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Film Review: ‘A Suitable Girl’

2 hours ago

In America, marriage is thought of as a union that brings families together, but according to “A Suitable Girl,” in India, it’s a time of great loss for women and their parents and siblings. A stark look at that country’s ongoing clash between modernity and tradition when it comes to female independence (or lack thereof), Sarita Khurana and Smriti Mundhra’s heartbreaking documentary focuses on three single ladies struggling to cope with the pervasive pressure to find a spouse. Stirring in its examination of ingrained sociocultural sexism, and the toll it takes on entire families, the film seems likely to appeal to a significant audience following its premiere at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

In Delhi, 30-year-old Dipti spends her days and nights searching for a mate with the aid of her doting parents, to little avail — a situation that one dating-service employee blames on her weight, »


- Nick Schager

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Dan Stevens on ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Sequel Talk, Tribeca Sex Comedy ‘Permission’

8 hours ago

After playing the gruff male star in Disney’s live-action “Beauty and the Beast,” Dan Stevens hopes that audiences will be his guest for a different kind of adventure. In “Permission,” which premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday night, Stevens portrays a male Brooklyn 30-something who decides to enter an open relationship with his girlfriend (played by Rebecca Hall).

Stevens spoke to Variety about the new project, if there could be a “Beast” sequel and jumping from studio films to indies to TV, including his mutant role on FX’s “Legion.” “My tastes are many and varied,” he says. “I hope to keep moving around.”

Where did “Permission” come from?

Brian Crano is a filmmaker I’ve known for many years. He was making a short film written by my friend Rebecca Hall. I really like it. It was called “Rubberheart,” based on a short story that Rebecca had written. »


- Ramin Setoodeh

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London Calling: Phil Hunt Rocks the Casbah with Head Gear Films

9 hours ago

Phil Hunt’s London-based film-financing house Head Gear Films, which launched 15 years ago, has been ramping up its dealmaking activity in recent years. The company provided funding for 55 movies last year, up from five in 2012. Movies backed have included Johnny Depp starrer “Black Mass,” “Trespass Against Us,” starring Michael Fassbender, and John Michael McDonagh’s “War on Everyone,” starring Alexander Skarsgard and Michael Pena. Hunt tells Variety about how he balances his punk-rock ethos with a careful assessment of the risks inherent in the independent film business.

Hunt, who also co-heads 10-year-old sales company Bankside Films, started out as a photographer in the advertising business in the early 1990s. A punk rocker and Clash devotee at heart, he started to shoot music videos for bands like Big Audio Dynamite, as well as corporate films. From there he pogoed into producing micro-budgeted feature films, starting 20 years ago with “Fast Food,” starring Gerard Butler. »


- Leo Barraclough

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Fox Sets Ryan Reynolds’ ‘Deadpool 2’ for June 2018

12 hours ago

Fox has set “Deadpool 2” for a June 1, 2018, release date — giving the much-anticipated sequel a prime summer opening as the first title to land on the date.

Ryan Reynolds returns as the foul-mouthed superhero with Josh Brolin recently having signed on as Cable. Shooting is expected to start in June.

Reynolds is also a producer on the films with “Deadpool” writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick returning along with Drew Goddard assisting. “John Wick” co-director David Leitch came on board to lead “Deadpool 2” last fall after Tim Miller dropped out due to creative differences with Reynolds.

The superhero sequel also recently cast “Atlanta” breakout Zazie Beetz as the mutant mercenary Domino.

Related

Steven Spielberg Pentagon Papers Drama Gets 2017 Oscar Season Release

Deadpool” gave Fox its biggest hit of 2016 after opening on Valentine’s Day to a surprisingly strong $782.6 million worldwide, supplanting “The Matrix Reloaded” to become the highest-grossing R-rated film in history. »


- Dave McNary

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Steven Spielberg Pentagon Papers Drama Gets 2017 Oscar Season Release

12 hours ago

Steven Spielberg’s untitled Pentagon Papers drama announced itself as a major awards season contender in this year’s Oscars race.

The film, which is rumored to star Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, will open in limited release on December 22, 2017. It will expand nationwide on January 12, 2018, a week after the Golden Globes broadcast. Hanks will play hard-charging Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, with Streep handling the role of iron-willed publisher Katharine Graham. The pair made the decision to publish a classified history of the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War over the objections of the Nixon administration. Courageous journalist dramas have played nicely with Oscar voters — 2015’s “Spotlight” won Best Picture, while 2005’s “Good Night and Good Luck” and 1976’s “All the President’s Men” earned a bevy of nominations.

The opening slot puts the Spielberg film in the hunt for Academy Awards gold along with the likes of Alexander Payne’s “Downsizing, »


- Brent Lang

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John Waters Summer Camp Will Offer Cigars, Scotch, Burlesque Lessons

12 hours ago

Campy filmmaker John Waters has decided to get into the actual camp business — summer camp, that is. Of course, screenings of his cult classics like “Pink Flamingos” and “Polyester” aren’t for the youngsters, so this weekend-long camp experience is for adults only.

An actual camp in Kent, Connecticut, complete with cabins and lake, is hosting the offbeat event September 22-24, with tickets starting at $499.

In addition to screening several of his films, fans of the quirky director who has been called “the Pope of trash” can participate in Bloody Mary Bingo, a costume contest, a dance party, and “Hairspray” karaoke.

There should be plenty of chances to hang with the acerbic raconteur, who will perform a one-man show with a Q&A. And S’mores aren’t the only thing on the menu — there’s also a Scotch and Cigars session.

Burlesque lessons, yoga and meditation are offered along »


- Pat Saperstein

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‘Fate of the Furious’ Passes $300 Million at China Box Office

14 hours ago

Hollywood action film, “The Fate of the Furious” passed the $300 million mile-post on the evening of Saturday at the Chinese box office.

Data from local tracking agency China Box Office, showed that “The Fast and the Furious 8,” as it is known in China, had accumulated RMB2.07 billion by 10 p.m. With an exchange rate of RMB6.9 to the dollar, that means the box office landmark has been achieved in just nine days.

While “Fast 8” is now decelerating, it continues to lead the Chinese box office in its second week. It is also now the biggest film of 2017 in China, having overtaken “Kung Fu Yoga,” which earned $255 million from a Chinese New Year release.

As expected it brushed aside competition from Hollywood new release “Smurfs: The Lost Village.” On Saturday, “Fast 8” accounted for some 65% of grosses, compared with 14% for “Smurfs” and 9% for Chinese romantic comedy “Mr Pride vs Ms Prejudice, »


- Patrick Frater

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Box Office: ‘Fate of the Furious’ Dominates Newcomers on Friday

15 hours ago

The Fate of the Furious” keeps on rolling.

The eighth Fast and Furious film, from Universal, raced ahead of the box office newcomers on Friday evening, earning $11.2 million at 4,329 locations. While last weekend, the high-speed blockbuster shattered records with $532.5 million worldwide and seemed to signal that summer box office season had started early, this frame’s new offerings beg to differ.

None of the films opening this weekend should even crack the top five, which should be rounded out by Fox’s “The Boss Baby,” Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” Warner Bros.’ “Going in Style” and Fox Searchlight’s “Gifted,” respectively.

Warner Bros.’ “Unforgettable” starring Katherine Heigl and Rosario Dawson earned $1.7 million on Friday from 2,417 theaters on its way to a $4 – $5 million opening. The revenge thriller tells the story of a scorned lover (Heigl) who pathologically torments her ex-husband’s new interest (Dawson). Denise Di Novi directed the film on a $12 million production budget. »


- Seth Kelley

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‘Avatar’ Sequel Release Dates Set, Starting in December, 2020

15 hours ago

James Cameron and Fox have set the release dates for the four “Avatar” sequels, starting on Dec. 18, 2020, for “Avatar 2.”

Avatar 3” will open  Dec. 17, 2021, followed by a three- year break for “Avatar 4, set for Dec.20, 2024. “Avatar 5” will then open on Dec. 19, 2025.

The news was announced on the movie’s official Facebook page on Saturday morning, along with a picture of Cameron and crew.

“Great to be working with the best team in the business! Avatar takes flight as we begin concurrent production on four sequels,” Cameron said in the post.

Cameron had announced a year ago at CinemaCon that he would make four “Avatar” sequels, promising that the films would start hitting theaters in 2018. The creator of the original “Avatar,” the 2009 fantasy epic that remains the all-time worldwide box office champion with $2.8 billion, said at the time that  his vision for the story had expanded significantly.

Cameron »


- Dave McNary

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Tribeca Film Review: ‘Abundant Acreage Available’

22 hours ago

If you liked “Manchester by the Sea” — or the kind of low-key emotional drama in which men break down and sob uncontrollably — then Martin Scorsese has the movie for you. It’s called “Abundant Acreage Available,” and it’s pretty much the opposite of anything Scorsese has directed, which stands to reason, because he didn’t direct it. North Carolina playwright-turned-director Angus MacLachlan did, and like the “Junebug” script for which he’s best known, this one achieves a tricky kind of subtlety amid so much stage-style chatter. (Just to be clear about Scorsese’s involvement, he agreed to executive produce after seeing MacLachlan’s promising debut feature, “Goodbye to All That,” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival two years earlier.)

Set on a family-owned North Carolina tobacco farm, recognizable as such from its almost blood-red clay, “Abundant Acreage Available” begins as many a play has, with a pair »


- Peter Debruge

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Tribeca Film Review: ‘The Public Image Is Rotten’

21 April 2017 7:30 PM, PDT

A good music documentary is more than a footnote to a band’s career — it can channel, and heighten, the excitement that made the band memorable. In that spirit, there is much to be said for “The Public Image Is Rotten,” which casts its eye back over the sprawling, tempestuous, gnarly, ever-mutating career of Public Image Ltd., the band that John Lydon put together just after the breakup of the Sex Pistols and that he has kept going, in one form or another, for close to 40 years. Having seen PiL in concert several times in the ’80s, I count myself as a modest fan.”The Public Image Is Rotten” is a solidly made niche documentary, one that can stand as a more or less definitive chronicle of a band that started off as an experimental art-rock curiosity and became, over time, a potently danceable and influential musical collective.

That said, »


- Owen Gleiberman

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Ang Lee Eyes Sci-Fi Actioner ‘Gemini Man’ at Skydance

21 April 2017 6:07 PM, PDT

Ang Lee is in discussions to direct the science-fiction actioner “Gemini Man” for Skydance — a project that’s been in the works for two decades.

Skydance picked up the rights to the project last year. Jerry Bruckheimer is producing and Don Murphy is executive producing. Lee’s rep stressed that the discussions are at an early stage and that official contract negotiations have not yet started.

Lee’s most recent film was “The Long Halftime Walk of Billy Lynn,” for which he used an unprecedented shooting and projection frame rate of 120 frames per second — five times faster than the normal rate of 24 frames per second. He won Academy Awards for directing “Brokeback Mountain” and “Life of Pi” and was nominated for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

In  2009, the late Curtis Hanson had been attached to direct from a script by David Benioff, in which an aging Nsa agent tries to retire and is targeted for death. »


- Dave McNary

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How Disney Star Ross Lynch Plays A Gay Serial Killer in ‘My Friend Dahmer’

21 April 2017 5:57 PM, PDT

To play a young serial killer in “My Friend Dahmer,” ex-Disney Channel star Ross Lynch didn’t just walk in his character’s shoes. He took over the childhood home where Jeffrey Dahmer grew up and murdered his first victim. The movie shot for two weeks in that eerie location, near Akron, Ohio. “When I arrived, I felt comfortable,” says Lynch, 21. “This is going to sound weird — it was almost like I was home.”

My Friend Dahmer” (based on a graphic novel by Derf Backderf) is a departure for Lynch, who starred in “Teen Beach Movie.” He wears shaggy hair and big glasses to channel a disturbed criminal who murdered 17 men and boys before his 1991 arrest. This story takes place before that, as Dahmer is graduating from high school in the late ’70s and struggling to fit in. But the role in the independent movie, which premieres at the »


- Ramin Setoodeh

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Film Review: ‘Tomorrow’ (Demain)

21 April 2017 5:28 PM, PDT

What a difference a year makes. In late 2015, Mélanie Laurent and Cyril Dion’s fresh-faced, paradoxically upbeat documentary about the complex, interrelated, and potentially apocalyptic issues facing our globalized world opened in France. The educational, continent-hopping investigation was a surprise hit, racking up more than a million admissions, winning the 2016 César for Best Documentary, and becoming a focal point for a gathering movement of citizens committed to putting its practical, inspiring, think-global-act-local solutions into practice.

Roughly 16 months — and a highly divisive and contentious Us election — later, it opens in America, just two days before France itself is due to go to the polls, fielding a far-right candidate for president who was among the only world leaders to call and congratulate Donald Trump’s win in the U.S. The political landscape that “Tomorrow” breezes into now is such that its issues, cataclysmically urgent though they are, could seem de-prioritized.

The »


- Jessica Kiang

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Fox Developing Supernatural Thriller ‘Inside’ With ‘Luther’ Creator Neil Cross

21 April 2017 5:08 PM, PDT

Fox is developing the supernatural thriller “Inside,” to be written by British scribe Neil Cross, creator of BBC’s crime drama  “Luther.”

Producers are The Picture Company’s Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman, who recently teamed up with Fox and  Cross for their “Escape From New York” remake and attached Robert Rodriguez to directing. “Escape From New York” has been in the works at the studio since 2015, when Fox obtained the remake rights. 

Fox beat out several other bidders for the “Inside” project in an auction that was conducted by UTA. Mike Ireland is the Fox executive on “Inside.”

“Inside” is set within a modern-day secure facility that’s home to mythological creatures along with a man who’s been unjustly imprisoned. It’s described as having the feel of “The Shawshank Redemption” but with a supernatural element.

Cross was one of Variety’s 2011 Ten Screenwriters to Watch. His credits »


- Dave McNary

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Tribeca Film Review: ‘Hondros’

21 April 2017 5:00 PM, PDT

Great art often entails taking great risks, and no one knew that better than Chris Hondros, the award-winning Getty photographer whose acute in-the-thick-of-things wartime snapshots made him a legend in the field, until his life was cut tragically short at age 41 by mortar fire in Libya in 2011. “Hondros,” a nonfiction biography directed by lifelong best friend and collaborator Greg Campbell, pays stirring tribute to its subject’s courage, resolve and empathy, the last of which helped elevate his work to the realm of greatness. Doubling as a portrait of the blurry line between journalistic objectivity and engagement, this compelling doc should be a perfect fit for cable TV following its premiere at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

Hondros grew up knowing he wanted to spend his life with a camera in his hands, and his rise to photojournalism superstardom was quick, beginning in earnest in 1999 Kosovo, where he embedded »


- Nick Schager

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SAG-aftra Leaders Threatened With Suit Over Alleged Misconduct (Exclusive)

21 April 2017 3:58 PM, PDT

Former SAG president Ed Asner and eight other SAG-aftra members have accused the union’s leadership of extensive misconduct and threatened to file a federal lawsuit if the policies are not corrected.

Variety has learned that the United Screen Artists Committee delivered a letter of demand Friday morning to SAG-aftra headquarters in Los Angeles to National Executive Director David White and President Gabrielle Carteris. The United Screen Artists Committee is the same entity that sued the union in federal court in 2013 over the issue of the union’s alleged mis-handling of $130 million foreign royalties and residuals. That suit was dismissed in 2014.

Carteris issued a blistering response Friday: “It’s time to stop the politics. This group of people should be deeply ashamed.  After years of failed attempts to derail the success of this union through deceitful litigation, they are putting our members at risk on the eve of our most important contract negotiations. »


- Dave McNary

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Margot Robbie to Play Queen Elizabeth in ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ (Exclusive)

21 April 2017 3:33 PM, PDT

Margot Robbie is in negotiations to play Queen Elizabeth in Focus and Working Title’s “Mary Queen of Scots,” opposite Saoirse Ronan.

Josie Rourke is directing the film with Working Title’s Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Liza Chasin producing.

The movie is based on the true story of Mary Stuart’s attempt to overthrow her cousin Elizabeth I, Queen of England, only to find herself condemned to years of imprisonment before facing execution.

The film has yet to be greenlit, but sources say things are headed in the right direction. If a greenlight is given, the film would likely go sometime later this year.

Following the success of big hits like last summer’s “Suicide Squad” and “Wolf of Wall Street,” this latest role gives Robbie a prestige part to add to her portfolio. The endeavor could even have awards season potential given Focus’ track record of pushing Oscar campaigns for its prestige film. »


- Justin Kroll

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Power of Women New York Honorees Dig Deep for Worthy Causes

21 April 2017 2:20 PM, PDT

Audra McDonald captured the spirit at Variety’s fourth annual Power of Women New York luncheon when she told the crowd: “This feels like good church.”

McDonald was honored along with Jessica Chastain, Chelsea Clinton, Blake Lively, Gayle King, and Shari Redstone for their efforts on behalf of a range of philanthropic causes. The Friday afternoon event at Cipriani 42nd Street also honored Tina Knowles Lawson with the Community Commerce Impact Award.

Chastain was honored for her work with Planned Parenthood, an organization that she relied on for birth control services before she became a big-screen star. Access to affordable reproductive health care “makes it possible for a woman to have the equal opportunity of her male counterparts of having jurisdiction over her body, her life and her health,” she said.

Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson got a big round of applause for her courage in pursuing a sexual »


- Cynthia Littleton

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Film Review: ‘Phoenix Forgotten’

21 April 2017 1:59 PM, PDT

After 40 or so minutes of teasing hints that its makers may have hit upon a fresh approach to found-footage thrillers, “Phoenix Forgotten” indicates the genre may be having its last gasp on life support as the movie devolves into yet another threadbare patchwork of mounting hysteria, faux cinéma vérité, and shaky-cam visual clichés.

Things begin promisingly — or at least not off-puttingly — as Sophie (Florence Hartigan) sets out to make an investigative documentary about Josh (Luke Spencer Roberts), her older brother, and his buddies Ashley (Chelsea Lopez) and Mark (Justin Mattews), who disappeared 20 years earlier while making their own film about UFO sightings. The real-life inspiration for this fiction: On March 13, 1997, hundreds of witnesses reported glimpsing signs of extraterrestrial aircraft in the nighttime sky around Phoenix, Ariz., a phenomenon that came to be known as the “Phoenix Lights.” In the world according to “Phoenix Forgotten,” Josh and his friends trekked into »


- Joe Leydon

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