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The Real Battle For Middle Earth


Over twenty years ago, in 1998, pre-production began on a project that made movie history. Peter Jackson embarked on the making of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy with the ambitious goal of...

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Sept 21

Outlook not improving for beleaguered US movie theatres

by The Canadian Press

About three quarters of the country's movie theatres are open, but Americans are not going back in significant numbers in the COVID-era, even with new films coming into the marketplace weekly.

The biggest movies continue to limp along. According to studio estimates Sunday, Warner Bros.' "Tenet" earned $4.7 million in its third weekend from nearly 2,930 locations, Disney's "The New Mutants" added $1.6 million in its fourth weekend, "Unhinged" brought in $1.3 million and Sony's rom-com "The Broken Hearts Gallery" picked up an additional $800,000 in its second frame.

And newcomers aren't faring any better. The faith-based "Infidel," which stars Jim Caviezel, did the best with $1.5 million from just over 1,700 theatres.

This weekend also saw the limited release of two adult dramas, IFC's "The Nest," with Jude Law and Carrie Coon, and Bleecker Street's "The Secrets We Keep," with Noomi Rapace. Both played in under 500 theatres across the country and neither got much more than $200 per location. "The Nest" earned an estimated $62,000 from 301 locations and "The Secrets We Keep" brought in just under $90,000 from 471 theatres.

"There's no question that this is an extraordinarily challenging marketplace, especially for North America," said Paul Dergarabedian, Comscore's senior media analyst. "This is a slow roll out. It's going to take some time."

The nation's biggest chains have been open for about a month after nearly six months of being closed due to the pandemic and a lack of new releases. But since reopening with enhanced safety measure and the promise of new blockbusters, they haven’t gotten the infusion of business they were hoping for. Indoor theatres are still not open in two of the country's biggest markets, New York and Los Angeles.

The North American earnings have not been promising for studios with theatrical releases on the horizon either. Christopher Nolan's "Tenet" has only earned $36.1 million from North American theatres to date. The performance has led some studios to push back releases even further and some wonder whether more will follow. The next major release on the calendar is Disney and Marvel's "Black Widow" on Nov. 6.

Continue Reading at: Castanet

Sept 20

Box Office: 'Tenet' Crosses $250M Globally But Still Lags in the U.S. Amid Pandemic

This image shows Elizabeth Debicki, left, and John David Washington in a scene from "Tenet" (image courtesy Warner)
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by Pamela McClintock

Christopher Nolan's Tenet jumped the $200 million mark at the international box office over the weekend, but continues to struggle domestically without such major cities New York and Los Angeles in play.

Warner Bros. is reporting that the big-budget espionage pic earned $4.7 million domestically from 2,930 theaters in its third weekend for a North American total of $36.1 million. The studio insists that Tenet is far from over and anticipates a huge bump in ticket sales as more cinemas on both coasts are allowed to flip on the lights.

Internationally - where theaters are ahead of their U.S. counterparts in terms of reopenings - Tenet grossed another $25 million for a foreign tally of $214 million and a worldwide total of $250.1 million. That includes a pleasing China total of $60 million.

Nolan's $200 million film was the first Hollywood tentpole to brave opening on the big screen, but its performance has sparked worry that many moviegoers, at least in the U.S., aren't yet ready to return en masse to the multiplex despite enhanced sanitary measures and social distancing. As a result, studios are once again rearranging their fall and early winter calendars, including delaying the Oct. 2 release of Wonder Woman 1984. New York and Los Angeles also remain a major issue, since they are the two largest moviegoing markets in the country.
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Elsewhere this weekend, Mulan grossed $10.9 million from 20 territories in its second weekend for a foreign tally of $57 million. The big-budget epic is struggling badly in China, where it grossed just $6.5 million in its sophomore session for a cume of $36.2 million.

In the U.S. and many Western European countries, Disney decided to send Mulan straight to Disney+ at a premium price, versus waiting for the domestic box office to stabilize.

Continue Reading at: The Hollywood Reporter

Sept 19

James Caan Says There's No 'Elf 2' Because Will Ferrell and Jon Favreau 'Didn't Get Along'

James Caan (right) and Will Ferrell in 2003's "Elf" (image courtesy New Line)
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by Umberto Gonzalez

James Caan says there wont be a sequel to the hit Christmas fantasy-comedy "Elf" because headliner Will Ferrell and director Jon Favreau "didn't get along."

"'We were gonna do it and I thought, 'Oh my god, I finally got a franchise movie, I could make some money, let my kids do what the hell they want to do.' And the director and Will didn’t get along very well," Caan told Cleveland's 92.3 The Fan's Bull & Fox show on Friday. "So, Will wanted to do it, he didn't want the director, and he had it in his contract, it was one of those things."

The Will Ferrell holiday movie, first released in 2003, centered on Buddy (Ferrell), a human who was adopted and raised by Santa's elves. Buddy learns about this and heads to New York City to meet his biological father (Cann) while also spreading Christmas cheer in a world of cynics in the process. "Elf" also starred Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, Daniel Tay, Bob Newhart and Ed Asner.

Made on a budget of just $33 million, the film was a box office hit and grossed $220.4 million in world wide box office. "Elf" is considered one of the greatest Christmas movies and in 2017, Fandango users rated "Elf" the best Christmas film of the 21st century.

Continue Reading at: The Wrap

Sept 17

Anthony Mackie takes a time-bending, mind-altering journey in the trailer for Synchronic

by Britt Hayes

Filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead have made a name for themselves with films that defy genre conventions and labels and explore heady concepts about time, transformation, and obsession. Their latest film, Synchronic, is led by the starry duo of Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan, which will hopefully attract viewers to check out Benson and Moorhead’s previous films - Resolution, Spring, and The Endless.

The trailer below indicates that Synchronic offers the cerebral, grounded sci-fi we've come to appreciate from the filmmakers.

Synchronic follows two paramedics who discover a peculiar psychedelic drug at the scene of a series of strange and "gruesome" accidents; as you can see, that drug has a profound affect on Mackie's character.

Check out the trailer:

Continue Reading at: The AV Club

Sept 16

Toronto Film Festival: Sir Anthony Hopkins and Kate Winslet honoured at virtual awards gala

Both Sir Anthony and Winslet accepted their awards from their respective homes (images courtesy Getty)
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Sir Anthony dedicated his accolade to "first responders all over the world", saying: "This award is yours."

Winslet, meanwhile, said it felt "very odd" to receive a Tribute Actor Award.

"To be giving applause to anyone other than those.... at the forefront of the battle against this virus... does feel decidedly out of place," she admitted.

The actors made their comments in pre-recorded acceptance speeches that were shown in a largely empty cinema as part of Tuesday's presentation.

This year's festival has been drastically scaled back due to coronavirus concerns, with only people based in the city permitted to attend physical screenings.

Directors Chloe Zhao and Mira Nair were also honoured at the TIFF Tribute Awards, which began with a filmed introduction from film-maker Martin Scorsese.

Sporting a bandage on his right hand, the Raging Bull and GoodFellas director said it was "very moving" that festivals like Toronto were "continuing to happen".

"It's becoming sadly common to see cinema marginalised and devalued and categorised as a form of comfort food," the 77-year-old continued.

"We can never remind people enough that this remarkable art form is much more than a diversion. At its best, it's a source of wonder and inspiration."

Winslet also saluted festival organisers for doing their bit to "keep the poignancy of storytelling alive... through the powerful medium of film".

Continue Reading at: BBC

Sept 15

Will 'Soul' Really Move to Disney+? Here's What We Know

A scene from the upcoming Disney flick "Soul" (image courtesy Pixar / Disney)
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by Drew Taylor

Within the vague Variety write-up about a potential Black Widow release date change, which seems all-but-inevitable given the somewhat disastrous stateside response to Tenet and the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with the seasonal flu, creating a super-charged twin-demic in coming months, was a morsel that Disney and Pixar's Soul, the latest film from Up and Inside Out director Pete Docter, would be headed to the company's direct-to-consumer streaming platform Disney+. And, yes, this seems like a very real, viable possibility given the uncertainty of the current situation and Disney's recent move placing the hotly touted live-action Mulan remake on the service (with a $30 premium) instead of theaters.

Earlier this year, Pixar's delightful Onward was released days before the entire world shut down. (Its opening weekend tally was negatively influenced by the emerging fears about public spaces.) So, Disney regrouped and devised a new plan – the movie would first go to video-on-demand platforms for $20, making it a much more economically feasible proposal than, say, Trolls World Tour, which premiered on-demand for $25. And unlike Trolls World Tour, which was a rental, you could own Onward right away. A few weeks after it was made available on video-on-demand, Onward appeared on Disney+. It made subscribers feel special that they were getting what was essentially a new Pixar movie (and if not outright new than at least gently used) on a streaming service they were already paying for, and it probably encouraged families to sign up for Disney+, ahead of what would ultimately be a blockbuster summer (with things like Hamilton, Black Is King and The One and Only Ivan). And from what we understand, the strategy did well and Disney was happy with the results. They were able to turn a potentially disastrous situation (an expensive, highly anticipated original Pixar film unleashed into a marketplace on the brink of collapse) into something resembling a success. All these months later, they could do it again.

Continue Reading at: Collider

Sept 14

Netflix's The Trial Of The Chicago 7 Trailer Delivers Intensity And An All-Star Cast Led By Sacha Baron Cohen

by Eric Eisenberg

Thanks to the typical season-long awards race, the fall is generally the home for the year's most prestigious films, and in recent years Netflix has become a major player in that race with films like Alfonso Cuaron's Roma, Noah Baumbach's Marriage Story, and Martin Scorsese's The Irishman. That trend is continuing this year with the release of Aaron Sorkin's The Trial Of The Chicago 7, and based on the trailer that has just been released, it looks like it is going to be a seriously intense ride through a tension-fraught period of American history. Check it out below!

Being one of the most well-respected filmmakers in Hollywood, Aaron Sorkin has never had a problem getting talented actors to be a part of his projects, but this film features what is perhaps his best ensemble to date. There are so many awesome actors in this thing that they don't even all appear in this trailer! You likely spotted Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Mark Rylance and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but this is a cast that also includes Michael Keaton, William Hurt, Jeremy Strong, John Carroll Lynch, Rory Cochrane, Frank Langella, Kelvin Harrison Jr., and more.

Set in the late 1960s and featuring a very on the nose title, the film's story centers on the trial of the Chicago Seven – a group of counterculture activists whom the federal government tried to charge with conspiracy following a riot that took place during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The film was originally going to be released by Paramount, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic the studio sold the distribution rights to Netflix, and now the movie is one of their big releases for the fall season.

Continue Reading at: CinemaBlend

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