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‘Girls Trip’ Crosses $100 Million at Domestic Box Office

28 minutes ago

Universal Pictures’ “Girls Trip” has crossed the $100 million mark at the domestic box office after four weeks, to become the studio’s sixth film to reach that milestone this year.

Girls Trip” has also taken in $9.9 million internationally as it starts its foreign rollout. Australia and Romania will release the film on Aug. 31, with additional markets launching the film through the end of the year.

Related

Summer Box Office Report Card: From Disney to Universal, Grading Popcorn Season

Girls Trip” debuted behind “Dunkirk” with a surprisingly strong $31.2 million at the North American box office over its opening weekend on July 21 to July 23, making it the highest-grossing opening for a live-action comedy of the year. It dropped only 36% in its second weekend.

Girls Trip” broke the summer’s streak of underperforming R-rated comedies such as “Rough Night” and “The House.” Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish, and Jada Pinkett Smith star as four friends attending the Essence Music »


- Dave McNary

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Alpha Violet Acquires Juraj Lehotsky’s Toronto-Bound ‘Nina’ (Exclusive)

30 minutes ago

Paris-based Alpha Violet has acquired worldwide sales rights to Slovakian director Juraj Lehotsky’s divorce drama “Nina” which will play at Toronto in the Contemporary World Cinema section.

Lehotsky’s second feature, “Nina” turns on a 12-year-old girl whose parents are getting a divorce. As her world falls apart in front of her eyes, the young girl seeks out refuge in competitive swimming.

The movie world premiered at Karlovy Vary, where it earned warm reviews. The film’s star, Bibiana Nováková, has been acclaimed for her performance as Nina, which marks her first role.

An up-and-coming filmmaker, Lehotsky previously directed the documentary feature “Blind Loves,” which premiered at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight, where it won the C.I.C.A.E Art Cinema Award.

Lehotsky’s feature debut, “Miracle,” premiered at Karlovy Vary and earned Special Jury Mention.

Alpha Violet’s current slate also includes Silvia Luzi and Luca Bellino’s dystopian drama “Crater” and Natalia Garagiola’s »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher to Star in ‘Shaft’ Sequel

40 minutes ago

After originally planning a full reboot of the ’70s classic, New Line is reverting back to a familiar formula for the next installment of “Shaft,” while also leaving the door open for a new face to take over the franchise.

Sources tell Variety that Samuel L. Jackson is in negotiations to reprise his role of the titular character with “Survivor’s Remorse” star Jessie T. Usher in talks to play Jackson’s son in the film.

Tim Story is directing a script from “Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris.

The original 1971 version — based on Ernest Tidyman’s novel — starred Richard Roundtree as a smooth private detective who’s hired by a drug lord to find his kidnapped daughter. The character became a pop culture icon and the theme song, written by Isaac Hayes, went on to win an Oscar.

Paramount Pictures rebooted the film in 2002 with Samuel L. Jackson taking over the role, and »


- Justin Kroll

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Sanfic: ‘Penal Cordillera,’ ‘Los Colonos,’ ‘The Monster Within’ Make Santiago Lab Forum Cut

1 hour ago

Felipe Carmona’s “Penal Cordillera,” Felipe Galvez’s “Los Colonos” and Rodrigo Susarte’s “The Monster Within” are three of the 20 fiction feature projects which will be pitched at next week’s Santiago Lab in Chile, the Santiago Intl. Film Festival’s major industry forum for feature film projects.

In a major departure, for the first time, the Lab has opened up from just Chilean projects to titles from the whole of Ibero-America – Latin America, Spain and Portugal.

In one of building links between two powerhouse nations in Latin American arthouse movie production, Chile’s Felipe Carmona, a playwright-director, is teaming with Argentine talent-to-track Alejandro Fadel – director of Cannes 2012 Critics’ Week Acid prize winner “The Wild Ones” and co-scribe of Pablo Trapero’s “Lion’s Den,” “Carancho” and “White Elephant” – to write the screenplay of “Penal Cordillera,” which is set up at Chile’s Cinestación and El Otro Film.

Based on true events, “Penal »


- John Hopewell

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Brendan Gleeson on Getting a Late Start on His Career

1 hour ago

Irish actor Brendan Gleeson made his film debut in 1990’s “The Field,” starring Richard Harris and based on the play by John B. Keane. Five years later, he made an impact internationally as Hamish Campbell in Mel Gibson’s Oscar winner “Braveheart.” Since then, film lovers have seen the versatile thesp in a wide range of blockbusters and indie films. “Harry Potter” aficionados know him as Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody, and fans have treasured his work in such fare as John Boorman’s “The General,” John Michael McDonagh’s “Calvary” and Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York” and for his Emmy-winning turn as Winston Churchill in TV film “Into the Storm.”

Now on-screen as Detective Bill Hodges in the new Stephen King neo-noir TV series, “Mr. Mercedes,” Gleeson was first noticed by Variety on Aug. 1, 1990, for his performance in Dublin in Keane’s play “The Year of the Hiker.”

John B. Keane »


- Steven Gaydos

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John Boyega Hints Again at Possible Cameos by Princes William and Harry in ‘Jedi’

2 hours ago

John Boyega has hinted again that heirs to the British throne Prince William and Prince Harry and actor Tom Hardy have cameos in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program Friday morning to promote Kathryn Bigelow’s “Detroit,” Boyega was asked about the rumors he fueled when last on the show – that the two royals had secret cameos in “The Last Jedi” as stormtroopers – and whether the princes had lines.

“I think they took that scene out,” Boyega said jokingly, then added: “I’ve had enough with those Prince William secrets, man. They came on set; they were there, man. Tom Hardy was there, too – I said it. I’m sick of hiding this.”

The actor, who plays former stormtrooper Finn in the sequel trilogy, said questions had dogged him ever since the rumors first began circulating in April 2016, when William and Harry visited the “Jedi” set (pictured). “Every time I get »


- Robert Mitchell

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Box Office: ‘Hitman’s Bodyguard’ Fires Off $1.7 Million on Thursday Night

3 hours ago

Lionsgate’s “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” has opened with a respectable $1.7 million at 2,600 North American sites on Thursday night.

Steven Soderbergh’s “Logan Lucky” pulled in $525,000 at previews from Thursday previews.

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” an R-rated action-comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, expands to 3,377 locations on Friday. Its preview showings started at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Recent tracking indicates that “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” will open in the $15 million to $20 million range during the Friday-Sunday period — which could be enough to top the second weekend of New Line’s “Annabelle: Creation” in what’s expected to be one of the slowest moviegoing frames of the disappointing summer of 2017.

Logan Lucky” is the only other major opening this weekend, with Bleecker Street and Fingerprint Releasing launching the heist comedy at 3,031 domestic locations. Forecasts for “Logan Lucky,” starring Channing Tatum, Riley Keough, and Adam Driver as siblings trying to pull off a massive robbery at the »


- Dave McNary

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Chilean Oscar-Winning Punkrobot to Produce Animated Series ‘Guitar & Drum’ (Exclusive)

4 hours ago

Chile’s Oscar-Winning Punkrobot Animation Studio will present at the upcoming Mip Junior and Mipcom a pilot of “Guitar & Drum,” an short-format animated TV series of 40 episodes of five-minutes each.

Punkrobot leapt to international recognition with its 2015 “Bear Story,” which won best animated short at the 88th Academy Awards, becoming the first Chilean movie ever to take an Oscar.

“Guitar’s” main characters are a guitar and a drum who have other musical instruments as friends. Punkrobot partners María Elisa Soto-Aguilar y Antonia Herrera are attached to direct.

“It’s necessary nowadays to launch a message to children that all features making us different and special persons are able to make up a big team, an orchestra if we join together to create a great melody,” Punkrobot CEO Patricio (“Pato”) Escala told Variety. He added that financing for the first season is also secured. Escala is president of Chile’s national lobby Animachi.

Punkrobot »


- Emilio Mayorga

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‘Dirty Dancing’ at 30: How Baby and Johnny Won Over the Skeptics

6 hours ago

It’s been 30 years since Baby and Johnny had the time of their life, but “Dirty Dancing” remains as popular as when it opened on Aug. 21, 1987. Actually, it’s even more popular: When the ABC remake aired May 24 this year, fans immediately registered anger and/or disappointment on social media. It was a reminder that the magic of the 1987 version could not be duplicated.

The original “Dirty Dancing” was one of the summer’s biggest surprises. It was filmed on a $6 million budget and earned $213 million at the box office, plus has a long and booming afterlife in video and spinoffs.

Filming of the Vestron movie — written by Eleanor Bergstein and directed by Emile Ardolino — was done on two main locations: Lake Lure in N.C., and the Mountain Lake Lodge in Giles County, Va. Mountain Lake was responsible for many of the exterior shots. The lodge, built in the 1930s, had »


- Tim Gray

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‘Scary Mother’ Wins at Sarajevo Film Festival; Bosnia-Herzegovina Selects Oscar Entry

6 hours ago

The 23rd Sarajevo Film Festival has wrapped with the announcement of Ana Urushadze’s “Scary Mother” as winner of the fest’s top prize, while host country Bosnia-Herzegovina has picked its entry in the race for the foreign-language Academy Award.

Scary Mother” won the Heart of Sarajevo on Wednesday night, the festival’s prize for best feature film which includes a €16,000 ($18,800) award. The Georgian-language movie, which is a co-production between Georgia and Estonia, was written and directed by Urushadze (pictured center).

The drama stars Nata Murvanidze (pictured, far right) as a 50-year-old housewife struggling to choose between her family life and a passion for writing which she has suppressed for years. Deciding to following her passion, she plunges into writing, sacrificing herself mentally and physically. The film, produced by Lasha Khalvashi (holding the Heart of Sarajevo) and Tinatin Kajrislvili (far left), also won the Cineuropa Nagrada partner’s award from the Association of Filmmakers of Bosnia and »


- Robert Mitchell

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Australian Courts Order Blocking of 59 Piracy Sites

6 hours ago

In major victories for Hollywood and the local film industries, Australian federal courts have ordered the country’s major telecoms and Internet providers to block access to 59 websites that carry pirated film and TV content. The studios and distributors have been fighting legal battles Down Under for several years.

The decisions came in two separate rulings Friday. In a case brought by Village Roadshow, the judge ordered telcos including Telstra, Optus and Tpg to block 42 piracy sites. In a case brought by Foxtel, a second judge ordered the blocking of another 17 sites. The Internet service providers have 15 days to block the 59 sites and 127 domains.

In the Village Roadshow case, the judge said that copyright violations were “flagrant and reflect a blatant disregard for copyright owners.” Some, he said, even offered tutorials on “how to frustrate any legal action.”

Sites to be blocked include PrimeWire, MegaShare, Eztv, Limetorrents, Project Free TV, Watch Series, »


- Patrick Frater

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Haugesund: ‘Sound of Noise’ Producer Steps Up Ambitions (Exclusive)

7 hours ago

New Swedish production company Silver Films is launching with the English-lingo psycho thriller “Car:y” The feature project will be pitched at New Nordic Films’ Nordic Genre Boost strand in Haugesund, which runs Aug. 22-25, and will epitomize what Silver Films stands for: Audience-driven artistic content.

The new Stockholm-based company is co-founded by writer/director/producer Olivier Guerpillon – whose production credits include the critically-acclaimed “Sound of Noise,” released by Magnolia Pictures in the U.S., and “Broken Hills Blues” – and writer/producer Anna Byvald (“Maggie in Wonderland”).

“In a highly polarized Swedish market where creators of smaller films struggle to stay afloat, it makes sense for two indie producers with similar paths and tastes to join forces,” said the French-Swedish producer who intends to build on his tight relationships with the French and European film industry to create ‘internationally oriented content with a unique point of view’.

He added: “We want to take our expertise to the next »


- Annika Pham

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Sanfic: Fernando Guzzoni Prepares First English-Language Feature (Exclusive)

7 hours ago

Chilean filmmaker Fernando Guzzoni, whose critically lauded father-son drama “Jesus” bows Sept. 1 in the U.S. via Breaking Glass, is developing his first English-language pic for Focus Features.

“We’ve been in talks since Toronto [where “Jesus” had its world premiere] where they asked me to present them a project,” said Guzzoni.

Titled “People Still Die of Love,” the romantic drama is a “reflection on the crisis of modern love, where relationships are often fleeting,” but tinged with dark humor, said Guzzoni. He has written a first draft in Spanish, which he’ll later write in English, he said.

Since it has an urban setting, he’s hoping to shoot in New York or Los Angeles, or possibly the U.K.

Guzzoni is closing co-production deals for his third feature, “Blanca,” with Argentina’s Ivan Granovsky and Marion Klotz of Autocroma boarding the project. He’s also in talks with potential co-producers from France, Germany, Mexico and the U.S. »


- Anna Marie de la Fuente

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San Sebastian: Glenn Close-Starrer ‘The Wife’ Selected as Closing Night Film

8 hours ago

Madrid — Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce-starrer “The Wife” will close the 65th San Sebastian Festival on Sept. 30, where the film’s European premiere will see the festival end with an upscale tale of a woman’s belated empowerment, a showcase for Close and Pryce’ mano a mano acting talents and, in industrial terms, a blue-chip U.S.-U.K.-Scandinavia production.

Close, a six-time Oscar nominee, will present the film at San Sebastián, along with Pryce, its Swedish director Björn Runge (“Happy End”) and co-star Annie Stark (“Albert Nobbs”).

Produced by Anonymous Content, Meta Film,Tempo Productions, Spark Film and Television, and Silver Reel, “The Wife” turns on Joan Castleman (Close) who is married to a Nobel Prize-winning American novelist (Pryce), the kind of man who thinks he owns the world and his wife.

On the eve of the Nobel Prize award ceremony, Close, who has “spent 40 years ignoring her own literary talents to fan the »


- John Hopewell

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Film Review: ‘Shot Caller’

9 hours ago

While American audiences wait for the Hollywood remake of Jacques Audiard’s gritty 2010 French thriller “A Prophet,” Ric Roman Waugh swoops in with a comparably gritty prison epic of his own: Debuting on DirecTV two weeks before hitting theaters, “Shot Caller” dramatizes how a hardcore stint behind bars transforms an otherwise docile citizen — in this case, a white-collar wheeler-dealer (Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) convicted of a DUI manslaughter charge and tossed in with the violent offenders — into a ruthless crime boss.

The character’s arc proves considerably more complex than that description suggests, as Waugh forgoes cheap action-movie gimmicks, offering up instead a haunting psychological portrait of an intelligent man forced to completely reinvent himself before he can even dream of seeking redemption for his previous sins. “Shot Caller” marks the third time that writer-director Waugh (who previously helmed “Felon” and “Snitch”) has taken audiences into this intimidating underworld, and the tough, no-punches-pulled »


- Peter Debruge

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Dealing With the Past: Sarajevo Film Festival Addresses Balkan Wars

9 hours ago

Two decades after the bloody Balkan wars, reconciliation in the region can still be hard to come by. The Sarajevo Film Festival is trying to do its part with Dealing with the Past, a program launched last year that comprises a festival sidebar of films dealing with the wars and their aftermath and an industry section called the True Stories Market.

The market seeks to connect filmmakers with organizations that are documenting and researching the conflict with the aim of bringing dramatic fact-based stories to light and to wider audiences through documentaries, feature films, and television productions.

This year’s True Stories Market presented nine stories, including “Profile of a Mercenary – Making Money Off the War or Crimes,” by the Sarajevo-based Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (Birn). The story focuses on a former convict who had served time for robbery and attempted murder before going on to serve as a mercenary, first »


- Ed Meza

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Film Review: ‘California Typewriter’

12 hours ago

Vinyl made a comeback, and so did slow food and long beards. So why not the typewriter? Actually, there’s a good reason why not: If you’re composing on a typewriter — a letter, say — and you change your mind about a word or a sentence you’ve just written, then you have to white it out or x it out. It’s an added task, and the result will likely be a tad smudgy. On the typewriter, every single keystroke is a tiny punch of commitment. (The seamless clickety-clack of a computer keyboard, with its instant erasability…not so much.) But according to “California Typewriter,” a lively and appealing analog-nostalgia documentary, it’s that very physicality that makes the typewriter a machine of the past that deserves to have a place in the future. As the movie sees it, the typewriter isn’t just for saying things. It’s for saying them and meaning them.

Directed »


- Owen Gleiberman

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‘King Arthur’ Rules DVD, Blu-ray Disc Sales Charts

13 hours ago

Two new releases took the two top spots on the national home video sales charts for the week that ended Aug. 12, led by Warner’s “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” the latest retelling of the saga of the mythical British king.

“Arthur” debuted at No. 1 on both the Npd VideoScan overall disc sales chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart. The film made less than $40 million in U.S. theaters and was panned by critics, with the reviewer for the Chicago Tribune calling it a “grim and stupid thing.” Nearly 40 films have been made about about King Arthur, the earliest one in 1904.

Debuting at No. 2 on the overall disc sales chart only was “Snatched,” which opened theatrically the same weekend (May 12-14) as “Arthur” and finished second, with $19.5 million, to $15.4 million for third-ranked “Arthur.” The comedy, from 20th Century Fox, stars »


- Thomas K. Arnold

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Chinese Investor Launches Puji Films, Backs Peter Guber’s Mandalay Endurance

15 hours ago

Shanghai-based investment firm Puji Capital has launched a movie investment subsidiary, Puji Films, whose first move is to back former Columbia boss Peter Guber’s new Mandalay Endurance Media Ventures.

Memv is a joint enterprise between Mandalay Entertainment, Endurance Media and sports owner Jeff Vinik. Puji describes Memv as a production, financing, and international distribution platform with a focus on producing and distributing star-driven action, thriller, and comedy films. It is headed by Guber and Steve Richards (“The Matrix: Reloaded,” “The Book of Eli”) and backed by major shareholders including Vinik, Mandalay Entertainment COO Paul Schaeffer, and Peter Strauss, former Lionsgate chairman.

Puji Capital was previously involved as an investor in aXiomatic, an eSports venture headed by Guber and Ted Leonsis, and as a backer of Dalian Wanda’s abortive attempt to buy Dick Clark Productions. Puji Films is headed by Lily Zhao.

“We are at an interesting inflection with China’s film industry,” Zhao »


- Patrick Frater

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Esai Morales Threatens Federal Election Complaint Against SAG-aftra President Gabrielle Carteris

16 hours ago

With a week to go in a heated SAG-aftra election, Esai Morales has warned that his faction may file a federal election fraud complaint against union president Gabrielle Carteris.

Morales is running for president as head of the Membership First faction, which issued a statement Thursday a few days after accusations by Carteris and her allies that Morales has been negligent in his role as first VP of the union’s Los Angeles local by not attending 33 of 35 board meetings. The faction responded by alleging that Carteris has been duplicitous in her behavior by resigning her local seat two years ago — and threatened to make a formal complaint to the U.S. Department of Labor if she does so again.

“Unite For Strength is challenging Esai’s attendance record,” Membership First said in a statement. “Both Esai and Gabrielle ran in 2015 for the Los Angeles local board. Both won seats. Esai »


- Dave McNary

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