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Haugesund: Norway’s Thomas Aske Berg on His Pioneering ‘Vidar the Vampire’

1 hour ago

Haugesund, Norway — Norwegian actor-writer-composer-director-producer Thomas Aske Berg’s feature debut “Vidar the Vampire” (“VampyrVidar”) is most probably the least expensive entry in the main program at the Norwegian Intl. Film Festival in Haugesund- It was produced without public support, on a Nok 500,000 ($54,000) budget, “from heritage, savings, mum and dad investments and endless hours of free work from the UFOh! production crew,” Aske Berg explained.

But Aske Berg had another challenge: “My dream was to star in a vampire movie – I have always been fascinated by the vampire genre; the problem is they hardly exist in Norway, so [I had to ] make the film myself,” he said.

Then came the question of content and style: How can you achieve a fairly fresh and original approach with the plethora of vampire movies out there?

“”Vidar the Vampire” is primarily a naturalistic comedy with horror elements, where the main character is in a surreal fantasy universe. It »


- Jorn Rossing Jensen

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Japan Box Office: ‘High & Low the Movie 2’ Opens on Top

2 hours ago

“High & Low the Movie 2 End of Sky,” the third film in a multi-media project featuring the all-male dancing and singing group Exile Tribe, opened atop the Japanese box office. For the Aug. 19-20 weekend the film made $3.2 million on 266,000 admissions from 314 screens, with Shochiku distributing.

The score was 27% weaker than the opening weekend of the first “High & Low” actioner about warring street gangs, which finished with $19 million following its July 2016 release. But it was 18% better than the second film, which earned $11 million in Oct. 2016.

Toho-Towa’s “Despicable Me 3,” which had held the number one spot for four weekends, fell to number two with $2.5 million. The film passed the $48 million lifetime figure of “Despicable Me” and is forecast to finish around $70 million.

Opening in third was “Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or The Bottom?,” an animation by Akiyuki Shinbo based on a 1993 made-for-tv film by Shunji Iwai. Distributed by Toho on 301 screens, »


- Mark Schilling

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Martin McDonagh’s ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ to Close London Film Festival

2 hours ago

Martin McDonagh’s darkly comic drama “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” will be the closing-night film of the 61st BFI London Film Festival. 

The film, which stars Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, will receive its U.K. premiere Oct. 15 at London’s Odeon Leicester Square. McDonagh, McDormand and Rockwell are all expected to attend.

The Oscar-winning British filmmaker’s third feature, “Three Billboards” marks McDonagh’s second to appear at the festival following “Seven Psychopaths” in 2012. “I’m excited to bring this film back to my hometown festival for its U.K. premiere,” McDonagh said in a statement. “I’m more than proud of it, and if there are any fans of ‘In Bruges’ still out there, I don’t think they’ll be disappointed.”

The film sees McDormand’s Mildred Hayes call out her town’s revered chief of police (Harrelson), after months without a culprit being found in her daughter’s murder, by »


- Robert Mitchell

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Haugesund: Nordic Countries Plan New Pan-Regional Fund to Support Nordic Film and TV

4 hours ago

Haugesund, Norway — Norwegian culture minister Linda Hofstad Helleland has announced that the Nordic countries are planning to set up a new pan-regional fund to support Scandinavia film and TV, which will be administered by the Nordisk Film & TV Fond.

The announcement was made at Bridging the Nordic Market, the Haugesund Festival’s main seminar, held Monday at the Norwegian festival to debate how to strengthen Nordic content in a digital age.

Taking place at Haugesund’s Scandic Maritim Hall, the seminar discussed new business models which can secure a diverse and high-quality Nordic film and TV series content for the public, ensuring that funds are being plowed back into new productions.

“The initiative comes from the Nordic film institutes, which discussed it with us, and it is great to hear of political interest so soon,” said CEO Petri Kemppinen, of the Oslo-based Nordisk Film & TV Fond.

The five Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, »


- Jorn Rossing Jensen

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‘La La Land,’ ‘Stranger Things’ Among 2017 World Soundtrack Award Nominees

7 hours ago

The World Soundtrack Academy has announced the first wave of 2017 World Soundtrack Award nominees.

Among the contenders: Academy Award winner Justin Hurwitz (“La La Land”), and Academy Award nominees Mica Levi, Nicholas Britell, Dustin O’Halloran and Jóhann Jóhannsson. As previously announced, the lifetime achievement award will be presented to composer David Shire (“The Conversation,” “All the President’s Men”) as part of the #WSAwards celebration of jazz.

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Sting and Wayne Shorter Awarded Polar Music Prize; Annie Lennox, Esperanza Spalding Perform in Their Honor

Following the award ceremony, a selection of Terence Blanchard’s work (“Mo’ Better Blues,” “Malcolm X,” “25th Hour”) will be recorded and performed by Brussels Philharmonic and additional jazz soloists, conducted by Film Fest Gent’s music director Dirk Brossé.

The Academy will announce the nominees mid September for discovery of the year, best original score for a Belgian production, and the composition competition.

Said Film Fest Gent’s artistic director Patrick »


- Rebecca Rubin

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Locarno Film Review: ‘The Poetess’

10 hours ago

For a Western audience, there are several arresting elements to Stefanie Brockhaus and Andreas Wolff’s engaging, accessible documentary “The Poetess”: The first is that although we come to know its subject, Saudi writer Hissa Hilal, very well, and though she’s in almost every shot, we never see her face. The second is that the reason for her fame is a TV show called “Million’s Poet” which airs across the Arab world to regular audiences in excess of 70 million people, and yet it’s likely that those from outside that region will not have heard of it.

In format and layout, “Million’s Poet” is similar to any number of Western-style reality contests, from the flashy neon color scheme, bombastic music and dramatic spotlights, to the telegenic, glassy-eyed hosts, the panel of poker-faced judges and the noisy, participative studio audience. It’s “American Idol” by way of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and »


- Jessica Kiang

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‘Do It Like an Hombre’ Is Mexico’s Highest-Grossing Local Film of the Year

12 hours ago

Some new Mexican box office history has been made as the comedy “Do it Like an Hombre” followed its 68.7 million Mexican pesos ($3.89 million) opening weekend with a two weekend total of $130.3 million pesos ($7.4 million), giving it the highest Mexican movie box office total of 2017, according to comScore.

In its first weekend, including a Thursday first-day bow, the film was the country’s second-highest Mexican release ever after the 2013 smash-hit “Instructions Not Included,” which holds the top spot, though off a Thursday rather than Friday opening. 2016’s “Que Culpe Tiene el Nino”? earned a three-day 65.6 million pesos ($3.7 million), according to comScore.

The recent success of local hits in Mexico has helped in recent years to justify a massive growth in the number of theaters across the country. It may also suggest a shift away from the near absolute choke-hold that Hollywood blockbusters, especially animated movies, have held on the region’s box offices for years. At »


- Jamie Lang

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Former Google Marketing Exec Andrew Hotz Joins Warner Bros.

13 hours ago

Former Google marketing executive Andrew Hotz has been named executive vice president of worldwide digital marketing for Warner Bros. Pictures.

Jp Richards, the studio’s exec VP of worldwide marketing and chief data strategist, made the announcement on Monday. Hotz will oversee the division’s domestic and international digital teams, working with the broader marketing team on the design and deployment of digital campaigns to support releases from Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema. Hotz will report directly to Richards.

“Digital marketing provides us new opportunities to reach audiences in sophisticated ways at scale,” Richards sad. “With our strategic partnerships, technology and data, Warner Bros. can reach and interact with entertainment consumers like never before. Andrew has an incredible background in digital marketing, and we’ll look to him to help us refine and further our digital campaigns, realizing the full potential of our marketing organization as well as the world-class films we market.”

Hotz »


- Dave McNary

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Amazon Studios Buys ‘Cold War’ From Oscar Winner Paweł Pawlikowski (Exclusive)

13 hours ago

Amazon Studios has acquired “Cold War,” a period romance from Oscar-winning director Paweł Pawlikowski.

The film takes place across Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia, and Paris, and is set in the 1950s — a time when the forces of democracy and communism were clashing throughout Europe. The terms of the deal are being kept under wraps, but it has been in the works for months. The movie was first presented to buyers at the Berlin Film Festival. »


- Brent Lang and Elsa Keslassy

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‘American Assassin’ Red Band Trailer Shoots Movie to Lead Social Media Buzz

15 hours ago

Dylan O’Brien’s “American Assassin” easily topped social media buzz last week with 59,000 new conversations, according to media-measurement firm ComScore and its PreAct service.

The activity was spurred by the studio holding a social promotion for fans to unlock the new poster online along with the release of a new red band trailer on Aug. 17. The cumulative number of new conversations for “American Assassin” has hit 245,000.

In the movie, Dylan O’Brien plays Mitch Rapp, a CIA recruit whose fiancee is killed in a terrorist attack moments after he’s proposed to her — motivating him to serve in a black ops mission aimed at stopping World War III in the Middle East. He’s trained by deep cover Cold War veteran Stan Hurley, played by Michael Keaton. The film opens on Sept. 15.

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Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton Spar in ‘American Assassin’ Trailer (Watch)

Disney-Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok” produced 21,000 new conversations last week as the studio »


- Dave McNary

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Bryan Singer’s Queen Biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Casts Band Members

15 hours ago

Ben Hardy, Gwilym Lee, and Joe Mazzello have joined upcoming biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” about the band Queen, with Rami Malek starring as frontman Freddie Mercury.

Production on the film will begin this fall, with Bryan Singer directing from Justin Haythe’s script. New Regency and Graham King’s Gk Films are the production companies.

The producers are King, Singer, and Jim Beach. Denis O’Sullivan, Arnon Milchan, and Jane Rosenthal are the executive producers. Kira Goldberg is overseeing the project for Fox.

Hardy, whose credits include “X-Men: Apocalypse” and “Mary Shelley,” will play drummer Roger Taylor. Lee (“The Hollow Crown”) will portray lead guitarist Brian May and Mazzello (“The Social Network”) will tackle the role of bass guitarist John Deacon.

King has been trying to get the project off the ground for sometime after originally setting it up at Sony, with Sacha Baron Cohen attached to star at one point. When Cohen dropped out, »


- Dave McNary

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‘Narcos’ Star Pedro Pascal to Play Villain in ‘Equalizer 2’ Opposite Denzel Washington (Exclusive)

16 hours ago

Pedro Pascal is in negotiations to play the antagonist in Sony and Escape Artists’ “The Equalizer 2” starring Denzel Washington.

Antoine Fuqua is returning to direct. Todd Black is producing.

Plot details are currently scarce, other than that Washington will reprise his role as Robert McCall, a former special ops agent who now helps those who can’t defend themselves. Details on Pascal’s character are unknown. »


- Justin Kroll

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‘Mary Magdalene’ Pushed to Easter, ‘Current War’ to Open Over Thanksgiving

16 hours ago

The Weinstein Company is delaying the release of “Mary Magdalene,” its upcoming religious epic, by four months, and moving the premiere of “The Current War,” an Oscar-bait historical drama, into the week of Thanksgiving.

Mary Magdalene” will premiere in theaters March 30, 2018, otherwise known as Easter weekend, which pushes it out of this year’s awards season. It was originally slated to debut on Nov. 24, 2017. “The Current War” will bow in theaters in the slot that “Mary Magdalene” vacated — it was initially supposed to launch on Dec. 22, 2017. The film will screen at this year’s Toronto Film Festival. Both pictures will start their runs in limited release.

Rooney Mara stars as the title character in “Mary Magdalene,” one of Jesus’ followers. Joaquin Phoenix plays Jesus, while Garth Davis, who scored a box office hit with last year’s “Lion,” directs the film.

The Current War” stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison and Michael Shannon as George Westinghouse, and »


- Brent Lang

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‘Valerian’ Looks to China After Tanking in Most Markets

17 hours ago

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” is shaping up to be one of the biggest flops of the year. Considered the most expensive independent film ever made, the $180 million sci-fi epic never recovered from its crash at the U.S. box office on its opening weekend and has under-performed in most overseas markets.

With China, South Korea, Spain, and Italy left to open, “Valerian,” based on a French comic book, has grossed $93.3 million overseas, including an estimated $39.2 million from the U.S. as of Monday. It has made just over $130 million globally. By contrast, EuropaCorp’s 2014 action-thriller “Lucy” — whose budget was $40 million — had passed $100 million in the U.S. at the same stage and had grossed more than $130 million worldwide, with 44 additional foreign territories still awaiting its release. In other words, it cost significantly less, had made nearly as much, and still had many more markets left to open. “Lucy »


- Elsa Keslassy, Brent Lang and Patrick Frater

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Film News Roundup: David Dastmalchian, Kevin Pollak to Star in Bullying Drama ‘Teacher’ (Exclusive)

17 hours ago

In film news today, David Dastmalchian has been cast as a high school teacher, Paul Greengrass is directing a film about terrorism for Netflix and Pearl Jam is releasing a documentary.

Castings

David Dastmalchian and Kevin Pollak will star in the independent psychodrama “Teacher” with shooting set for this month in Chicago, Variety has learned exclusively.

Dastmalchian, whose credits include “Ant-Man” and the upcoming “Blade Runner: 2049,” will portray a high school English teacher who goes to disturbing lengths to protect his favorite students from bullies. Pollak  and Dastmalchian will be joined by local Chicago talent that includes Curtis Edward Jackson, Esme Perez, Helen Joo Lee and Matthew Garry.

The film is helmed by writer and director Adam Dick, who previously co-wrote and produced the feature “NightLights” and spent nearly three years developing “Teacher” for screen. Matthew Helderman of BondIt Media Capital and Buffalo 8 Productions are producing along with Zachary Kamen.

“We »


- Dave McNary

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Haugesund: Nrk’s Ivar Køhn on Norway’s TV Drama Build, Nordic Noir as a Brand

18 hours ago

Haugesund, Norway — For the first time, TV drama features at the Norwegian Int. Film Festival in Haugesund with the world premiere of second seasons of two Norwegian series: “Occupied” (“Okkupert”) and “Norsemen,” aka “Vikings” (“Vikingane”).

The first two episodes of “Occupied 2” screen on Aug. 21 with Norwegian director Erik Skjoldbjærg and actors Henrik Mestad, Janne Heltberg and Eldar Skar attending. “Norsemen” Season 2, Episodes 1 and 2 – the series changed its name when Netflix bought it – bows on Aug. 23.

A couple of years ago, there was hardly any interest in Norwegian TV drama, but this has completely changed, according to Ivar Køhn, head of drama at Norwegian pubcaster Nrk, who started at Nrk in 1987.

In 2013, he left his job as head of development and production at the Norwegian Film Institute to lead Nrk Drama.

“Norwegian TV drama has simply improved radically, and its potential attracts the best writers and directors – young talents who are getting more experienced. We »


- Jorn Rossing Jensen

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Al Gore, Jason Blum to Be Honored at 2017 Gotham Awards

19 hours ago

Al Gore and Jason Blum will be honored at the 2017 Ifp Gotham Awards, with Gore set to receive the humanitarian tribute and Blum tapped to get the industry tribute.

The Gothams, the Independent Filmmaker Project’s annual round of awards honoring indie film, typically dole out a handful of pre-announced tributes to notable figures, in addition to awards in ten competitive categories. This year’s crop will also include tributes to an actor and an actress, among others.

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‘Moonlight’ Sweeps the 2016 Gotham Awards, Winning Best Film

Former Vice President Gore, now the chairman of the Climate Reality Project, gets the Gotham honor for his decades of work calling attention to climate change, especially in films “An Inconvenient Truth” and this year’s sequel, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.” Blum, meanwhile, receives the industry award for helping to spur the resurgence of low-budget genre films, starting with “Paranormal Activity” in 2000. More recently, his »


- Gordon Cox

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Chinese Companies Turn to Resetting Relationship With Hollywood

20 hours ago

Chinese companies talked about not wanting to be regarded as the latest in a series of foolish foreign investors in Hollywood. But it took the intervention of Chinese President Xi Jinping to bring to an end a 3½-year acquisition frenzy which saw Dalian Wanda and other players strike deals that raised eyebrows on both sides of the Pacific.

Last week’s official declaration by Beijing ruling out investments in overseas film, entertainment and sports properties marks a resetting of the relationship between Chinese and U.S. companies in those sectors, analysts say. Call it China-Hollywood 2.0.

“They mean business this time. This is not a policy that will change right after the [Communist] Party Congress this autumn,” Alex Wong, director of asset management at Ample Capital, told Radio Television Hong Kong.

The entertainment industries in both China and the U.S. must adjust to a new reality no longer based on acquisitions and asset values. Instead, »


- Patrick Frater

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AMC’s Shudder Takes U.S., U.K. Rights on Six FrightFest Titles

20 hours ago

Six upcoming horror titles have been acquired for a mix of North American and U.K. rights by Shudder, the horror Svod service run by AMC Networks, it announced Monday. The acquisition comes ahead of the U.K.’s FrightFest horror festival, which runs Aug. 24-28, and will see all six features make their U.K. premieres.

The acquisition includes all rights in North America, U.K. and Ireland for surreal U.S. sci-fi romance “Sequence Break” (pictured), from director Graham Skipper, as well as Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky’s “Cold Hell.”

Shudder has taken streaming rights in North America and Canada to Chris Peckover’s Christmas-themed title “Better Watch Out,” starring Virginia Madsen, which Universal is scheduled to release theatrically in Britain on Dec. 8.

The service has added all rights for U.K. and Ireland to the U.S. streaming rights it acquired during the Cannes Film Festival in May for Joe Lynch’s “Mayhem,” which »


- Robert Mitchell

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Berlin Film Festival’s Wieland Speck Takes on New Role

20 hours ago

Longtime Panorama section chief Wieland Speck is set to take on a new role at the Berlin Film Festival, as consultant on the fest’s official program. Speck (pictured left) spent 25 years overseeing the auteur-driven Panorama competition.

Speck joined Manfred Salzgeber in 1982 in building Panorama and helped introduce the Teddy Award in 1987 – the world’s first film prize for queer cinema. He took over as head of Panorama in 1992, curating more than 1,800 feature, documentary and short films during his quarter-century tenure.

“I want to thank Wieland from the bottom of my heart for the fantastic job he has done with Panorama,” said Dieter Kosslick, Berlin’s festival director. “He established a platform for ambitious independent cinema, and successfully positioned it on the international market. I’m especially pleased that he will now be assisting us with his expertise and experience, and programming the Panorama’s 40th jubilee in 2019.”

Kosslick has appointed Paz Lázaro to head up the »


- Robert Mitchell

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