Monday movie news

Just a few items on a warm and sunny SoCal Ides of March…

* David Fincher is really keeping busy. I missed the story late Friday about him putting together a new movie iteration of “Heavy Metal.”

The first attempt to transpose the appeal of the legendary European-based anthology comic magazine is pretty much unwatchable these days — I know because I tried and failed to watch it at Comicon a couple of years back — but that’s all the more reason to give it another try I suppose. Considering that the late seventies and early eighties were pretty much the lowpoint of animation and the high end nature of this project, it pretty much has to be an improvement on most levels.

And that’s not all. Having taken on Facebook with Aaron Sorkin, another upcoming project may possibly involve an equally cinematic undertaking: chess.

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* With John Krasinski apparently out of the running for “The First Avenger: Captain America” (a title I’m not fond of, by the way), the Marvel gang has apparently adopted a “nobody excessively interesting” rule in its prospective casting. The latest name being floated: Ryan Phillipe. Still, he played effectively off of Chris Cooper in the highly underrated “Breach,” one of my favorite films of 2007, so perhaps he can do the same with Hugo Weaving here.

* Ben Kingsley and Sacha Baron Cohen are “in talks” to appear in Martin Scorsese’s ambitious, 3-D, meta-film, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret.”  As a Deadline commenter notes, this one appears to be DiCaprio-free, at last. Kingsley and Coehn could make an interesting buddy film.

* Tim Adler of Deadline|London thinks that the success of 3-D screenings of “Avatar” in Europe is funding the growth of digital movie theaters in Europe.

* I’ve said it before, but the career of director David Gordon Green fascinates me. He starts out like an American Vittorio De Sica by way of Terrence Malick with the neo-neo realist “George Washington,” and then transitions to stoner-frat comedies apparently spoofing eighties sword and sorcery flicks. Attention must be paid.

* If you really wanna know more about “penis trauma” and the MPAA ratings system

* Phrases like “penis trauma” aside, SXSW really does sound like the most fun of the festivals, doesn’t it?

  

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Your late night and early morning movie news

John Krasinski* The smart and likable John Krasinski of “The Office” may be out of the running for the Captain America movie though his agent appears to be keeping busy. I take it some fan boys didn’t think he was sufficiently ultra-muscular or traditionally handsome or something enough for the role, but I find that a bit weird — especially considering that Steve Rogers starts out as an ordinary guy and it’s not Krasinski’s McLovin or something. He’d be a good choice and I hope they change their minds.  The other reputed candidates aren’t as well known to me, but the guy from the “Tron: Legacy” trailer certainly doesn’t strike me as anything too special based on what I saw there.

* It used to be that winning the best picture Oscar had major repercussions at the box office. At least for the so-far low-grossing “The Hurt Locker,” that might not be the case, though I’m sure it’s DVD sales will be a lot better than they would have been otherwise. The Iraq war drama appears to be caught in the crossfire between theater owners and studios over DVD releases.

* The show has taken its share of critical lumps, but Sunday’s Oscars did just fine in the ratings.

* Jim Emerson on the latest self-destructive move of Variety. Why do newspapers of all stripes seem to think that increasing prices and decreasing value is the way to salvation? I’d really like to know how that’s supposed to work.

* Howard Stern can be funny, but this item and accompanying clip, about his and cohost Robin Quivers’  nasty, idiotic reaction to “Precious” star Gabourey Sidibe’s career prospects reminds me of what made me dislike him rather strongly back in the day– it’s not just the nastiness, it’s the fact that he doesn’t have a damn clue what he’s talking about. Or is it the case that John Goodman, Chris Farley, John Candy, Victor Buono, Dom De Luise, Nick Frost, Jonathan Winters, Jonah Hill, and countless other, admittedly mostly male, actors who are in the fat-to-obese category have had “no” careers over the last several decades?

Not that overweight actors, especially including severely obese ones like Ms. Sidibe, shouldn’t try to lose weight if they want a larger selection of parts and a longer and healthier life, though it’s always vastly easier said than done. Still, it’s definitely not true that she will “never” work again if she stays at her present weight. She’s already got work on Showtime.

* In Hollywood, imitation is the sincerest form of success envy. And so, it’s possible that Warner Brothers may be looking at the huge first-week success of “Alice in Wonderland” and thinking about going to meet the Wizard. One thing is true — as wonderful as the MGM classic is, the weirdness of the very long series of books has barely been touched by the movies,

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TCA Tour – “The Office” set visit

During my time at the TCA Press Tour, I was fortunate enough to visit the sets of two CBS series (“NCIS: Los Angeles” and “Three Rivers“), two Fox series (“Bones” and “Dollhouse“), and two ABC series (“Castle” and “Private Practice”), but when you get right down to it, my excitement level about all six of those sets probably still didn’t equal out to how psyched I was to visit the set of just one NBC show: “The Office.”

It was an absolutely surreal experience to pull up in front of a building in Valencia, CA, and see a sign which read, “Scranton Business Park,” but it got even more bizarre as we stepped into the Dunder-Mifflin warehouse and immediately saw members of the cast milling about. We were quickly divided into small groups and taken on a tour of the actual Dunder-Mifflin office by cast members, and I was fortunate enough to be part of the group led by Angela Kinsey, who plays Angela Martin on the show.

My wife and I met Angela in 2007 when we attended our first TCA Awards ceremony, as “The Office” had taken home the award for Best Comedy Series that year, so I was already well aware that her real-life personality is the polar opposite of her character’s. She’s constantly laughing, and you could tell that, although she was no doubt drafted into the task of giving us this tour, she loves her job and doesn’t mind talking about it in the slightest. It was incredibly cool to be able to see the intricacies of the various certificates on the walls of the office, as well as the personal photos on each of the desks, but I think my favorite moment was when she told us that Brian Baumgartner, who plays Kevin, still has a post-it on his desk that was written during the very first episode of the show. No, wait, I take that back: it might’ve been when she recited back to us the way she used to have to answer the phone when she was an operator for 1-800-DENTIST. Well, either way, it was a real treat to have her give us the tour personally. We were also given the opportunity to take our photo at Michael Scott’s desk, which I absolutely took advantage of, but all things considered, I think I actually might like this shot from Pam’s desk better:

After the set visit, we returned to the warehouse, where we were each presented with our own nameplates which declared us to be Assistant to the Regional Manager of Dunder-Mifflin…and you can bet that mine sits on my desk at this very moment. From there, we were offered coffee and pastries as we sat down for a Q&A with the cast (minus Rainn Wilson, who wasn’t feeling well) and producers of the show.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

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Box office wrap-up: “Transformers” sequel blows up real good

The news this week is about as simple and unsurprising as you can get: “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” has done some pretty spectacular business, netting an estimate of $201.2 million, just shy of the all-time record $203.8 million “The Dark Knight” earned on its initial five-day release. Could that $2.6 million difference be the difference between outstanding reviews and really bad ones? Nah, but I still wouldn’t be surprised to see a big drop off here, or maybe that’s wishful thinking based on my oft-repeated feelings about this particular franchise.

As per Variety, “The Proposal” came in at the #2 spot, dropping 45% from its opening for $18.5 million in its second week. And this summer’s ongoing audience and critical favorites continue to do outstanding business. “The Hangover” is thought to have taken in $17.2 million in its third week, while “Up” continues to exercise the astonishing power of the Pixar touch in the #4 spot with about $13 million in its fifth week.

This week’s only non-“Transformers” wide release, “My Sister’s Keeper” (referred to by newly rich superblogger Nikki Finke as “simpering,” but which our own Jason Zingale actually kind of liked), came in at the #5 spot with an estimated $12 million. As we mentioned last time, that’s actually a couple million more than some expected.

John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph, It also wasn’t a bad weekend on the indie side. The critically acclaimed Iraq war action-suspense drama, “The Hurt Locker,” performed well in its four theaters on the coasts, netting about $3600 per screen. In wider release, the high pedigree prestige comedy, “Away We Go,” perhaps benefited from the TV appeal of stars John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph, and got into the #10 spot with $1.7 million in just under 500 theaters.

Back tomorrow with more on the about to be concluded LAFF

  

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Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up: What Goes “Up” Actually Stays Up

Tonight, for just a few hours, the show business center of gravity shifts back to its old home of New York City for the Tony Awards, tonight hosted by Neil Patrick Harris — a guy just talented enough to get me to break my usual one-award-show-per-year regimen (Oscars, naturally). But we still have some box office news to report…

After yesterday’s b.o. surprise, the world has set itself right on its axis and Disney/Pixar’s PG-rated, family (if not toddler and kindergartner) friendly “Up” managed to nose out this week’s genuine sleeper, Warner’s “The Hangover,” $44.2 to $43.3 million. And, hey, it’s no revelation to say that “Up” appeals to people of all age groups and genders, but can someone make Nikkie Finke and the Hollywood denizens she writes for stop calling it a “four quadrant” film? They could say it was a film that appeals to “all audiences” or that it attracts, say, “everyone,” but then people might understand what they’re talking about.

Sleeeestaaak..........Of course, where there are winners, there are losers, and that would be what Variety perhaps laughingly refers to as a Will Ferrell “laffer,” “Land of the Lost.” The picture was apparently avoided by more grown-up audiences as one would avoid a Sleestak with digestive issues, netting a subpar $19.5, about one-third shy of the studio’s expectations. (Those seeking an extra bit of  schadenfreude need only see the comments by Dave, Jason, and Will on yesterday’s afore-linked “Hangover” surprise post.) Another, even less surprising, loser was “My Life in Ruins,” which netted a horrendous $3.2 million from 1,164 screens, coming in at the #9 spot in its first week. How many quadrants would that be?

A movie like “Ruins” really can be hurt by reviews, which is why it’s interesting to note that the week’s highest per screen average of $35,750 was achieved by “Away We Go,” the small Sam Mendes-directed comedy written by Dave Eggars and the alliterative Vendela Vida, and starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph,  I eluded to on Friday. As Anne Thompson pointed out in a post which I think I’ve linked to multiple times for multiple self-serving reasons, the film doesn’t seem to have the kind of reviews required for an indie hit, so I’m expecting this one to fade as it goes into wider release. Not that there might not be an audience for the film, which, going (unfairly, I’m sure) by the trailer, looks like a sweetened-up version of David O. Russell’s 1996 farce, “Flirting with Disaster” (am I borrowing this thought from someone?). Personally, I’ll take the tangier version.

  

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