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‘Coco’ Edges ‘Justice League’ at Thanksgiving Day Box Office

1 hour ago

Disney-Pixar’s “Coco” topped Warner Bros.-DC Entertainment’s “Justice League” at the Thanksgiving Day box office by $400,000 with $8.9 million at 3,987 North American sites.

The animated musical has taken in $22.2 million in its first two days, while the superhero mashup grossed $18.9 million during the same period. Projections have shown that “Coco” will wind up the five-day Thanksgiving holiday with about $70 million during the Wednesday-Sunday period, beating  “Justice League” by about $10 million.

Coco” is performing significantly above pre-release forecasts, which had been in the $55 million to $60 million range. It received an A+ CinemaScore from moviegoers, indicating that the film could be lifted by strong word of mouth during the rest of the holidays.

On the same holiday weekend a year ago, Disney’s “Moana” scored $25.4 million on its first two days and went on to earn $82 million over the five days. That was the second-highest opening for the period, trailing only Disney’s “Frozen” at $93 million in 2013.

Directed »


- Dave McNary

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Singapore: ‘Scorpions’ Director Readies Third Film With Irrfan Khan (Exclusive)

19 hours ago

Top Indian director, Anup Singh is poised to reunite with star Irrfan Khan on “Lasya – The Gentle Dance.”

Singh’s “The Song of Scorpions,”, starring Khan, Golshifteh Farahani and Indian cinema legend Waheeda Rehman, is playing as a special presentation at the Singapore International Film Festival, part of the Singapore Media Festival. Singh’s previous film “Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost” also starred Khan.

“As with all film directors, I suppose, I have a few film scripts juggling in my head. I await the one that keeps flying in my imagination while the others steadily fall away,” Singh told Variety. “At the moment, that one seems to be my next film with Irrfan Khan. It will be my third film with him, a kind of conclusive trilogy bringing to some resolution, I hope, the themes that have been haunting me since “Qissa” and have continued to pursue me with “The Song of Scorpions.”

The film is »


- Naman Ramachandran

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Mar del Plata: Argentina on the Rise – Gustavo Biazzi

1 hour ago

Mar Del Plata, Argentina — Lensed with a continuous verve from the first shot of the protagonist, Ernesto, running to catch his girlfriend at a viva at university, there’s hardly a shot in the first three-quarters of Gustavo Biazzi’s “Los Vagos” (“The Bums”) where Ernesto or the camera is not on the move, sometimes making highly technical demanding shots look easy. That of course is to be expected from one of Argentina’s most reputed young cinematographers, whose credits take in Santiago Mitre’s “The Student” and Cannes Critics’ Week winner “Paulina.” It also reflects the movie’s subject. On holiday in Misiones, Ernesto leaving behind his girlfriend from childhood, the high-achiever Paula, for a riverside holiday with his laddish friends back home. Together, they hit parties, chase girls, booze themselves into stupor, as Ernesto searches for he’s not sure what as an alternative to Paula. Produced by Santiago Carabante and La Union de los »


- John Hopewell

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‘Aladdin’ Turns 25: Creators on the Real Beginning of the Disney Renaissance

2 hours ago

Before Disney’s animated blockbuster “Aladdin” had its premiere in Japan, directors Ron Clements and John Musker were told not to worry if the audience didn’t laugh.

And it wasn’t because the Japanese performer who dubbed Robin Williams’ shape-shifting Genie didn’t capture the actor’s brilliant off-the-wall comedic performance.

“They tell you ahead of time, ‘don’t worry because the audience won’t laugh, because a Japanese audience doesn’t laugh,”’ noted Clements. “They just sit respectfully.”

But they did laugh at Genie, who turns into everybody from Ed Sullivan to William F. Buckley to former talk show host Arsenio Hall.

“Probably the biggest laugh in the whole screening was when he turned into Arsenio Hall and did his ‘Woof, woof, woof’ with his arm,” said Clements. “I was asking somebody afterward about that and why it got  such a big laugh. They said ‘Oh, we loved it when the Genie turned into Julia Roberts »


- Susan King

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Directors Call for Overhaul of Berlin Film Festival After Dieter Kosslick Departs

2 hours ago

A group of 79 German filmmakers including Maren Ade (“Tony Erdmann”), Fatih Akin (“In the Fade”) and Robert Schwentke (“The Captain”) has called for “a new start” for the Berlin Film Festival after longtime festival director Dieter Kosslick’s contract expires in 2019.

In an open letter published by Spiegel Online, the filmmakers recommend the formation of a gender-balanced international selection committee charged with finding Kosslick’s successor and weighing fundamental changes to the event.

“The goal must be to find an outstanding curatorial personality who is passionate about cinema, well-connected internationally and capable of leading the festival into the future on an equal footing with Cannes and Venice,” the letter read. “We want a transparent procedure and a new start.”

The letter, whose signatories also include Andreas Dresen, Sebastian Schipper, Volker Schlöndorff, Dominik Graf, Christian Petzold, Doris Dörrie, Maria Schrader, Hans-Christian Schmid and Rosa von Praunheim, is seen as a public rebuke of the Kosslick era, during which the »


- Ed Meza

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Songs For Screens: Active Child Offers Woke Spiritualism; Sonos Hosts A Deee-Lite-ful Dance Party

3 hours ago

“Songs for Screens” (formerly known as “Synch This”) is a Variety column written by Andrew Hampp, a VP at New York-based music sponsorship and experiential agency Mac Presents and former branding correspondent for Billboard. Each week, the column will highlight noteworthy use of music in advertising and marketing campaigns, as well as new and catalog songs that we deem ripe for synch use.

Remember slow news days? Me neither. Where the latest news cycles have become relentlessly negative as the world does some serious soul-searching, pop music has become either deliberately escapist (witness Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” the entirety of Taylor Swift’s “Reputation”), innocuous (the back-to-back Hot 100 No. 1s of Cardi B and Post Malone) or downright nihilistic (hardcore rap).

As ad agencies and TV showrunners alike wrestle with how to incorporate the current political climate into their latest commercials and prime-time hits (some more successfully than others), a new niche is being carved »


- Andrew Hampp

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Sgiff: Movie Legend Waheeda Rehman Lauds Contemporary Indian Cinema

3 hours ago

Waheeda Rehman, the 79-year-old grande dame of Indian cinema who has worked with most of the legendary filmmakers of her country during her 62-year career is very complimentary about the kind of films being made today.

“All kinds of stories are being today,” Rehman said. “Back in the day, films used to be formulaic. There was a hero, heroine and a villain, and there would be a cabaret number thrown in for good measure. I got very bored and began looking for different roles.”

Rehman was speaking at an In Conversation event for “The Song of Scorpions” that showed as a special presentation at the Singapore International Film Festival on Friday. Other speakers included director Anup Singh and producers Shahaf Peled and Saskia Vischer.

The roles Rehman chose were in films that are considered classics in the annals of Indian cinema. She worked with Guru Dutt in “Pyaasa” (1957) and “Kaagaz Ke Phool” (1959), Satyajit Ray in “Abhijaan” (1962), Basu Bhattacharya »


- Naman Ramachandran

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ITV Studios Global Ent. To Handle Movistar+ Original ‘Felix’

5 hours ago

Confirming the large interest of Europe’s foremost TV sales houses in handling original series produced by Telefonica’s Movistar+, ITV Studios Global Ent. has acquired international distribution rights to Cesc Gay’s drama “Felix.”

Starring Argentina’s Leonardo Sbaraglia, “Felix” forms part of Movistar+’s ambitious original production plans, which sees an annual investment of €70 million ($83 million) in TV fiction productions.

This bet is allowing Movistar+, Spain’s leading paybox, to launch its first four original series -“The Zone,” “The Plague,” “Velvet Collection” and “Vergüenza”- by 2017, and release some 10 further new titles by the end of next year.

“Felix” is an instance of close creative collaboration between audience-friendly auteur Gay (“Truman,” “Krampack,” “In the City”) and thesp Sbaraglia (“Wild Tales”).

An eight-episode romantic thriller with doses of humor and mystery, “Felix” filmed on location in Andorra, Madrid and Barcelona for 19 weeks, enough time for a director and an actor “to construct a role and »


- Emiliano De Pablos

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Ventana Sur: Media Luna Picks Up Puenzo’s ‘The Unseen,’ Quintero’s ‘Angela’ (Exclusive)

12 hours ago

In the run up to Buenos Aires’ Ventana Sur, Cologne-based Media Luna New Films has picked up international sales rights to two features by up- and-coming directors: Nicolás Puenzo’s “Los últimos” (The Unseen) and Agamenon Quintero’s “Angela.”

Social issue thriller “The Unseen” tells the story of a couple, a pregnant Quechua girl and her creole partner, trekking in a desperate state across the Bolivian Highlands, now a post-apocalyptic wasteland devoid of natural resources and ruled by a bloody militia, in an attempt to reach the Pacific Ocean, where they hope a safe haven awaits them.

The film marks the helming feature debut of Nicolás Puenzo, son of veteran Argentine filmmaker Luis Puenzo, after many years working as a cinematographer or producer on projects such as “Cromo” and “The German Doctor”, both collaborations with his sister, the director Lucía Puenzo. In “Cromo,” a 12-episode TV drama currently streaming in Netflix, Nicolás Puenzo also co-directed. »


- Emiliano De Pablos

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Virtual Reality Conference Promises to Ignite Singapore Media Festival

19 hours ago

Virtual Reality is the buzz phrase these days at film festivals, big and small. They are keen to explore alternate means of entertainment that might just possibly the future. The Singapore Media Festival is no different and has set up a one-day event – the Vr X Smf Ignite Conference – that will unspool Nov. 29 with a packed line-up.

Kicking off proceedings will be the keynote presentation by Mohen Leo, creative director and visual effects supervisor at ILMxLAB, an immersive entertainment and Vr laboratory belonging to Lucasfilm, Industrial Light and Magic, and Skywalker Sound. While Leo is expected to share insights about storytelling for immersive entertainment, “Star Wars” fans in Singapore will be hoping that he provides a sneak peek into “Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire,” a Vr joint venture between ILMxLAB and The Void, that is designed to transport users to a galaxy far, far away.

The conference continues with Allen Foo, founder and chief »


- Naman Ramachandran

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Canal Plus Orders Thomas Lilti’s ‘Hippocrate’ Medical Series

23 hours ago

French helmer Thomas Lilti will be making his TV debut with “Hippocrate,” a medical drama series inspired by his 2014 film, which world premiered at Cannes’ Critics’ Week.

The contemporary series, comprising eight one-hour episodes, has been commissioned by French TV channel Canal Plus.

Lilti created the series with Anais Carpita (“Call My Agent!”), Claude Le Pape (“Love at First Fight”) and Julien Lilti. “Hippocrate” is being produced by Lilti’s regular partners, Agnes Vallée and Emmanuel Barraux at 31 Juin Films.

The plot will revolve around a public hospital located in suburb of a major city where doctors have being quarantined due to a health hazard. The series follows three interns lacking experience and a forensic medical expert who don’t know each other and must join forces to handle the entire hospital and patients alone while the quarantine gets unexpectedly extended.

Hippocrate” the film was sold by Le Pacte in major territories and turned out to be a »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Luca Guadagnino Relied on a Pair of Longtime Friends for ‘Call Me by Your Name’ Decor, Costumes

23 hours ago

Two longtime friends of director Luca Guadagnino added their personal touch to “Call Me by Your Name,” his sensual summer romance from Sony Pictures Classics that’s set in northern Italy in 1983.

An interior decorator by trade, first-time set decorator Violante Visconti (Luchino Visconti’s grandniece) dressed the 17th-century villa where young Elio (Timothée Chalamet) lives with his scholarly parents, the Perlmans (Michael Stuhlbarg and Amira Casar) and falls for the visiting American intern Oliver (Armie Hammer).

Fashion designer and repeat Guadagnino collaborator Giulia Piersanti created the film’s understated costumes.

Visconti conceptually married the Perlmans’ worldliness with the villa’s nostalgic past to attain the eclectic, lived-in feel of a deeply loved home. “[Much] of the furniture belonged to my father,” she says. “That made it cozy and personal. The Perl-mans are open-minded. They love books, music, history. … Their house is easygoing and non-structured, with flowers from the garden, furniture from their travels. It was there »


- Tomris Laffly

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Mar del Plata: Argentina on the Rise — Demián Rugna

23 hours ago

Mar Del Plata — “Is there any way of stopping this?” police commissioner Funes asks paranormal expert Albreck as the body count and unearthly beings proliferate at three common-or-garden Argentine suburban chalets in Demián Rugna’s “Aterrados” (Terrified). “No,” answers Albreck, a venerable bluestocking, just before a twig-lick arm snaps out of a crack in a chalet wall aiming for her head.

Shot in widescreen, “Terrified,” which sales agent Aura Films will screen at Ventana Sur, marks a move towards the mainstream for Rugna, being made with the aim of scaring the hell out of audiences, he explained. “People just want to be scared these days,” he said. Yet “Terrified” still bears the hallmarks of the Rugna style: an art film refusal to show human-beings conquering the supernatural; a smorgasbord of fantastic sub-genres — from chiller to shockfest to cop investigation and gothic baroque — and a darkly-knowing humor that pushes the movie, in a very Argentine style, »


- John Hopewell

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‘Coco’ Stuffing ‘Justice League’ at Thanksgiving Box Office

23 November 2017 8:57 AM, PST

Disney-Pixar’s “Coco” is heading for a clear victory over “Justice League” at the Thanksgiving holiday box office, estimates showed Thursday morning.

“Coco” should finish above $70 million at 3,958 North American locations in its first five days while “Justice League” will wind up around $60 million at 4,051 sites. “Coco” is performing significantly above pre-release forecasts, which had been in the $55 million to $60 million range.

Wednesday’s figures showed “Coco” with a first-day total of $13.2 million, which included $2.3 million from Tuesday night previews. The animated musical received an A+ CinemaScore from moviegoers, indicating that the film could be lifted by strong word of mouth during the rest of the holidays.

On the same holiday weekend a year ago, Disney’s “Moana” scored $15.5 million on its first day and went on to earn $82 million in five days. That was the second-highest opening for the period, trailing only Disney’s “Frozen” at $93 million in 2013.

“Coco” is already a blockbuster in Mexico with $48.8 million »


- Dave McNary

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Playback: Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan on ‘Lady Bird’ and Coming of Age

23 November 2017 8:31 AM, PST

Welcome to “Playback,” a Variety podcast bringing you exclusive conversations with the talents behind many of today’s hottest films.

This week, on a special Thanksgiving episode, we have “Lady Bird” writer-director Greta Gerwig and star Saoirse Ronan. It’s an apt day for the conversation, which you’ll gather if you’ve seen the film. “Lady Bird” marks Gerwig’s solo directorial debut and is sitting pretty as one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year, if not the most. After all, 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with 150 reviews counted is hard to argue with.

Listen to this week’s episode of “Playback” below. New episodes air every Thursday.

Click here for more episodes of “Playback.”

For Gerwig, hammering out a script isn’t about knowing the core of it and where it’s going from the outset. She’s found it more rewarding to explore casually and let her characters guide her through the process »


- Kristopher Tapley

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Gal Gadot and Kumail Nanjiani Riff on Their Parents’ Expectations and Name Mispronunciations

23 November 2017 8:00 AM, PST

Gal Gadot (“Wonder Woman”) and Kumail Nanjiani (“The Big Sick”) sat down for a chat for Variety’s “Actors on Actors,” which airs Jan. 2 to Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. on PBS SoCal Koce.

Kumail Nanjiani: So how did you end up playing “Wonder Woman”? How did that happen?

Gal Gadot: It’s kind of one thing led to the other. I never planned on becoming an actress, and then I had this opportunity where this casting director flew to Israel; she was looking for a new Bond girl. I did the audition, didn’t get the part, but through this experience I was like, “This is so much more interesting than going to law school.”

Nanjiani: You were in law school?

Gadot: Yeah, I know. Thank goodness life interrupts and comes in the way. It was weird because I didn’t know they were auditioning me for “Wonder Woman.” I knew I »


- Variety Staff

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Singapore Festival Launches in Understated Style

23 November 2017 7:52 AM, PST

Shopping-mall glamour and a red carpet flanked by designer stores greeted Singapore’s film community and visiting celebrities for Thursday night’s opening of the 28th Singapore International Film Festival (Sgiff).

The celebrities who walked the red carpet through the high-end Marina Bay Sands mall mostly left the highest couture in the store windows. Many instead went for sedate touches of lace, minimal glitz, and daytime outfits.

The evening’s glamour moments went to Sgiff vice chair Soo Wei Shaw, who swept the red carpet in a floor-length black gown, and Indian actress, Waheeda Rehman (“The Song of Scorpions”), in a red and pink brocade sari and traditional jewelry.

Introducing the opening film, Vivian Qu’s “Angels Wear White,” Sgiff chairman Mike Wiluan told theater-goers gathered in the lower levels of the 2,000-plus seat theater that the festival was a “torchlight” for aspiring storytellers, himself included. After decades in the film industry as a producer, financier and facilitator »


- Janine Stein

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Idfa Film Review: ‘The Dead Nation’

23 November 2017 7:30 AM, PST

For anyone who’s ever riffled through a stack of old photos in a flea market and realized with absent melancholy that it’s likely many of the vividly smiling, posing subjects have since passed away, Romanian director Radu Jude’s hypnotic “The Dead Nation” is a gently uncanny, feature-length version of that experience. Not so much a film in the classical sense as an art project built at the crossroads of 20th-century history and personal testimony, this photo-montage traces the fate of Romania’s Jewish population through the turbulent years immediately prior to and during World War 2.

Using no visual pyrotechnics other than a scintillatingly well-chosen series of static, black-and-white images, unearthed recently as part of a trove belonging to ‘Foto Splendid’ (a Romanian photo studio set up in the 1930s by photographer Costica Acsinte), Jude lets the contrast between image and sound create its own tensions and provocations. On the soundtrack, »


- Jessica Kiang

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Roland Emmerich’s Centropolis, Flimmer Team Up on Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’ (Exclusive)

23 November 2017 6:51 AM, PST

Roland Emmerich’s Centropolis Entertainment is teaming up with Berlin-based Flimmer to co-produce a modern-day screen adaptation of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.”

The film follows 15-year-old Tim Walker, who is sent from London to the Austrian Alps to attend the renowned Mozart boarding school, where he discovers a centuries-old forgotten passageway into the fantastic world of Mozart’s most famous opera.

The creative team behind the project includes German writer-director Florian Sigl and Flimmer CEO Christopher Zwickler, who produced Dustin Loose’s “The Last Will,” which received the Student Academy Award in silver in 2015. Sigl and Zwickler are aiming to have the international family entertainment event ready for a Christmas 2018 release.

The duo is developing the project as a multi-part movie, according to Zwickler, who describes the story as a new adaptation of “The Magic Flute” framed by a modern-day narrative. Andrew Lowery is attached to write the screenplay.

“The contemporary »


- Ed Meza

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Jean Reno Boards Pablo Aragüés’ Fantasy Thriller ‘1,200 Souls’ (Exclusive)

23 November 2017 5:31 AM, PST

One of France’s best known actors, Jean Reno (“Leon: the Professional,” “Ronin,” “The Da Vinci Code”), is attached to star in “1.200 Almas” (“1,200 Souls),” a fantasy thriller from the Zaragoza-based producer-director tandem of Marta Cabrera and Pablo Aragüés whose “Novatos” proved a Netflix worldwide distribution pick-up.

L.A.-based Outsider Pictures Paul Hudson is handling world sales rights and executive produces along with Zaragoza VFX house Entropy Studio.

Despite Reno’s Spanish origins – his parents hail from Cadiz in Andalusia – “1.200” marks the first Spanish film for an actor who has sought to buck typecasting in a multitude of roles whose international titles take in “Nikita,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Godzilla” and “The Last Face.”

Reno, who won a European Film Academy’s European Achievement in World Cinema Awardin 2000, joins Swiss-Spaniard Ingrid García-Jonsson, who broke out with Jaime Rosales’ 2014 Cannes Un Certain Regard entry “Beautiful Youth,” scoring a Spanish Academy best new actress nomination, and [link=nm »


- John Hopewell

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