Wednesday, March 4, 2015

POSTED: Tuesday, February 3, 2015, 11:22 PM
Filed Under: Movies
Actor and Producer Bradley Cooper arrives at the 'American Sniper' New York Premiere at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center on December 15, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Terry Gross from NPR’s program, “Fresh Air,” sat down with Bradley Cooper recently and discussed not only his role as Chris Kyle in “American Sniper,” but how he’s responded to the criticism surrounding the film.

Right off the bat, Gross asks Cooper if he was expecting this film to become a “cultural lightning rod.”

“Absolutely not. No, I did not at all think anyone could foresee something like that,” Cooper acknowledged.


POSTED: Tuesday, February 3, 2015, 3:42 PM
Filed Under: Movies
Charlie Hunnam attends the Calvin Klein Collection show during the Milan Menswear Fashion Week Fall Winter 2015/2016 on January 18, 2015 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Charlie Hunnam will star in James Gray's "Lost City of Z" opposite Sienna Miller and Robert Pattinson. The project has just locked down financing from MICA Entertainment.

Sierra/Affinity will continue international sales at the Berlin Film Festival this week. CAA represents domestic rights.

Production is expected to start this summer. The project is based on David Grann's 2009 book of the same name.

POSTED: Monday, February 2, 2015, 9:54 AM
Director Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon of 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl' and David Courier attend the Awards Night Party during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival at the Basin Recreation Field House on January 31, 2015 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Clayton Chase/Getty Images for Sundance)

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl," Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's visually inventive comedy-drama about the friendship between a misfit teenager and a classmate diagnosed with leukemia, received both the grand jury prize and the audience award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on Saturday night. Part cancer-themed tearjerker and part tribute to obsessive movie love, "Me and Earl" was acquired by Fox Searchlight earlier this week in one of the festival's biggest deals.

This marks the third year in a row that one movie has taken both top prizes at Sundance, following the lead of "Fruitvale Station" in 2013 and "Whiplash" last year. "Me and Earl's" victory was even more noteworthy given what many considered one of the stronger U.S. dramatic competitions in recent memory, with strong critical and audience buzz for "Dope," "The Witch" and "The Diary of a Teenage Girl," all of which also received prizes.

In addition to "Me and Earl's" big wins, the grand jury prize for U.S. documentaries went to another movie about the power of cinema and the creative instinct: "The Wolfpack," Crystal Moselle's intimate portrait of the Angulo siblings, who alleviated their confined existence by watching and reenacting movies.

POSTED: Sunday, February 1, 2015, 12:49 PM
Filed Under: Movies
Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle and Sienna Miller as his wife, Taya, in the adapted real-life drama "American Sniper." (Keith Bernstein)
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - "American Sniper" is nearing the $250 million mark after picking up $31.8 million to set a new Super Bowl weekend record.

The previous high-water mark for football's big weekend was "Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour," which nabbed $31.2 million when it premiered in 2008.

If it continues on this torrid clip, Clint Eastwood's biopic of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle could challenge "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" as the highest-grossing 2014 release and will pass "The Matrix Reloaded" to become the second-biggest R-rated release in history. It has earned $248.9 million -- an unbelievable result for an adult drama about such hard-hitting topics as war and its psychological effects.

POSTED: Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 5:16 PM
Johnny Depp.
It started with The Wrap, Sharon Waxman’s much-bookmarked movie biz website, issuing an email with the subject field “5 Ways Actors Over 50 Are Avoiding the Johnny Depp Curse” and then following it up with another snarky missive linking to another story: “41 A-List Actors Who Bombed as Hard as Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai.'  And true enough, the art world comedy caper, released Friday, Jan. 23, without previewing to critics (rarely a good sign), was greeted with gleefully derisive reviews   (“strenuously unfunny,” “a whirlwind of horrible British accents,” “an anachronistic mess”) and practically no box office whatsoever. Opening weekend: a scant $4.2 million, for a film that cost $60 million to make, and millions more to market (thank you, Lionsgate, for the argyle socks with the Mortdecai mustache pattern! ). By contrast, American Sniper (also strenuously unfunny), scoped out $64 million in its second weekend of release.

But Johnny Depp, despite his embarrassing presenter’s speech at the Golden Globes and a run of big screen thuds – Transcendence, The Lone Ranger, Dark Shadows – managed to parlay his Keith Richards imitation into a billion-dollar franchise, starring as that rogue swashbuckler Jack Sparrow in four Pirates of the Caribbean blockbusters. (A fifth installment, Dead Men Tell No Tales, is on tap for 2017.)  True, the shtick gets progressively shtickier as the series sails on, but Depp is central to the skull-and-crossbones tentpole (or flagpole). And no one can take these oddball and adventurous performances away from the actor: Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood for Tim Burton, Dead Man for Jim Jarmusch (a couple of scenes with Robert Mitchum, no less!), Donnie Brasco, Blow, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas. And though it’s too sweet for some, many more found Chocolat, with Depp as a gypsy wooing Juliette Binoche, disarming and charming and Oscar worthy.

Here’s what Depp (who cameos as the lip-smacking pederast wolf in Into the Woods ) has lined up in the near future: London Fields, an adaptation of the Martin Amis novel, starring Depp’s current companion, Amber Heard, as the clairvoyant femme fatale; Kevin Smith’s teen party romp Yoga Hosers (OK, this is going to bomb) and Black Mass, the true crime story of Whitey Bulger. Depp stars as the infamous Boston mobster, and Benedict Cumberbatch, Sienna Miller, Kevin Bacon and Joel Edgerton join in for the fun. The director, Scott Cooper, did Crazy Heart, which won Jeff Bridges his Oscar. Maybe one – or more – of these will find an audience, and people will stop picking on Depp. And if they all do fizzle out at the multiplexes,  well,  let Charlie Mortdecai saunter off into the sunset with his walking stick and his mustache and his ascot and his faux upper crust accent and what little dignity he has. Johnny Depp, we knew him when he was cool.
POSTED: Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 10:13 AM
Actor and producer Will Smith attends the 'Annie' World Premiere at Ziegfeld Theater on December 7, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Sony Pictures has dated its Will Smith drama "Concussion" for Christmas Day -- a week after the arrival of Disney-Marvel's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

Smith porrays Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic neuropathologist who discovered football-related brain trauma in a player and fought to bring awareness to the public. 

Alec Baldwin, Luke Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Arliss Howard, Paul Reiser, David Morse and Albert Brooks also star.

POSTED: Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 10:10 AM
Warner Bros. Pictures.

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - The Sundance Film Festival isn't a typical launchpad for studio blockbusters, but Warner Bros. surprised theater-goers on Tuesday night by unveiling the Wachowski siblings' "Jupiter Ascending" at a "surprise screening."

The invitation-only event, which was not billed as a premiere, was the first time "Jupiter Ascending" was shown to the public. Variety broke news of the screening on Tuesday afternoon, but there were other clues the audience wasn't about to see a typical Sundance indie.

When attendees with tickets arrived at the Egyptian Theater in Park City, they were handed 3D glasses. 

POSTED: Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 10:06 AM
Paramount Pictures.

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Let’s say you discover a time machine in your basement. Would you use it to go back and stop Hitler, or would you instead make tiny jumps to tweak the quality of your own life — like taking your friends to Bonnaroo, or perfecting the all-important kiss you flubbed the first time around? For the teens in the found-footage time-travel movie “Project Almanac,” the chance to rewrite history is wasted trying to perfect their high-school experience, which naturally leads to unforeseen consequences — for them, at least, although the aftermath will be plenty familiar to butterfly-effect believers — in a film that squanders its potential.

Nearly five years after Paramount announced its Insurge initiative -- a plan to generate 10 pics in the ballpark of $100,000 a year, conceived in the wake of the 2007 microbudget phenom "Paranormal Activity" -- the studio has finally unveiled its first title (not counting 2012's shoestring pickup "The Devil Inside"). But the gameplan changed somewhere along the way: In the end, "Project Almanac" came in on a low-eight-figure budget, despite no stars, limited effects and an eye-crossing "my kid could shoot that" homevideo aesthetic, and the ad costs taken to open it will eat up most of the earnings.

Directed by first-timer Dean Israelite, but branded more by its association with producer Michael Bay, who shepherded under the same shroud of secrecy as with Todd Phillips' wildly successful "Project X," the end result fails to deliver that renegade one-off's sense of novelty or excitement -- and will likely fall far short of "X's" $102 million haul, despite hefty cross-promotion from Par partner MTV.

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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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