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10 Most Important Movies to Understand Racism and Facism in America

1 hour ago

Consider this list as a syllabus for a course that could be titled The Cinema of a Divided America. These ten features and documentaries, listed in order of their release, reflect how film has reflected — and, in some cases, fueled — attitudes about racial polarization and radical right movements in our country. For better or worse, all of them remain quite relevant. Especially right now.

Related storiesShould White Filmmakers Be Telling the Story of 'Detroit'?Crashes Fuel High-Risk Oscar Race'Birth of a Nation,' 'Moonlight' Score Six NAACP Image Award Nominations (Full List) »

- Joe Leydon

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‘The Conjuring’ Series, Spinoffs Top $1 Billion at Worldwide Box Office

4 hours ago

New Line’s four-film “Conjuring” series has scared up more than $1 billion at the worldwide box office, thanks to “Annabelle: Creation” taking in more than $110 million.

The low-cost franchise launched in 2013 with “The Conjuring,” starring Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as paranormal investigators, and was spun off with 2014’s demonic doll “Annabelle,” followed by the 2016 sequel “The Conjuring 2” and this summer’s sequel “Annabelle: Creation.”

James Wan and Peter Safran have produced all four films and Wan directed both “Conjuring” movies. New Line will release another spinoff, “The Nun,” in July. The studio is also in active development with Wan’s Atomic Monster and the Safran Company on “The Conjuring 3” and another spinoff, “The Crooked Man,” based on a character that appeared in “The Conjuring 2.”

Related

Box Office: ‘Annabelle: Creation’ Levitates to No. 1 With $35 Million

Toby Emmerich, president and chief content officer of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, said, »


- Dave McNary

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Film News Roundup: Music Biopics ‘Dalida,’ ‘Django’ Land U.S. Releases

4 hours ago

In today’s film news roundup, two music biopics get domestic distribution and Harvey Weinstein launches an animated films label.

Acquisitions

Under the Milky Way has acquired U.S. domestic theatrical rights to the music biopics “Dalida” and “Django,” Variety has learned exclusively.

Dalida,” directed by Lisa Azuelos, will open in the fall. The film stars Sveva Alviti as the Egyptian-born Italian singer who became one of France’s biggest pop stars from the 1950s to the 1980s. Recording in more than five languages, Dalida sold a record-breaking 170 million albums during her lifetime. Riccardo Scamarcio, Jean-Paul Rouve, and Nicolas Duvauchelle also star.

Django,” meanwhile, launches early next year. Directed by Etienne Comar, the film stars Reda Kateb as gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, with Cecile de France playing his muse. The movie, which opened this year’s Berlin Film Festival, is set in 1943 Paris amid the occupation by Nazis, who oppose his “hot jazz” as being degenerate »


- Dave McNary

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‘Predator’ Actor Sonny Landham Dies at 76

5 hours ago

Actor Sonny Landham, who appeared in “Predator” and “48 Hrs,” died from congestive heart failure Thursday in Lexington, Ky. He was 76.

The actor, who was part Seminole and part Cherokee, was best known for portraying Native American tracker Billy Sole in Arnold Schwarzenegger-starrer “Predator” in 1987. However, he did not appear in the film’s sequels.

Landham’s early work in the 1970s included several X-rated films, but after appearing in Walter Hill’s 1979 street-gang thriller “The Warriors,” Landham often portrayed the tough guy in 1980s films including roles in “Action Jackson” and “Lock Up.” With over 50 acting credits to his name, Landham continued to appear in films through the 1990s.

In 2003, Landham embarked on a brief campaign for the governor of Kentucky, but was unable to secure the Republican Party’s nomination. Landham also ran for the Kentucky State Senate in 2004, and was nominated by Kentucky’s Libertarian party for candidacy in 2008 for one of Kentucky’s »


- Erin Nyren

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Dale Spina, Former Warner Bros. Ad Exec Who Worked on ‘Batman’ and ‘Beetlejuice,’ Dies at 66

5 hours ago

Dale Spina, formerly Warner Bros.’ vice president of creative advertising and a copywriter for the studio, died on Aug. 4 after a brief illness. He was 66.

Spina served as co-head of The Idea Place, Warner’s in-house ad agency that was formed in the early 1980s. He worked on “Batman,” the “Lethal Weapon” franchise, “Beetlejuice,” and “Chariots of Fire.” Many of his projects won Key Art Awards.

Spina joined Warner Bros. in 1970 as assistant to West Coast publicity director Diana Widom before becoming serving the same role to Charlotte Kandel (Widom’s twin sister) two years later, who was then a publicity project director.

In 1980, Spina began to work with Joel Wayne, previously the top creative executive at Grey Advertising in New York, who had just joined Warner Bros. as new vice president and creative director.

Related

Celebrities Who Died in 2017

“Dale was a genius writer,” Wayne said. “In my nearly half-century in the business, there »


- Dave McNary

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Box Office: ‘Hitman’s Bodyguard’ Shooting for $20 Million in Slow Weekend

7 hours ago

Lionsgate’s “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is heading for as much as $20 million at 3,337 North American locations, which will easily top a sleepy weekend at the domestic box office, early estimates showed Friday.

Steven Soderbergh’s heist caper “Logan Lucky” is showing little traction with about $8 million at 3,026 sites — about half the second weekend of “Annabelle: Creation” at about $15 million.

The disparity between the two openers — both action-comedies aimed at adults — came into focus with the first actual numbers from Thursday night previews. “Hitman’s Bodyguard” pulled in $1.7 million at 2,600 sites on Thursday night, or more than three times the “Logan Lucky” preview take of $525,000.

Related

Girls Trip’ Crosses $100 Million at Domestic Box Office

PostTrak data on “Hitman’s Bodyguard” taken on Thursday night showed potential for solid word-of-mouth with 42% of the audience members surveyed rating the film “excellent” and another 29% calling it “very good.”

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, has »


- Dave McNary

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Oscars: Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott Race to the Finish

8 hours ago

It wouldn’t be awards season without a little bit of drama around last-minute contenders sprinting to the finish line. This year, there are three major prestige projects based on true events from powerhouse directors that could really shake up the race.

Steven Spielberg’s “The Papers” — about the Washington Post, the Pentagon Papers, and a watershed moment in the history of press freedom — wasn’t even a go until a week after “Moonlight” won the best picture Oscar earlier this year. The Fox production shot throughout the summer and wrapped in July, aiming for a Dec. 22 limited release. It’s packed with an all-star cast, including Meryl Streep (as Post publisher Katharine Graham), Tom Hanks (as editor Ben Bradlee, a role that won Jason Robards an Oscar in 1977 for “All the President’s Men”), and Carrie Coon (as Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Meg Greenfield), among many others.

Meanwhile, Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World »


- Kristopher Tapley

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Geena Davis on Hollywood Sexism and Wanting to Be in ‘Wonder Woman 2’

9 hours ago

Oscar winner Geena Davis has spent more than a decade pushing Hollywood to create meatier roles for women.

Through the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, a non-profit research organization, she’s been urging film and television executives to have as many girls as boys in children’s entertainment. The actress thinks the industry is turning a corner, and she believes that hits like “Wonder Woman” are changing things for the better across the media business.

Of course Davis, whose credits include “Thelma & Louise” and “A League of Their Own,” still has a day job. She’s back on screen this weekend in “Marjorie Prime,” as a woman who tries to comfort her ailing mother (Lois Smith) by enlisting a holographic projection of her late husband (Jon Hamm) to keep her company. The film asks big questions about memory and technology, and it’s earning Davis some of the strongest reviews of her career. She »


- Brent Lang

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‘Super Troopers 2’ Lands Spring 2018 Release Date

9 hours ago

Fox Searchlight has set an April 20, 2018, release date for “Super Troopers 2” — 17 years after the original.

Jay Chandrasekhar is directing the comedy sequel, as he did on the original. Filmmaking team Broken Lizard raised $4.4 million in a 30-day crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo in 2015 that saw more than 50,000 contributors. It was one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns for a movie along with the $5.7 million raised by fans for the “Veronica Mars” movie starring Kristen Bell.

Donation incentives for “Super Tropers 2” on the first day included a producer title for $10,000, a speaking actor role for $10,000, a trip to the ballpark with the main actors for $15,000, and the patrol car to be used in the filming for $35,000. “Super Troopers 2” met the initial goal of $2 million (set by Fox Searchlight) in 26 hours.

Super Troopers 2” reunites all five Troopers from the original film — Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske. The »


- Dave McNary

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‘Girls Trip’ Crosses $100 Million at Domestic Box Office

9 hours ago

Universal Pictures’ “Girls Trip” has crossed the $100 million mark at the domestic box office after four weeks, to become the studio’s sixth film to reach that milestone this year.

Girls Trip” has also taken in $9.9 million internationally as it starts its foreign rollout. Australia and Romania will release the film on Aug. 31, with additional markets launching the film through the end of the year.

Related

Summer Box Office Report Card: From Disney to Universal, Grading Popcorn Season

Girls Trip” debuted behind “Dunkirk” with a surprisingly strong $31.2 million at the North American box office over its opening weekend on July 21 to July 23, making it the highest-grossing opening for a live-action comedy of the year. It dropped only 36% in its second weekend.

Girls Trip” broke the summer’s streak of underperforming R-rated comedies such as “Rough Night” and “The House.” Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish, and Jada Pinkett Smith star as four friends attending the Essence Music »


- Dave McNary

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Alpha Violet Acquires Juraj Lehotsky’s Toronto-Bound ‘Nina’ (Exclusive)

9 hours ago

Paris-based Alpha Violet has acquired worldwide sales rights to Slovakian director Juraj Lehotsky’s divorce drama “Nina” which will play at Toronto in the Contemporary World Cinema section.

Lehotsky’s second feature, “Nina” turns on a 12-year-old girl whose parents are getting a divorce. As her world falls apart in front of her eyes, the young girl seeks out refuge in competitive swimming.

The movie world premiered at Karlovy Vary, where it earned warm reviews. The film’s star, Bibiana Nováková, has been acclaimed for her performance as Nina, which marks her first role.

An up-and-coming filmmaker, Lehotsky previously directed the documentary feature “Blind Loves,” which premiered at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight, where it won the C.I.C.A.E Art Cinema Award.

Lehotsky’s feature debut, “Miracle,” premiered at Karlovy Vary and earned Special Jury Mention.

Alpha Violet’s current slate also includes Silvia Luzi and Luca Bellino’s dystopian drama “Crater” and Natalia Garagiola’s »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher to Star in ‘Shaft’ Sequel

9 hours ago

After originally planning a full reboot of the ’70s classic, New Line is reverting back to a familiar formula for the next installment of “Shaft,” while also leaving the door open for a new face to take over the franchise.

Sources tell Variety that Samuel L. Jackson is in negotiations to reprise his role of the titular character with “Survivor’s Remorse” star Jessie T. Usher in talks to play Jackson’s son in the film.

Tim Story is directing a script from “Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris.

The original 1971 version — based on Ernest Tidyman’s novel — starred Richard Roundtree as a smooth private detective who’s hired by a drug lord to find his kidnapped daughter. The character became a pop culture icon and the theme song, written by Isaac Hayes, went on to win an Oscar.

Paramount Pictures rebooted the film in 2002 with Samuel L. Jackson taking over the role, and »


- Justin Kroll

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Sanfic: ‘Penal Cordillera,’ ‘Los Colonos,’ ‘The Monster Within’ Make Santiago Lab Forum Cut

10 hours ago

Felipe Carmona’s “Penal Cordillera,” Felipe Galvez’s “Los Colonos” and Rodrigo Susarte’s “The Monster Within” are three of the 20 fiction feature projects which will be pitched at next week’s Santiago Lab in Chile, the Santiago Intl. Film Festival’s major industry forum for feature film projects.

In a major departure, for the first time, the Lab has opened up from just Chilean projects to titles from the whole of Ibero-America – Latin America, Spain and Portugal.

In one of building links between two powerhouse nations in Latin American arthouse movie production, Chile’s Felipe Carmona, a playwright-director, is teaming with Argentine talent-to-track Alejandro Fadel – director of Cannes 2012 Critics’ Week Acid prize winner “The Wild Ones” and co-scribe of Pablo Trapero’s “Lion’s Den,” “Carancho” and “White Elephant” – to write the screenplay of “Penal Cordillera,” which is set up at Chile’s Cinestación and El Otro Film.

Based on true events, “Penal »


- John Hopewell

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Brendan Gleeson on Getting a Late Start on His Career

10 hours ago

Irish actor Brendan Gleeson made his film debut in 1990’s “The Field,” starring Richard Harris and based on the play by John B. Keane. Five years later, he made an impact internationally as Hamish Campbell in Mel Gibson’s Oscar winner “Braveheart.” Since then, film lovers have seen the versatile thesp in a wide range of blockbusters and indie films. “Harry Potter” aficionados know him as Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody, and fans have treasured his work in such fare as John Boorman’s “The General,” John Michael McDonagh’s “Calvary” and Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York” and for his Emmy-winning turn as Winston Churchill in TV film “Into the Storm.”

Now on-screen as Detective Bill Hodges in the new Stephen King neo-noir TV series, “Mr. Mercedes,” Gleeson was first noticed by Variety on Aug. 1, 1990, for his performance in Dublin in Keane’s play “The Year of the Hiker.”

John B. Keane »


- Steven Gaydos

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John Boyega Hints Again at Possible Cameos by Princes William and Harry in ‘Jedi’

11 hours ago

John Boyega has hinted again that heirs to the British throne Prince William and Prince Harry and actor Tom Hardy have cameos in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program Friday morning to promote Kathryn Bigelow’s “Detroit,” Boyega was asked about the rumors he fueled when last on the show – that the two royals had secret cameos in “The Last Jedi” as stormtroopers – and whether the princes had lines.

“I think they took that scene out,” Boyega said jokingly, then added: “I’ve had enough with those Prince William secrets, man. They came on set; they were there, man. Tom Hardy was there, too – I said it. I’m sick of hiding this.”

The actor, who plays former stormtrooper Finn in the sequel trilogy, said questions had dogged him ever since the rumors first began circulating in April 2016, when William and Harry visited the “Jedi” set (pictured). “Every time I get »


- Robert Mitchell

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Box Office: ‘Hitman’s Bodyguard’ Fires Off $1.7 Million on Thursday Night

12 hours ago

Lionsgate’s “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” has opened with a respectable $1.7 million at 2,600 North American sites on Thursday night.

Steven Soderbergh’s “Logan Lucky” pulled in $525,000 at previews from Thursday previews.

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” an R-rated action-comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, expands to 3,377 locations on Friday. Its preview showings started at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Recent tracking indicates that “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” will open in the $15 million to $20 million range during the Friday-Sunday period — which could be enough to top the second weekend of New Line’s “Annabelle: Creation” in what’s expected to be one of the slowest moviegoing frames of the disappointing summer of 2017.

Logan Lucky” is the only other major opening this weekend, with Bleecker Street and Fingerprint Releasing launching the heist comedy at 3,031 domestic locations. Forecasts for “Logan Lucky,” starring Channing Tatum, Riley Keough, and Adam Driver as siblings trying to pull off a massive robbery at the »


- Dave McNary

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Chilean Oscar-Winning Punkrobot to Produce Animated Series ‘Guitar & Drum’ (Exclusive)

13 hours ago

Chile’s Oscar-Winning Punkrobot Animation Studio will present at the upcoming Mip Junior and Mipcom a pilot of “Guitar & Drum,” an short-format animated TV series of 40 episodes of five-minutes each.

Punkrobot leapt to international recognition with its 2015 “Bear Story,” which won best animated short at the 88th Academy Awards, becoming the first Chilean movie ever to take an Oscar.

“Guitar’s” main characters are a guitar and a drum who have other musical instruments as friends. Punkrobot partners María Elisa Soto-Aguilar y Antonia Herrera are attached to direct.

“It’s necessary nowadays to launch a message to children that all features making us different and special persons are able to make up a big team, an orchestra if we join together to create a great melody,” Punkrobot CEO Patricio (“Pato”) Escala told Variety. He added that financing for the first season is also secured. Escala is president of Chile’s national lobby Animachi.

Punkrobot »


- Emilio Mayorga

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‘Dirty Dancing’ at 30: How Baby and Johnny Won Over the Skeptics

15 hours ago

It’s been 30 years since Baby and Johnny had the time of their life, but “Dirty Dancing” remains as popular as when it opened on Aug. 21, 1987. Actually, it’s even more popular: When the ABC remake aired May 24 this year, fans immediately registered anger and/or disappointment on social media. It was a reminder that the magic of the 1987 version could not be duplicated.

The original “Dirty Dancing” was one of the summer’s biggest surprises. It was filmed on a $6 million budget and earned $213 million at the box office, plus has a long and booming afterlife in video and spinoffs.

Filming of the Vestron movie — written by Eleanor Bergstein and directed by Emile Ardolino — was done on two main locations: Lake Lure in N.C., and the Mountain Lake Lodge in Giles County, Va. Mountain Lake was responsible for many of the exterior shots. The lodge, built in the 1930s, had »


- Tim Gray

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‘Scary Mother’ Wins at Sarajevo Film Festival; Bosnia-Herzegovina Selects Oscar Entry

15 hours ago

The 23rd Sarajevo Film Festival has wrapped with the announcement of Ana Urushadze’s “Scary Mother” as winner of the fest’s top prize, while host country Bosnia-Herzegovina has picked its entry in the race for the foreign-language Academy Award.

Scary Mother” won the Heart of Sarajevo on Wednesday night, the festival’s prize for best feature film which includes a €16,000 ($18,800) award. The Georgian-language movie, which is a co-production between Georgia and Estonia, was written and directed by Urushadze (pictured center).

The drama stars Nata Murvanidze (pictured, far right) as a 50-year-old housewife struggling to choose between her family life and a passion for writing which she has suppressed for years. Deciding to following her passion, she plunges into writing, sacrificing herself mentally and physically. The film, produced by Lasha Khalvashi (holding the Heart of Sarajevo) and Tinatin Kajrislvili (far left), also won the Cineuropa Nagrada partner’s award from the Association of Filmmakers of Bosnia and »


- Robert Mitchell

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Australian Courts Order Blocking of 59 Piracy Sites

16 hours ago

In major victories for Hollywood and the local film industries, Australian federal courts have ordered the country’s major telecoms and Internet providers to block access to 59 websites that carry pirated film and TV content. The studios and distributors have been fighting legal battles Down Under for several years.

The decisions came in two separate rulings Friday. In a case brought by Village Roadshow, the judge ordered telcos including Telstra, Optus and Tpg to block 42 piracy sites. In a case brought by Foxtel, a second judge ordered the blocking of another 17 sites. The Internet service providers have 15 days to block the 59 sites and 127 domains.

In the Village Roadshow case, the judge said that copyright violations were “flagrant and reflect a blatant disregard for copyright owners.” Some, he said, even offered tutorials on “how to frustrate any legal action.”

Sites to be blocked include PrimeWire, MegaShare, Eztv, Limetorrents, Project Free TV, Watch Series, »


- Patrick Frater

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