Technology and techniques in the making and distribution of movies have progressed immensely in the last few years. But there is, and could be, much more on the near horizon. This article takes a look at some things that have recently come to, or may be coming to, the movie industry.
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Zac Efron DJ film We Are Your Friends flops at US box office
Zac Efron's passion project 'We Are Your Friends' didn't have many friends at the box office (image courtesy Warner)
Zac Efron's dance movie We Are Your Friends has bombed at the US and Canada box office, with one of the worst opening weekends on record.
The Warner Bros film, which was shown in 2,333 cinemas, had box office takings of $1.8 million (£1.1 million) - or just $758 (£493) per screen.
It is the third worst opening of all time for a new film opening in 2,000 or more theatres, said Box Office Mojo.
The movie, about a 23-year-old wannabe DJ, has had mixed reviews.
We Are Your Friends cost $6 million to make - but Warners paid just $2 million to distribute the film in North America on behalf of British company Working Title Films and France's StudioCanal.
"This was a passion project for Zac Efron, and we believe in him," said Jeff Goldstein, Warners' executive vice president for domestic distribution. "Yes, the result was disappointing, but this was a small film."
Nonetheless, We Are Your Friends will go down in history as the worst opening weekend for a major Hollywood film on wide release (meaning 2,000 to 2,500 cinemas).
The only two films to have fared worse - Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure and Delgo. Both came from independent studios.
Horror master Wes Craven, director of 'Nightmare on Elm Street' and 'Scream' films, dies at 76
Horror director Wes Craven, who died on Saturday Aug 30th of brain cancer (image courtesy CP / AP)
by Daisy Nguyen and Jake Coyle, AP
Wes Craven, the prolific writer-director who thrilled audiences with iconic and bloody suburban slashers like "Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Scream" that made his name synonymous with horror, has died. He was 76.
In a statement, Craven's family said that he died in his Los Angeles home Sunday, surrounded by family, after battling brain cancer.
A prolific writer, director and editor, Craven is credited with reinventing the teen horror genre with the 1984 release of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" starring a then-unknown Johnny Depp. The movie and its indelible, razor-fingered villain Freddy Krueger (played by Robert Englund) led to several sequels, as did his 1996 success, "Scream."
Besides his work in horror films, Craven also directed the drama "Music of the Heart," which earned Meryl Streep an Oscar nomination.
Wesley Earl "Wes" Craven was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on Aug. 2, 1939. Though he earned a Master's Degree in philosophy and writing from John Hopkins University and briefly taught as a college professor in Pennsylvania and New York, his start in movies was in pornography, where he worked under a pseudonym.
Craven's feature debut under his own name was 1972's "The Last House on the Left," a horror film about teenage girls abducted by thugs and taken into the woods. Made for just $87,000, the film, though graphic enough to be censored in many countries, was a hit. Roger Ebert said it was "about four times as good as you'd expect."
"Nightmare on Elm Street," however, catapulted him to far greater renown in 1984. The Ohio-set film about teenagers who are stalked in their dreams, which Craven wrote and directed, spawned a never-ending franchise that has carried on until, most recently, a 2010 remake.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens footage shows lightsaber-wielding John Boyega
by Ben Child
The first footage of Britain's John Boyega wielding a lightsaber as rogue stormtrooper Finn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens has hit the web, sparking furious online debate from fans.
The footage, premiered via Instagram's new landscape video format, shows Boyega involved in what appears to be a lazer sword battle with Adam Driver's nefarious Kylo Ren. Finn carries a blue lightsaber, while Ren wields the red "crossguard" or "crucifix" device seen in earlier trailers.
Bloggers and fans have speculated that Boyega might be carrying the blue lightsaber which was once owned by Anakin Skywalker and later obtained by his son Luke from Obi-Wan Kenobe in 1977's Star Wars - then later lost in a battle with his father (now Darth Vader) in 1980's The Empire Strikes Back. A similar weapon was seen being handed from one hand to another in an earlier trailer.
Finn's use of a lightsaber would usually suggest he boasts Force skills, as either a Jedi or a Sith, though the cyborg General Grievous was able to wield multiple lightswords in the prequel trilogy without being named as a member of either order. Finn's battle with the Vader-obsessed Ren, who appears to be The Force Awakens' primary villain, also suggests Boyega has been cast as the new film's primary hero alongside the returning Harrison Ford (Han Solo).
Dead rats anyone? Hollywood gets creative to promote movies
Actor Matt Damon showing his hands after printing them in cement at the Jet Propulsion Lab's Mars Yard (image courtesy Reuters / NASA)
by Piya Sinha-Roy, Reuters
Want to create buzz for a space movie? Take journalists to a real NASA lab. Promoting a horror film? Order up taxidermied rats and have zombies deliver them.
Hollywood studios are going to ever more creative lengths to attract attention in a jam-packed entertainment market where social media plays a key role in promoting content.
For Matt Damon's October film "The Martian," in which an astronaut is stranded on Mars, 20th Century Fox Studios hosted a media day last week at the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California just to promote a trailer.
Journalists got a sneak peek at the first 50 minutes of the film, toured the lab and interviewed Damon at its Mission Control which is usually reserved for scientists working on operations such as landing the Curiosity rover on Mars in 2012.
"We're in a world with a very crowded marketplace," said "The Martian" producer Aditya Sood. "We want to make sure that people get the message that the movie's coming out."
After the media day, "The Martian" trailer became one of the top entertainment news stories, garnering 4.8 million views on Facebook and 3.3 million views on YouTube in just 48 hours.
Who's headed to TIFF? Johnny Depp, Sandra Bullock and Matt Damon - for starters
Actor Johnny Depp is expected at this year's Toronto International Film Festival (image courtesy Reuters)
The streets of Toronto will look a bit like the finer roads of Los Angeles next month, thanks to a huge influx of stars heading to the Toronto International Film Festival. Johnny Depp, Sandra Bullock, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet and Anna Kendrick are just a few of the hundreds of actors and filmmakers set to attend this year's festival, organizers revealed Tuesday.
The announcement was the final part of TIFF's summer-long programming unveiling, and confirms world premieres from such acclaimed directors as Ridley Scott (The Martian), David Gordon Green (Our Brand Is Crisis), Stephen Frears (The Program) and Michael Moore (Where to Invade Next).
Other performers scheduled to attend include Kevin Bacon, Monica Bellucci, Benicio Del Toro, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jessica Chastain, Bryan Cranston and Win Butler and members of Arcade Fire.
"It's always a huge job putting it all together, but when it’s done and the selection is locked and the book finally drops, we are all thrilled," said TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey. "This being our 40th anniversary, we’re both looking back and ahead, and making plans for the future."
Straight Outta Compton again leads box office with $26.8M
by The Associated Press
Straight Outta Compton easily maintained its box-office lead with an estimated $26.8 million US in ticket sales over a sleepy late summer weekend at North American multiplexes, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Universal's N.W.A biopic, a much buzzed-about hit, dominated over the late August releases that often characterize Hollywood's dog days of summer. It has now made $111.5 million US in two weeks, and continued to drive moviegoers, both male and female, despite renewed charges of misogyny in N.W.A lyrics and the film overlooking claims of Dr. Dre's abuse of women.
In a statement Friday, the rapper and producer of Straight Outta Compton said: "I apologize to the women I've hurt. I deeply regret what I did and know that it has forever impacted all of our lives."
Of the weekend's new releases, the low-budget horror sequel Sinister 2 fared best, opening with an estimated $10.6 million for the Blumhouse production - well below the $18 million the 2012 original debuted with. The result was good enough for third place, behind Paramount's Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, which made $11.7 million in its fourth weekend of release.
Fox's assassin thriller Hitman: Agent 47, the second attempt in eight years to adapt the popular video game, disappointed with $8.2 million. It will hope to do better abroad, where the 2007 original made $60.3 million. It began with $8.5 million over the weekend internationally.
Lionsgate's stoner action-comedy American Ultra, starring Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg, also failed to spark much interest, opening with $5.5 million.
Colin Trevorrow Comments Spark Discussion On Women in Hollywood
by Ross A. Lincoln
In a year that has already been filled with controversy about the gender imbalance in Hollywood, newly-minted Star Wars: Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow has sparked intense criticism and some discussion in comments on Twitter that even he admits might be "naive".
The fracas started on Wednesday with a Los Angeles Times article noting the mixed results studios have seen in 2015 bumping untested directors from obscurity to tentpoles. Asked about criticisms that studios are taking huge chances with male directors but not extending the the same opportunity to female directors, Trevorrow drew some criticism for taking such talk personally, and for attributing the disparity in part to a lack of interest in big budget studio films on the part of up and coming women.
"Obviously it's very lopsided, and hopefully it's going to change as time goes on. But it hurts my feelings when I'm used as an example of white, male privilege," the Jurassic World helmer said. "I know many of the female filmmakers who are being referred to in these articles. These women are being offered these kinds of movies, but they’re choosing not to make them."
Trevorrow might be referring here to Selma director Ava DuVernay, who admitted earlier this summer that she had spoken to Disney/Marvel about potentially directing Black Panther. She passed due to unspecified creative differences that suggested similarities to Edgar Wright's reasons for bolting from Ant-Man in 2014. "I think it makes [female directors] seem like victims to suggest that they're not getting the opportunities and not artists who know very clearly what kind of stories they want to tell and what films they want to make," he continued. "To me, that's the reality."
Click the Continue Reading at link to read more on the discussion.
Jennifer Lawrence ranked highest-paid actress but men still prevail
Actress at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con in July (image courtesy Reuters)
"Hunger Games" star Jennifer Lawrence on Thursday topped a Forbes list of the world's highest-paid actresses, earning some $52 million in the past year but still far behind the best paid actor.
Lawrence, who won an Oscar in 2013 for her role in "Silver Linings Playbook," also had income for being the face of French fashion and beauty company Dior but her combined earnings came nowhere close to the estimated $80 million of "Iron Man" star Robert Downey Jr. He topped Forbes list earlier in August of the highest paid male actors.
Lawrence, 25, made headlines last year when hacked Sony Pictures emails revealed she earned a lower cut of profits from the movie "American Hustle" than her male counterparts.
Forbes noted that only four of the women on this year's highest-paid list, which takes into account earnings from movies, television, endorsements and other sources, made more than $20 million while 21 male actors reached that level.
Lawrence towered above Scarlett Johansson, second on the actress list with an estimated $35.5 million, and "Mike & Molly" star Melissa McCarthy with $23 million, Forbes said.
Actresses rounding out the top five on the Forbes list were China's Bingbing Fan who appeared in "X-Men: Days of Future Past" ($21 million), and former "Friends" star Jennifer Aniston ($16.5 million), who also earns money from promoting cosmetics and bottled water.
Last year’s top-earning actress, Sandra Bullock, saw her payday drop to $8 million from $51 million after a quiet 12 months.
The Martian trailer: the mission to save Matt Damon begins
by Kwame Opam
No matter how brilliant and resourceful you are, being stranded alone on Mars is a nightmare. That's the plight of NASA botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) in the upcoming space epic The Martian, and in the film's latest trailer we get another close look at his struggle to survive. After a freak accident maroons him on the Red Planet, he must learn how to grow food while he waits for rescue. Thankfully, his colleagues back on Earth concoct a plan to make it back to him and bring him home, but the risk of losing one of their own is extremely high. All this looks pretty exciting. We just have one question: is anyone else getting a Watchmen vibe from this trailer?
Director F. Gary Gray, left, and Dr. Dre attend the Los Angeles premiere of 'Straight Outta Compton' after-party in Los Angeles on Aug. 10 (image courtesy Invision / AP)
by The Associated Press
The boys from Compton smashed opening weekend expectations, while the stylish The Man From U.N.C.L.E. struggled to find its footing.
Universal's N.W.A. biopic earned an astonishing $56.1 million US in its debut, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Director F. Gary Gray's well-received film charts the formation and rise of the influential rap group. It cost just $29 million US to produce.
N.W.A. members Dr. Dre and Ice Cube served as producers on the film, which has Ice Cube's real son O'Shea Jackson Jr. playing his father. Dr. Dre also released the companion piece Compton, - his first new album in 16 years.
Nick Carpou, Universal's president of domestic distribution, said they were "elated" with the results. Universal had previously predicted a very conservative $25 to $30 million opening.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros. PG-13-rated adaptation of the 1960s television series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. debuted in third place, behind Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, with a sluggish $13.5 million.
"I was hoping for a little higher number, quite frankly," said Jeff Goldstein, executive vice president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros. The goal had been a modest $15 million. The period spy thriller will have an uphill battle to make up its $80 million production budget.