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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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    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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    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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    Atonement: Wright and Hampton Talk

    Atonement screened for my last UCLA class Monday night, and they went for it, although you can always tell when a movie has left some folks behind when they ask questions about why the characters behaved the way they did. About a third of the class had read the book. Director Joe Wright and screenwr...

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    13 Most Horrifying Screen Chills Ever

    The London Times chooses the top 13 scariest horror scenes ever. Be afraid. Very afraid. [Hat Tip: Colin Boyd.]

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    Lust, Caution: Ang Lee Faces His Fear

    At Sunday's BAFTA screening for Lust, Caution, director Ang Lee explained that this particular nexus between sex and politics scared him to death, which was why he had to do it. He insisted on not cutting the 5 to 10 seconds that would have yielded an R rating. The sex scenes are intensely powerful....

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    Terror's Advocate: Barbet Schroeder Talks

    Barbet Schroeder is one of those brainiac filmmakers, like Werner Herzog, who moves effortlessly between docs (General Idi Amin Dada), features (Reversal of Fortune), studios (Murder by Numbers) and indies (Barfly), in whatever country (Maitresse) or language (Our Lady of the Assassins) that suits h...

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    Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman

    New York doc vet Jennifer Fox debuted her six-hour Danish-funded documentary Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman at Sundance in January. (Here's John Anderson's Variety review and NYT feature.) She's been taking the six one-hour segments to 15 cities around the country in advance of their showing on...

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