Friday film news dump, pre-Halloween edition

christopherlee

So much going on today that, unless my Google Reader is lying to me, not a single one of the many film sites and blogs on my list of usual suspects has mentioned that Christopher freaking Lee was knighted today. (I, however, will be paying my respects in the next post.)

Meanwhile….

* The biggest news of the day was expected, I guess. The New York offices of the once might mini-major Miramax, founded by Harvey and Bob Weinstein and since sold off to Disney, have been closed and the annual slate of films significantly downsized. In addition, the division’s “prexy” Daniel Battsek is stepping down, though he is supposed to be supervising the consolidation of the NYC and L.A. offices through January and no replacement has been set. Not surprising in tough times for “small” films. Anne Thompson partially blames what you might call movie mission creep, among other factors.

The main problem with the studio sub-divisions that are being slashed if not eliminated is that they simply don’t return enough on investment. They inevitably drift away from small-scale divisions that push low-budget films into more ambitious upscale operations with more employees and more overhead. With growth comes bigger budgets, more P & A, wider releases, more grandiose Oscar campaigns and often, smaller profits.

Her entire piece is definitely worth a look as she mentions how even some seemingly successful award pictures as “There Will Be Blood” and “Doubt” became money losers or earned less than you might think due to marketing costs and award campaigns.

* H-town weeps as Hugh Jackman turns down the 2010 Oscar gig. Let’s keep this simple, folks,  just let Neal Patrick Harris do it and make it a clean Tonys-Emmys-Oscar sweep.

Anthony Hopkins* By Odin’s beard, I sure hope Anthony Hopkins doesn’t have a God-complex. Yes, he’ll be the ultimate Norse mythology big cheese, Odin, in the Thor flick to be directed by Kenneth Branagh.

* The death of a well-regarded San Francisco literature professor usually wouldn’t be mentioned on a movie blog or in a major film trade publication. However, since August Coppola was Nicholas Cage‘s father and the brother of Francis Coppola and Talia Shire and the uncle of Sofia and Roman Copolla, it does. Our condolences to easily the most influential single family in recent film history.

* What scares Marty? Except for “Isle of the Dead” which didn’t do much for me and a few of these I haven’t seen, I can definitely go to bat this list — as long as you don’t really need to be scared entirely and completely out of your wits in order to love a horror. (As regular readers know, I don’t.) I particularly dig “The Haunting.” Robert Wise rules.

* What scares me? A few of the free movies you can watch this weekend over at Criterion’s great The Auteurs site definitely qualify, particularly “Eyes Without a Face.”

* Ridley Scott gives a few “Alien” prequel tidbits to Empire magazine.

* The “half-empty” side of 10 “Best Picture” Oscar nominations. Personally, I’m not sure it really matters that much though I definitely agree with Leonard Maltin, David Thomson that the high-quality/mass audience/big studio blockbuster is something of a lost art, for the time being.

* And Christopher Campbell posts his final, Halloween-themed “Today in Film Bloggery” for the about to be ended Spout blog as Karina Longworth has some witty answers to last minute questions. I’m sure we’ll be hearing from them both again.

  

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