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Box Office: Pixar’s ‘Coco’ Strums $2.3 Million on Tuesday Night

1 hour ago

Disney-Pixar’s “Coco” has opened with a solid $2.3 million on Tuesday night.

The animated pic is on par with Disney’s “Moana,” which earned $2.6 million from previews during the same frame last year. It went on to gross $82 million over five days.

The family film has been on track to take in $55 million to $60 million at 3,948 venues during the Thanksgiving holiday period from Wednesday to Sunday. Estimates indicate that the costly “Justice League,” which has pulled in a disappointing $111.9 million in its first five days, will come in No. 1 again with about $60 million to $65 million.

Coco” opens in nearly 2,800 3D locations, 106 premium large format screens, and 268 theaters offering the film in Spanish. Unlike “Justice League,” critics have embraced “Coco” (its Rotten Tomatoes score is currently 95%).

Just before “Coco” began its Tuesday night previews, news broke that animation guru John Lasseter would be taking a six-month leave from the company over allegations of inappropriate behavior toward women. [link »


- Dave McNary

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Box Office: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Tracking for Stellar $200 Million Opening Weekend

3 hours ago

Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is heading for a massive launch in the $200 million range during its Dec. 15-17 opening weekend in North America, according to first estimates released by tracking services on Wednesday.

Directed by Rian Johnson, the movie picks up where 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” left off. It stars returning cast members Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Andy Serkis.

New cast members include Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, and Benicio del Toro. It’s the final film role for Fisher, who died last December.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens” set an all-time record in December of 2015, with a domestic opening of $248 million at 4,134 theaters for the first “Star Wars” movie in a decade. The first “Star Wars” spinoff, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” opened a year later with $155.1 million.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi” will most likely be the biggest debut of the »


- Dave McNary

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Scotland Yard Investigates Second Allegation Against Kevin Spacey

5 hours ago

Scotland Yard has launched an investigation into a second alleged sexual assault by Kevin Spacey that took place in London, this time dating back to 2005, Variety has learned.

The new allegation was made last week, shortly after London’s Old Vic theater said it had received 20 complaints of inappropriate behavior by former artistic director Spacey after it appealed to people to come forward with concerns and complaints. The theater said it had advised more than a dozen of the complainants to go to the police with their allegations, but it is not clear whether the new investigation launched by Scotland Yard is a result of that advice.

Police had already begun investigating an alleged assault on a young man that took place in 2008 in Lambeth, the London borough where The Old Vic is located and where Spacey had a residence. The alleged victim in that incident is believed to have been an aspiring actor who sought career »


- Stewart Clarke

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Comedies Speak Truth to Power in Golden Globes Race

27 minutes ago

Typically, the Golden Globe Award for best motion picture comedy/musical has been a mixed bag. Only once in the last decade has the victor — 2012’s “The Artist” — gone on to win the best picture Oscar. And, in 2015, “Birdman” lost to “The Grand Budapest Hotel” only to conquer the Golden Globe best pic drama winner “Boyhood” for top Oscar honors. Last year’s Oscar nail-biter pitted Globes comedy/musical winner “La La Land” against drama winner “Moonlight” — and the outcome of that contest produced an infamous finale to the night.

However, this year has flipped that script. The ugly duckling genre has transformed into a glorious swan with a juicy competition in the works. Front-runners include: “Get Out,” “Lady Bird,” “Battle of the Sexes,” “The Big Sick” and “I, Tonya.” With other potential nominees “Downsizing,” “The Greatest Showman,” “The Disaster Artist,” “Baby Driver” and “Beauty and the Beast,” a vibrant category rises, frequently reflecting »


- Thelma Adams

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Scooter Braun’s Movie Business Expanding Well Beyond Justin Bieber

27 minutes ago

In 2011, Scooter Braun made a splashy debut into the world of feature films, producing “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” concert documentary.

The movie, which carried a $13 million budget, grossed $100 million worldwide. 2013’s “Believe,” a behind-the-scenes look at Bieber’s rise to superstardom generated about $11 million in worldwide box office.

“Those films really gave us a taste of what we could do,” said Scott Manson, chief operating officer of Braun’s film operation, Sb Projects.

Braun was a producer on 2015’s quirky girl-group fantasy “Jem and the Holograms” but has branched out considerably since then by backing the indie drama “Burden,” starring Andrea Riseborough and Garrett Hedlund, who plays Mike Bruden in the story of an orphan raised within the Ku Klux Klan who attempts to break away after the girl he falls in love with urges him to leave for a better life together.

Burden” is directed by Andrew Heckler from his own script. The producer »


- Dave McNary

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Murdoch Sale Talks Underscore Digital’s Effect in Disrupting Hollywood

42 minutes ago

Industry veterans are struggling to wrap their heads around a notion that would have seemed laughable a year ago: Rupert Murdoch, a seller?

The heightened level of activity around the possible sale of some big 21st Century Fox assets is forcing Hollywood to confront the harsh reality of what some are calling the “Faang” effect: Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google have plowed into the content and distribution business and are reinventing it on their own terms.

The tech giants are fearsome competitors not only because they have far more ready cash than traditional media players to invest in the hunt for audiences. Facebook, Apple and Amazon in particular operate in fundamentally different businesses from NBC, HBO, Paramount Pictures, Comcast and the like. They have balance sheets enormous enough to make spending a few billion dollars a year on content a loss leader to fuel other strategic and financial goals — such as selling iPhones or Amazon Prime memberships »


- Cynthia Littleton

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Cannes Film Festival Tweaks Dates of 71st Edition to Kick Off One Day Earlier

1 hour ago

The Cannes Film Festival is set to host its 71st edition from May 8 to May 19, 2018, kicking off a day earlier in the week than in previous years.

The opening gala will take place on Tuesday evening (May 8), while the awards ceremony will be on Saturday (May 19). The length of the festival will remain unchanged.

Cannes said that bowing on a Tuesday will allow the festival to host an additional gala evening before the first weekend and to organize previews of the opening film throughout France. The festival also said that having the awards ceremony on Saturday evening would increase its prestige and give it a greater exposure.

“Following 2017’s anniversary edition, the festival is beginning a new period in its history,” festival president Pierre Lescure said. “We intend to renew the principles of our organization as much as possible, while continuing to question the cinema of our age and to be present through its upheavals.”

Meanwhile, Canneseries »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Netflix to Make its First Original Colombian Series

2 hours ago

Netflix is wading deep into the Amazon to make its first original Colombian series. To be executive produced by Oscar-nominated Ciro Guerra (“Embrace of the Serpent”), the still-untitled series is based on an original idea by Diego RamÍrez Schrempp and Jenny Ceballos of Colombian powerhouse shingle Dynamo. Production is slated to begin summer 2018. The series will debut exclusively on Netflix worldwide in 2019. The eight one-hour series will be shot entirely in 4 K and produced in partnership with Dynamo.

Series tracks a young detective and her partner who travel deep into the Amazon, on the border of Brazil and Colombia, to investigate a series of bizarre murders. They soon realize that there’s more intrigue to the jungle than the homicides, as they come across a mysterious indigenous tribe with an extraordinary secret that they will go to great lengths to protect.

“We are thrilled to be launching our first Colombian original, featuring great Colombian »


- Anna Marie de la Fuente

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Russell Simmons Accuser Says He Apologized to Her Privately

2 hours ago

Despite “completely and unequivocally” denying allegations that he sexually assaulted model Keri Claussen Khalighi when she was 17, Russell Simmons allegedly privately apologized to his accuser.

During an appearance on “Megyn Kelly Today,” Khalighi told the host that Simmons’ claim that what transpired in his apartment, where director-producer Brett Ratner was also present, in 1991 was “completely consensual” is “ludicrous.”

“Russell and I have actually had a face-to-face confrontation around this,” Khalighi told Kelly via video. “We’ve had phone conversations where we’ve had a conversation about what happened where there was no dispute of what we were talking about. We were both talking about what happened on that night and he actually apologized.”

“Part of what’s so confusing and re-traumatizing is what he’s speaking about privately with me is completely different than what’s come out publicly,” Khalighi continued. “And that’s the piece that’s been really, really, really upsetting, »


- Maane Khatchatourian

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Singapore Media Festival: Project Market Proposes Eclectic Se Asian Line-Up

3 hours ago

ScreenSingapore, the Southeast Asian Audio-Visual Association and Ties That Bind have announced the 15 shortlisted projects for the Southeast Asian Film Financing (Saff) project market.

In keeping with the Singapore Media Festival’s 2017 focus on Indonesia, there are five projects from the country, including: “Lastri” from Adriyanto Dewo (“Tabula Rasa”); “Marangka: The Corpse Flower,” from Andra Fembriarto (“Under the Same Sky”); feature debutant Winaldo Artaraya Swastia’s “Stalker”; “The Hunted” from Delon Tio (“Mari Lari”); and “Yuni” from Kamila Andini (“The Seen and Unseen”).

Malaysian auteur Dain Said’s longtime producer Nandita Solomon (“Interchange”) makes her directorial debut with “And The Gods Rode Hornbills.” Shanjey Kumar Perumal, who made the Malaysian box office success “Jagat,” returns with “Ryder.” Also from Malaysia is “Wilderness” from Nadira Ilana (“The Silent Riot”).

There are three projects from the Philippines, including: “Eerie” from Mikhail Red (“Neomanila”); “Mina-Anud,” the fiction feature debut of cinematographer and documentarian Kerwin Go (“Eskrimadors”); and cinematographer and short »


- Naman Ramachandran

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Dominique Farrugia Exits EuropaCorp, Joins Studiocanal

4 hours ago

Dominique Farrugia, a popular French comedian-turned-filmmaker, has joined Studiocanal as co-managing director of productions.

A long-time collaborator of Luc Besson, Farrugia joins Studiocanal from Besson’s EuropaCorp, where he spearheaded the development and production of French movies, notably “Sous le meme toit” (which he directed) with Gilles Lellouche, and the upcoming comedy “CoeXister,”directed by Fabrice Eboué.

At Studiocanal, Farrugia will be in charge of developing and overseeing the production of French comedies that have the potential of attracting international audiences. Earlier this year, Studiocanal released French comedy “alibi.com.”

Farrugia will be working closely with Géraldine Gendre, who heads up French production and distribution at Studiocanal. He will report to Didier Lupfer, the head of StudioCanal, and Maxime Saada, the boss of Canal Plus Group. Farrugia will also act as film and fiction advisor to Saada.

Farrugia is the latest in a string of executives who have exited the financially-struggling EuropaCorp since September, following [link=nm »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Film Review: ‘Virus Tropical’

4 hours ago

The name of the L.A.-based festival that celebrated its inaugural edition in October is declarative: Animation Is Film. But that manifesto is only partially upheld by Santiago Caicedo’s black-and-white feature “Virus Tropical,” which is closely adapted from the graphic novel of the same name by Power Paola, the nom de plume of Colombian-Ecuadorian cartoonist Paola Gaviria. This is most definitely a striking animation, but whether its storytelling passes muster is quite another matter.

The visual treatment here, following the lead of Gaviria’s own art direction (she reportedly produced about 5,000 individual drawings for the film) is the source of a great deal of the film’s charm, as it combines with deliberate naiveté a variety of different lo-fi, 2D black-and-white styles, from its boldly graphic, childlike, line-drawn characters, to the rickety, intricate cityscape backdrops, to the more prettified, watercolor-wash-style interludes of cloudy skies and birds in trees. And while the »


- Jessica Kiang

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Rome Film Review: ‘Valley of Shadows’

6 hours ago

A pallid boy, a dark forest and an indefinable sense of dread powerfully conjure up the primal fears of childhood in Jonas Matzow Gulbrandsen’s superbly assured feature debut “Valley of Shadows.” Shot in 35mm by the director’s brother Marius Matzow Gulbrandsen using achingly beautiful images that feel as if they’re recalling some forgotten legend of Norse mythology (with a touch of Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are”), the film isolates this eerily fair-skinned child in a shadowy landscape of inchoate menace, accompanied by Zbigniew Preisner’s richly realized orchestral score. Post-Toronto exposure doesn’t seem to be as widespread as it deserves, though further festival play might entice buyers willing to take a chance on a haunting sleeper.

While the imagery is influenced by a wide range of artists from Gustave Doré to Norwegian landscape painter Lars Hertervig, “Valley” is completely modern in design even as its concept remains timeless. The location »


- Jay Weissberg

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‘The Last Jedi’ to Close Dubai Film Festival; Full Lineup Announced

6 hours ago

Crowd-pleaser “The Last Jedi” will close the Dubai Intl. Film Festival before launching in the Middle East, part of an overall fest lineup that mixes premieres of Arabic movies with standouts from the international festival circuit. U.S. director Scott Cooper’s brutal Western “Hostiles” is slated to kick off Dubai’s 14th edition, which runs Dec. 6-13.

The festival is also feting prominent Egyptian screenwriter Wahid Hamed with a lifetime achievement award during the opening ceremony. Hamed’s long list of Egyptian film and TV credits includes big-budget 2006 contemporary Cairo epic “The Yacoubian Building,” directed by his son, Marwan Hamed, a watershed work that tackled taboo such as homosexuality and traveled widely.

Though no talent will be making the trek to Dubai for “Hostiles” and the latest “Star Wars” installment, Oscar-nominated multi-hyphenate Rob Reiner is expected to attend for the Middle East premiere of his drama “Shock and Awe,” which depicts »


- Nick Vivarelli

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Film Review: ’24 Hours to Live’

6 hours ago

In a cliche that became institutionalized during the ’80s and began fossilizing somewhere around “Taken,” it seems no action hero has sufficient motivation anymore unless his loved ones have been kidnapped and/or (preferably) killed. At least three characters labor under that burden in “24 Hours to Live,” and that’s just one of several elements that might seem preposterous if this film took itself more seriously.

Veteran stuntman Brian Smrz’s second directorial feature doesn’t quite reach the “John Wick” level of high-body-count inspirational trash, but it gets close enough. Ethan Hawke plays the inevitable grizzled former operative dragged out of retirement into a hornet’s nest of global shootouts, double-crossings and evil conspiracies. So long as you turn your thinking cap off, this high-energy enterprise will provide plenty of less-than-highbrow fun.

Travis Conrad (Hawke) is a former elite soldier-turned-murky mercenary who’s spent years taking out presumed evildoers as a private contractor for shadowy org Red »


- Dennis Harvey

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Rashida Jones Denies That She Left ‘Toy Story 4’ Over Unwanted Advance From John Lasseter

15 hours ago

Rashida Jones has denied a Hollywood Reporter article that claimed she left “Toy Story 4” as a writer, along with writing partner Will McCormack, over an unwanted advance from Pixar and Disney animation chief John Lasseter.

Jones instead said they left over “philosophical differences,” and asserted that their exit was over the fact that they believed women and people of color did not have “an equal creative voice” at Pixar. Lasseter was originally the co-director of “Toy Story 4,” but stepped down in July, with Josh Cooley taking over as the sole director.

In a statement first given to the New York Times, and later obtained by Variety, Jones and McCormack said, “We feel like we have been put in a position where we need to speak for ourselves. The break neck speed at which journalists have been naming the next perpetrator renders some reporting irresponsible and, in fact, counterproductive for the people who do want to »


- Variety Staff

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Film News Roundup: Dominique McElligott, Beau Bridges Join Boyd Holbrook’s ‘Two/One’

17 hours ago

In today’s film news roundup, “House of Cards” star Dominique McElligott joins the surreal drama “Two/One,” Faith Media Distribution generates $1.2 million in box office for “True to the Game,” and Sony’s teamed with WWE Studios on “The Marine 6.”

Castings

House of Cards” star Dominique McElligott, Beau Bridges, Zhu Zhu, and Song Yang have joined Boyd Holbrook in the cast of Juan Cabral’s drama “Two/One.”

The movie is currently in production in Canada and explores the idea that while we sleep in one place, we are awake somewhere else — in this case, a world-class ski jumper in Canada and a corporate executive in Shanghai, China.

Producers of “Two/One” are Redrum Films’ Flora Fernandez Marengo and Chris Clark along with Dave Valleau of South Creek Pictures. Holbrook is an executive producer. Protagonist Pictures is handling international sales and CAA reps domestic rights.

McElligott’s credits include “The Astronaut Wives Club” and “Hell on Wheels.” [link »


- Dave McNary

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John Lasseter Allegations Cast Shadow Over Disney-Pixar’s ‘Coco’ Debut

17 hours ago

Just as the Disney-Pixar movie “Coco” began its Tuesday night previews, news broke that animation guru John Lasseter would be taking a six-month leave over allegations of inappropriate behavior toward women. Lasseter, who runs both Pixar and Disney Animation, apologized in an email to those “on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line.”

It was an unfortunate juxtaposition for the highly anticipated movie, as Hollywood grapples with an ever-widening sexual harassment scandal, but it’s not expected to hurt the film’s box office ahead of the critical Wednesday-Sunday holiday time frame.

Coco” has already set a record for the highest grossing film ever to open in Mexico, with $48 million to date, and in the U.S., it could potentially beat “Justice League” and debut as the top film over the Thanksgiving weekend with about $60 million. Past Disney titles that have opened over the same period include »


- Ricardo Lopez

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Pixar’s John Lasseter Was the Subject of a ‘Whisper Network’ for More Than Two Decades

19 hours ago

For more than 20 years, young women at Pixar Animation Studios have been warned about the behavior of John Lasseter, who just disclosed that he is taking a leave due to inappropriate conduct with women. The company’s co-founder is known as a hugger. Around Pixar’s Emeryville, Calif., offices, a hug from Lasseter is seen as a mark of approval.

But among female employees, there has long been widespread discomfort about Lasseter’s hugs and about the other ways he showers attention on young women. On Tuesday, that history caught up with him, as Lasseter became the latest prominent person to be accused of inappropriate behavior. This comes in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse and harassment scandal that brought down the movie mogul and has also tarnished other powerful men such as Charlie Rose, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., and Amazon’s Roy Price.

In a memo to Pixar employees, Lasseter apologized »


- Gene Maddaus

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Andy Serkis Joins Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron in ‘Flarsky’

20 hours ago

Andy Serkis is joining Lionsgate’s Charlize Theron-Seth Rogen feature film “Flarsky,” portraying a media mogul who employs Rogen’s journalist character.

Flarsky” is directed by Jonathan Levine from Dan Sterling’s script. The comedy is currently shooting in Montreal. Lionsgate has set a Feb. 9, 2019, release date.

Rogen is playing the titular Fred Flarsky, battered by his own misfortune and self-destructive ways, who endeavors to pursue Theron’s character — his childhood crush and babysitter, who now happens to be the U.S. Secretary of State and is one of the most unattainable women on earth.

Serkis portrayed the lead character Caesar in Fox’s “War for the Planet of the Apes.” He made his directorial debut on “Breathe,” starring Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy, and is in post-production on the live-action “Jungle Book,” which Warner Bros. will open on Oct. 19.

Rogen’s Point Grey Pictures, Theron’s Denver and Delilah Films, and [link=co »


- Dave McNary

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