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May 24, 2006

Worth a Mention - May 24, 2006

Transformers Movie Name & Location Revealed

(filmforce.ign.com) Yesterday, at an American Idol press day, we had the opportunity to chat with Glenn Morshower, who plays Agent Aaron Pierce on TV's 24. The actor hinted that he is off to New Mexico to shoot a movie with Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay. Transformers, anyone? Add Morshower to a growing cast that includes John Voight, Shia LeBouf, Michael Clarke Duncan, Bernie Mac, John Turturro and Tyrese.

The actor stated that the name of the film will in fact be Prime Directive, which makes sense since Optimus Prime is the main Autobot. There is no word whether this is merely a shooting title, a subtitle (as in The Transformers: Prime Directive), or will stand alone (although that seems unlikely).

Will the name survive until theatrical release? One thing to consider is that "Prime Directive" features heavily in the Star Trek mythos as well, as the abiding rule that all Starfleet officers must follow (ie: "At first, do no harm").

Newman's Cars Salary Donated

(USA TODAY) Disney/Pixar's latest animated feature Cars is set for national release June 9, but it will get a unique unveiling Friday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte. Four huge screens are being erected at one of the track's turns, and a special sound system is being set up for a crowd of 30,000.

"We are going to be looking back 25 years from now and see this as a milestone moment not only for the speedway but for NASCAR," track President Humpy Wheeler says.

Wheeler is one of several motor sports personalities with voice roles in the film. Drivers Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are among the NASCAR representatives. Mario Andretti and Formula One champion Michael Schumacher also have small roles.

Paul Newman says there are advantages to doing animated features over regular motion picture roles. There's no location shooting. All it took was a ride to a New York sound studio from his home in Westport, Conn., to lay down the voice for his first Pixar film.

Instead of paying him a large salary, Disney/Pixar is making a sizable donation to Newman's Hole in the Wall Camps for kids.

Iron Man To Shoot In January

(comingsoon) MTV talked to Iron Man director Jon Favreau, who gave some interesting quotes. Here are a few of them about the movie:

"It's the first movie Marvel is self-financing," he said of a new deal that frees the makers of the "Spider-Man" and "X-Men" movies from studio control. "We're set to come out in the summer of '08, and we'll start shooting in January."

"We're gonna have it take place in the present day, but there will be an origin story that has the old, gray Iron Man suit; eventually it will progress into more of the modern look," Favreau said. "That's the fun of doing the first one."

"The alcoholism doesn't come into play until later on in the story of Iron Man," he said. "[The comic] started off in the '60s, where it was about him as a successful manufacturer who developed this suit. Then, later, it spins off into that story about him fighting against himself. I think we're going to lay the groundwork for it, but the first one's going to explore him taking on this alter ego of Iron Man, and developing the suit, and what happens politically within the Stark Corporation."

Mentioning an eventual "Iron Man 2," Favreau said that actor playing Tony Stark for his franchise is unlikely to be a major star (Tom Cruise was briefly attached to the role years ago). Instead, the director hopes to announce his discovery of a relative unknown from the Brandon Routh ("Superman Returns") mold later this year.


Spike Lee Selling Time

(scifi.com) Spike Lee has made a deal to rewrite Selling Time, a supernatural thriller for 20th Century Fox, Variety reported. John Davis and Jennifer Klein will produce.

Lee, who most recently directed the hit Inside Man, hasn't yet chosen his next film. He'll write Selling Time with an eye toward directing it.

The movie concerns a man who sells chunks of his life in an attempt to relive and change the worst day of his life.

Hidden Message For X3 Moviegoers

(filmforce.ign.com) You're planning to see X-Men: The Last Stand this weekend, right? We expect most of you are. That being the case, apart from our regular reporting on the movie, IGN FilmForce now asks you to do one important thing. If you're an X-Men fan, you'll regret it if you don't! At the theater this weekend, when the credits roll, when the audiences begins to filter out of the exits... keep your seat. And then, perhaps, share this little secret with a few of your friends: the movie isn't over.


We don't want to spoil anything for you, but we want you to know that the scene that follows isn't your typical post-credits tack-on. It's a coda for one of the main characters. The scene is maybe 30 seconds in length, but it's enough. And it will surely be one of the more talked moments in the fan community.

Disney Share Repurchase Could Balance Pixar Buy

(forbes.com) Morgan Stanley raised its price target on shares of the Walt Disney Co. to $31 from $28, saying the cost of the Pixar acquisition will likely be offset by management's accelerated share repurchase program.

Analyst Richard A. Bilotti said the dilution of roughly 10 cents per share from Disney's acquisition of Pixar Animation Studios should be offset by the repurchase of $500 million-worth of Disney shares in the second quarter and the planned repurchase of even more shares in the second half of the year.

Stockwell Helming Toy Rabbit Movie

(moviehole.net) “Blue Crush” director (and one time 80’s actor) John Stockwell has signed on to helm the film version of the kiddies’ book "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane" for New Line Cinema.

The children's book, written by Kate DiCamillo and published by Candlewick, received a rave review from the New York Times last week.

The book is a fable about a girl whose narcissistic porcelain toy rabbit, named Edward Tulane, is swept overboard on a family trip and begins a journey to discover the true meaning of love, says The Hollywood Reporter.

McG Swears Off "Bombastic Action Flicks"

(filmforce.ign.com) Director McG has had a rough time getting new film projects off the ground since directing Charlie's Angels in 2000 and the sequel, Full Throttle, in 2003. The director was at one point pegged to helm Superman, but that film fell through the hands of a host of directors before Bryan Singer took it on.

McG is currently hard at work on his most serious project to date, entitled We Are Marshall, which is currently filming in Atlanta. The film tells the tale of Marshall University's football program in the aftermath of a devastating plane crash that killed 75 in 1970.

Now that McG has had a taste of dramatic filmmaking, he says that his days of directing bombastic action flicks are over. At least for now.

"There's no more sequels in my future," says McG.

CalArts: The School With Antz in Its SquarePants

(nytimes.com) THERE is no exact moment when the cultural epicenter of the country shifted from New York to Los Angeles, just a series of progressive baby steps to the left. You could start with the movie men who fled the East's gray skies and tax collectors for the world's greatest outdoor set, or the kids who screwed the wheels from their roller skates to bits of wood and began slaloming in empty Los Angeles swimming pools. Or you could start in 1961, when Walt Disney cemented his plans for, arguably, the most interesting and salutary piece of his legacy, the California Institute of the Arts (commonly called CalArts), perhaps not the happiest place on earth, but certainly among the grooviest.

You can get a sense of just how groovy with Tomorrowland: CalArts in Moving Pictures, a hugely ambitious program that opens Thursday at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan and runs to Aug. 13. Organized by Joshua Siegel, an assistant curator in the museum's film and media department, the series showcases some of the knockout film and video work to emerge over the last 30 years from a school generally better known for nurturing artists like David Salle and Mike Kelley than filmmakers. More than 200 current and former students, including Mr. Salle, are represented in 37 programs for an eye-straining, brain-tickling 52-plus hours of animated punks and trembling squiggles, live-action feminist high jinks and political outrage, along with an early on-camera appearance by Paul Rubenfeld, better known as Pee-wee Herman.

Unlike the film programs at both the University of Southern California, which boasts George Lucas as one of its most famous graduates, and the University of California, Los Angeles, which flaunts Francis Ford Coppola, CalArts is not known for cranking out Hollywood types. About the straightest name on its alum roster is James Mangold, who directed "Walk the Line."

CalArts can more proudly lay claim to graduates like Tim Burton (who studied character animation) and Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants. Sofia Coppola whose film "Marie Antoinette" will have its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday, studied painting and photography at the school before dropping out. Mr. Burton is a no-show in the retrospective, but Mr. Hillenburg's school days are represented by a seven-minute marvel, "Wormholes," which presents a rotating Saul Steinberg-like landscape from the point of view of a fly. Similarly inventive are two shape-shifting shorts from Henry Selick, the director of "The Nightmare Before Christmas," that show the influence of the animator Jules Engel, one of the school's guiding lights.

More: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/21/movies/21darg.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin


INDUSTRY RAGE ZOOMS TOWARDS SUPERMAN RETURNS

(thehotbutton.com) I am not very happy with the way things are going this summer and the disappointment that is at the theaters is really a small part of it. There are bad movies all the time. And then better movies. It happens. But I think we are in a cycle of media vs. the studios that is likely to effect the way we all work together for a long time to come. There are small shifts all the time, but it seems like this is a paradigm shift.

Neither side is all to blame. It seems that we are in the presence of a perfect storm and the damage could be permanent.

On the media side, you have the combination of a threatened traditional media, online media in its precocious childhood, and paid media scrambling to secure both a spreading audience and high advertising rates.

On the studio side, you have insanely outbalanced advertising costs, production budgets that are stinking of desperation instead of much needed moderation, a focus on opening weekend that is getting worse even as people are theorizing about day-n-date releasing that would increase the intensity on opening even more, and an annual ratcheting up in the anxiety about controlling a media that is meant to be free.

The last few weeks have been a remarkable frenzy of fear, rage, self-righteous retribution, and self-righteous control that has made for an ugly, ugly time for the entire industry. In this fight, there are no winners on the media side.

Interestingly, while Mission:Impossible III got a pass by over 70% of critics according to simple rating of Rotten Tomatoes, Poseidon was under 30%. Do critics matter? Apparently, not to the newspapers that run their criticism… unless, this summer, the reviews can be used to attack this week's target of ire.

In the middle was Poseidon, a movie that Warner Bros got a late start on selling and which was pretty universally panned once critics started seeing it. There wasn't as much hysteria, but the film, which became a daily treatise on its budget versus its soft domestic opening, was a log on the fire of the rage. Attacking it became like the light work out between heavy days at the gym.

The battle right now is over the cost of Superman Returns. And there is reason for some of us to have an interest and to write about it. But as a consumer press story, it sucks. I mean, I understand the excitement. But for the movie to be positioned as a potential disaster this early, before its been seen by more than a handful of people, is a shame. And I have to take some responsibility for that, because I have spoken to other media about it and have been quoted, even as the studio tries to get control of the story.

And that is where it gets really scary, because I don't know if there is a real answer. Studios are not going to start honestly disclosing costs, any more than they are going to give the media weekly Home Entertainment sales information that is quantifiable. This is a smoke and mirrors business and even though there is a fiduciary responsibility to stock holders not to lie to the press about numbers, the fudge factor is high.

The answers are not easy and not clear. But as long as we all keep reacting on the fly, in the heat of battle, the cycle will continue and forces that are greater than us will prevail upon us. No one is more of a hard ass than I when it comes to ripping into what I believe to be a true injustice or even just a bad movie. But sometimes, it is all too much.

-H

Posted by dschnee at May 24, 2006 10:32 PM

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