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    Sweeney Todd Opens in 5th Place

    Sweeney Todd opened to excellent reviews (87% fresh on Rottentomatoes.com) and strong initial numbers on Friday, but the movie dropped an estimated 28 % (actually 25%) between Friday and Saturday. (Here's Sunday's Variety weekend boxoffice report.) This indicates that many viewers were lured by Paramount's mainstream horror-driven ad campaign, which did not sell the film as a Stephen Sondheim musical, and walked away disappointed. (The company also seeded the internet with clips showing the musical numbers.) Selling a unique movie like this, where there is no tried-and-true pattern to follow, is admittedly tricky. So Paramount made the call ...

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    Awards Gauntlet Syndrome

    Pity the poor filmmaker with an Award season movie to flog. If it's good enough to have a shot at some awards attention, then the distrib is going to make you do the rounds: the guild screenings and Q & As, the dinners, the AFI Fest, the Hollywood Fest, the Variety screening series, my UCLA Sneak Previews class, the Behind the Camera Awards--and that's just the beginning. As we go on there's the gauntlet of awards ceremonies, the LA and NY critics, the Board of Review, the Indie Spirits, The Gothams, the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards. The real horror is keeping the thing going all the way to the Oscars. If I were Julian Schnabel, I'd pack my ...

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    Oscar Watch: Juno

    Various Oscar prognosticators suggest that Juno is too much of a teen flick to play to senior Academy voters. Judging from how the pic performed at my class this week, which reps the older demo quite well, that will not be an issue. This movie will build into a huge hit across many demos. Imagine th...

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    Sweeney Todd Reactions

    DreamWorks has been holding Sweeney Todd back. Well, they finally screened it last week, and elicited "non-reviews" from the Internet folks. The two trades are sufficiently alarmed by all this activity to consider running their reviews sooner rather than later, I hear.

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    Goodbye Power 100, Hello EW's Smart List

    This Friday, Entertainment Weekly will publish a new standalone special issue, the first Hollywood “Smart List.” The brain behind this rejuvenated list, which replaces the tired old EW Power 100, is my old colleague Sean Smith, ex-of Newsweek and Premiere, who worked with me on quite a few Premi...

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    No Country for Old Men: That Pesky Ending

    I'm having big debates about No Country for Old Men, especially the ending. If you've read the Cormac McCarthy book, you know that the Coens have done a very faithful adaptation, which McCarthy admires. [SPOILER ALERT] The duo was attracted to the very things that make the movie unconventional: a ma...

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    No Country for Old Men's Ending Sparks Debate

    I'm having big debates about No Country for Old Men, especially the ending. If you've read the Cormac McCarthy book, you know that the Coens have done a very faithful adaptation, which McCarthy admires. [SPOILER ALERT] The duo was attracted to the very things that make the movie unconventional: a ma...

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    Oscar Watch: Seeking Consensus

    While I admire Kris Tapley's attempt to make some sense out of the blizzard of Oscar predictions out there, I remain convinced that until the prognosticators see Charlie Wilson's War and Sweeney Todd, the two films that many of us got invited to see Monday, none of these lists make much sense. Richard Corliss in Time suggests that "audiences will have a great time watching" Charlie Wilson's War, which seemed to play for Oprah Winfrey's Chicago audience. Oprah raved about Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance, as guests Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts (who tried to get out of shooting a bikini scene while four weeks pregnant) nodded politely. My h...

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    There Will be Blood: On the Screening Circuit

    Paramount Vantage is on the There will Be Blood promo trail, screening the pic and building support. I watched the two hour and forty minute film, happily, for the second time at the WGA screening Monday night; the crowd gave Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day Lewis a standing ovation afterward.

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    There Will Be Blood: Early Reviews

    Variety's Todd McCarthy delivers a rave review of Paul Thomas Anderson's much-anticipated There Will Be Blood. We saw it at the same screening on Friday last week. McCarthy wanted to take his time with this review, and not rush it out the door. Here's a sample:

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