Entertainment behind the scenes
The Daily Mail calls the eagerly anticipated second instalment in the Twilight franchise “disastrous” and “one long pain in the neck“, and gives it just one star out of five compared with four stars for the first film. The Daily Mirror is kinder, saying the movie “effortlessly sweeps you along in a swirl of intoxicating passion.” It goes on to say the film, which hits US and UK theatres on Friday, works better as a love story than as a supernatural adventure.Whoever you believe in the coming days, when the already speeding Twilight hype machine goes into overdrive, critics’ opinions are likely to have little impact on how the film fares at the ticket booths. The Twilight franchise based on the hugely popular novels by U.S. author Stephenie Meyer is being touted as the next Harry Potter, i.e. billions of box office bucks in the next few days.As in the original, British actor Robert Pattinson plays Edward, the brooding bloodsucker who befriends Bella, played by Kristen Stewart. And Taylor Lautner is set to become the next heartthrob for his portrayal of American werewolf Jacob Black.Catherine Hardwicke’s original Twilight movie made $384 million at the global box office. Few would bet against the sequel beating that tally, no matter what the critics think.
It's hard to watch France's political and cultural elite rush to support filmmaker Roman Polanski against extradition to the United States on a decades-old sex charge and not wonder exactly how they interpret the national motto "liberté, égalité, fraternité." It's tempting to ask whether they're defending the liberty to break the law and skip town, respecting the equality of all before the law and championing a brotherhood of artists who can do no wrong. (Photo: Roman Polanski, 19 Feb 2009/Hannibal Hanschke)
Here in Paris, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner declared the arrest was "a bit sinister ... frankly, (arresting) a man of such talent recognised around the world, recognised in the country where he was arrested -- that's not very nice." He and his Polish counterpart have written to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the issue. Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand said "just as there is a generous America that we like, there's also an America that scares us, and that's the America that has just shown us its face." Directors, actors and intellectuals have been signing a petition demanding Polanski's immediate release.
Actor Stephen Baldwin won't be taking any more profanity-laced roles like the foul-mouthed thug he played in the 1990s hit movie "The Usual Suspects."
But the youngest member of the Hollywood acting clan, who became a born-again Christian a few years ago, has taken on some projects that he sees as more "family-oriented."
What's that? Jay Leno is moving to prime-time? You don't say!
Frankly, it's hard to remember the last time there was such hubbub about a TV show. It was, after all, the cover story in Time magazine. Not to be outdone, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, AP, and probably every local news outlet between New York and Hollywood had a story about the talk show host -- more often than not raising the question of whether he's going to save network TV.
(You've got to give it to the public-relations machine on this one. They really worked the story. Of course, their spinning was augmented by a huge marketing effort. Stuart Elliott of the New York Times today estimated that NBC put out more than $10 million in promoting the show).
Tom Ford has branded as “disgusting” the ban on gay marriage in parts of the United States and elsewhere in the world.
The designer, who is openly gay, used a Venice press conference for his feature film debut “A Single Man” starring Colin Firth to criticize decisions like that in California in November banning same-sex marriage. He did, however, add that his movie, which is in competition at the Venice film festival was not about being gay at all, but about the human condition in general.
The biggest star at this year’s Venice film festival has arguably been Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Sure, George Clooney and Matt Damon have got the crowds going and can cause a minor media scrum with little effort, but Chavez and his large entourage of aides and guards is another matter altogether.
In town for the world premiere of Oliver Stone’s documentary “South of the Border”, Chavez looked the part on the red carpet and giving interviews at a swanky hotel on the Lido waterfront. Spare a thought for the handful of reporters given a coveted slot with the leader, though. We were originally down to speak to Chavez and Stone at around 5:30 p.m., but, after a series of false alarms, we were moved to a different venue and eventually ended up speaking to them well after 10 p.m.
Debt-ridden Hollywood studio MGM, whose library is home to such gems as the Rocky and James Bond flicks, has replaced CEO Harry Sloan, appointing a three person team to run the show: famed turnaround ace Stephen Cooper, motion pictures group boss Mary Parent, and CFO Bedi Singh.
Sloan is out as CEO but the veteran Hollywood businessman, who took the helm a few months after MGM's 2005 buyout by a group of private equity and media investors, will stay on MGM as non-executive chairman of the studio. The studio has been grappling with a massive $3.5 billion debt load stemming from its 2005 buyout by private equity and media firms.
Movie studios are recognizing the increasing importance of word-of-mouth fan reaction in making successes or failures of their big budget movie releases. Check out the Reuters story on that topic here. Hollywood studios see an opportunity to reach potential movie goers through social networking websites like Twitter, and to market movies in ways other than the traditional trailer/television spot/billboard approach.
Universal Pictures, the company behind the movie “Bruno” that opened a week ago, actually sought to create buzz about the film by not marketing it, at least not right away. Universal delayed the release of its trailer and other advertising material for “Bruno” for a couple months, because it knew that the many fans of lead actor Sacha Baron Cohen would chatter about the movie online, said Adam Fogelson, president of marketing and distribution for the studio. With that delayed approach, the studio allowed fans to lead the talk about “Bruno” and give the subversive movie a cutting-edge feel, by not oversaturating them with advertisements and trailers.
As the film industry looks ahead to box office business after “Harry Potter,” with the lucrative franchise due to wind up in the summer of 2011, one person in as good a position as most to offer an opinion on what may be the next big film series suggests that the “Twilight” vampire romances could fill the void.
“Harry Potter” 1-5 have amassed $4.5 billion at global box offices so far, and with HP 6, otherwise known as “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, due to hit cinemas this week, the cash tills look set to go on ringing. HP 7, the final book in J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard series, has been split into two movies, meaning that at the current rate, the 8-movie series could take a cool $7.2 billion.
If Danish director Lars von Trier was out to create a stir with his movie “Antichrist”, he got what he came for in Cannes. After a charged press screening where the movie, in competition at the film festival, was jeered, laughed at and loudly booed, the reviews are in, and unsurprisingly, most of them are, well, diabolical.
Faced with a hostile question during a press conference, the director who won the Palme d’Or in Cannes with “Dancer in the Dark” in 2000, took exception, and said he did not make his film for the press sitting before him or, for that matter, for an audience at all. That only served to wind some members of the press up further, begging the question why he made the film at all.