A Moment In History

Documentaries

Documentary films have been around for decades as a form of movie, but it has only been in the last ten or so years where they have found their way into the mainstream. This article will take a look at the definition and evolution of documentary films.

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Sept 26

'Magnificent Seven' rides Denzel's star power to $35M debut

Denzel Washington (left) and Chris Pratt in a scene from 'The Magnificent Seven' (image courtesy AP / Sony Pictures)
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by Jake Coyle, The Associated Press

Movie stars don't open movies anymore? Tell that to Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks.

The pair, once co-stars in "Philadelphia," have together dominated the last three weeks of the box office. After Clint Eastwood's Miracle on the Hudson docudrama "Sully," starring Hanks as Captain Chesley Sullenberger, topped ticket sales of the last two weeks, "The Magnificent Seven" rode Washington's star power to an estimated $35 million debut over the weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Though both Washington and Hanks are in their early 60s, their box-office clout might be just as potent as ever. The debut of "Sully" was Hanks' fourth best opening of his career; the opening of "The Magnificent Seven," Antoine Fuqua's remake of John Sturges' 1960 Western (itself a remake of Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai"), is Washington's third best.

Both films boasted other enticements. Eastwood is himself a draw. And the ensemble of "The Magnificent Seven" most notably includes Chris Pratt, the "Guardians of the Galaxy" star and a potential heir apparent to Washington and Hanks.

But Washington and Hanks ranked as the overwhelming reason audiences went to see either movie, according to comScore's survey of moviegoers.

"They are the model of consistency and they are the model of quality," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. "These are guys who can draw a huge audience in any type of movie that they're in. It's not like they're pigeonholed into one kind of franchise. Denzel Washington can be part of a genre, the Western, that doesn't exactly have teenagers scrambling to the movie theatre."

Continue Reading at: Toronto Sun

Sept 25

California Enacts Law Requiring IMDb to Remove Actor Ages on Request

Company logo for IMDb
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by Ryan Parker, Jonathan Handel

"On behalf of everyone in the industry who has struggled with age discrimination, whose opportunities to showcase their talent may have been blocked, I want to thank Gov. Brown and the bill's author, Assemblymember Ian Calderon," says SAG-AFTRA's Gabrielle Carteris.

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed legislation that requires certain entertainment sites, such as IMDb, to remove or not post in the first place an actor's age or birthday upon request.

The law, which becomes effective January 1, applies to database sites that allow paid subscribers to post resumes, headshots or other information for prospective employers. Only a paying subscriber can make a removal or non-publication request. Although the legislation may be most critical for actors, it applies to all entertainment job categories.

"Even though it is against both federal and state law, age discrimination persists in the entertainment industry," Majority Leader Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, said in a statement. "AB 1687 provides the necessary tools to remove age information from online profiles on employment referral websites to help prevent this type of discrimination."

"Gov. Jerry Brown today stood with thousands of film and television professionals and concerned Californians who urged him to sign AB 1687, a California law that will help prevent age discrimination in film and television casting and hiring," said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris.

The union and others lobbied for the legislation, an effort begun under the aegis of then-SAG-AFTRA president Ken Howard, who died in March. His successor, Carteris, testified in front of a State Senate committee, and in August, wrote of her support for the law in a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter.

"It is time to stop the ageism that permeates Hollywood's casting process," Carteris wrote. "This problem exists for all performers, but most distinctly for women. Performers create characters and often employ illusion to do so. That's acting."

Continue Reading at: The Hollywood Reporter

Sept 24

Paramount No. 2 Executive Said Leaving After Movie Writedown

A graph showing Paramount in dead last of the big six studios in 2016 ticket sales up to September 18th (courtesy Box Office Mojo / Bloomberg)
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by Anousha Sakoui & Christopher Palmeri

Paramount Pictures Vice Chairman Rob Moore is leaving the troubled movie division of Viacom Inc., according to a person with knowledge of the matter, days after the parent company said it will record a $115 million charge for a film that hasn't even been released.

The studio doesn't plan to replace Moore, said the person, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.

The writedown points to the deepening problems at Paramount. The studio was already in last place among the major studios in domestic box-office receipts and was expected to report a loss for the year ended Sept. 30 before this week's announcement from Viacom that a major picture was in trouble.

The film division has "performed terribly," said Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group LLC. "If you are going to have a small slate, it better do well and it clearly hasn't."

Moore, who's been with Paramount since 2005, is the highest-level casualty at the studio, which is writing down its investment in the unreleased picture "Monster Trucks." The family movie, in the works since 2013, has been delayed three times and is currently scheduled for release in January, according to ComScore, an industry website.

Continue Reading at: Bloomberg

Sept 23

China's Richest Man Just Announced His Next Step Toward Hollywood Domination

Wang Jianlin, chairman of Wanda Group, speaks during a ceremony for the "China Cup" on July 13, 2016 (image courtesy AP)

by Reuters

Wang Jianlin has said that he is keen to buy into Hollywood's "Big Six" studios.

Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group will market Sony Pictures' films and co-finance some upcoming movie releases of Sony's film unit in China, which is forecast to become the world's top movie market as soon as next year.

Wanda, owned by China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, and Sony announced a deal on Friday under which Sony Pictures will utilize China's biggest theater chain owner Wanda to better access a rapidly growing yet restricted movie market.

The alliance will help Wanda extend its Hollywood footprint and further Wang's goal of making the group a global entertainment powerhouse.

Wanda said in a statement on its website the tie-up would use its consumer-facing infrastructure to bolster Sony Pictures' presence in China, which is on track to surpass the United States as the world's biggest [market], probably by next year, according to industry executives.

Continue Reading at: Fortune

Sept 22

Star Wars: Rogue One is an experiment, says Disney

Disney chief executive Bob Iger says the first Star Wars spin-off film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, may not make as much money as its predecessor, The Force Awakens.

"We never felt it would do the level that Force Awakens did," he told a conference in New York.

The Force Awakens made nearly $2.1bn (1.6bn) worldwide to become the third-highest grossing film in history.

In contrast, said Iger, Rogue One was "an experiment, of sorts" and the company was excited to see how it performed.

Based on the public response to trailers and posters, "the level of interest is as high as it was for Force Awakens", he added.

Iger also denied claims the first showing of Rogue One had been poorly received by studio bosses, despite extensive reshoots being ordered and the musical composer being replaced.

"We've loved what we've seen," said Iger.

The businessman is credited with having set Disney on a hugely profitable trajectory during his time at the helm of the company, first by ditching Miramax and Touchstone and then by focusing on branded franchise films - a strategy he said had proven "phenomenal".

When he first became chief executive, he said, the money being made by the whole cinematic industry was "not impressive... Too many movies were being made, too many bets being made, too much money being spent."

Instead, "his theory was fewer but even bigger bets, hence the purchases of Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm", says the Hollywood Reporter.

Continue Reading at: The Week

Sept 20

Lethal Weapon, The Exorcist and MacGyver lead parade of the past on TV

Damon Wayans (left) and Clayne Crawford star in the new TV version of Lethal Weapon (image courtesy Fox)
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by Bill Harris

What do Lethal Weapon, The Exorcist and MacGyver have in common?

Er ... um ... they all were part of troubled teenagers' wet dreams in bygone eras?

But those eras are bygone no more, with the arrival on TV this week of new versions of all three of those properties.

There is a school of thought that suggests redoing or revisiting or reimagining old TV shows or movies never is a good idea. Creatively, usually, the best you can hope for is a saw-off. And ratings-wise, there's often more bad news than good news. Of course, the same thing can be said for most network TV these days.

But all three of these new shows are taking bold runs at it, at least. Do any of them have a chance to succeed? Let's take a closer look:

Were you a fan of those original movies? Then click the Continue Reading at link to see the look at the new TV versions.

Continue Reading at: Toronto Sun

Sept 19

Late actor Paul Walker may return to Fast & Furious films

The late Paul Walker may return to the next instalment of the Fast & Furious franchise his brother has revealed (image courtesy TV3 / Edgecast)
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by Cover Media Group

Paul Walker's brother Caleb revealed his family have given their blessing to the idea of featuring the late actor in the next film in a cameo role.

The actor, who played Brian O'Conner, died midway through production of Fast & Furious 7, and the film ended up being a celluloid tribute to the actor, who had become a star thanks to the successful action series. Paul died in November 2013, after a Porsche he was a passenger in crashed into a lamppost and burst into flames. His friend Roger Rodas, who was driving, also died.

Three films that he was involved in at the time were released posthumously; Hours, Brick Mansions and Furious 7.

Paul's brothers, Caleb and Cody, stepped in to double for their actor brother to finish filming crucial scenes that allowed Furious 7 to be completed with Paul's character still an integral part of the film.

Despite the seventh film in the franchise serving as a farewell to the star, Caleb revealed his family have given their blessing to the idea of featuring Paul in the next film in a cameo appearance.

"I had a phone call with Vin (Diesel) for about an hour and we really discussed this a while back. He wanted (our) blessing," Caleb shared in an interview with Entertainment Tonight.

Vin had asked if it "would be acceptable to maybe bring Paul's character back... to really kind of let his fans know he's still out there.

"Universal wants to make sure to be respectful of Paul and his image too, and his family," Caleb added.

Continue Reading at: TV3 Ireland

Sept 18

Weekend Box Office: 'Bridget Jones's Baby' Bombs in U.S. With $8M; 'Sully' Stays No. 1 With $22M

Colin Firth (top), Renee Zellweger and Patrick Dempsey in a scene from 'Bridget Jones Baby' (courtesy Universal Studios)
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by Pamela McClintock

Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow's biographical drama Sully continued to fly high in its second weekend at the U.S. box office, while moviegoers grounded new offerings Blair Witch and Bridget Jones's Baby, both of which came in well behind predictions with $9.7 million and $8.2 million, respectively.

Oliver Stone's Snowden, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as infamous NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, wasn't as much of a disappointment in debuting to $8 million, since it hadn't been expected to do much beyond $10 million. Still, it's the lowest opening of Stone's career for a movie opening in more than 2,000 theaters.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, Sully fell a scant 37 percent to $22 million for a domestic total of $70.5 million, according to weekend results. Hanks stars in the film as Chelsey "Sully" Sullenberg, the pilot who made a forced water landing on the Hudson River when his US Airways jet was disabled. Overseas, Sully flew to another $7 million from 44 markets for a foreign total of $23.4 million and global cume of $93.9 million.

Sully easily came in No. 1 domestically, followed by Lionsgate's Blair Witch, playing in 3,202 locations. Heading into the weekend, the direct sequel to the 1999 found-footage classic horror film had been expected to earn in the mid- to high-teens. While it isn't unusual for horror films to be slapped with some variation of a C CinemaScore, Blair Witch earned a rare D+ from Friday moviegoers.

Blair Witch certainly isn't a financial disaster, having cost $5 million to make. Directed by Adam Wingard, the movie stars James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Brandon Scott, Corbin Reid, Wes Robinson and Valorie Curry. For months, the movie was given the fake title The Woods to obscure its connection to the Blair Witch franchise.

Bridget Jones's Baby, reuniting Renee Zellweger with Colin Firth and introducing Patrick Dempsey to the series, opened in 2,927 locations domestically. The filmmakers had hoped the threequel would match My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, which opened to $17.8 million domestically earlier this year.

Continue Reading at: The Hollywood Reporter

Sept 16

Inside the long, bloody saga of the Blair Witch series

Original theatrical poster for 'The Blair Witch Project' from 1999 (image courtesy Artisan Entertainment)
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by Barry Hertz

The horror genre lives and dies on its surprises. Jump scares, third-act twists, blood seeping from unexpected orifices terror is often found in the places you least expect. Which is why, when it was revealed this past July that Lionsgate's new horror film The Woods was actually a covert Blair Witch sequel, it was tempting to award the studio a lifetime pass. In an easy-access age where every tiny detail of a film's life is dissected online, it was a genuine shock to discover that a sequel to one of the most controversial films of all time was being produced right under everyone's noses.

But why did it take 17 long years since the original film shocked audiences for a new iteration to get off the ground especially when both the horror genre and the industry at large seem constantly on the hunt for easy franchise opportunities? Was it because of the original film's polarizing reaction? The first sequel's disastrous reception? Or an exhaustion with the found-footage genre that Blair Witch sparked? To avoid taking wild stabs in the dark never a good idea when discussing a horror flick The Globe and Mail talked with the creative teams behind the series, and discovered that some brands are just too bewitching to let go.

Rookie filmmakers Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez brought their faux-documentary about three hikers getting lost in the woods to Sundance in 1999 and suddenly, the horror genre was never the same. After months of Internet-fueled marketing (a rare PR route at the time), which torqued the film as a "real" document, the film went on to earn $248-million (U.S.) worldwide off a budget of just $60,000.

Click the Continue Reading at link to go to the Globe and Mail article and read the interview with the teams behind the 'Blair Witch' series.

Continue Reading at: The Globe and Mail

Sept 15

Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn is getting her own movie

Margot Robbie played Harley Quinn in this year's 'Suicide Squad' (image courtesy Warner Bros.)
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by Matt Kamen

Some of the best scenes in the recent Suicide Squad film were Margot Robbie's performance as the Joker's equally insane paramour, Harley Quinn. Simultaneously hilarious, alluring, and deadly, Robbie perfectly captured the appeal of DC Comics' femme fatale.

Now, Robbie is set to executive produce a solo spin-off, through her LuckyChap Entertainment production company for Warner Bros.

The 26-year old Australian actress will develop the film with her associates Tom Ackerley, Josey McNamara and Sophia Kerr, who are wrapping up on LuckyChap's first film, Terminal.

The otherwise dismal Suicide Squad established some of Harley's backstory as Doctor Harleen Quinzel, psychiatrist to the Joker at Arkham Asylum who fell for his twisted charms. However, with the pair's relationship intrinsically an abusive one, the comics have in recent years separated the two, something a solo Harley Quinn film could also do.

Continue Reading at: Wired

Sept 14

Kurt Russell on the prickly path of Hollywood retelling true stories

Kurt Russell talking at the San Diego Comic-Con this week (image courtesy Invision / AP)
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by David Friend, The Canadian Press

Kurt Russell doesn't believe in "too soon" when it comes to true-story dramatizations.

"What would be the proper time?" the actor asks when pressed about the release of his film "Deepwater Horizon."

The Hollywood action flick plunges head first into a retelling of the hours before the BP oil rig explosion in 2010 -- an environmental tragedy off the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers.

Turning the event into a movie has rankled some observers who claim Hollywood is capitalizing on a tragedy.

Russell says they're right in some respects, but they aren't considering the bigger picture.

"I think what's important is the story you're telling," he says.

"And if this one doesn't honour those people, then I don't know what does."

Timeliness can be a touchy subject for Hollywood producers, who are often looking to recreate a storyline ripped from the headlines. Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center" faced similar criticism when it arrived in theatres five years after 9/11.

In "Deepwater Horizon," Russell plays Jimmy Harrell, the offshore installation manager of the rig and one of the survivors of the event. Mark Wahlberg plays Mike Williams, an electronics technician who's ostensibly framed as the hero.

Overall, the film is presented as a tribute to the men who lost their lives on the ill-fated oil rig.

Continue Reading at: CTV

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