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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    Should Universal Bet $200 Million on Branded Battleship?

    Partly I blame the hugely successful Pirates of the Caribbean franchise--based on Disney's e-ticket theme ride--for the current Hollywood mania for branding entertainment. If a title doesn't mean anything to anyone, the studios don't want to have to market something from scratch. They're allergic to it. Too much risk.

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    Franzen's Freedom Hits Time, Bought by Rudin, Early Reviews

    Jonathan Franzen's having a good week. Nine years in the making, his new novel Freedom: A Novel grabs rave reviews, the cover of Time ("The Great American Novelist") and is acquired by producer Scott Rudin (who bought his last book, National Book Award-winner The Corrections, which has yet to be turned into a movie; David Hare and Stephen Daldry were once attached).

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  • Spout
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    More Reason to Hate the Ewoks? Film Blog Water Cooler 8/13/10

    Everyone knows merchandising came into play with the development of "Return of the Jedi." Sure, the official reason for the Ewoks had to do with George Lucas wanting an "Avatar"-like battle between a primitive race and the technologically advanced Empire, but many believe the fact the little creatures look exactly like Teddy bears is completely motivated by the ease of turning them into plush toys for the kids. Now via an LA Times interview with original "Star Wars" producer Gary Kurtz, who quit the franchise over plot disagreements in the early stages of "Jedi," it's also revealed that toy line concerns kept the end of the trilogy as uplifting as possible. Which is why Han Solo didn't die following his rescue from Jabba's palace, as initially outlined, and why the movie ends with a celebration with the Ewoks on Endor instead of "a more emotionally nuanced" conclusion with Luke walking off alone "like Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns."

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  • Enzian Theater
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    Enzian Honored

    Enzian Honored

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    More: General
  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    Lionsgate, Roadside Pursue Dual Awards Track on Buried, Next Three Days, Biutiful

    Lionsgate is an indie with a taste for mainstream genre fare, but when a Crash or Precious comes along, the distrib knows what to do. This year, though, Lionsgate is adopting a different model that more resembles the studio approach: chase consumers first with such movies as Buried and The Next Three Days, Oscar voters later. And let your specialty subsidiary do the heavy-lifting in the art-film arena: Roadside Attractions is closing in on a deal to release Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Biutiful starring the incandescent Javier Bardem. Ironically, ex-Lionsgate exec Tom Ortenberg is in talks to steer the campaign (he's also masterminding the Apparition release of Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life).

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  • Spout
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    Could "Better Off Dead" and "One Crazy Summer" Have Been Made Today?

    Karina Longworth interviews Savage Steve Holland at LA Weekly, timed to this weekend's double feature of his cult classics "Better Off Dead" and "One Crazy Summer" at the Cinefamily theater. The filmmaker turned kid-show producer claims those movies couldn't be made today, but I have to disagree. I think if any movie proves him wrong, in fact, it's this weekend's hot release, "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World." Before I explain, here's Holland's statement from the interview:

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  • iW NOW
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    MoMA to Screen Hammer Series This Fall

    MoMA to Screen Hammer Series This Fall

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    More: Events
  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    The Illusionist: Trailer and Early Reviews

    The Illusionist: Trailer and Early Reviews

    2-D lives! The Illusionist, the latest animated feature from the French animator behind The Triplets of Belleville, Sylvain Chomet, didn't make it to Cannes after it scored big in Berlin in February. Sony Pictures Classics scooped up the film, which is based on an unproduced screenplay by the late great writer-director-star Jacques Tati about a "dying breed of entertainer." Chomet drew a tall, gangly, elegant character much like Tati's 50s persona in such films as Les Vacances de Mr. Hulot.

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  • Leonard Maltin
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    film review: Eat Pray Love

    I don’t think one should have to read a novel in order to enjoy its screen adaptation, but if you have read a particular book, chances are you’re going to get more out of the film than someone who hasn’t. You’ll remember the experience you had as a reader and fill in some of the details the movie has skipped. Several female friends who’ve seen Eat Pray Love told me how much they loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s book and the movie (adapted by director Ryan Murphy in collaboration with Jennifer Salt). I can’t help but feel they had an advantage over me.

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  • Leonard Maltin
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    film review: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

    film review: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

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