Source: http://variety.com/video/justin-timberlake-trolls-max-martin/

Ildikó Enyedi’s Hungarian drama “On Body and Soul” won the Golden Bear for best film at the Berlin Film Festival on Saturday.

Set in a Budapest slaughterhouse, the tender love story follows the burgeoning romance between a shy young women and her similarly quiet older boss as the two discover that they have the same dreams at night.

The international jury, headed by Dutch filmmaker Paul Verhoeven, handed out prizes far and wide, awarding a broad range of international works.

Senegalese filmmaker Alain Gomis’ Kinshasa-based drama “Félicité,” about a strongly independent and passionate singer in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa who is forced to raise money for her son’s operation, won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize.

 

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Berlin Film Review: ‘On Body and Soul’

 

The Silver Bear Alfred Bauer prize for a feature film that opens new perspectives went to Agnieszka Holland’s murder mystery “Spoor.”

Aki Kaurismäki won the best director award for “The Other Side of Hope,” about a young Syrian refugee in Helsinki. The Finnish helmer caused some consternation for the jury and show host Anke Engelke when he declined to go on stage to accept the Silver Bear, forcing the presenters to bring the prize to his seat.

Kim Min-hee, star of Hong Sangsoo’s South Korean drama “On the Beach at Night Alone,” won the best actress Silver Bear, while Georg Friedrich won the best actor award for his performance in Thomas Arslan’s German drama “Bright Nights.”

 

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Berlin Film Review: ‘Félicité’

 

Sebastián Lelio and Gonzalo Maza won the best screenplay award for Lelio’s Chilean drama “A Fantastic Woman,” about a woman dealing with the loss of her older, married lover, while Dana Bunescu, editor of Romanian drama “Ana, Mon Amour,” won the outstanding artistic contribution award.

Spanish director Carla Simon’s “Summer of 1993” won the first feature award, while “Ghost Hunting” by Palestinian filmmaker Raed Andoni earned the Berlinale’s newly established Glasshütte Original Documentary Award.

Of the 24 films that screened in the 67th Berlin Film Festival’s competition section, 18 vied for the top prizes, among them such international productions as Oren Moverman’s “The Dinner,” starring Richard Gere; Stanley Tucci’s “Final Portrait,” with Geoffrey Rush and Armie Hammer; Gurinder Chadha’s “Viceroy’s House”; and Volker Schlöndorff’s “Return to Montauk.”

 

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Berlin Film Review: ‘On the Beach at Night Alone’

 

Among the fest’s short films, Diogo Costa Amarante’s Portuguese work “Small Town” nabbed the Golden Bear, with Mexican director Esteban Arrangoiz Julien’s “Reverie in the Meadow” taking silver and Karam Ghossein’s Lebanese entry “Street of Death” winning the Audi short film award.

Speaking briefly on stage, Berlinale Director Dieter Kosslick thanked the filmmakers for striving “to save the world with poetry,” a sentiment echoed by a number of the winners.

A total of 399 films unspooled in all of the festival’s various sections. With an estimated half a million admissions and more than 300,000 tickets sold, the Berlinale is considered the largest publicly attended film festival in the world.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/berlinale-berlin-film-festival-2017-winners-full-list-1201992021/

As the Berlinale draws to a close, the film festival’s chief Dieter Kosslick observes with satisfaction that the event, once again, served as both a showcase for outstanding movies and a soapbox for political views, including opposition to the policies of President Donald Trump. “It was a classic Berlinale,” he told Variety.

Referring to Trump, Kosslick said: “The guy has caused an international wake-up call, so we are all alert now to what is going on.” Kosslick welcomed the “pop-up demonstration” – a flash-mob – that took place next to a section of the Berlin Wall close to the European Film Market venue, the Martin-Gropius-Bau, in support of Mexican actor-director and Berlinale jury member Diego Luna, who had remarked during a press conference that he wanted to tear down walls.

Kosslick also mentioned other protests during the festival, such as the Romanian film professionals’ expression of their opposition to their government’s proposed softening of anti-corruption laws, and the protests in support of Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov, whose is imprisoned in Russia.

“Everyone has been using our red carpet as a kind of Hyde Park Corner, and I’m happy with this,” he said, referring to the area in London where speakers share their political views with the crowd. “We want to be on the right side of the world,” he said.

Despite everything, Kosslick said the mood at the festival was generally upbeat. “There’s a lot of energy in the place,” he said. Many of the films contained “a dose of humor, and a dose of hope,” he said, picking out Aki Kaurismaki’s “The Other Side of Hope” as an example.

One area of interest was in the long-lasting effects of colonization, seen in films like Gurinder Chadha’s “Viceroy’s House,” and James Gray’s “The Lost City of Z.”

Kosslick said that concerns regarding “fake news” had provoked a reaction among people to redouble their efforts to reveal the truth, and filmmakers were playing their part in this. He added that the festival sought to cater for the intellectual side of filmmaking and life in general in the many onstage talks and panel discussions.

Kosslick said the festival was unable to grow in size as it already had some 400 films and 10 sections, and wasn’t able to fit in any more screenings. He prefers to see it as not one festival with 400 films, but as 10 festivals with 40 films each. “We run each one as its own festival so nobody feels lost,” he said. “We want everyone to quickly feel like they know what to do and where to go.”

Kosslick said he sought to constantly improve the “service” elements of the festival, including the use of modern technology, to make the experience as enjoyable and easy as possible. “We’ve tried to make it a feel-good festival,” he said.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/global/berlinale-dieter-kosslick-feel-good-festival-1201992040/

Now in its second year, the BET Presents the American Black Film Festival Honors was a full-blown, star-studded affair that celebrated Denzel WashingtonQueen Latifah, Terrence Howard, F. Gary Gray, and others on Friday at the Beverly Hilton.

“I’ve been in here on different days and it never looked like this. This is beautiful,” said Latifah as she accepted the entertainment icon award.

Black actors, musicians, and filmmakers, such as Viola Davis, Lee Daniels, Cicely Tyson, Diahann CarrollPharrell Williams, and Washington, who was on hand to receive the Hollywood legacy award, attended the event — BET’s first film-based awards show. Host Regina Hall supplied the laughs throughout the ceremony, poking fun at both the stars in attendance and even ABFF founder Jeff Friday.

“That was such a long speech, Jeff’s last name just went from Friday to Saturday,” Hall quipped after the ABFF founder thanked everyone involved and shared a brief history of his organization.

While the awards show — held a week before the Oscars — happened to launch last year following the Academy’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy, Friday said the ceremony, which honors predominantly African-American talent, was not intended to be a reaction to the lack of black Oscar nominees.

“I actually had this planned before the #OscarsSoWhite controversy — just for the record,” Friday said. “What I don’t want is for the viability and the credibility of this [ceremony] to ride on diversity. This is celebrating black culture and we should be able to do this regardless of what is happening in the industry.”

 

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Additional honorees included Howard, who accepted the excellence in the arts award, and “Insecure” creator Issa Rae, who took home the rising star prize. There was also a special 20th anniversary tribute to “Love Jones,” which reunited Nia Long, Larenz Tate, and more stars from the 1997 film, along with director Theodore Witcher. Singer Dionne Farris performed her hit song from the movie, “Hopeless.””

But the evening didn’t only celebrate those in front of the camera. Gray was acknowledged for his directorial achievements such as “Straight Outta Compton,” “Friday,” “Set It Off,” and the upcoming “The Fate of the Furious.”

“There was a sense of awareness,” Gray said of his humble beginnings. “I can kind of look back in hindsight and say that I use that today in movies, but we used it to survive.”

The ceremony closed with a musical performance from Maxwell. But Maxwell kept the crowd going after the taping had wrapped, handing the microphone to Common for a freestyle that seamlessly incorporated BET, ABFF, and the night’s honorees. Following the taping, guests congregated right outside of the ballroom for schmoozing, cocktails, and dancing as a DJ played many New Edition songs.

The cast members of BET’s “The New Edition Story” took photos with fans of the miniseries well after midnight, while other stars, such as Common and Isaiah Washington, relaxed near the patio.

BET president Debra L. Lee confirmed that the ABFF Honors will take the place of the BET Honors, which began annually in February 2008 in Washington D.C. “We started it when the Obamas were in office, but this year it just didn’t seem right,” Lee announced during Thursday night’s ABFF Honors pre-cocktail reception at Cecconi’s.

The second “BET Presents: ABFF Honors” airs on Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. on BET and Centric.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/vpage/bet-presents-abff-honors-denzel-washington-queen-latifah-love-jones-american-black-film-festival-1201992048/

“La La Land” and “Game of Thrones” walked away with top film and television honors at the 53rd Cinema Audio Society Awards Saturday night.

“Finding Nemo” won the theatrical animated prize, while “The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble” took the documentary award. Other television winners included “Modern Family” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”

“The Jungle Book” director Jon Favreau received the organization’s Filmmaker Award. Previous recipients include Quentin Tarantino, Richard Linklater, Bill Condon, Rob Marshall and Jonathan Demme.

“La La Land” is nominated for the sound mixing Oscar this year, along with “Arrival,” CAS nominee “Hacksaw Ridge,” CAS nominee “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.”

“Game of Thrones” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson” won sound mixing Emmys last year.

Full list of CAS Awards winners below.

Motion Picture – Live Action
“La La Land”
Production Mixer: Steven Morrow, CAS
Re-recording Mixer: Andy Nelson, CAS
Re-recording Mixer: Ai-Ling Lee
Scoring Mixer: Nicholai Baxter
ADR Mixer: David Betancourt
Foley Mixer: James Ashwill

Motion Picture – Animated
“Finding Dory”
Original Dialogue Mixer: Doc Kane, CAS
Re-recording Mixer: Nathan Nance
Re-recording Mixer: Michael Semanick, CAS
Scoring Mixer: Thomas Vicari, CAS
Foley Mixer: Scott Curtis

Motion Picture – Documentary
“The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble”
Production Mixer: Dimitri Tisseyre
Production Mixer: Dennis Hamlin
Re-recording Mixer: Peter Horner

Television Movie or Miniseries
“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”
Production Mixer: John Bauman
Re-recording Mixer: Joe Earle, CAS
Re-recording Mixer: Doug Andham, CAS
ADR Mixer: Judah Getz
Foley Mixer: John Guentner

Television Series – 1 Hour
“Game of Thrones” — “Battle of the Bastards”
Production Mixer: Ronan Hill, CAS
Re-recording Mixer: Onnalee Blank, CAS
Re-recording Mixer: Mathew Waters, CAS
ADR Mixer: Richard Dyer, CAS
Foley Mixer: Brett Voss, CAS

Television Series – 1/2 Hour
“Modern Family” — “The Storm”
Production Mixer: Stephen A. Tibbo, CAS
Re-recording Mixer: Dean Okrand, CAS
Re-recording Mixer: Brian R. Harman, CAS

Television Non-Fiction, Variety or Music Series or Specials
“Grease Live!”
Production Mixer: J. Mark King
Music Mixer: Bill Dawes
Playback and SFX Mixer: Eric Johnston
Protools Playback Music Mixer: Pablo Mungula

Outstanding Product – Production
CEDAR DNS2 Dynamic Noise Suppression Unit

Outstanding Product – Post-Production
McDSP Plug-ins SA-2 Dialog Processor

CAS Student Recognition Award
Sam Wenrui Fan, Chapman University

Filmmaker Award
Jon Favreau

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/in-contention/2017-cinema-audio-society-awards-winners-complete-list-1201992112/

In “The Inland Road,” the ruggedly beautiful landscapes of New Zealand’s isolated Otago region on the South Island provide a scenic backdrop to — and the most unique aspect of — a slender coming-of-age tale from debuting feature writer-director Jackie van Beek. The loose, performance-focused drama follows troubled Maori teen Tia (camera-friendly non-profressional actress Gloria Popata), who survives a fatal road accident while hitchhiking and is subsequently sheltered by the car’s driver, despite the objections of his wife. As the physically and emotionally-wounded Tia slowly comes to terms with her turbulent past, her sometimes confrontational presence provokes a crisis in the marriage of her hosts. Further fest action seems likely for this small-scale but strikingly-shot film.

Much like laconic 16-year-old Tia (whose curvaceous body, smoking habit and way with a rifle make her seem more mature than her age), van Beek’s spare narrative only parsimoniously doles out information, something which works against audience identification with and empathy toward her. Apart from an early scene in the hospital following the accident which reveals that Tia’s parents are divorced and her father (Stephen Lovatt) has no room for her in his new life, we don’t get much insight into what makes her tick or why she has left home. Apparently, the curlicue tattoo on her neck upsets her never-seen mother, but we don’t learn why until a low-key reveal near the end of the film.

Instead of returning home with the money that her father awkwardly thrusts at her, the bruised and bandaged Tia turns up at the funeral for Matt, who died in the car accident. There, she sees Will (David Elliot), the driver of the vehicle, whose life she saved by bringing help. Now on crutches, the grateful Scotsman offers her a place to stay at the farm — now run with Matt’s widow, May (Jodie Hillock), who is sister to his pregnant wife, Donna (Chelsie Preston Crayford, the story’s most sympathetic and pragmatic character).

Hard-drinking May is finding it difficult to cope and can’t hide her bitterness and resentment toward her sister and his husband. Not only did her brother-in-law lose control of the car, directly causing Matt’s death, but the couple abandoned the farm to live abroad for many years. Now the distraught May can barely care for Lily (Georgia Spillane), her angelic-looking six-year-old.

When Lily temporarily moves in with Donna and Will, Tia devotes herself to the youngster and makes herself generally useful around the farm. Yet Tia’s assistance barely makes believable Donna’s willingness to overlook her surliness and habit of peeping at Donna and Will’s private life.

Van Beek, better known for her performance in fellow Kiwi directors Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s  “What We Do in the Shadows” graduates to features after making seven award-winning shorts. She takes the unpredictable nature of human kindness in the wake of a tragedy as the underlying theme of her screenplay, but given the film’s privileging of mood over matter, incomplete character development, and sometimes implausible situations, not every viewer will buy in.

While the camera loves Popata (according to the press kit, was selected from more than 2,000 teens who auditioned for the role of Tia), she’s better at suggesting a heedless, directionless youth than one who ultimately learns and changes. Meanwhile, gorgeous, pint-sized Spillane, also a non-pro, is a real find who makes entirely believable her confusion over the loss of her father.

The lyrical, handheld lensing by DP Giovanni C. Lorusso favors intimate closeups of the characters secretly regarding one another or basking in the sun-dappled, autumnal nature. At the same time, blunt jump cuts by editors Luca Cappelli and Tom Eagles disguise the project’s low-budget nature but fail to smooth over narrative gaps.

Berlin Film Review: 'The Inland Road'

Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Generation 14plus), Feb 18, 2017. Running time: 80 MIN.

Production

(New Zealand) A Sabertooth Films Ltd. production, in association with the New Zealand Film Commission, Park Road Post Prod., Sherwood Hotel Queenstown, Ayrburn Farms Estate Ltd., Film Inc. (International sales: Level K, Copenhagen.) Producer: Aaron Watson. Executive producers: Philippa Campbell, Brett Mills.

Crew

Director, writer: Jackie van Beek. Camera (color, widescreen, HD): Giovanni C. Lorusso. Editors: Luca Cappelli, Tom Eagles.

With

Gloria Popata, Chelsie Preston Crayford, David Elliot, Jodie Hillock, Georgia Spillane, Stephen Lovatt.
Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/reviews/the-inland-road-review-1201992093/

Having already indulged an exercise of soul-baring filmed psychoanalysis with “Fix Me,” director Raed Andoni extends his outdated idea of therapy to others in “Ghost Hunting,” an ethically problematic documentary in which Palestinian men recreate the circumstances of their incarceration and torture by the Israeli occupiers. Using the largely debunked notion that acting out one’s trauma is a means towards catharsis, Andoni has his various “actors” verbally and physically abuse one another while he watches from the side, exchanging the charge of narcissism that accompanied his previous doc with that of sadism.

Glowing pre-premiere praise from Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, the sensationalized emotional charge of the subject, plus Berlin’s best documentary prize means “Ghost Hunting” will garner far more attention than it deserves. The concept must have sounded hard-hitting and original on paper, considering the number of respected funding bodies — Doha, Sundance, Sanad, Venice’s Final Cut, etc. — who boarded the project.

Andoni placed an ad in a newspaper looking for participants who’d been imprisoned by the Israelis. After the casting call, they’d help construct a simulacrum of the notorious Al-Moskobiya interrogation center and then be assigned the roles of either prisoner or tormentor. The director himself had been a detainee there when he was 18, so in a bid to exorcise some of those demons, he conceived this project to “help” others come to grips with issues such as detention, powerlessness, violence, and the occupation in general.

On a superficial level, the film confronts the psychological toll of Israeli apartheid in a seemingly punch-in-the-gut way — which could explain the initial wave of positive reactions. Breaking it down, however, what’s Andoni really doing besides deliberately orchestrating clashes to trigger damaged psyches? If anything, it seems cruel and unusual to mess with the participants’ heads in this way, even if they went into it with their eyes open — and no way to tackle the soul-crushing experience of oppression and captivity.

Following the casting call, Andoni asked the selected actors to delineate the cavernous space of a concrete basement in Ramallah to match their memories of Al-Moskobiya. Many of the men were incarcerated for years, so memories come back as they recreate cells and discuss details such as the size of the small apertures in the doors. The participants come from various walks of life: Abdallah Moubarak is a blacksmith, Atef Al-Akhras is a set designer, etc.; only Ramzi Maqdisi is an actor, so he’s charged with playing Mohammed Khattab, the resistance fighter whose story is the key narrative Andoni wants to recreate.

Maqdisi is brow-beaten until, exhausted and not allowed a toilet break, he urinates in his pants. The men playing the Israelis then use his body to mop up his urine. Does such intense humiliation really serve to exorcise traumatic memories, or will it merely create new ones? And how can an audience watch this and think, “Israeli soldiers are sadistic,” without saying the same about Andoni himself, especially when he calmly watches as one man repeatedly bangs another’s head against a wall? Acting as assistant director, Wadee Hanani has it right when he tells Andoni, “You want us to be pawns in your game of chess.”

Black-and-white animation by Luc Perez featuring a young man tied to a chair with his head covered by a hood, makes a deeper impact than any of the shenanigans disguised as a means towards psychological release. Praise at least can be given for the way the graphics are mixed with live action, as the drawn figure peaks below his hood and sees his interrogator’s real shoes facing him. Given Andoni’s fondness for psychoanalysis, it would have been more enlightening if he brought back the shrink from “Fix Me” to analyze him anew, focusing on what drives him to stage such power games. Hunting ghosts is a legitimate pursuit, but only when the goal is to eliminate the specters, not multiply them.

Berlin Film Review: 'Ghost Hunting'

Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 14, 2017. Running time: 93 MIN. (Original title: “Istiyad Ashbah”)

Production

(Documentary — Palestine-France-Switzerland-Qatar) A Les Films de Zayna, Arte France, Dar Films, Akka Films, RTS production. (International sales: Urban Distribution, Paris.) Producers: Nicolas Wadimoff, Philippe Coeytaux, Raed Andoni. Executive producer: Palmyre Badinier.

Crew

Director, writer: Raed Andoni. Camera (color): Camille Cottagnoud. Editor: Gladys Joujou.

With

Ramzi Maqdisi, Mohammed Khattab, Raed Andoni, Atef Al-Akhras, Wadee Hanani, Adnan Al-Hatab, Abdallah Moubarak, Anbar Ghannan, Raed Khattab, Monther Jawabreh. (Arabic, Hebrew dialogue)
Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/reviews/ghost-hunting-review-1201992082/

“The Lego Batman Movie” is dominating the North American box office with an estimated $44 million this President’s Day weekend — nearly matching the combined haul of “Fifty Shades Darker” and “The Great Wall.”

Universal’s second weekend of “Fifty Shades” is heading for $24 million at 3,714 sites and its action-fantasy “The Great Wall” was projected to wind up with $21 million at 3,325 locations for the Friday-Monday period. Lionsgate’s second weekend of “John Wick: Chapter 2” is finishing in a solid fourth place with $19.5 million at 3,113 venues as holdovers propped up the holiday weekend business.

New Line’s opening of high school comedy “Fist Fight” showed only a modest punch in fifth with around $14 million at 3,185 locations. And Fox’s horror-thriller “A Cure for Wellness” was scaring up a modest $4.9 million at 2,704 screens as it was projected to finish 11th.

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“Lego Batman,” Warner Bros.’ spinoff of 2014’s “The Lego Movie,” is playing at 4,088 sites and will wind up the weekend with more than $108 million in its first 11 days. It opened with $53 million on the Feb. 10-12 weekend, so it’s declined by only 35 percent in the second Friday-Sunday period.

Will Arnett returns as the voice of Batman, along with Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, and Ralph Fiennes. “Lego Batman” scored strong critical support with a 91 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Fifty Shades Darker” declined about 55 percent from its opening weekend and should finish the weekend with an 11-day total of $93 million, more than halfway to the $166 million domestic total for “Fifty Shades of Grey” two years ago.

Universal distribution chief Nick Carpou said, “‘Fifty Shades is serving as strong counter-programming to the rest of the market. We’re seeing more couples going to it now.”

Universal’s “The Great Wall” is performing above recent forecasts, which had pegged the film to finish in the $17 million range. Still, the number isn’t particularly impressive, given the $150 million budget for the Legendary production — the most expensive movie ever shot in China.

Matt Damon stars as a European mercenary joining the fight against monsters during China’s Song Dynasty. Carpou said the PosTrak surveys showed “The Great Wall” drawing 58% male and 75% over 25.

Thanks to a strong performance in China of $171 million, “The Great Wall” has totaled $262 million worldwide. Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore, said the film performed respectably in the U.S., given the audience’s lack of familiarity with China.

“It’s not a bad start in the U.S. for a film that traveled from East to West,” he added. “The Matt Damon brand was a key.”

“John Wick: Chapter 2” remained a surprisingly powerful player in its second weekend and should top the $60 million cumulative  mark by the end of Presidents Day. The stylized actioner has eclipsed the entire run of 2014’s “John Wick,” which hit $43 million.

“Fist Fight,” starring Ice Cube, Charlie Day, Christina Hendricks, Dennis Haysbert and Tracy Morgan, generated  a B CinemaScore. It’s a low-risk project for New Line with a $20 million budget and will remain the only R-rated comedy in the market until Warner Bros. opens “Chips” on March 24.

Paramount’s “Hidden Figures” stayed solid over the weekend in sixth with $8.5 million at 2,217 sites, pushing the awards contender to a $144 million domestic total after nearly two months in release.

A pair of Universal holdovers took the next two spots with the fifth weekend of M. Night Shyamalan’s horror-thriller “Split” taking in $7.9 million at 2,445 locations, followed by feel-good drama “A Dog’s Purpose” with $7.4 million at 2,400 venues. “Split” has been enormously profitable for the studio, given its $9 million budget and a $124 million domestic gross.

Lionsgate’s “La La Land,” which earned a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations on Jan. 24, is heading for a ninth-place finish with $5.9 million at 1,587 sites, giving the musical comedy-drama $135 million after 11 weeks.

 

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/box-office-lego-batman-great-wall-fist-fight-1201992121/

Universal’s erotic sequel “Fifty Shades Darker” has scored its second consecutive win at the international box office with $43.7 million in 59 territories.

“Fifty Shades Darker” declined 52 percent from its opening weekend for a foreign total of $187.2 million and a worldwide gross of $276.9 million.

The film is holding in first place in Germany, Austria, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Panama, Paraguay, Trinidad, Uruguay, Venezuela, Hong Kong, and Australia. Germany is the top market with $6.2 million, declining just 27 percent for a $20.9 million total.

 

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The film finished second in the  U.K.-Ireland market behind “Lego Batman” as “Darker” declined 52 percent to $4.5 million for a total of $21 million. France saw a 49 percent decline to $4.2 million for a total of $15.1 million.

Brazil has totaled $13.7 million, followed by Italy at $12.9 million, Russia at $10.7 million, Australia at $10.6 million, and Spain at $9.6 million. Japan will be the final opening on June 23.

“Fifty Shades Darker” stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan reprising their roles as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele as their characters re-ignite the romance that had ended in 2015’s “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

“Fifty Shades Darker” is directed by James Foley and once again produced by Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti, and Marcus Viscidi, alongside author E. L. James. The script is by James’ husband, Niall Leonard.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” was a box office hit two years ago, grossing $570 million worldwide with $166 million domestically and $404 million internationally.

Universal also reported Sunday that Legendary’s “The Great Wall,” starring Matt Damon, expanded its run into 21 international markets this weekend and took in $19 million in 46 territories. “The Great Wall” has already grossed $171 million in China, so the international total is $244.6 million.

“The Great Wall” opened in first in Russia with $4.5 million and scored a second-place finish in Australia with $2.4 million. U.K.-Ireland saw a fifth-place launch with $2.1 million.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/international-box-office-fifty-shades-darker-great-wall-1201992149/

“Lights Out” director David F. Sandberg is in talks to direct New Line’s “Shazam” superhero movie.

“Lights Out,” based on Sandberg’s short film, was a breakout success last summer for New Line with the horror film grossing nearly $150 million on a $5 million budget. Several months before the release of “Lights Out,” New Line hired the Swedish filmmaker to direct “Annabelle 2,” which will be out in August. 

Shazam first appeared in 1939 as Captain Marvel in comic books published by Fawcett Comics as a creation of artist C. C. Beck and writer Bill Parker. He is the alter ego of teenage Billy Batson, who becomes the superhero when he says the word “Shazam!” — an acronym for the gods of the ancient world with the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Aries, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury.

Dwayne Johnson has long desired to be part of the “Shazam” movie and New Line confirmed that he had been cast as Black Adam in 2014 with Darren Lemke hired to write the script.

New Line and DC Entertainment announced last month plans to add a spinoff Black Adam film to the universe that will focus on Johnson’s character. As a result, Johnson is no longer attached to “Shazam.” Both projects are being developed concurrently.

Sandberg is a native of Sweden. New Line hired him to direct “Lights Out” after seeing his short supernatural horror film, which he directed, wrote, co-produced, shot and scored. It was also produced by and starred Lotta Losten, who became Sandberg’s spouse in 2013. The news was first reported by the Wrap.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/shazam-movie-lights-out-director-david-sandberg-1201991635/
Source: http://variety.com/video/justin-timberlake-new-music-max-martin-shellback/

In another setback for the highly-anticipated superhero tentpole, talks have broken down between Warner Bros. and Matt Reeves about becoming the director of “The Batman,” Variety has confirmed.

A studio source indicates that negotiations have stopped, but adds that talks could resume down the road. WB is still intent on making the film, the source insisted, whatever means necessary.

The news comes after star Ben Affleck vacated the director’s chair in order to focus on playing the Caped Crusader.

 

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Ben Affleck Will Not Direct ‘The Batman’ (EXCLUSIVE)

 

“There are certain characters who hold a special place in the hearts of millions,” Affleck said in a statement on Jan. 30. “Performing this role demands focus, passion, and the very best performance I can give. It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require. Together with the studio, I have decided to find a partner in a director who will collaborate with me on this massive film. I am still in this, and we are making it, but we are currently looking for a director. I remain extremely committed to this project, and look forward to bringing this to life for fans around the world.”

Production had already been pushed back to the summer and with this latest hiccup, it’s unclear when filming will get under way.

Affleck and Geoff Johns co-wrote the script, with Chris Terrio recently doing a polish before delivering the screenplay to the studio.

This film is not the only Warner Bros.-DC Entertainment project that has hit some speed bumps in recent months. “The Flash” lost director Rick Famuyiwa in late October following Seth Grahame-Smith’s departure earlier last year.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/the-batman-new-director-matt-reeves-exits-1201991714/

Noah Hawley, creator of the FX series “Legion” and “Fargo,” has come on board Reese Witherspoon’s astronaut drama “Pale Blue Dot” at Fox Searchlight.

Variety reported in 2015 that Witherspoon was attached to star and produce, based on the original spec script by Brian C. Brown and Elliott DiGuiseppi. The story follows a successful female astronaut who, after coming back home from a mission in space, starts to unravel when confronted by her seemingly-perfect American dream life. The story explores the theory that astronauts who spend long periods of time staring at the Earth from space begin to lose their sense of reality when they return home.

 

Related

‘Legion’: Creator Noah Hawley on Taking FX Series Beyond X-Men

 

Hawley is producing “Pale Blue Dot” through his production company 26 Keys. He’s also set up a second project with Fox Searchlight, a drama tentatively titled “Buried Bodies” that’s based on the case of 1970s serial killer Robert Garrow, who revealed the locations of two missing victims to one of his lawyers. That attorney was indicted by a grand jury for not disclosing the information, but the indictment was later dismissed by a trial court.

Hawley is also the creator and showrunner of “Fargo,” the crime drama anthology series that debuted in 2014, and was inspired by the 1996 film of the same name written and directed by the Coen brothers. The Coens serve as executive producers alongside Hawley.

The “X-Men” series “Legion,” which debuted earlier this month, is based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Dan Stevens stars and Hawley is one of the executive producers.

Hawley is repped by CAA. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/reese-witherspoon-astronaut-movie-pale-blue-dot-noah-hawley-1201991690/

UPDATED: Donald Glover and James Earl Jones are ready to sing “Hakuna Matata.”

The “Atlanta” star is in talk to play Simba in Disney’s live-action “The Lion King” remake directed by Jon Favreau, Variety has confirmed. Meanwhile, Jones, who voiced Simba’s father Mufasa in the original, will return to reprise the role.

Favreau tweeted a photo of Glover with the message “I just can’t wait to be king. #Simba”

He later tweeted: “Looking forward to working with this legend. #Mufasa,” along with a picture of Jones.

Favreau is directing with Jeff Nathanson writing. The film is being fast-tracked, even as Favreau begins development on his sequel to the recent hit “The Jungle Book.”

“Lion King” was originally released in 1994 and is one of the highest-grossing animated films of all time, ultimately hauling $968.5 million at the global box office.

The studio’s emphasis on live-action reboots follows the successes of “Maleficent” (2014) and “Cinderella” (2015), while “Beauty and the Beast” is already one of the most anticipated movies of the year. The movie, starring Emma Watson, Luke Evans, and Dan Stevens, hits theaters on March 17.

Glover, who recently won two Golden Globes for his new FX series “Atlanta,” is currently filming another huge Disney movie — the “Star Wars” Han Solo spinoff, in which he plays young Lando Calrissian. He is represented by WME and MGMT Management.

Disney’s Live-Action Films in the Works
Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/donald-glover-simba-lion-king-remake-1201991771/

“Logan,” opening March 3, is reportedly Hugh Jackman’s final appearance as the mutant Wolverine, a character he has portrayed for 17 years.

According to a majority of critics, “Logan” does a solid job at rounding out the standalone trilogy of Wolverine films. Critics widely commended Jackman’s ability in refining the character over the years, embracing the fact that despite his powers dwindling away, Wolverine maintains credible superhero status even as he tussles between embodying both man and mutant.

Some of the most general criticisms noted that the story within “Logan” sometimes felt “stitched together from other films,” as Variety critic Owen Gleiberman phrased it. Nonetheless, the film is being praised for its fulfilling weaving of violence and sentimentality.

Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman

“It’s Jackman who holds “Logan” together and gives the film its glimmer of soul. He has been playing this role, more or less nonstop, for 18 years, but he seems startlingly not bored by it. Better still, he’s a more refined actor now than when he started, and in “Logan,” he gets to play something rare in comic-book cinema: a powerhouse of animal rage who is slowly, agonizingly slipping away.”

The Hollywood Reporter‘s Sheri Linden 

“Seamlessly melding Marvel mythology with Western mythology, James Mangold has crafted an affectingly stripped-down stand-alone feature, one that draws its strength from Hugh Jackman’s nuanced turn as a reluctant, all but dissipated hero. That he rises to the occasion when a child is placed in his care is the stuff of a well-worn narrative template, yet it finds a fair level of urgency in this telling.”

The Wrap‘s Alonso Duralde 

“Whether or not the ‘Wolverine’ movies have a future — Jackman swears this is his last go-round — ‘Logan’ is an exceedingly entertaining one. Given that 2016 gave us the rollicking and raunchy ‘Deadpool’ and the bafflingly boring ‘X-Men: Apocalypse,” it seems like a no-brainer for the mutant movies to get wild and crazy if they want to survive. This outing feels like a step in the right direction.”

The Independent‘s Geoff McNab

“‘Logan’ is a Marvel movie with a bit of soul and some true grit. Presumed to be the final outing for Wolverine, it plays more like a late period John Wayne western than it does like a conventional superhero film.”

L.A. Weekly’s Bilge Ebiri

“Logan is a punch in the gut in all the right ways. Onscreen, the X-Men series has always found ways to morph and expand, from time-traveling fantasy to social allegory to political thriller. And it’s done so as other comic-book franchises have ossified, with the DC movies (foolishly) doubling down on flamboyant gloominess and Marvel proper (lucratively) committing to jokey spectacle. Constant redefinition may be more risky financially — you never quite know what you’re going to get — but when it works, it can be beautiful. In Logan, we have an example of a superhero story taken to new extremes and a franchise to a spare, sad, apocalyptic finish (or “finish”), with R-rated action scenes that are both rousing and unbearably violent.”

Source: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/logan-review-round-up-1201991697/
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