Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tarantino Takes A Leak

As a web leak of the cover page of his new script Django Unchained bullets around the internet, Quentin Tarantino begins casting on a "Tarantino" variation of the Western film. A genre he calls a "Southern." Tarantino has written a spaghetti Western, that stylized and violent brand of films popularized in the 1960s by Sergio Leone and a few other directors. This is certain to be right up Taranto's creative alley and will bring Tarantino further hollywoodteur status as he puts his auteur stamp on the Western genre as he did with the war mission film genre with his highly successful and acclaimed Inglourious Basterds.

Tarantino is reuniting with Pulp Fiction producer Stacey Sher. Sher will produce with Pilar Savone, while Weinstein, who distributed Pulp Fiction, will spearhead domestic distribution on Django Unchained through TWC. Universal International has the inside track to co-finance and handle foreign distribution because of the relationship built on 2009's Inglourious Basterds, which grossed $190 million overseas, and $314 million overall.

Production starts later this year depending on Tarantino's top shelf talent availability. The word from the Hollywood convertible is, after the leak of the cover page, everyone involved will be working harder to keep the script under wraps -- unless it ensures 1 more ticket sale, then all "leaks" on.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mike's Magic for Steven Soderbergh

Hold onto your g-strings and grab your one dollar bills! Oft declared retiring auteur film director Steven Soderbergh, the visionary filmmaker who broke Hollywood barriers with sex, lies, and videotape and Out of Sight is committed to direct Channing Tatum in Magic Mike. Tatum plays the title character, who schools a young dancer in how to hustle on and off the stage during a wild summer of dancing, partying and women. At its core, Magic Mike is a story of friendship set in the world of male strippers inspired by Channing's own experiences as a stripper when he was 19.

"When Channing talked to me about this, I thought it was one of the best ideas I'd ever heard for a movie," Soderbergh said in a statement. "I said I wanted in immediately. It's sexy, funny and shocking. We're using Saturday Night Fever as our model, so hopefully we're on the right track." As for Tatum: "This was a wild and pivotal time in my life and I couldn't be more thrilled to go down the rabbit hole with Steven." Currently, shooting 21 Jump Street, Channing will next be seen starring in The Vow with Rachel McAdams.

With his blurred notion of retirement, Soderbergh has several projects in the pipeline including the newly completed the action driven Haywire starring maritial arts fighter Gina Carano, releasing in August. Soderbergh followed that by shooting Contagion, a drama about the outbreak of a deadly virus with Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Marion Cotillard for October. Also on the Soderbergh docket are Liberace with Douglas and Damon and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. with his former partner and frequent onscreen collaborator George Clooney.

Soderbergh's film production single-handedly changed the landscape of independent cinema by forging monetary success commanded by hollywoodteurs along with intelligent indie films which reached audiences well beyond the arthouse cinema circuit.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tyler Perry Continues to Shine with Less Screens More Cash Phenom

While Twentieth Century Fox’s 3D cartoon Rio was Easter's weekend's top grossing film and became the top global grossing film of 2011 with a worldwide cume of $286 million, the real news is Tyler Perry's continued home box office domination with his brand of cost effective lowbrow formulaic cinematic entertainment.

Coming in # 2 over the holiday weekend is Perry's new joint, Madea’s Big Happy Family --seeming like the least one and the one before that one too. Nevertheless, Medea collected a solid $25.8 million from 2,288 locations in its debut. By sticking to his cliches, Perry's core fanbase gave Medea the best per screen average of any wide release of $11,255 and drew a pleasing A CinemaScore.

So, say what you want about Tyler Perry's novice filmmaking skills and generic stories of religious tinged, and the moral of the story is, and other buffoonery laden cross-dressing stereotypes -- and everyone from Spike Lee to the Boondock's creator Aaron McGruder has chimed in on Perry's movie mogul visions -- yet Perry has easily become the most profitable and bankable Black filmmaker in the history of Hollywood and one of its most prolific in terms of hollywoodized mass produced movies to be well on his way of being one of the most financially successful hollywoodteurs of all-time.

Lionsgate president of theatrical distribution David Spitz said, "Tyler Perry has such a loyal following." Spitz did not comment as to whether he, his family and friends saw the latest Medea which played great in the urban markets of New York, Washington DC, and Baltimore, as well as the South, such as Atlanta - home to Tyler Perry Studios.

Filmed In A Day

Life In A Day, is a historic global experiment which created the world’s largest user-generated feature film. Life In A Day is a documentary film shot in a single day by well people all over the globe. Produced by Sir Ridley Scott and directed Kevin Macdonald on July 24, 2010, un-famous and non-celebrity world denizens were given 24-hours to capture a glimpse of a day in their lives on camera.

From the more than 80,000 clips submitted, the most compelling and distinctive 1,125 scenes were selected and edited into the final film - an experimental documentary film. The finished film had its world premiere screening at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and was then made available for worldwide viewing on YouTube, but only for a very limited time.

Now comes its theatrical release, set for July courtesy of National Geographic Entertainment. Life In A Day is groundbreaking, innovative and transcendent filmmaking.">

Friday, April 22, 2011

Oliver Stone's Savages

For the upcoming Savages, the drama based on Don Winslow’s bestselling novel, Oliver Stone has put together a brilliant cast arranging a Pulp Fiction reunion of John Travolta and Uma Thurman. Also casting in is Blake Lively, who beat out a bevy of young, single, white, blonde, females to play the integral role of O. Travolta will play Dennis, a burned out DEA agent while Thurman will play O’s mom, Paqu.

Savages is the druggy dilemma of best friends and Laguna pot growers Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and Ben (Aaron Johnson), who live a blazed-out lifestyle with their trippy galpal, O. Their Laguna pot is so good that the Mexican cartel wants in. When they refuse, the cartel kidnaps O and charges a heavy ransom to get her back. Chon, a Navy SEAL, and Ben pay the ransom by covertly ripping off the cartel’s own shipments setting the stage for a most dangerous international thief.

Also in the mix are Salma Hayek, who plays the role of Mexican cartel queen-pin Elena and Benicio Del Toro, as the vicious cartel enforcer Lado. The script is by Winslow and Shane Salerno. Production on Savages begins in July with Universal Pictures financing and distributing.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Casting Notes - Gangster Squad

Warner Bros has begun negotiating with Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin to star in Gangster Squad. The Will Beall, scripted crime drama will be directed by Zombieland helmer Ruben Fleischer. Production begins this fall.

Penn will play Los Angeles mobster Mickey Cohen, while Gosling and Brolin are in talks to play two cops assigned to bring him down when the gangster's violent ways leaves no one safe in the City of Angels. Dan Lin and Kevin McCormick are producing.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


It is 1948 in Jerusalem when a middle aged woman, Hind Husseini (Hiam Abbass), on her way to work comes across 55 orphaned children in the street. She takes them home to give them food and shelter. Within six months, 55 grows to nearly 2,000 young students, and thus the Dar Al-Tifel Institute is birthed.

From Julian Schnabel, Academy Award nominated director of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Before Night Falls and Basquiat, comes Miral, the story of four women whose lives intertwine amid a world overshadowed by conflict, rage and war.

In 1978, at the age of 7, Miral (Freida Pinto) was sent to the Institute by her father following her mother's death. Brought up safely inside the Institute's walls, she is naïve to the troubles just beyond the wall in front of her. Then, in 1988, at the age of 17, she is assigned to teach at a refugee camp where she is awakened to the reality of Palestine and Israel.

Schnabel's direction unfolds this material, based on the experiences of Rula Jebreal, who also wrote the screenplay, in a soap opera rather than Shakespearian. His usual auteur vision of cinematizing amazing novels onto the big screen with with style and cinematography failed him this time around, as the sometimes awkward camera feels like a gimmick - like out takes from The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

Hiam Abbass's performance is stellar as usual. Freida Pinto is certainly miscast as a Palestinian and that's all I will say about that. With all of the elements of an epic, Schnabel gives his audience a movie.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Music In Film

Remember the feeling? There was a time when films had great pop music infused soundtracks and amazingly cool music videos that bridged the eyes with the ears?

"Flashdance. . .What A Feeling" from Irene Cara.">

Monday, April 18, 2011

Politics of Love - A Flick

The Politics of Love starring Brian White and Mallika Sherawat has been acquired by Codeblack Entertainment with a July theatrical release set.

Inspired by the real-life romances that blossomed during then Senater Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, Politics of Love is a contemporary romantic comedy with Brian White playing a volunteer coordinator working for Republican presidential candidate John McCain office who ignites sparks with the Democratic devoted Barack Obama presidential volunteer coordinator, played by Mallika Sherawat.

Directed by William Dear directed from a screenplay by Gary Goldstein, the film also stars Ruby Dee and Loretta Devine. The Politics of Love may be the independent candidate to seek out amongst the landmine of summer blockbusters.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pure Profit - Independent Films Rock Weekend

In the continue brainless LCD (least common denominator) approach to filmmaking Hollywood is mass marketing to 12-year olds, no statistical analyzing is needed to understand the dismal trend of anemic low box office receipts - unless you are an actor, writer, director, producer who gets your $3-$15 million up front.

On the flipside, there is good news - for independents, both audiences and filmmakers. The Conspirator from Roadside Attractions and Insidious from FilmDistrict impressed at the weekend box office. Coming in at #6, legendary Hollywoodteur Robert Redford directed The Conspirator. One would think with Robert Redford at the helm everything is a set; however, Redford searched for a distributor and was eventually picked up and distributed by Roadside Attractions.

The weekend saw Insidious from director James Wan carving out a #10 spot. Insidious was made for around $1 million and will probably wind up being the most successful film this year, ratio wise, when you compare its production cost to its box office take, which currently stands at $37.2 million.

The real story here is for filmmakers to know audiences are here. Insidious is a horror film while The Conspirator is a drama -- the ending is pure box office profit.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Roman Polanski Gets the Greenlight In America

Sony Pictures Classics has announced it will release the new Roman Polanski’s new film, Carnage, in North America. Working from a script penned by Polanski with the help of Yasmina Reza, who wrote the 2009 Tony Award winning play God of Carnage. The film adaptation stars Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly.

Carnage is happening in contemporary Brooklyn, New York. The story follows two pairs of parents, who meet for the first time shortly after their respective sons have a nasty schoolyard tangle. Michael and Veronica, whose son’s teeth were knocked out with a stick, invite Alan and Annette, whose son did the knocking out, to their home to settle toothy matter. However, any attempt at having a civilized discussion about whose child is responsible for the juvenile altercation sees the parents spiraling into immaturity and temper tantrums of their very own.

Producer of Carnage, Said Ben Said (The Witness), expects an end of year release. Right in time for Oscar consideration. Looking forward to this one. Much better than that old Tooth Fairy!

Friday, April 15, 2011

New Gus Van Sant Flick Is In The Cannes

The new Gus Van Vant film Restless will open Un Certain Regard, selection of the Festival de Cannes, on the evening of Thursday, May 12. Restless will be released in the Fall by Sony Pictures Classics in North America, with Sony Pictures Releasing distributing in the rest of the world.

Produced by Columbia Pictures, Imagine Entertainment and 360 Pictures, the coming-of-age film examines the relationship of two outsider teenagers played by Mia Wasikowska and Henry Hopper, who are brought together by unseen circumstances. Restless director, Gus Van Sant, received the Palme d’or in 2003 for Elephant and the 60th anniversary award for Paranoid Park (2007). His first nomination at the Festival de Cannes was in 1995 for To Die For.

Un Certain Regard chooses close to twenty films each year for its official selection. The president of the jury, Emir Kusturica, will present the Prize Un Certain Regard on May 21.

The official Un Certain Regard selection was announced on Thursday, April 14th.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gotti Flick

John Travolta will star in the upcoming film Gotti: Three Generations. Produced by Marc Fiore's Fiore Films with Nick Cassavetes (Blow, John Q) directing a screenplay from Leo Rossi (Analyze This), Travolta will play the "Teflon" mafia don John Gotti, Sr. in the epic film based on the life of Gotti Jr. and his relationship with his father, who ran the Gambino crime family.

From a press conference in Midtown Manhattan Tuesday, "This is probably the most interesting untold story in this country," Travolta said, adding that a recent five-hour long meeting with Gotti Jr. convinced him to sign on to the project. Travolta might be exaggerating, as most people in America are familiar with the exploits of the Gotti's. Nevertheless, who can turn down a Gotti offer? Forget about it!

On the casting side Lindsay Lohan is in talks to play the part of mob daughter, Victoria Gotti, while Joe Pesci will portray Gotti deputy Angelo Ruggiero. Even Travolta's daughter Ella Bleu Travolta will also have a role that wasn't immediately detailed. The team is also in conversations with an unnamed actor to play Gotti Jr. Gotti Jr. himself quipped, "Eddie Murphy should play me." Now that is one way to cover your markets. Hollywood prides itself on green so Eddie Murphy probably won't be receiving a producer's call.

Filming begins in the Fall.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Greenlight: Remake of Jamaican Classic 'The Harder They Come'

After numerous failed attempts, the cult Jamaican thriller The Harder They Come may at last be set for a remake. Producer Trudie Styler has joined forces with, among others, Jamaican producer Justine Henzell – daughter of the original's director Perry Henzell (who died in 2006) – who now owns the rights.

Henzell claims to have been approached “many times by companies with remake ideas,” adding, “For the first time, I am confident we have a team that will simultaneously honor the original while creating a new narrative worthy of the legacy.”

The Harder They Come, made in 1972, starred Jimmy Cliff as a naive country boy and aspiring musician who turns up in the Jamaican capital Kingston, hoping to make it big only to be lured into a life of crime. It is generally credited with popularizing reggae in Europe and the US, and boasted a bestselling soundtrack including contributions from Toots and the Maytals, Desmond Dekker and Cliff himself, who recorded the title track for the film.

A draft of the screenplay is expected to be completed in time for the 2011 Cannes market where Styler's production company Xingu Films, Canada’s Conquering Lion, and Henzel will shop the project for financing and distribution. Principal photography scheduled for 2012. Stayed tuned for casting and director announcements.

Until then revisit the original - an original!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A True Filmmaker - Adieu Sidney Lumet

Legendary filmmaker Sidney Lumet has passed away. Lumet, who directed such Hollywood classics as "Serpico," "Dog Day Afternoon" and "Network," was 86.

With more than 50 films (including the African American classic "The Wiz") to his credit over the last six decades, one of his best was his first, the 1957 courtroom drama "12 Angry Men." It portrayed 12 jurors as they tried to reach a verdict in the trial of a young Hispanic man wrongly accused of murder.

Lumet's films often depicted the grittier side of New York, such as "Dog Day Afternoon," the true-life story of two social misfits who tried to rob a bank on a hot summer afternoon. Another film, "Serpico," explored the corruptibility of New York police officers.

Critics often said his most memorable film was "Network," a scathing view of the television business. American film aficionados can often recall a memorable line from the movie, when a crazed newscaster, played by actor Peter Finch, exhorted his audience to open their windows and shout, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

Lumet received four Oscar 'Best Director' nominations but never won. Lumet's films were smart and cleverly turned the mirror straight onto America and the financiers of the white picketed fenced dreams.

Mr. Lumet was awarded an honorary Academy Award in 2005 for "brilliant services" to screenwriters and actors over the years, however it is the American public and the world who will forever has a more insightful view of American mores forever captured and brilliantly documented in his works.

Friday, April 8, 2011

How Do You Say 'Sell-out' in Chinese?

Disney is building its first theme park in mainland China - having one theme park in China's Hong Kong is not enough for the rodent logoed international conglomeration.

The Walt Disney Company and Shanghai Shendi Group marked the start of construction at a groundbreaking ceremony held earlier in the day. Walt Disney Co President/CEO Bob Iger and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs were joined by Shanghai Party Secretary Yu Zhengsheng and Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng to officially break ground on the project.

“Today marks a significant milestone in the history of The Walt Disney Company,” Iger said. He continued with his canned capitalism - in English - “Our Shanghai resort will be a world-class family vacation destination that combines classic Disney characters and storytelling with the uniqueness and beauty of China. Working with our Chinese partners, the Shanghai Disney Resort will be both authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese.” Never did Iger note, China would be most beautiful without a world-class mainland China based Disney destination.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

MTV Greenlights Not 1 But 2 Jersey Shore Spin-offs

Now we all know what the M in MTV stands for. There was a time when MTV was the coolest and one of the most influential networks around inspiring music, dance, pop culture, art, fashion, language, style, film - pretty much everything. Please know, MTV was also notoriously segregating and discriminating denying all Black musicians and their videos airplay until Michael Jackson and Prince could no longer be held back. FACT!

Today, David Janollari, MTV Head of Programming, and Chris Linn, MTV Executive Vice President of Programming and Head of Production, announced based upon its record-breaking series “Jersey Shore” the network has given the greenlight to new programming that will feature cast members Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Paul “DJ Pauly D” Delvecchio and Jenni “JWoww” Farley. Executive Produced by SallyAnn Salsano of 495 Productions, the two untitled reality projects begin production later this year and are slated to air in 2012.

Both series will chronicle the lives all three lead away from their summer shares and housemates in the their “Jersey Shore” cable series. Linn said, “we’re excited to put the spotlight on their lives away from the shore as they pursue their individual passions, careers and relationships. Both series are fun, fresh ways for us to evolve what is an already successful brand for us."

It's official, MTV is officially becoming the "Jersey Shore" network. Caldo disordine!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Another Network - Bounce

There is a new TV network coming to your digital viewing outlets this fall called, Bounce. Based in Atlanta, the Bounce TV network will target African Americans and is taking advantage of the digital spectrum broadcast networks have been using since 2009.

Majority owned and operated by African-Americans, Bounce initial ownership team includes Martin Luther King III, former U.N. Ambassador and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young as well as industry insiders Ryan Glover and Jonathan Katz (both former executives at Turner Broadcasting) and creators of Rainforest Films ("Stomp the Yard," "Takers") Rob Hardy and Will Packer.

Bounce will directly compete and via for viewing audience and market share with Radio One, which owns TV One and Viacom, which owns BET and Centric. Bounce's first programming will focus on established African American movies, including Spike Lee classics "Do the Right Thing" and "Mo' Better Blues," Will Smith's "Ali," John Singleton's "Boyz ‘n the Hood" and Denzel Washington vehicles "Glory," "Philadelphia" and "The Hurricane," and sports events through Urban Sports Entertainment Group for football and basketball games from the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

The network will use the production and operational resources of Atlanta-based CSE, a sports, entertainment and TV production agency. Greenlight urges Bounce to create original programming immediately to establish its identity, reach its market and set its standard for entertainment.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Locations - Gotham Pitti

Warner Bros Pictures has selected Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as the production location for the upcoming and final installation of the moody and psychological action driven Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, 'The Dark Knight Rises.'

Set to begin filming this summer, 'The Dark Knight Rises' will have a major economic impact on Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl stated, “This is another example of the growing film industry in our community, and we will be rolling out the red carpet for them." Outside of India's Bollywood and Nigeria's Nollywood, Hollywood is the original film factory of sacred Golden Age glamour and gilded silver screen dreams. It is noteworthy that Hollywood is using innovative locations right here in the good old USA to shoot American blockbusters, film franchises, trilogies, series, prequels, sequels, series and summer tentpoles.

Director Christopher Nolan offered, “Pittsburgh is a beautiful city. We have been able to find everything we were looking for here, and I am excited to spend the summer in Pittsburgh with our final installment of Batman.”

'The Dark Knight Rises' is slated to premiere July 20, 2012 - worldwide, of course.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Netflix - Friend or Frenemy?

Orly Ravid, the co-executive director of The Film Collaborative, said indie films don't seem as key to Netflix any more. "Netflix stopped focusing on the little guys and more on the big films and I think that's why they're growing so fast," he said. "I don't think there's enough people in this country interested in indie films to make that much difference."

Indie film firm Gravitas Ventures has licensed 300 movies to Netflix. And its founder Nolan Gallagher said Netflix is only one part of a successful distribution strategy. "I would say Netflix is a friend to the indie filmmaker."

All filmmakers should to create a diverse marketing and distribution plan reaching as many outlets as possible tackling iTunes, Amazon, Facebook, Youtube and of course creating you own website and controlling your film and vision while building your audience.

Today with so many distribution outlets, there are many ways to secure a profitable return on investment (ROI) success for indie filmmakers.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The King's Speech - Mouth Washed Out With Soap

Please bore somebody else with your PG-13 version of The King's Speech.

Can you believe a film as politically correct and an Oscar winner has to be PG-13-ized for the puritan American multi-mega-cinemaplex sect?

The Weinstein Company is hoping this tamed version will attract families. As the King said, "Fuck, fffuck! fuck. FUCK!"

Friday, April 1, 2011

Blockbuster - Under The Gavel!

Even amid reports today in the Wall Street Journal that investors like billionaire Carl Icahn, Dish Network and even South Korean company SK Telecom, are reportedly preparing bids for Blockbuster ahead of its auction on Monday, I can never quite understand American business that fold and go bankrupt in an industry that is growing or evolving into something bigger and better. Why do companies continue to run themselves into the ground, all the while paying huge salaries to creators, CEOs and Board of Directors, who do not force the said companies to connect and embrace the new technology of its original idea?

It is hard to believe Blockbuster could not have been a leader in the streaming, VOD, online and mailing DVD business or quickly merged or bought out those upstarts, like Netflix, at the very beginning. Blockbuster obviously changed over from VHS cassettes to DVD and Blu-Ray. However, this was not enough, real change was required, changes in the corporate attitude, corporate culture (oxymoron?), Research & Development and the most critical and important step -- integration of the data and information into consumer needs, current trends and future marketplace demands.

As the cliché goes, “One day you’re in. The next you’re out.” A company should not and cannot transcend the marketplace based on clichés. It must predict and set trends, it must remain fresh and modern as the day it start and a viable commodity to generations ahead.
Today, Bloomberg reported that more than 50 creditors have filed objections to a sale in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. These are apart from the larger creditors, like Hollywood studios, who agreed to a deal earlier this month that allowed the auction process to move forward.

Whatever the situation, the gavel will come down on Blockbuster as it did not have the foresight to keep up.