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Bryce Dallas Howard to Make Directorial Debut on ‘Sorta Like a Rock Star’ (Exclusive)

51 minutes ago

Bryce Dallas Howard is attached to make her directing debut on an adaptation of the Matthew Quick novel “Sorta Like a Rock Star,” sources tell Variety.

Howard has directed a handful of short films as well as an M-80 music video starring Lily Collins but this would mark her full-length debut.

The film is currently in early development and without a distributor but sources say if the film moves forward she would direct.

Originally set up at Fox Searchlight, the story follows an optimistic high school student, Amber Appleton, who secretly lives in her mom’s school bus during her senior year after an altercation at home.

Lee Stollman, Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen will produce.

Ol Parker penned the most recent draft of the script.

Best known for her acting in films like “The Help” and “Jurassic World,” Howard, whose father is iconic director Ron Howard, has always had an interest in following in her father »


- Justin Kroll

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‘Lord of the Rings’ Spoke to 1960s College Kids — and to United Artists

1 hour ago

Happy birthday, Frodo. J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” debuted July 29, 1954; the next two books were published separately in the next 15 months. Tolkien’s popularity in the U.S. climbed significantly in 1965, when Ballantine printed a revised paperback edition.

When United Artists acquired film rights to “Rings” in 1969, Variety explained that the books’ success was fueled by students, adding that the trilogy “preceded marijuana and LSD in making the younger generation flip.” For years, “Rings” continued to fascinate but frustrate filmmakers. Among those who flirted with film adaptations were Walt Disney, John Boorman and the Beatles; Ralph Bakshi did a 1978 animated version. But a live-action version went nowhere until 1998, when Peter Jackson made a successful pitch to New Line’s Bob Shaye.

On Aug. 31, 1998, Variety announced that New Line would commit $130 million to perhaps the biggest gamble in the history of movies: Jackson would make three films simultaneously. If »


- Tim Gray

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12 Most Badass Action Heroines

1 hour ago

To celebrate this weekend’s opening of “Atomic Blonde,” in which Charlize Theron shoots first, and last, and seldom bothers to ask questions later, we’re paying tribute to other superwomen of the screen. Think of these as the Dirty Dozen of Badass Action Heroines.

Related storiesCharlize Theron Relates 'Atomic Blonde' to 'Wonder Woman': 'Girls Can Take Ownership in This Space'Jennifer Lawrence's 'Mother!' Moves Forward to September ReleaseJosh Lucas to Star Opposite Uma Thurman in 'The Parisian Woman' on Broadway »


- Joe Leydon

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‘The Desert Bride’ Leads Feature Debuts Vying for Sanfic International Prize

1 hour ago

The Desert Bride,” starring the grande dame of Chilean cinema, Paulina Garcia, heads a stellar international competition lineup at Chile’s 13th Santiago Int’l Film Festival (Sanfic), which unspools Aug. 20-27, where first-time filmmakers of both fiction and docu features compete among more established filmmakers.

The directorial feature debut of filmmakers Valeria Pivato and Cecilia Atan, the Argentine-Chilean co-production had its world premiere at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard this year. Drama centers on the travails and life-changing experience of a long-time maid in Argentina who is forced on a journey across the desert towards new employment.

Also vying for the international competition prize is Venezuelan tyro Gustavo Rondon’s directorial debut “The Family,” which had its world debut in Cannes’ Critics Week. The father-son drama is one of many notable films emerging from Venezuela despite the political and economic crisis roiling the country.

Argentine producer-thesp Ivan Granovsky vies for the big prize with his directorial debut »


- Anna Marie de la Fuente

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Box Office: ‘Atomic Blonde’ Explodes With $1.5 Million, Topping ‘Emoji Movie,’ on Thursday

4 hours ago

Charlize Theron’s “Atomic Blonde” exploded with $1.5 million on Thursday night while Sony’s animated “The Emoji Movie” took in $900,000.

Focus Features and Sierra/Affinity’s spy thriller has been projected for an opening weekend in the low $20 million range from 3,304 sites. “Atomic Blonde,” which has a $30 million price tag, is set in 1989 Germany during the fall of the Berlin Wall. »


- Dave McNary

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Flint Water Crisis Documentary in the Works From ‘You’ve Been Trumped’ Filmmaker

5 hours ago

You've Been Trumped” filmmaker Anthony Baxter is planning a feature documentary on the three-year-old water crisis in Flint, Mich.

Baxter made the announcement Friday at the Traverse City Film Festival in Michigan, where he showed 20 minutes of footage. The project will be made through the Imaginary Forces company, which produced the Emmy-nominated documentary “Sonic Sea,” and Scotland-based Montrose Pictures.

The crisis stems from the drinking water source for the city of Flint being changed from treated water from Lake Huron to the Flint River. As a result, more than 100,000 residents were potentially exposed to high levels of lead in the drinking water.

Imaginary Forces co-founder Peter Frankfurt said, “This is an urgently needed documentary. Imaginary Forces is good at expressing complex ideas in simple and affecting ways. We want the world to connect with what happened and what’s still happening in Flint. Anthony is telling a powerful and important story and we are glad »

- Dave McNary

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Altice Group’s Second-Quarter Financial Results Bolstered by Its U.S. Unit

8 hours ago

Paris – Altice Group saw its second-quarter core operating profit rise by 6.9% to 2.4 billion euros ($2.8 billion), bolstered by the growth of Altice USA, the unit that owns Cablevision and Suddenlink.

Patrick Drahi’s Netherlands-based telecom and cable group also saw its revenue surge 2.7% to 5.9 billion euros ($6.9 billion) during the second quarter.

Michel Combes, CEO of Altice, attributed the results to the company’s “vision of convergence” which he said consists of “extensive deployment of fiber and super-fast mobile broadband networks, innovations from Altice Labs, investment in content, and monetization of digital and TV advertising.”

The revenue of Altice USA, believed to be the fourth-biggest U.S. cable company, went up 5.8% to 2.1 billion euros ($2.4 billion), while its core operating profit skyrocketed 25.3% to 913 million euros ($1.06 billion).

“Altice USA continues to grow at an accelerated pace with further margin expansion as we continue to execute on our efficiency targets,” said Combes.

Altice USA raised $1.9 billion in an initial public offering in »

- Elsa Keslassy

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New Europe Picks Up Venice-Bound Iranian Drama ‘Disappearance’ (Exclusive)

8 hours ago

Jan Naszewski’s Warsaw-based sales outlet New Europe Film Sales has signed a world sales deal for Ali Asgari’s Iranian drama “Disappearance,” recently selected for the Venice Film Festival’s Horizons competition.

Penned by Asgari together with his writing partner Farnoosh Samadi, “Disappearance” tells the story of “two young lovers, who, in the course of one cold night in Tehran, go from hospital to hospital in search of help. Soon they will have to face the tragic consequences of their youthful naivete,” according to a statement.

Disappearance” is the first feature-length film by Asgari, whose short films competed in Venice and Cannes. The project was developed in the Cannes Cinefondation Residence and received a grant from the Doha Film Institute. It was produced in Iran by Pouria Heidary Oureh, Ali Sadraei of Three Gardens Film.

Samadi and Asgari’s latest short “Gaze” will also compete in Locarno this year.

Naszewski, »


- Leo Barraclough

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San Sebastian: ‘El Autor,’ ’Handia,’ ‘Life and Nothing More’ Make Competition Cut

9 hours ago

Madrid — “Marrowbone,” the awaited directorial debut of Sergio G. Sanchez, screenwriter of “Jurassic World 2” director J.A. Bayona’s “The Orphanage” and “The Impossible,” will screen at this year’s San Sebastian Festival, the highest-profile film event in the Spanish-speaking world.

As will Florida-set “Life and Nothing More,” Spaniard Antonio Mendez Esparza’s follow-up to Cannes Critics’ Week winner “Aquí y Allá”; “Fe de Etarras,” Netflix’s second original movie in Spain, and Aitor Arregi and Jon Garaño’s anticipated “Handia,”  a flagship of new Basque cinema.

San Sebastián’s Perlas, a fest standouts section, closes with Fernando Leon de Aranoa’s “Loving Pablo,” announced yesterday as Venice-bound and a true-event tale of Pablo Escobar’s love affair with a TV presenter. Javier Bardem plays Escobar, Penelope Cruz his unlikely lover.

“Handia,” “Life and Nothing More” and “El Autor,” directed by Manuel Martin Cuenca (“Canibal”), vie in San Sebastian’s main competition for its top Golden Shell award »


- John Hopewell

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Film Review: ‘Love and Goodbye and Hawaii’ (‘Koi to Guddobai to Hawai’)

9 hours ago

Breaking up is hard to do, and the heroine of the delightfully wry romantic comedy “Love and Goodbye and Hawaii” sure makes a song and (hula) dance about it. As light as a wafer but also as sweet and crisp, the sophomore feature by Japanese writer-director Shingo Matsumura takes the timeworn premise “Can ex-lovers still be friends?” and fills it up with a delectable sundae of character quirks, deadpan dialogue and gently heart-tugging wistfulness. This modest independent effort is gradually making its mark at fests — winning the Japan Cuts award at the Osaka Asian Film Festival and earning a competition slot in Shanghai, as well as making a U.S. bow.

Like so many Japanese films, the theme concerns overcoming communication barriers, but rather than focusing on how to express oneself, the lesson for the self-absorbed protagonists is how to listen to others even if they don’t like what they hear. Matsumura »


- Maggie Lee

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Film Review: ‘No Bed of Roses’ (‘Doob’)

10 hours ago

Based on a celebrity scandal that shook conservative Bangladesh society, “No Bed of Roses” avoids every tabloid ingredient the story potentially holds. Through the director-protagonist’s divorce and the painful rift it causes to his family, the film ponders the big existential questions of why happiness never lasts and whether loneliness is a preexisting human condition. Directed with an assured and graceful touch that evokes the elegiac tone of a requiem, Mostofa Sarwar Farooki proves he’s a singular voice in Bangladeshi cinema. With Irrfan Khan delivering another sublime lead performance (while being billed as co-producer), the film should bloom at festivals and secure a limited release in India, despite some censorship issues back home. 

The fourth feature by Farooki is based on an affair of one of the country’s most prominent authors (who also directed films). It was considered a breach of propriety because his lover was his daughter’s classmate. The »


- Maggie Lee

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Wanda’s Qingdao Studio Could Be Part of Recent Selloff of Theme Parks and Hotels

11 hours ago

In a dramatic twist to Dalian Wanda’s recent offloading of theme parks and hotels, questions swirled Friday over whether the company’s huge new studio complex in Qingdao is included in the $9.2 billion sale, which would make Wanda’s pullback in the entertainment arena even starker.

In a regulatory filing in Hong Kong, developer Sunac China listed the properties it is acquiring from Wanda in the recently announced deal. In Qingdao, aside from other parcels, the list includes, in English, Wanda’s “television industry park.” (In the Chinese-language filing, the words are “film and television park.”)

The Wall Street Journal quoted a Sunac spokeswoman as saying that this referred to Wanda Studios, the massive production facility Wanda is building in seaside Qingdao, including 30 sound stages, half of which are already up and running. “The Great Wall” and “Pacific Rim 2” were shot at the site, which sprawls over 400 acres, and other productions are underway.

However, »


- Henry Chu

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Film Review: ‘Tokyo Ghoul’

17 hours ago

A nerdy college boy is transformed into a half-human, half-monster hybrid in “Tokyo Ghoul,” an uneven live-action adaptation of Sui Ishida’s hit manga about flesh-eating creatures running amok in an alternate contemporary Japan. Stylishly decorated and generating all-important sympathy for a character living precariously in two worlds, director Kentaro Hagiwara’s feature debut gets the drama right but is let down by visual effects that are sometimes unconvincing. Given the massive global popularity of the manga and its spinoff anime series, “Tokyo Ghoul” should get off to a flying start when it opens domestically on July 29, followed by an international rollout in August (which could help build interest for a U.S. release tentatively planned later this fall by Funimation).

Before entering the dark domain of creatures that are indistinguishable from humans — until it’s too late — the images are bright and the tone is bouncy. Ken Kaneki (Masataka Kubota) is a shy university student who »


- Richard Kuipers

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Sally Kirkland, Mel Novak to Star in Thriller ‘When It Rings’ (Exclusive)

18 hours ago

Sally Kirkland and Mel Novak have joined the cast of independent thriller “When it Rings” opposite newcomer Gonzalo Martin, Variety has learned exclusively.

Shooting has started in Los Angeles. First-time feature directors Ty Haisten and David Rivers are directing from their own script. Sophia Monti, Mann Alfonso and Amy Ellenberger co-star. Producers are Tyrone Tann of Stauros Entertainment, Ellecina Eck, Haisten and Rivers.

Martin portrays a young man returning to his childhood home to get it ready for sale and uncovering an old toy phone he once used to “talk” to his dead sister, who drowned a decade ago in the backyard and made his mother too unstable to raise him. After the phone begins ringing, he must decide whether to answer it or get rid of the only connection to his dead sister. Kirkland stars as the neighbor-turned-caretaker for the unstable mother and Novak portrays the unwitting buyer of the home.

Kirkland »


- Dave McNary

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‘Wonder Woman’: Warner Bros. Plans Groundbreaking Oscar Campaign for Director, Best Picture (Exclusive)

19 hours ago

With $781 million in global box office receipts, “Wonder Woman” has already broken records as the highest-grossing movie directed by a woman ever.

Now Warner Bros., the studio behind the film, wants the action movie to break another glass ceiling. Although executives haven’t commented publicly on their plans, they have internally discussed launching a formidable awards-season campaign for the movie, in the hopes of making it the first comic-book film nominated for best picture, Variety has learned.

The studio will also stump Patty Jenkins for best director, which would also be groundbreaking. No director of a comic-book film — not even Christopher Nolan — has ever been nominated, and only men have ruled the category since (and before) Kathryn Bigelow won the Oscar for “The Hurt Locker” in 2010.

Related

Wonder Woman’s’ Chris Pine, Patty Jenkins to Reteam on TNT Series ‘One Day She’ll Darken’

A spokesperson for WB declined to comment.

This »


- Ramin Setoodeh

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Film Review: ‘It Stains the Sands Red’

19 hours ago

Just how thin our pop-cultural vogue for zombies can be stretched is the pressing question behind “It Stains the Sands Red,” which hinges almost entirely on the suspense that can be wrung from one woman fighting off one bitey, bitey z-man. Is that premise enough for a feature? Not this one, not quite, although Colin Minihan’s film and his leading lady Brittany Allen can’t be faulted for lack of trying. Watchable if never really scary or funny enough to leave a memorable impression, this middling endeavor should nonetheless pull in a fair number of home-viewing horror fans with its offbeat theme and lurid title.

An impressive opening CGI shot shows Las Vegas in smoking chaos, presumably due to an outbreak of the undead. Fleeing that mess are Molly (Allen) and Nick (Merwin Mondesir), a crass couple whose precise alliance is vague (flashbacks make it clear that she’s a stripper, but »


- Dennis Harvey

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‘Brigsby Bear’ Producer 3311 Backs Thrillers ‘Fifth Official,’ ‘Sympathy for the Devil’

19 hours ago

Brigsby Bear” producer 3311 Productions has come on board a pair of thrillers — Chad Hartigan’s soccer ref story “The Fifth Official” and Gerard Johnstone’s carjacking movie “Sympathy for the Devil.”

3311 made the announcement Thursday, the day before Sony Pictures Classics opens the Kyle Mooney-starrer “Brigsby Bear” with Claire Danes, Mark Hamill, and Greg Kinnear, in New York and Los Angeles. The Lonely Island, Lord Miller and Yl Pictures are also producing.

The Fifth Official,” written and directed by Hartigan and produced in partnership with Gran Via Productions, is a European thriller following a soccer ref as he attempts to throw a match for the first time. Hartigan last wrote and directed A24’s “Morris From America,” which premiered at Sundance and won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for Hartigan and a Special Jury Prize for acting for Craig Robinson.

“Sympathy for the Devil” is written by Luke Paradise and produced in partnership with Tracy Falco. Johnstone »


- Dave McNary

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‘Emoji Movie’ Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying

19 hours ago

Early reviews of “The Emoji Movie” are in, and critics, to put it gently, aren’t giving the film a “Thumbs Up.”

Critics offered generally unfavorable reviews for the Tony Leondis-directed animated comedy voiced by T.J. Miller, James Corden, and Anna Faris. Hitting theaters Friday, “Emoji” is currently averaging a concerning 0% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Related

T.J. Miller, James Corden Tout ‘The Emoji Movie’s’ ‘Feminist Agenda’

The reviews collectively called the movie “meh,” a nod to Miller’s character, and panned the pointless and seemingly unrelated plot. Others called out the unnecessary product integration with Spotify, Candy Crush, and Crackle (owned by the film’s distributor, Sony).

Here’s what the critics are saying:

Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman:

“The bad news is that ‘The Emoji Movie’ really is meh. There have been worse ideas, but in this case the execution isn’t good enough to bring the notion of an emoji movie to funky, surprising »


- Rebecca Rubin

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Leonard Landy, ‘Our Gang’ Actor, Dies at 84

20 hours ago

Leonard Landy, best known for his work as one of the Little Rascals on “Our Gang,” died Wednesday. He was 84.

Often recognized for his freckled face and big ears, Landy (second from left in the photo) appeared in 21 “Our Gang” comedy shorts, debuting in “Feed ‘Em and Weep” in 1938 and culminating with “Fightin’ Fools” in 1941.

Our Gang,” a series of comedy short films about a group of poor neighborhood children and their adventures, began in 1922 as a series of silent shorts. When it was converted to sound in 1929, Landy was known for watching the action with an occasional one liner.

Landy also appeared in the 1950s version of the comedy series, which was later syndicated for television and re-titled “The Little Rascals.” Hal Roach produced both productions.

In total, “Our Gang” featured over 41 child actors. Actors from the series who are still living include Lassie Lou Ahern, Robert Blake, Margaret Kerry, Sidney Kibrick and Mildred Kornman.

In »


- Rebecca Rubin

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Rachel Dratch Joins Adam Sandler and Chris Rock Netflix Film ‘The Week Of’ (Exclusive)

20 hours ago

Saturday Night Live” alum Rachel Dratch has joined the cast of the Netflix film “The Week Of” starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock.

Steve Buscemi is also on board.

The film is set the week leading up to a wedding in which Sandler’s daughter is marrying Rock’s son. Dratch will play Sandler’s wife.

Robert Smigel directs from a script by Sandler and Smigel. “The Week Of” is produced by Happy Madison Productions with Sandler and Allen Covert serving as producers, and Barry Bernardi and Tim Herlihy serving as executive producers.

The film will premiere globally on Netflix in 2018 and marks the fourth movie in Sandler’s pact with Netflix. The three others are “The Ridiculous 6,” “The Do-Over,” and most recently, “Sandy Wexler.”

Production is taking place in Long Island, N.Y., over the summer.

Dratch most recently appeared in the ABC comedy “Imaginary Mary” with Jenna Elfman. Her »


- Justin Kroll

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