Sunday, March 1, 2015

POSTED: Monday, February 9, 2015, 10:09 AM
In this image released by Universal Pictures and Focus Features, Jamie Dornan, left, and Dakota Johnson appear in a scene from "Fifty Shades of Grey." (AP Photo/Universal Pictures and Focus Features)

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - "Fifty Shades of Grey" fans should get their inner goddesses ready -- it's about to get "Darker." 

Both sequels to E.L. James' racy mega-seller "Fifty Shades of Grey" -- "Fifty Shades Darker" and "Fifty Shades Freed" -- are coming to film, said director Sam Taylor-Johnson. According to Cosmopolitan, Johnson made the announcement at a fan event at New York's Seigfeld Theatre with James and stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson.

The news doesn't come as too much of a shock. The racy pic is tracking to open at $60 million over its opening on Valentine's Day weekend, and online ticketing site Fandango said it's the fastest-selling R-rated title in the site's 15-year history.

POSTED: Monday, February 9, 2015, 10:07 AM
This photo provided by Warner Bros. Pictures shows, Channing Tatum as Caine Wise, in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Village Roadshow Pictures' "Jupiter Ascending," an original science fiction epic adventure from Lana and Andy Wachowski. The movie is a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures, Murray Close)

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - It's not often that Hollywood releases two major theatrical bombs on the same weekend. But that's exactly what happened when "Jupiter Ascending" and "Seventh Son" both crashed in U.S. theaters on Friday. 

Warner Bros.' "Jupiter Ascending," starring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis, is quickly falling in box office estimates to a skimpy $18 million opening. With a budget of $175 million, the Wachowskis' sci-fi tentpole could lose tens of millions barring a dramatic turnaround overseas, in what could be the biggest flop of the year. 

The forecast for Universal and Legendary's long-delayed "Seventh Son," starring Jeff Bridges, is just as gloomy. The pricey fantasy tentpole has a projected loss of $85 million, as Variety exclusively reported this week, despite earning $82 million at the international box office. It's on track for just $6 million in its U.S. debut. 

POSTED: Thursday, February 5, 2015, 2:22 PM
Amy Pascal attends the Premiere of Columbia Pictures' 'The Interview' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel Downtown LA on December 11, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Amy Pascal is stepping down as co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and chairman of its motion picture group. 

She will remain at the studio as part of a new producing deal. Pascal will stay in place through May, at which point she will take the reins at her new venture.

No decision has been made on her replacement, according to an individual with knowledge of the situation, but there is a deep bench on the Sony lot. Among her possible replacements from within the Sony ranks are former Fox studio chief Tom Rothman, who now runs TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group President Doug Belgrad and Columbia Pictures Production President Michael De Luca. 

POSTED: Thursday, February 5, 2015, 9:57 AM

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - "Fifty Shades of Grey," which has its premiere in Berlin next week, will not be released in Malaysia.

The film was denied a certificate by the Malaysian Film Censorship Board (LPF).

A release on Feb. 12 through United International Pictures has been cancelled.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 4, 2015, 3:08 PM
“The World Is As Big or As Small As You Make It” follows children living in North Philadelphia who are involved in a local program called Do Remember Me. (Vimeo)

You may recognize the names Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady for their work on such documentaries as “Jesus Camp” and “Detropia.” For their most recently released work, a short documentary chronicling American kids using technology to connect with adolescents in other countries, the filmmaking duo came to Philadelphia.

“The World Is As Big or As Small As You Make It” began as a 140-character essay entry and was created with money from a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Sundance Institute. It follows children living in North Philadelphia (one young woman mentions a playground at 12th and Susquehanna streets) who are involved in a local program called Do Remember Me.

Sannii Crespina-Flores, who runs Do Remember Me, takes resources a lot of children already have — iPhones, iPads and the like — and helps children use them to explore the outside world. The kids video chat with others in Paris, Kazakhstan, Tanzania and other countries and learn about other cultures while exploring their similarities. One student in Paris shows some boys in North Philly his beat-boxing skills. In return, a group of Philadelphia dancers show the Parisian kids a routine. At one point, a boy from Philadelphia whispers, “Do y’all have any girlfriends?” to a group of Parisian students. During that same exchange, the cross-country communicators connect on Instagram. 

POSTED: Wednesday, February 4, 2015, 9:02 AM
Actress Felicity Jones arrives to AARP The Magazine's 14th Annual Movies For Grownups Awards Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 2, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Disney and Lucasfilm have tapped Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Jones to star in the "Star Wars" standalone movie from director Gareth Edwards. 

Jones was one of several actresses to have met for the role, along with Rooney Mara and Tatiana Maslany.

Edwards ("Godzilla") is directing the 3D feature, with Chris Weitz penning the script. Weitz replaced Gary Whitta, who wrote the first version of the screenplay.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 4, 2015, 8:52 AM
Disney.

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Consumers still haven't grown cold on "Frozen." 

The movie, which became the highest-grossing animated film after its release in November 2013, continues to play for Disney, this time in the retail aisle. 

Merchandise tied to the toon was a significant seller for Disney, especially its Disney Stores, during the holidays, with the company's consumer products division reporting a 22% boost in revenue and profits by 46% during the Mouse House's first quarter of fiscal 2015, which ended Dec. 27.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 4, 2015, 8:49 AM
Actor Edgar Ramirez attends the Friars Foundation Gala honoring Robert De Niro and Carlos Slim at The Waldorf=Astoria on October 7, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Warner Bros. has moved its reboot of "Point Break" back nearly five months from July 31 to Christmas -- essentially swapping dates with Tom Cruise's "Mission: Impossible 5."

The action-thriller, starring Edgar Ramirez (pictured above) and Luke Bracey, is directed by Ericson Core from Kurt Wimmer's screenplay. Ramirez plays the part portrayed by Patrick Swayze in the 1991 original, while Bracey plays Johnny Utah, originally acted by Keanu Reeves. 

Warner Bros. made the move a week after Paramount decided to move "Mission: Impossible 5" forward from Christmas to July 31. 

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Consider our Movies blog your essential guide to new movies and classics, interviews with filmmakers and stars, news and views on the latest screen trends, reviews and the occasional rant.

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