Archive for September, 2009

Sweden Fest Makes a Giant Ice Screen

Posted: September 30, 2009 in Movies

Sweden Fest Makes a Giant Ice Screen

Leave it to the Swedes, the home of practical brands like IKEA (furniture), Volvo (cars), Electrolux (appliances) and Ericsson (cell phones) to come up with an ice screen.   The full size movie screen made entirely of ice will be installed November 21st somewhere in Central Stockholm to honor the 20th anniversary of the Stockholm International Film Festival. 

The screen, harvested from ultra-clear slabs of ice from the Torne riverbed in Northernmost Sweden, will weigh ten metric tons and be almost five meters wide (16.40 feet). It will host a screening of two yet to be announced screen classics.

The expertise of the builders of the famous “Ice Hotel” (visit the site at located in Jukkasjarvi in Northern Sweden will be utilized. The screen will cost 500,000 Swedish Crowns ($71,140).

"We wanted to do something spectacular that has never been done before," said Emelie Klein, spokeswoman for the Stockholm International Film Festival in an interview with Nick Vinocur of Reuters.

"It will be the first time a feature film is shown on an ice screen,” she continued.

Is she worried that the screen will melt before the festival was over? "Not worried now, but we may be afterward when we have to take it down."


New New Moon Posters

Posted: September 29, 2009 in Movies

Three “New Moon” Posters Released

Three new “New Moon” posters released today feature Pattinson and Stewart and the Cullen clan; Taylor Lautner and the werewolves; and the nemesis Volturi vampires.

The Cullen poster features Pattinson and Stewart in a love embrace with the Cullen clan in the background sporting the same defiant but supportive stare. Everyone except Jasper Hale (Jackson Rathbone). Is their treachery on his mind?

The werewolf pack poster features a t-shirt wearing but still buff looking Taylor Lautner.

The Volturi brood poster is so Harry Potterish that it could be a Slytherin recruiting ad. There are so many Potter echoes here, that I am not sure this group is even in “New Moon.”


Roman Polanski to Get “His Lifetime Achievement Award” in Jail

Roman Polanski is apparently is going to be a dual award recipient. One award will be for his lifetime work in film.  The other reward will be a lifetime jail cell.  

The 76-year- old director of “Rosemary’s Baby” was attending the Zurich Film Festival  when much to his “Repulsion” (which Polanski also directed) he was taken into custody by Swiss police on a 31-year-old US arrest warrant that asserts he gave drugs and alcohol and had sex with  a 13-year-old during a photo session at Jack Nicholson’s Hollywood home.  The presumably “Frantic” (directed) Polanski had no comment.  

Back in 1978, Polanski proclaimed that the sex was consensual and that she was experienced.   The director spent 42 days in prison undergoing psychiatric testing but fled the country.  His US visa has since been withdrawn.  

In January of this year, Polanski’s victim, Samantha Galley (married name Geimer) now 45 and a mother of three, filed a declaration asking that the charges against Polanski be dismissed in the interest of sparing her further trauma as the case is publicized anew.   Her request and a later request by Polanski also asking for dismissal, were rejected by a California judge. 

"The festival directors have received this news with great consternation and shock," the festival said in a prepared release, adding that the tribute to Polanski would go ahead so that festival-goers could express their solidarity and admiration for the film-maker.


“The Fly” to Fly Again and “A Star Is Born” to Shine Once More

David Cronenberg’s disgust for a “Fly” remake apparently has been swatted down.   The artsy horror film director is in talks with 20th Century Fox (the studio that released his 1986 movie starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis) to develop a reboot of the 1986 classic, according to The Hollywood Reporter.  That film was also a remake of the 1958 Kurt Neumann picture that starred David Hedison and Vincent Price.  Both still creep me out.  

Cronenberg’s involvement with a “Fly” opera apparently unstuck his resolve. The Opera which had its world premiere in Paris on July 2008 and its US debut in Los Angeles on September 2008 was composed by long time Cronenberg workmate Howard Shore.  Their relationship stretches back 12 films to 1979 when Shore composed the soundtrack for “The Brood”. 

So far Cronenberg is only confirmed as a screenwriter.   His involvement as director is being negotiated.

The 1986 film was both a critical and commercial success that made $40 million at the box office and earned an Oscar for best makeup for Chris Walas.   Walas went on to direct the not well received “Fly II” which starred Eric Stoltz and Daphne Zuniga.



The Hollywood Reporter is also noting that Will Fetters has been hired to write the fourth screen iteration of “A Star is Born”.  Fetters also wrote the up coming Robert Pattinson drama “Remember Me”, which just wrapped shooting.

The first “A Star Is Born”, released in 1937 was directed by William Wellman and starred Fredric March and Janet Gaynor as the married starlets with marital troubles.   The picture was nominated for 7 Academy Awards and won one Oscar for its screenplay.  

The 1954 remake was directed by George Cukor and starred James Mason and Judy Garland and was nominated for 6 Academy Awards and won no Oscars. 

The widely panned but huge money earning 1976 third iteration was directed by Frank Pierson and starred Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.  It did manage to earn four Academy nominations in the technical categories of sound and cinematography as well as nods for best original score and song.   “Evergreen”, it’s theme song, won an Oscar for Streisand  and co-composer Paul Williams and became one of the biggest smashes of Streisand’s career. 

Beyonce, whose star turn in “Dreamgirls” charts the same rag to riches course as “A Star Is Born” heroine, has been mentioned as a possible lead.   Like the 1976 version, the newest remake will be set in the world of the music industry rather than Hollywood.  

Warner Brothers will be be making the film with the involvement of Jon Peters, Billy Gerber and Basil Iwanyk as executive producers.  


The New York Film Festival Opens

The 47th New York Film Festival kicks off today with Alain Resnais’ “Wild Grass” as the opening night film and Pedro Almodovar’s  “Broken Embraces” providing the closing night honors.   The centerpiece film will be the Sundance and Toronto  Festival award winning Precious directed by Lee Daniels.  

Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or winner “The White Ribbon” will also be screened.   Also, The Venice Fest Golden Lion film “Lebanon” is one of 28 main slate pictures making their American premieres.  

Other notable films making a festival appearance are Lars von Trier’s controversial horror film “Antichrist”, Marco Bellochio’s drama about Mussolini’s first wife “Vincere”, and Todd Solondz’s well received “Life During Wartime”.

A magnificently restored version of “The Wizard of Oz” is the revival section highlight.   The others:  Henri Georges Clouzot masterpiece “L’Enfer (Inferno), George Marshall’s Raymond Chandler mystery “The Blue Dahlia and a reconstructed version of the silent period “Crossroads of Youth” by the Korean director Cheongchun’s Sipjaro.

The Director’s Dialogues series will feature discussions with Marco Bellochio, Lee Daniels, Claire Denis and Michael Haneke. 

The Masterworks repertory collection will highlight neglected master filmmakers and films from China and India.  “Reinventing China” will feature 20 films from the “Seventeen Year” period- the time from the establishment of the communist People’s Republic of China to the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution.  The Hindi director Guru Dutt (1924-1965), the subject of a recent Film Comment retrospective, will be honored with screenings of nine of his most classic and popular movies.   

You can find the full festival lineup as well as show times and ticket information at the festival’s main sight

Where Goes Bond and “The Hobbit” if MGM Goes into Chapter 11?

There are reports that MGM Studios, (the home of the James Bond series and much anticipated J.R.R. Tolkien “Lord of the Rings” prequel “The Hobbit” to be produced by Peter Jackson and directed by Guillermo Del Torro) is on the verge of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.  Russ Fischer of is reporting that the studio executives held a long conference call with bondholders trying to resolve the issue whether it is better for the company’s lenders to file for bankruptcy or not.  MGM and its valuable film vault has been bought and sold numerous times since the 1980’s resulting in a debt loan and interest payment schedule that is over $4 billion.  The estimated auction value of the studio is about $2 billion, which will go to bondholders if their is a bankruptcy filing.     That definitely means that the company would forfeit the rights to the Bond series.  “The Hobbit”, which MGM is co-financing and distributing outside the US, will be put on hold until a rights sale can be negotiated.   The most likely candidate is New Line/Warner Brothers Pictures.


Twilight finale “Breaking Dawn” Gets a Scribe and Maybe a Sequel

Now Now that Melissa Rosenberg has been set as the screenwriter for “Breaking Dawn” the last book of the Twilight Saga, E! Online is speculating that Rosenberg or the producers will pull a Harry Potter and break the finale into two movies. 

In an interview with Mark Malkin of E!, Rosenberg hinted that while the same cast will return for a fourth go round of the Twilight series, there seems to be a reluctance by some of them to doing a fifth film, even though everyone internally involved with the production is referring the future shoot as the “Breaking Dawn” films- note the plural.  

Of course, everything depends on whether Pattinson, Stewart and Lautner  are willing or can be convinced to sink their teeth into a fifth Twilight.    No director has been announced for the fourth installment.  

“Everything is up in the air,” declared an atypically coy Rosenberg.   

E! Online in a wild bit of speculation threw out Diablo Cody and Taylor Lautner (who has expressed a desire to direct) as possible script and directing choices for the fifth film.   


Barbie to Become a Real Woman

Mattel expressing a desire to make their iconic Barbie doll less plastic has announced a deal with Universal Pictures to do a live-action movie of the dolly’s exploits. Barbie has been featured in 16 direct to video animated titles- not counting the Todd Haynes biopic “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story” which used Barbie and Ken dolls to explore the singer’s collapse into anorexia and death.  The doll  even has her own Facebook page, Twitter account and You Tube channel. 

The Barbie doll and her  120 career wardrobe that stretches from mom, wife, soldier, doctor, nurse, teacher, astronaut to airline pilot has been empowering girls with the idea of some nontraditional career choices for 50 years.  Barbie’s real name is Barbara Millicent Roberts- so a similarly last named actress might be the perfect choice to bring the doll to life.

The Barbie doll enjoys an enviable 99% brand awareness.  Barbie is the number 1 girls property in the toy industry, the top selling doll in the U.S. market and the leading worldwide property in the traditional toy industry. 

“Barbie is the most famous doll in history, a unique cultural icon in the world of brands,” said Universal Pictures chairman Marc Shmuger in an interview with Mike Fleming of Variety.  “So many representations of Barbie frequent pop culture, but never before has she been brought to life in a motion picture. We’re grateful to Mattel for entrusting us with this extraordinary opportunity.”

Schmuger who produced “Julie and Julia” is aligning with Mattel executives Richard Dickson (the Barbie division general manager and a Mattel senior vice president) and Robert Hudnut (the vice president of entertainment for the Barbie brand) to executive produce the feature.  

“The brand wasn’t ready for a movie,” Dickson noted to Fleming. “In the last 10 years, Barbie has evolved from a toy into an intellectual property. We’ve already had enormous success in the entertainment industry. Barbie has a proven track record in home entertainment, there have been live stage shows, live symphonies and other non-traditional forms of entertainment. There is a flagship store in Shanghai. There are a lot of ways we are already communicating with Barbie’s audience, and there is a richness to the brand as an entertainment property.”

Ever the zealous and careful protector of the Barbie brand Dickson concludes the interview noting “The utmost concern is to make sure every detail is right.”  “Rather than a timetable, I’m more interested in making sure we deliver the right product.”


3-D Set for “Titanic” Growth

Posted: September 23, 2009 in Movies

3-D Set for “Titanic” Growth

With 3-D filmmaking becoming a permanent fixture in animation, family and horror films it is not surprising that studios are searching their closet of classics for films that can be updated with this newest accessory.   

The Disney Studios has put the new clothes on Toy Story and Toy Story 2.   The new Stories will be rereleased as a back to back bill that hits 1600 screens October 2nd for a two week run. (Ticket holders will have the option of holding on to their tickets to return one more time during the films run.)   It is all just a small fall preview to the summer unveiling of Toy Story 3 also in 3-D  on June 18th. 

"It’s a huge value proposition for the audience," Disney distribution president Chuck Viane said in an interview with Carl DiOrio of The Hollywood Reporter. "It’s a great day for the family because they can go out and enjoy two movies and have a ball."

Disney has had success in this market before.  The 2006 remastered 3-D version of the Tim Burton produced “The Nightmare Before Christmas” has rung up over $24 million in additional box office from its annual Halloween screenings. 

With the advent of 3-D capable television sets and DVD players scheduled for an early 2010 release, Disney might be positioning itself for an early lead in that much more profitable market.  The 3-D home entertainment platform could establish itself as a permanent household fixture in about 5 years- the same time frame it took the DVD to phase out the VHS video market. 

Until then Disney is being cautious and hasn’t committed other films to a 3-D rerelease.  "We continue to look at past properties to see if we have the right vehicles for this format," Viane said in the same Hollywood Reporter Interview. "But we want to see what happens with these."

At Fox, distribution boss Bruce Snyder said to DiOrio that the studio has "looked at some titles that we could think about maybe doing in 3D."

"You’ve got older teens and early-20s males who are rabid about technology right now," he said. "So it has the possibility of expanding from the family audience into that audience.”

"I know we’re all watching this to see if there’s something there," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said. "The uniqueness of 3D definitely brings something different to the table. But right now it’s wait and see."

At Lightstorm Entertainment, the house that James Cameron built, there is interest in converting some of its films to 3-D.  The Hollywood Reporter noted that Lightstorm has done 3-D tests on “Titanic” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”  “Titanic”, the top grossing film of all time, is seen as the most likely first candidate.

"We are certainly interested in exploring the opportunity to re-release some of Lightstorm’s past films in 3D," Lightstorm partner Jon Landau said to DiOrio of The Hollywood Reporter. "I don’t think it’s too far into the future. We’re pretty far down the road."

With the eagerly awaited Cameron directed 3-D sci-fi  film“Avatar” being released on December 18th, the 3-D film format is poised for explosive growth.   Currently there are less than 2,000 3-D screens in the United States.

While Pixar handled the 3-D conversion for the “Toy Story” films,  ILM based In-Three did the 3-D processing for “The Nightmare Before Christmas” rerelease.  The George Lucas, California based In-Three has worked with other studios to create 3-D masters for new movies being released in a mix of 2-D and 3-D theaters.  Its executives are hopeful that other studios will follow Disney’s 3-D lead. 

" In-Three marketing vice president Damian Wader noted to DiOrio, "If you take a legacy film like ‘Star Wars’ or ‘The Matrix,’ you can’t re-release it in 2D, only 3D."

Noting the cost of conversion and the inevitable growth of 3-D  In-Three’s Wader offered this advice “"If you have the ability to shoot something now in 3D, shoot it in 3D. Then you won’t have to convert it."