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London Critics’ Awards: ‘La La Land’ Comes Out On Top, Huppert Doubles Up
The London Film Critics’ Circle tends to spread the wealth between multiple films in any given year, but their affections were even more split than usual Sunday. Through the evening, you might have felt the wind blowing in the direction of “Moonlight,” “Manchester by the Sea” or “Love & Friendship,” all of which took a brace of awards at tonight’s ceremony at the May Fair Hotel in London — or even last year’s Oscar winner “Son of Saul,” a 2016 release in the U.K. that pulled off a surprise director of the year win for first-timer László Nemes.
But in an eleventh-hour coup that echoed its triumph in the NYFCC voting last month, it was hot Oscar favorite “La La Land” that danced off with the film of the year prize, despite winning no other trophies. In what I’m told was one of the tightest vote counts in the Circle’s history, »
- Guy Lodge
Shyamalan's 'Split' Impresses with $40 Million Debut as 'Rogue One' Tops $1 Billion Worldwide
M. Night Shyamalan has delivered a second hit in a row as his latest film, Split, is estimated to have delivered a top five January opening, leading the weekend charge with a three-day opening four times as big as its reported $10 million budget. Meanwhile, Paramount's xXx: The Return of Xander Cage delivered as expected while the Weinstein's The Founder scored a top ten finish. Additionally, Disney's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has become the 28th film to top $1 billion worldwide. With an estimated $40.18 million, Split is currently the fourth largest January opening of all-time, just ahead of 2008's Cloverfield, which debuted with $40 million and went on to gross $80 million domestically. This is also a dramatic improvement over Shyamalan's well-received 2015 thriller The Visit, which opened with $25.4 million and went on to gross over $65 million. Should Split be able to pull off a 2.5x multiplier we'd be looking at Shyamalan's first »
- Brad Brevet <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sundance: Amazon Lands ‘The Big Sick’ in Blockbuster Deal (Exclusive)
The pact comes on the heels of the romantic comedy’s rousing premiere on Friday night. The film is about a Pakistani-American comedian (Kumail Nanjiani) whose relationship with his girlfriend (Zoe Kazan) is nearly derailed over cultural differences and a health crisis. Nanjiani co-wrote the heavily autobiographical script with his wife Emily V. Gordon.
The negotiations for North American rights and other foreign territories stretched into midnight on Saturday. Nanjiani told Variety earlier this week that he wanted the film to get a theatrical release. Unlike Netflix, its rival streaming service, Amazon is a big proponent of the theatrical experience, with all of its films getting at least some kind of theatrical run.
“The Big Sick” sparked interest from a number of distributors, »
- Ramin Setoodeh and Brent Lang
Bleecker Street Nabs ‘Nostalgia’ With Jon Hamm, Ellen Burstyn
Bleecker Street has nabbed North American distribution rights to “Nostalgia,” a drama about the memories that certain artifacts evoke. Mark Pellington (“Arlington Road”) directs the film with a cast that includes Jon Hamm, Ellen Burstyn, Catherine Keener, Bruce Dern, Nick Offerman, Amber Tamblyn, John Ortiz, and James LeGros. Alex Ross Perry (“Listen Up Philip”) wrote the screenplay.
Bleecker Street already has a relationship with Pellington. The indie label is distributing “The Last Word,” a drama with Shirley MacLaine and Amanda Seyfried that premieres at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The film makes its way to theaters in March. Bleecker Street’s films include “Denial,” “Captain Fantastic,” and “Eye in the Sky.”
Sundance: Amazon Lands ‘The Big Sick’ in Blockbuster Deal (Exclusive)
“Mark has assembled an incredible cast to share this story of family, memories and loss,” said Bleecker Street CEO Andrew Karpen in a statement. “‘Nostalgia’ is one »
- Brent Lang
Sundance: Neon Buys ‘Ingrid Goes West’ (Exclusive)
Neon has bought North American distribution rights to “Ingrid Goes West” out of the Sundance Film Festival, Variety has learned.
To nab the indie comedy-drama it beat out the likes of A24 and Netflix, both of whom were in the hunt. The film is a satire of the social media age, chronicling the exploits of an unstable woman (Aubrey Plaza) with an obsessive streak.
CAA negotiated the deal.
More to come…
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- Brent Lang and Ramin Setoodeh
Vin Diesel’s ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’ Leads International Box Office
The action movie, from Paramount Pictures and Revolution Studios, finished first in 32 markets, performing 42 percent above “Kingsmen,” 4 percent above “San Andreas,” and on par with “G.I. Joe Retaliation.”
India generated the top number with $7.3 million including previews, followed by first-place launches in Russia with $5.5 million, France with $3.1 million, and Germany and Mexico with $2.8 million each. Australia generated $2.3 million in second place and Brazilian grosses were $2.2 million for a third-place finish.
Film Review: ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’
“Xander Cage” will open in Korea on Feb. 9 and in China on Feb. 10. The film has an $85 million budget with backing from Chinese companies Huahua Media and Shanghai Film Group, which limits Paramount’s exposure to about 50 percent. Paramount and the two companies announced a three-year $1 billion co-financing deal on Thursday. »
- Dave McNary
Veronica Mars Boss Rob Thomas Shares 'Six-Episode' Revival Update
Over the summer, leading lady Kristen Bell confirmed our initial scoop that she and series creator Rob Thomas are eyeing a limited-series format vs. a fan-funded feature film this time around, telling me at Comic-Con, “We are definitely striving to do it again… And this time around we’re not going to ask the audience to pony up for anything.”
At the Television Critics Association winter press tour last week, Thomas — who was promoting iZombie Season 3 — revealed that the »
Sundance Cancels Three Screenings Over Power Outage
It’s already been an eventful couple of days at the Sundance Film Festival.
The festival suffered a power outage at the Redstone theater on Sunday, causing screenings of “Mars Generation,” “Dolores,” and the buzzy “Landline” to be canceled, according to a Sundance Twitter account.
Update: Power outage at Redstone. Mars Generation + Landline + Dolores screenings cancelled, attempting to reschedule. More info to come.
— Sundance Fest Now (@sundancefestnow) January 22, 2017
The power outage comes one day after a cyberattack forced the closure of Sundance’s box office. The hack occurred shortly after Chelsea Handler led a Women’s March in Park City, Utah, to protest the election of Donald Trump.
More to come…
Related storiesWith 'Split,' Horror and M. Night Shyamalan Remain Box Office DrawsLondon Critics' Awards: 'La La Land' Comes Out on Top, Isabelle Huppert Doubles UpSundance Film Review: Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara in 'A Ghost Story »
- Alex Stedman
'Split': M. Night Shyamalan Explains an Ending Years in the Making
[Warning: This story contains spoilers for the ending of Split.]
Just to reiterate the above warning (because seeing Split spoiler-free is such a fun experience), spoilers below:
After Kevin Wendle Crumb (James McAvoy) makes his escape, the film moves to a bar, where a news broadcast recounts some of the events of the film. A man with multiple personalities kidnapped three young women and held them captive »
- Aaron Couch
The Dark Side of Star Lord You Never Knew Existed
Star Lord has quickly rise to being one of Marvel’s most important heroes thanks to his role in Guardians of the Galaxy. However, only just a few years ago, barely anyone even knew who he was. Not even comic book fans realized that he was in essence more of a jerk than the Han Solo like hero he’s portrayed as in the Marvel cinematic universe. According to Looper: Before their hit movie came out in 2014, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy were obscure comic characters known only to hardcore fans. Now, Groot, Drax, and Rocket Raccoon are household names. But
The Dark Side of Star Lord You Never Knew Existed »
- Nat Berman
Sundance Film Review: ‘My Happy Family’
“My Happy Family,” the somewhat attenuated second feature from helmers Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross (a real-life couple credited here as “Nana and Simon”), continues their exploration of Georgia’s distaff side with a low-key, slice-of-life look at a middle-aged woman who leaves her husband. With its vociferously arguing family members, multiple dinner table scenes, and camerawork by Dp Tudor Vladimir Panduru (who also shot Cristian Mungiu’s “Graduation”), it feels much closer to recent Romanian cinema than to such similarly-themed titles as Paul Mazursky’s “An Unmarried Woman.” Although the energy and freshness of the directors’ acclaimed debut “In Bloom” are not so much in evidence here, “Family” does offer an interesting perspective on a changing patriarchal society, which should serve this sociological drama well on the fest circuit and in niche European play.
When we first meet her, Manana (theater thesp and vocalist Ia Shugliashvili), a 52-year-old high school literature teacher, »
- Alissa Simon
Warner Bros. Intl. TV in Multi-Year Deal With Starz Play Arabia
Rome – Starz Play Arabia has forged a multi-year deal with Warner Bros. Intl. Television Distribution for exclusive rights to several hit shows, including “The Flash,” “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” and “Supergirl,” which will start streaming across the Middle East and North Africa on the platform this month.
The deal takes in the 19 Mena countries covered by Starz Play, which is the first Starz-branded service outside the U.S.
A statement said the pact will “enable Starz Play to acquire more premium content” from Warner Bros. TV, and indicates a strategic relationship in a market where Svod is starting to heat up. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Starz Play launched in the region in 2015, beating Netflix to the punch. It seems to be gaining some traction, recently touting more than 1,500 new signups a day for a content offer that is heavy on Hollywood fare. Its top territory is Saudi Arabia, where »
- Nick Vivarelli
Sky Invests in Production Companies True North, Chrysalis Vision
European pay-tv operator Sky has taken stakes in two British production companies, acquiring a majority stake in reality-show producer True North and also investing in drama specialist Chrysalis Vision.
True North, which was set up in 2001, is led by Jess Fowle and Andrew Sheldon. Its series include “A New Life in the Sun,” “Teen Mom UK,” “Building the Dream,” “Homes by the Sea,” “Junior Vets on Call,” “The Lie Detective” and “Breaking the Silence Live.” Free-to-air broadcaster Channel 4 has sold its stake in True North, which is based in Leeds and Manchester, both in Northern England.
Drama series producer Chrysalis Vision was founded in 2014 by experienced media executives Chris Wright, who serves as chairman, Mick Pilsworth, its CEO, Roger Parry and Luke Johnson. Wright founded Chrysalis Music Group, and he and Pilsworth oversaw the development of Chrysalis TV, the company that launched international hit detective series “Midsomer Murders.” Chrysalis TV was sold in 2001 to Bridgepoint Capital »
- Leo Barraclough
Sundance Film Review: ‘The Polka King’
One of those conspicuously talented comics who nonetheless can be tricky to cast, Jack Black has rather surprisingly found some of his best big-screen roles portraying liberally dramatized versions of real people, à la “School of Rock” and “Bernie.” (No, “Drunk History” doesn’t count.) Featuring Black’s most eccentric true-life character yet, “The Polka King” amply plays to its star’s strengths, yielding a hilariously tough-to-believe biopic that should easily prove one of the bigger commercial breakouts of Sundance’s 2017 edition.
Co-directors Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky’s affectionately farcical comedy is based on a loopy 2009 documentary about Jan Lewan, a colorful Polish émigré turned “Polka King of Pennsylvania” turned convicted Ponzi-scheme felon. Perfectly cast down the line, this bizarre tale of the American Dream gone kitschily awry introduces Black’s Jan in 1990, when he’d be well on his way to realizing that dream, if only the finances would cooperate. »
- Dennis Harvey
Amazon Prime Strikes BBC Content Deal For India
BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the British Broadcasting Corporation, has agreed to license some 600 hours of library content to the newly launched Amazon Prime Video service in India. The deal largely covers factual and pre-school programming.
It includes CBeebies shows vintage puppet animation, “Clangers,” animation series Dinopaws and Hey Duggee, which recently won the Pre-School Animation of the year at the 2017 BAFTA Children’s Awards. BBC factual programs in the deal include “Gandhi,” an in-depth look at Mahatma Gandhi, “The World’s Weirdest Weapons” and “The Genius of Inventions.”
That growth is exemplified by figures from Reliance Jio, a new phones and broadband Internet provider. From a standing start in September, it this week claimed to have 72 million subscribers. Amazon Prime launched in India in July last year »
- Patrick Frater
'Trainspotting 2' World Premiere: Original Team Reunites in Edinburgh
However, in choosing Edinburgh – where the film is set and (this time) mostly shot – for the Sunday night event, he did have to apologize to the waiting crowds for the rain and somewhat wintry conditions. “It’s brilliant to be back in Edinburgh,” he said. “But you’re all freezing, and I’m sorry.”
Thankfully, the cold didn’t dampen the mood, with the returning cast members jubilant that the sequel to the film that had launched their careers »
- Alex Ritman
Sundance Film Review: ‘Bushwick’
America on the brink of a second civil war is a timely concept that only got timelier last November, and gritty action-thriller “Bushwick” exploits that frightening “what if” scenario from a boots-on-the-ground perspective. Even if the low budget execution is uneven at times, there’s enough snap to the filmmaking, and enough raw power in the premise, to make for solid B-movie excitement. A surprisingly potent performance from professional wrestler (and “Guardians of the Galaxy” co-star) Dave Bautista should only add to the appeal for a young male audience.
While Bautista will surely be central to any marketing campaign, the focus of the movie is actually grad student Lucy (Brittany Snow), who becomes our avatar into a disconcerting alternate universe in which the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick is under military invasion. After witnessing her boyfriend’s brutal death just outside of an abandoned subway station, Lucy makes her way through »
- Geoff Berkshire
‘Golden Exits’ Sundance Review: Miserable New Yorkers Torture Emily Browning
There’s a moment in Alex Ross Perry’s “Golden Exits” where star Emily Browning says she’s surprised that the high-brow job she just landed even exists. Some members of the audience at Sundance’s Library Theater, where the film had its world premiere on Sunday evening, might have wondered the same about the film. Browning plays 25-year-old Australian Naomi, in New York on a work visa as the assistant to archivist Nick (Adam Horovitz), who organizes and stores the minutia in the lives of important people. (They’re more common than you think, plus Beyonce has one.) Also »
- Matt Donnelly
Korea Box Office: ‘The King’ Rules Weekend With Record Opening
Opening on 1,310 screens nationwide, Next Entertainment World’s crime drama “The King” scored $13.2 million from 1.85 million admissions between Wednesday and Sunday to top the Korean box office. That is a record for the biggest January opening in the country.
Directed by Han Jae-rim (“The Face Reader”,) and starring Zo In-sung (“A Frozen Flower”) and Jung Woo-sung (“Asura: The City of Madness”,) ‘The King” involves a young prosecutor who rises swiftly to power, but tumbles even quicker.
On 976 screens, another Korean drama, Cj’s “Confidential Assignment” earned $8.1 million from 1.15 million admissions. Starring Hyun Bin (“The Fatal Encounter”) and Yoo Hae-jin (“Luck-key”), the story revolves around cops from South and North Korea on a covert operation.
Disney’s “Moana” earned $2.29 million between Friday and Sunday for a total of $8.4 million after two weekends. Japan’s “Your Name” dropped from first place to fourth, earning $1.86 million for a total of $21.1 million after three weekends. »
- Sonia Kil
Sundance Film Review: ‘Call Me by Your Name’
As numerous are the ways in which Luca Guadagnino’s latest (and most personal) film, “Call Me by Your Name,” advances the canon of gay cinema, none impresses more than the fact that it’s not necessarily a gay movie at all. Rather, the “I Am Love” director’s ravishingly sensual new film — adapted from André Aciman’s equally vivid, 1983-set coming-out/coming-of-age novel — is above all a story of first love, one that transcends the same-sex dynamic of its central couple, much as “Moonlight” so recently did.
Acquired by Sony Pictures Classics shortly before its Sundance premiere, this Proustian account of an Italo-American 17-year-old’s transformative summer may not be as commercial as that film, but it ought to be a word-of-mouth art-house hit all the same — especially when talk turns to what teenage Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) and American summer guest Oliver (Armie Hammer) do with a ripe peach. »
- Peter Debruge
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