume from The Wizard of Oz ($100,000-$120,000).

Profiles in History's 27th auction includes Superman producer Ilya Salkind's collection, featuring Yvonne Blake's costume designs for Reeve as the Man of Steel and Marlon Brando as Jor-El; the original unpublished archive of transcripts of his brainstorming meetings with writer Mario Puzo discussing the genesis of Superman; and his personal copy of the Superman script.

The auction will also feature Leonard Nimoy's Spock tunic from the first season of Star Trek ($30,000-$50,000), an HR Giger Alien creature suit (100,000-$120,000), Arnold Schwarzenegger's costume from Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines ($20,000-$30,000), Hugh Jackman's Wolverine claws from X2 ($10,000-$12,000), Samuel L. Jackson's stunt-fighting lightsaber from Star Wars: Episode II Attack Of The Clones ($40,000-$60,000) and the Staff of Ra headpiece from the original Raiders of the Lost Ark ($60,000-$80,000).

Wow! What an auction that's going to be! And the blurb doesn't even include the non-fanboy items up for grabs....Obviously, the Superman stuff would top my wish list, for sure. My other big want would have to be that Staff of Ra headpiece from Raiders.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Driver's Licence

The casting of Emile Hirsch was confirmed on Friday...He is indeed going to be Speed Racer...

New York Stories

Given my recent opinion over plans for a new version of Escape from New York, I was more than curious to know what Kurt Russell, who starred in the original, thought of the idea.

Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly must have read my mind...

For movie geeks of a certain age — and let's be honest, a certain gender — Kurt Russell's eyepatch-wearing badass Snake Plissken in Escape from New York is, was, and ever shall be the epitome of cool.

So when Variety reported last week that a remake of the 1981 John Carpenter classic was in the works with Scottish actor (and newly minted 300 star) Gerald Butler as the new Snake, a collective grumbling could be heard. Well, it turns out the diehard fans aren't the only ones grumbling: Russell isn't exactly thrilled about the idea either.

During an interview with Entertainment Weekly about his upcoming role in Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's Grindhouse (which opens April 6), Russell sounded off on Hollywood's shameless addiction to remakes, why they seem to be picking on his old movies in particular, and why Snake Plissken absolutely has to be played by an American actor.

The One True Snake-Kurt Russell

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Over the past couple of months, Variety has reported that Hollywood is remaking The Thing and now Escape From New York. What's your take on that?
KURT RUSSELL: [Laughs] They're remaking everything I've ever done.

Some people are really attached to those movies.

Yeah, I think that's what happens to people as they get older, they get territorial and proprietary about these things. However, I will say that when I was told who was going to play Snake Plissken, my initial reaction was ''Oh, man!'' [Russell winces]. I do think that character was quintessentially one thing. And that is, American.

What other films of yours have been remade?

They remade a couple of Disney films that I made — Kirk Cameron did The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. They made Backdraft into two television series, Rescue Me and Third Watch, both of which I never saw. They did Stargate.

But messing with Snake Plissken is a whole different level of heresy...

People come up to me and say, ''You played Snake Plissken.'' I didn't play Snake Plissken, I created him! Goldie [Hawn] and I were talking the other day about this, and I said, ''Man, this is weird, isn't it?'' And she said, ''When they were going to do a remake of Private Benjamin, I thought, 'I didn't play Private Benjamin, I created that role!''' I did Wyatt Earp — there's only been 50 of those. But I'll tell you what, I'll put my Wyatt Earp up against anybody's. I'll put my MacCready [his character in The Thing] up against anybody's.

What if they asked you to do a cameo in the new Escape from New York, or play the Ernest Borgnine role?

F--- that! I am Snake Plissken! It's like Sean Connery always watching someone else do their version of Bond. I think one of the things, for instance, about Escape From New York that appealed to me was that it wasn't a special effects extravaganza. It's a quiet, dark world and it revolved around watching the behavior of this one guy. He's a fascinating character. In fact, he's the most complex character I've ever played.


It's nice to know that Russell basically agrees with me...

Meanwhile, original "Escape" writer/director John Carpenter talks of his role behind the scenes on the updated film. In the Suicide Girls interview he says, the new flick looks to be more of a prequel, than remake per se'

"I don’t know that it’s a remake. I think it’s a lot about Snake before he gets to New York" says Carpenter.

The director is also perfectly candid about his involvement - "My main involvement is I read the scripts and make sure the character is the same character that we wrote originally. I think that would be cool. My other main involvement in this project is to extend my hand and have a check placed in it...After 30 odd years of being in the f***ing business, it’s nice to not have to do anything and get paid."


Prequel?! Sheesh!

Carpenter has had the same "collect a check" attitude about all of those films of his that are being remade. And while I think I can safely say, if that were me, I doubt I would be willing to hand off my filmography so easily...At least he's honest about his motives--A true rarity in Hollywood.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Road Crew

After 10 years apart, a popular on screen duo are set to work again, with a guy named Sam in between them.

Pamela McClintock of Variety:

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are teaming for the first time since "Titanic" to star in DreamWorks',"Revolutionary Road."



Kate And Leo Ready To Hit The Road

Sam Mendes will direct the pic, based on the acclaimed 1961 novel by Richard Yates about post-war disillusionment.

John N. Hart, Scott Rudin, Bobby Cohen and Mendes, who's married to Winslet, will produce in association with BBC Films

Yates' heart-rending and bleak tome, celebrated for its storytelling style, follows a seemingly happy suburban couple with two children in the mid-1950s who find themselves caught between their true desires and the pressure to conform -- with explosive consequences...

Mendes begins lensing this summer from an adapted screenplay by scribe
Justin Haythe, said DreamWorks chair-CEO Stacey Snider.

Winslet and DiCaprio have each worked continuously since 1997's "Titanic," but never together. "Road" marks the first time that Mendes has directed either star.

Mendes has longtime ties to DreamWorks, having directed his first film, "American Beauty," there. He also directed "Road to Perdition " for the studio and is producing two DreamWorks films that will be released later this year, "Things We Lost in the Fire " and "The Kite Runner"

Whatever negatives a few folks have ever said about Titanic over the years, since its debut, you can't deny that DiCaprio and Winslet shared a lot of on screen chemistry...And it's only gonna get stronger with a talented guy like Mendes calling the shots.

The Cinema Six Plus 1

The box office race gets very crowded this weekend with no less than six high profile releases and one indie...

All hoping to topple 2-time champ 300...




The heroes on a half shell are back CGI-style the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (reviews) are back (pictured); Fighting for those Kiddie bucks is The Last Mimzy (reviews); Fresh off of his Oscar nomination, Mark Wahlberg teams with Antoine Fuqua for Shooter (reviews); The horror sequel The Hills Have Eyes 2 (reviews) hopes to scare the teen crowd; While Adam Sandler gets serious with Don Cheadle for the 9/11 themed drama Reign Over Me (reviews)--duking it out with the inspirational Pride (reviews) for the adult crowd; And Color Me Kubrick (reviews), starring the great John Malkovich finally gets a shot after a long wait...

Ian Mohr and Dave McNary of Variety:

This weekend's box office begs many questions.

Do kids still dig those "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"? Will Adam Sandler fans buy the funnyman as a widower coping in the aftermath of 9/11? Can Mark Wahlberg capitalize on his "The Departed" success? And can "300" and "Wild Hogs" hold up?

The weekend will prove a free-for-all as no fewer than six wide releases roll out, while standing in their way are a few of the year's biggest hits to date.

A pack of films aimed at families will hit the B.O. over a crowded frame, led by a wildcard, the animated "Turtles" pic.

Franchise has reeled in $256 million at the domestic B.O. from three pics, but the last installment in that hit series came 14 years ago. Warner Bros. and the Weinstein Co. are hoping that this outing will bring in new young auds as well as nostalgic fans.

Aiming for the same aud will be New Line's "The Last Mimzy," a kidlit adaptation helmed by studio co-head Bob Shaye. According to tracking, pic has been catching up with "TMNT," which should have the edge.

"TMNT" comes out of its shell into 3,110 theaters; "Mimzy" counters in 3,017.

Lionsgate, meanwhile, will plunge into 1,518 theaters with its PG-rated, urban-skewing sports drama "Pride."

Aiming for older auds with R-rated pics, Sony sends out the Sandler drama "Reign Over Me," while Paramount will roll out the Wahlberg actioner "Shooter" and Fox Atomic opens "The Hills Have Eyes 2."

Sandler's last pic, "Click," clocked in at $137.3 million, but "Reign," opening at 1,671, puts the comic in a straight dramatic role for helmer Mike Binder. Sandler's last dramatic film, "Spanglish," brought in $42.7 million in 2004.

Fox's first "Hills Have Eyes" horror remake chopped up $41.7 million for the studio a year ago.

Any new pics gunning for auds over 18 will have to tussle with Warner Bros.' R-rated battle epic "300," which attempts to retain its No. 1 title for the third straight frame
.

The article continues here...

Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly thinks that:

TMNT looks primed for an explosive debut, well out of range of Wahlberg's ''Shooter'' and those plucky Spartans...Read more of Rich here...

It's been awhile since the turtles were on the big screen. It will be interesting to see how much of a factor they are.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Peek-A-Boo

Some trailer news for 2 high profile films:

Comcast will premiere the final "Spider-Man 3" trailer online tomorrow at spiderman3oncomcast.com. Spidey 3 opens May 4th 2007...



According to Rob Zombie's blog, the first trailer for his version of "Halloween" will be attached to prints of "Grindhouse".



Michael Myers new killing spree starts on August 31st 2007

Look for Grindhouse to hit theaters on April 6th 2007.

What I Really Want To Do Is Direct

Another Hollywood star is going to take a turn in the director's chair.

Michael Fleming and Diane Garrett of Variety:

Russell Crowe will make his feature directorial debut on Universal and Imagine Entertainment's "Bra Boys," a fact-based drama about a counterculture movement in a surf community in Australia.

Brian Grazer will produce. Stuart Beattie ("Collateral") will pen the screenplay.

The studio will base the film on the "Bra Boys" documentary that focuses on Sunny, Koby and Jai Abberton, three brothers who began the underground surfer movement in the inner-Sydney seaside suburb of Maroubra.

Docu addresses the triumphs of the large, rough-and-tumble group, as well as their social struggles. Crowe narrated the docu. It is unclear whether he will play a role in the film.

Beattie, Crowe and Grazer will also draw from a nonfiction book about the Bra Boys that's in the works.


Deal marks another Crowe collaboration with Imagine's Grazer and Ron Howard. After toplining "A Beautiful Mind" and "Cinderella Man" Crowe most recently starred with Denzel Washington in the Ridley Scott-directed Imagine drama ",American Gangster" which Universal will distribute in the fall. Separately, Crowe most recently starred with Christian Bale in the James Mangold-directed "3:10 to Yuma," to be distributed by Lionsgate ...

To be honest, I'm much more excited about Crowe teaming up with Denzel again...Remember 1995's Virtuosity--a sci-fi flick that helped launch Crowe's U.S. career. Both have come a long way. And then there's 3:1o with Bale...I wish Crowe luck though, as he takes the plunge, in the big chair.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Boss Is Put To Work...Again

One of the benefits of being both an actor, and owning a movie studio, is that you'll have a steady stream of scripts/projects at your door. Meaning you will always have first look before anyone else. Must be nice...

Michael Fleming of Variety:

United Artists has set Tom Cruise to star for director Bryan Singer in the untitled WWII thriller that will begin production in the summer.

Since Cruise and C/W partner Paula Wagner took [former] MGM topper Harry Sloan's offer last fall to resuscitate the UA label and make four to six films per year, Cruise has taken a starring role in the first two pictures.

Chris McQuarrie wrote the script with Nathan Alexander. Singer and McQuarrie will produce, and Alexander will be co-producer.

UA partners Cruise and Wagner made a deal last week for the film (Daily Variety, March 14), which is the first original project teaming Singer and McQuarrie since "The Usual Suspects."

....At the time UA made the deal, Cruise sparked to it only as a project for the studio. That changed quickly. The thriller is based on actual events, as German generals hatch a scheme to assassinate Adolph Hitler at the height of WWII. In subsequent meetings, Singer asked Cruise if he wanted to play a central role and he agreed Tuesday.

"After reading the script, Tom and I knew immediately that this was a film we had to make," Wagner said. "As an added bonus, because of Bryan Singer's involvement and Tom's admiration for him as a filmmaker as well as the excellence of the script, the project attracted Tom as an actor. I cannot think of a more perfect combination of creative elements for our second production."

While the thriller is framed in Europe during WWII, it is a relatively inexpensive film compared with the tentpoles that Singer has directed recently. It also has the ensemble character intrigue present in "The Usual Suspects."


I guess this is a good thing for Cruise, who in my opinion, is still trying to repair his public image after a tough 2006.

Sir Speedy?

Brothers Andy and Larry Wachowski may have found their Speed Racer...And it's not the same actor that made the rumor rounds last week.

Pamela McClintock and Michael Fleming of Variety:

Emile Hirsch is in final talks to star in the Wachowski brothers' "Speed Racer" for producer Joel Silver and Warner Bros. Pictures, putting the tentpole project into full throttle.

Hirsch Almost In The Driver's Seat

Based on the 1960s Japanese cartoon series by anime pioneer Tatsuo Yoshida, pic will follow the adventures of the youthful Speed -- played by Hirsch -- as he tries to obtain victory in his tricked-out Mach 5 race car, built by his father.

Speed is often bailed out of danger by Racer X, a rival with a mysterious connection to Speed. Part has not been cast.

Warners recently moved up the opening date of "Speed Racer" two weeks to May 9, 2008 and will release it day-and-date in most international markets.

Film marks Larry and Andy Wachowski's first directing effort since the
"Matrix" trilogy, which Silver produced through his Warners-based Silver Pictures banner. The brothers penned 2005's "V for Vendetta."

Warners and Village Roadshow Pictures are co-financing "Speed Racer," which begins production this summer
...

The full article can be found here...

Hirsch has been in some high profile flicks over the last few years...but as of yet, hasn't really become a household name, by any means. This would certainly change things, in that regard, if he does the flick.

Green Means Go

Another super hero is headed to the cineplex.

Diane Garrett and Dave McNary of Variety:

After years of buzzing around development circles and different studios, "The Green Hornet"(pictured) is finally on its way to the big screen.

Columbia Pictures, gearing up for the May 4 debut of its "Spider-Man 3," has optioned rights to the property, with Neal H. Moritz and his Original Film banner to produce the feature adaptation
.

"The Green Hornet" follows the adventures of Brit Reid, a millionaire publisher who moonlights as a masked crime fighter. It started as a radio serial hatched by "Lone Ranger," creators George W. Trendle and Fran Striker in 1936 -- traveling to comic book, film and TV by the 1960s -- but recent attempts to develop it for the big screen hadn't panned out.





The property had been in development at Universal and Miramax, with Kevin Smith developing it for the latter studio a few years ago (Daily Variety, Feb. 18, 2004). Moritz obtained the film rights and optioned them to Sony, where he's based.

George Clooney was at one time attached but opted out to star in "The Peacemaker." Mark Wahlberg, Jake Gyllenhaal and Jet Li also were rumored to have been involved at one time or another.

Moritz said he's been a fan of "The Green Hornet" since seeing the '60s live-action TV series that starred
Van Williams and Bruce Lee, and he's been trying to get the rights for years.

Moritz expects to get the project out to writers in the next few weeks...

As a kid, I enjoyed watching reruns of the Hornet on TV...I wonder if the concept will be updated for modern audiences, or will it go for that retro-vibe ala The Shadow film of 1994 and The Phantom flick from 1996?

Stay Tuned...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Prime Time

Adam Dawtrey of Variety, reports that another one of Britain's famous female leaders, is going to have a film made about her:

First it was Queen Elizabeth II now ex-prime minister Margaret Thatcher is to get the big screen treatment.

Pathe, one of the financiers of "The Queen," has teamed with BBC Films to develop a script about Thatcher, focusing on the 17 days before the Falklands War in 1982.

Brian Fillis will pen the script. He made his screenwriting debut last year with BBC TV biopic "Fear of Fanny," about TV cook Fanny Craddock.

Producer of the Thatcher project is Damian Jones ("The History Boys"), who devised the concept with Fillis.

The Falklands War was a watershed in Thatcher's career. She was deeply unpopular after her first couple of years as British prime minister, but her fortunes were transformed by the Argentine invasion of the Falklands, a British territory, and her bold decision to send a task force to the South Atlantic to recapture the islands
.


Lady Thatcher

I wonder if Helen Mirren will want to play another powerful woman of British history? If not, perhaps her recent Oscar rival Judi Dench, would want the job?

More Rumor Whiplash

It seems that, denying rumors about films based on comic books, has become a popular sport in Hollywood of late...

John August, who is writing the proposed Shazam! movie, denied rumors that Jake Gyllenhaal, was under consideration for the role of Captain Marvel in a post on his official blog. The rumor was first reported in the New York Daily News by columnists Rush & Molloy and not, as August wrote, on the Internet.

"But the thing is, he's not considering," August wrote. "I can pretty much assure you he's never heard of the project. And we've never discussed him. We've never seriously discussed anyone."

August added: "After several months of meetings, casting has come up exactly zero times. There's no casting list. If there were a list, Gyllenhaal's name would probably be on it, but trust me: There is no list. There's no start date, no release date, no movie whatsoever. There's just a script to be written. Which I should probably get back to." Just

I find it odd that, while August denies that a list of casting choices exists--he still says, if there was one, JG would most likely be on it.

The thing is lists like this are generated all the time on almost every film in development...And the source in The New York Daily article is anonymous...It's in August's best interest to deny everything at this early stage in the process, anyway.

Anyone out there want to deny JG's up for Spider-Man?

RIP Stuart Rosenberg (1927-2007)


Stuart Rosenberg, who directed such film classics as 1967's Cool Hand Luke (and my personal favorite) with Paul Newman and the prison drama Brubaker (1980), starring Robert Redford, died of a heart attack last week at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 79 years old.

He also directed the 1979 horror film, The Amityville Horror, that became a nationwide phenomenon, and spawned several pointless sequels....

Rosenberg also had a prolific career in television, helming 5 segments of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, 3 episodes of the original Twilight Zone, and 15 episodes of The Untouchables.

His final film was 1991's father/son drama My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys

Read the E News tribute...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Foreseeable Future

Noted director and producer Michael Bay has been spending his time, working in either the horror or sci-fi genres, over the last few years.... It's a trend that is going to continue...

Pamela McClintock and Dave McNary have the story in Variety:

[Bay] is attached to reteam with writing-producing duo Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci on sci-fi project "2012," based on bestselling author Whitley Strieber's upcoming tome of the same name, for Warner Bros.

Story follows an academic researcher who opens a portal into a parallel universe and makes contact with his double in order to stop an apocalypse foreseen by the ancient Mayans.

Kurtzman and Orci, who penned Bay's upcoming DreamWorks tentpole "Transformers" and brought the director aboard "2012," will produce.

Warners nailed down the film rights to Strieber's book on Friday and continues negotiations with Orci, Kurtzman and Bay.

Bay is in post with "Transformers." He was last in theaters with "The Island."...

Strieber has several projects set up at other studios, including Sony's adaptation of his "The Grays," which Cary Brokaw is producing and scribe Ken Nolan adapting. His tome "The Day After Tomorrow" was the inspiration for Fox's film of the same name...


It's a shame that a writer as well respected as Whitley Strieber had The Day After Tomorrow as his first Hollywood experience...And Bay needs his fans to forget the bad vibes left by The Island....Although, I'm pretty sure Transformers will go a long way in making that happen, and that, by the time 2012 gets rolling, he will be forgiven for the Island miss-step.

2012: The War for Souls hits bookstores in October of this year...

Battle Of Glory

As expected, 300 continued it's reign as the top film in the U.S., leaving all others in its rear view mirror...

Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo:

300 ruled again, tumbling to an estimated $31.2 million, while Wild Hogs held second and Premonition opened solidly...

Keep the mojo flowing here

Ian Mohr of Variety:

Helmer Zack Snyder's ancient epic "300" ruled again over the weekend, plowing through another $31.1 million to raise its two-frame cume to a hulking $127.4 million.

Disney's "Wild Hogs" revved its engine yet again behind "300" as new entries had to settle for bows lower down on the charts.

Biz on Warner Bros.' "300" dropped 56% from its opening frame. Studio brass said that ticket sales on the male-skewing "300" were slightly stunted by the NCAA tourney and
St. Patrick's Day bar-hopping, alternatives competing for guys' attention over the weekend.

Even so, the graphic novel adaptation had the heftiest per-theater average of any pic in the top 10, at $9,537.

Coming in at No. 2 for the second straight frame, bikers-in-midlife-crisis pic "Hogs" raced to $18.8 million and raised its cume to $103.9 million in three weekends of release.

Pic has been yet another unlikely hit this year, along with "300" and Sony's "Ghost Rider," which shot past the $200 million mark worldwide over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Sony's "Premonition," which bowed in 2,831 locations, finished third with $18 million -- the biggest opening weekend ever for star Sandra Bullock. (Thesp's previous high was the $16.1 million bow for "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" in 2002).

PG-13 pic "Premonition," from the studio's TriStar label and budgeted at around $20 million, follows Bullock as a housewife who keeps reliving the day her husband dies. Women comprised 66% of the movie's aud.

Among other new openers, Universal's horror pic "Dead Silence," by "Saw" helmer James Wan, finished in fourth with $7.7 million off 1,803.

Chris Rock's latest comedy, "I Think I Love My Wife," took fifth in its Fox Searchlight bow , saying "I do" to $5.7 million off 1,776 for a per-location average of $3,218.

B.O. overall dropped sharply from last frame, when "300" debuted with more than $70 million. But the numbers were still up from last year as 2007 continues to boost biz for Hollywood.

Top 10 pics combined over the frame for $96.4 million, up from $89.7 million over the same frame last year, when "V for Vendetta" opened in the No. 1 spot.

Success of "300" stems in part from boffo biz on Imax screens, dropping just 27% to bring in another $2.6 million. Unit's execs say they're seeing lots of repeat biz on the movie in Imax theaters as they target young males into technology...


The article continues....



EW's Latest Issue Spotlights 300's Success

In Joshua Rich's weekend wrap-up for Entertainment Weekly--he writes:

The action packed flick ''300'' stays strong; meanwhile, Sanda Bullock has the biggest premiere weekend of her career...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Blue Bomb Sequel Still On Target...

Here we go again...another story in Variety is being denied...

Tuesday's reports that the sequel to Superman Returns was gonna be delayed, to allow director Bryan Singer to work on a thriller written by Christopher McQuarrie, may not be true...

According to The Superman Homepage, this claim is false, with Warner Bros. and Singer reportedly on track to start filming Superman: The Man of Steel around March of 2008 as previously planned.


Just In Case:

Brandon Routh and Kate Bosworth Shouldn't Make Any Plans For March '08

Robert Meyer Burnett, who produced the making of doc Requiem for Krypton on the SR 2 disc DVD backs up the homepage in The Planet forums here and here saying:

"I'm ALREADY working on the sequel. Bryan, Brandon and the whole merry bunch will be coming back...and filming will probably begin March, 2008, as was always planned from the beginning. The WWII film Bryan plans to shoot over the summer will have NO EFFECT whatsoever on the Superman sequel schedule."

Sounds like there's no delay after all...Bryan Singer was also working on a Logan's Run remake, all the while prepping SR...Stay Tuned.

Wholesale Hypocrite

Fans of Michael Moore take note. He may enjoy putting politicians, corporations and powerful associations, under the microscope. But when it comes to anyone doing the same to the way he does his thing--He doesn't like it one bit. Who would have guessed?

Christy Lemire, movie writer for The Associated Press:

As documentary filmmakers, Debbie Melnyk and Rick Caine looked up to Michael Moore.

Then they tried to do a documentary of their own about him _ and ran into the same sort of resistance Moore himself famously faces in his own films.

The result is "
Manufacturing Dissent," which turns the camera on the confrontational documentarian and examines some of his methods. Among their revelations in the movie, which had its world premiere Saturday [March 10th] at the South by Southwest film festival: That Moore actually did speak with then-General Motors chairman Roger Smith, the evasive subject of his 1989 debut "Roger & Me," but chose to withhold that footage from the final cut.


Documentarians Michael Moore And Debbie Melnyk In A Polite Exchange

The husband-and-wife directors spent over two years making the movie, which follows Moore on his college tour promoting 2004's "Fahrenheit 9/11." The film shows Melnyk repeatedly approaching Moore for an interview and being rejected; members of Moore's team also kick the couple out of the audience at one of his speeches, saying they weren't allowed to be shooting there.

At their own premiere..., the Toronto-based filmmakers expected pro-Moore plants in the audience heckling or trying to otherwise sabotage the screening, but it turned out to be a tame affair.

"It went really well," Melnyk said. "People really liked the film and laughed at the right spots and got the movie and we're really happy about it."

Moore hasn't commented publicly on "Manufacturing Dissent" and Melnyk thinks he never will. He also hasn't responded to several calls and e-mails from The Associated Press.

"There's no point for Michael to respond to the film because then it gives it publicity," she said.

"(President) Bush didn't respond to `Fahrenheit 9/11,' and there's a reason for that," Caine added.

The two were and still are fans of all his movies _ including the polarizing "Fahrenheit 9/11," which grossed over $119 million and won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival _ and initially wanted to do a biography on him. They traveled to his childhood home of Davison, Mich., visited his high school and traced his early days in politics and journalism.

"The fact that he made documentaries entertaining was extremely influential and got all kinds of people out to see them," said Melnyk, whose previous films with Caine include 1998's "
Junket Whore" "Let's face it, he made documentaries popular and that is great for all documentary filmmakers."

"All of these films _ `Super Size Me,' `An Inconvenient Truth' _ we've all been riding in his wake," said Caine. "There's a nonfiction film revolution going on and we're all beneficiaries of that. For that point alone, he's worth celebrating."

But after four months of unsuccessfully trying to sit down with Moore for an on-camera interview, they realized they needed to approach the subject from a different angle. They began looking at the process Moore employs in his films, and
the deeper they dug, the more they began to question him.

The fact that Moore spoke with Smith, including a lengthy question-and-answer exchange during a May 1987 GM shareholders meeting, first was reported in a Premiere magazine article three years later. Transcripts of the discussion had been leaked to the magazine, and a clip of the meeting appeared in "Manufacturing Dissent." Moore also reportedly interviewed Smith on camera in January 1988 at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York.

Since then, in the years since "Roger & Me" put Moore on the map, those details seem to have been suppressed and forgotten.

"It was shocking, because to me that was the whole premise of `Roger & Me,'" Melnyk said.

She and Caine also had trouble finding people to talk on camera about Moore, partly because potential interview subjects assumed they were creating a right-wing attack piece; as self-proclaimed left-wingers, they weren't.

Despite what they've learned, the directors still appreciate Moore.

"We're a bit disappointed and disillusioned with Michael," Melnyk said, "but we are still very grateful to him for putting documentaries out there in a major way that people can go to a DVD store and they're right up there alongside dramatic features."


I don't care for the way Moore operates. He claims that his films speak truths that the powerful are trying to cover up...And then what does he do? He pulls the same tactics that he righteously tries to expose. If his docs are an honest look at the way things are--What's he afraid of his fans finding out? Did all of the acclaim cause him to turn him into someone he tries to expose.

I may not be Moore's biggest fan but I have always said it's his right to do and say what he wants. He didn't do himself any favors here...Playing right into his critics hands. What a fraud.