Entertainment Industry

Category: Movies

U.S. hammers Canada, other countries over copyright protections

Canada may be the United States' largest trading partner, but it remains on a "priority watch list" of countries with the worst records for protecting copyrighted material, according to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk's office
Canada may be the United States' largest trading partner, but it remains on a "priority watch list" of countries with the worst records for protecting copyrighted material.

In its 2012 annual report on trade barriers and content theft, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk's office put Canada on a list of 13 countries -- including India, China, Pakistan and Russia -- that were singled out as the worst offenders.

The office said it was waiting to see if Canada would enact "long-awaited copyright legislation" and suggested that the country needs to take more steps to tighten border security by "providing customs officials with ex-officio authority to take action against the importation, exportation, and trans-shipment of pirated or counterfeit goods."

Under the category of "positive developments," Kirk's office removed Malaysia and Spain from the watch list, citing improvements to strengthen copyright protections in those countries.

Christopher Dodd, chairman and chief executive of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, commended the trade representative's office for its report, which he said "highlights content theft and barriers in foreign markets that pose threats to the continued growth of U.S. creative industries and the U.S. economy. Strong copyright protection and enforcement are vital to our industry's ability to create U.S. jobs, grow our own economy, and expand U.S. exports."

A copy of report can be found here.

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Photo: U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk delivers a speech at Singapore Management University on April 26. Credit: Roslan Rahman / AFP/Getty Images

Comcast fourth-quarter profit jumps 26%; NBC and film lag

The Lorax Universal Pictures
Comcast Corp. beat analysts' estimates with a 26% increase in fourth-quarter profit, but two NBCUniversal units continued to struggle: the NBC broadcast network and Universal Pictures.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, the Philadelphia cable television giant posted net income of $1.29 billion, or 47 cents a share, compared to $1.02 billion, or 36 cents per share, for the year-earlier period.  Revenue climbed 3% to $15 billion.

Once again, the company's core business of providing bundles of cable TV channels and high-speed Internet service bolstered its financial results. Comcast added 336,000 Internet customers during the quarter while losing 17,000 video subscribers, demonstrating that the cable company was doing a better job holding onto its customers than it did during the recession.

But NBCUniversal continued to be a mixed bag.

The New York media company, which Comcast co-owns with industrial giant General Electric Co., generated revenue of $5.7 billion -- an increase of less than 1% over the year-earlier period.  Operating cash flow declined 6.8% to $1.1 billion for the quarter. 

Cable television networks, including USA, Syfy, Bravo and MSNBC, increased revenue 5.3% to $2.2 billion.  Broadcast TV revenue declined 3.7% to $1.8 billion -- reflecting continued ratings problems at the NBC broadcast network. 

Filmed entertainment revenue dipped 1.8% to $1.3 billion, in part because of lower home entertainment sales. Theme parks revenue climbed 4% to $498 million.

Cable networks' operating cash flow increased 15.3% to $923 million, but NBC posted an $80-million loss. The broadcast unit produced $55 million in operating cash flow in the previous-year period. Operating cash flow at Universal Pictures dropped nearly 50% to $89 million.  

Comcast said its focus for the last year was integrating NBCUniversal operations, finding the right management team and stepping up investments in programming.

"As you look out over 2012 and 2013 we are going to start to, hopefully, see some of the seeds we planted bear fruit," NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke told analysts. "We've said the network is going to take us a number of years to turn around. We also think we can see some improvement in film; our film business has not been doing well but we have a very strong slate in 2012."

However, Michael Angelakis, Comcast's chief financial officer, warned analysts: "The real headwinds are programming costs."

One analyst suggested that Comcast's shiny new toy -- media company NBCUniversal and its peacock network -- could ultimately challenge the company's financials.

"Evolutionary biologists have cogently argued that the peacock's tail evolved, paradoxically, as a gigantic display of handicap," Bernstein Research senior analyst Craig Moffett wrote in a report.  "Only a very healthy specimen could survive carrying around such a burden."

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Photo:  Ashley, voiced by Taylor Swift, is a character in the upcoming Universal Pictures film: "Dr. Suess' The Lorax." Credit:  Universal Pictures

Fireman's Fund consultant sings safety tune at Grammys

At the Grammy Awards Sunday night, performers including alternative-country duo Civil Wars, jazz artist Diana Krall and British singer Adele will take to the stage, along with the reunited Beach Boys and more than a dozen other musical acts.

Working behind the scenes to make sure that nothing goes wrong is Paul Holehouse, entertainment risk consultant for Fireman's Fund Insurance Company.Paul Holehouse Fireman's Fund Grammys

Holehouse, a former safety executive at Universal Studios, visits sets of movie and TV shows as well as big events like the Grammys to identify potential risks and avoid accidents that can cause injury, losses and delays.

"My job is to coordinate with them [the producers] and make them comfortable that any liability issues are addressed ahead of time so they can do their show without any concerns,'' said Holehouse, 63.

This week he was busy meeting with representatives of John Cossette Productions Inc., which is producing the Grammys, and with rigging crews and fire department officials, to review plans for the two-hour show to be held at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles and telecast on CBS. 

"There's a whole spectrum of things we look for, from slip and fall hazards, to stunt effects, evacuation plans and the rigging on stages," Holehouse said.

At the 2010 Grammys, Holehouse was responsible for ensuring that Pink's high wire act, in which she twirled in the air wrapped in silk scarves while fastened to a harness, went off without a hitch.

In addition to the Grammys, Holehouse also worked on the halftime show at the Super Bowl, the popular music festival Lollapalooza and scores of TV shows and movies. In fact, Fireman's says it insures 80% of all films in the U.S., and 60% of all reality shows, providing coverage for everything from props and sets to actors who don't show up on set because of a death or illness. The company also issues so-called film completion bonds, which are guarantees that a film will be completed on schedule and on budget.

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Photo: Paul Holehouse, entertainment risk consultant, Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. Photo courtesy of Fireman's Fund.

 

Working Hollywood: 'Grey' stunt performer taps into animal within

The Grey

Working Hollywood is a recurring feature that appears in Sunday's Calendar section and explores unusual below-the-line jobs in movies and television. It now will make Company Town its online home -- in today's edition, meet Shawn Beaton, a stunt man who wore wolf's clothing for the Alaska-set Liam Neeson adventure "The Grey," which opened in theaters Friday.

As a stunt performer, Shawn Beaton has doubled for the likes of Michael Chiklis in the "Fantastic Four" movies and Matt Damon in the upcoming sci-fi drama "Elysium." But his job as a wolf stunt performer on the new man-against-nature meditation "The Grey" required him to -- almost quite literally -- crawl into the skin of a different animal. "I wore the full wolf suit with this huge head and everything, and it was wild," Beaton said.

Before answering the call of the wild on the R-rated film that stars Neeson and was directed by Joe Carnahan, Beaton honed his skills in tae kwon do, attending the Canadian Olympic team trials in 1988. At 21, he moved from his hometown of Kelowna, Canada, to Vancouver and landed a job in a pub, where one of the bar managers happened to be a stunt driver.

REVIEW: 'The Grey'

Soon, Beaton was training with a group of Vancouver-based film fighters and expanding his repertoire into other forms of martial arts and gymnastics. "It’s a pretty good little community up here, so we all teach each other and share techniques," Beaton said.

With its premise of a group of plane crash survivors struggling to make their way to safety in a harsh Alaska landscape populated by vicious wolves, "The Grey" presented unique challenges as Beaton strove to blend in with shots of live wolves, animatronics and some visual effects.

"When they need some actual, real movement from somebody, that’s where I would come in, creeping behind a bush, popping my head up or feeding off of a body," he said. "So there was a lot of physical acting involved in it."

Wild kingdom: "The Grey" wasn’t the first time Beaton had tapped into his animal instincts. "I've worked with movement trainers before for monkeys or gorillas or cats," he said. "And in wushu, Chinese martial arts, you study a lot of different animal styles like tiger and eagle claw and snake. So that type of animal movement really helps me adapt to this work."

Continue reading »

Wikipedia blackout to protest SOPA progress in Congress

JimmywalesstoryMost people probably haven't paid much attention to the huge corporations waging war in Washington, D.C., over legislation designed to crack down on theft of movies, music and other content from the Internet. But the conflict will hit consumers in the face Wednesday, when Wikipedia and a growing number of other websites intend to go dark to protest the proposed changes.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced Monday that the hugely popular online encyclopedia would shut down to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and related legislation, which opponents say could kill websites without due process.

Wikipedia joins Reddit, Boing Boing and dozens of lesser-known sites in what some have dubbed the SOPA Strike, an attempt to widen their complaints about proposals supported by the movie industry and other media companies.

"Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed, MLK on Wednesday, Wikipedia demands," Wales said via Twitter Monday, the Martin Luther King holiday. He had earlier signaled the coming blackout by tweeting: "Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday!#sopa."

The Motion Picture Assn. of America, a chief driver behind the legislation, accused the Internet companies of resorting to "gimmicks and distortion" and said that they were not interested in finding a real solution to the problem of piracy.

"Our perspective on this, from a larger perspective, is that it's part and parcel of a campaign to distract from the real issue here and to draw people away from trying to resolve what is a real problem, which is that foreigners continue to steal the hard work of Americans," said Michael O'Leary, the executive leading the MPAA's campaign for the bills.

The pending action by the protesting websites — which reportedly also included Mozilla, Wordpress and Twitpic — came after the Obama administration signaled over the weekend it would not support parts of the anti-piracy legislation.

"While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet,'' said a statement from three officials: Victoria Espinel, intellectual property enforcement coordinator; Aneesh Chopra, U.S. chief technology officer; and Howard Schmidt, cybersecurity coordinator for the national security staff.

Internet operators — from giants like Google and EBay to small operators — have opposed the legislation because they said it allows companies to move to block websites and even take away their user addresses if they are deemed to have misappropriated any content.

The Internet companies said the proposed legislation — SOPA in the House and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) in the Senate — allows operators no real due process before government actions can be taken against them. They said the result would be censorship and a strangling of the free flow of information that represents the soul of Web freedom.

Lobbyists for the Internet firms said they felt their concerns had not been heeded in early rounds of the legislation. The blackouts and an outpouring of protests from everyday Internet users could turn the tide.

"A lot of people feel that nobody has been listening and this is a way to get people to listen," said Maura Corbett, spokeswoman for Net Coalition, which represents Internet titans like Google, EBay and others. "This is more than a stunt. This is saying please listen to us."

O'Leary of the motion picture trade group rejected the idea that the concerns of Internet purveyors had not been heard. He noted that SOPA's sponsor in the House had just agreed that one of the most contentious provisions — which would have allowed wholesale blocking of an offending website's domain name — would be removed from the bill.

"That was their biggest objection and it has been removed," said O'Leary. "So now they've pivoted and started complaining about something else. We are interested in working with people who want to find a real solution, not just maintain the status quo, because with that, the criminals have the advantage and that is just not acceptable."

Senate leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on "Meet the Press" Sunday that he plans to bring the online piracy legislation to a vote next week.

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Photo: Internet entrepreneur Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, seen in 2011. Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth / Associated Press.

 

MPAA's Dodd says Hollywood is pro-Internet but anti-piracy

MPAA CEO Christopher Dodd
Motion Picture Assn. of America chief Christopher J. Dodd sought to counter criticism that Hollywood is trying to censor the Internet via pending legislation to crack down on online piracy, telling a liberal Washington think tank Tuesday that the industry's fate is tied to technology.

"Hollywood is pro-Internet," the former Democratic senator from Connecticut told the Center for American Progress. "So I want to make it clear right at the outset that our fight against content theft is not a fight against technology. It is a fight against criminals."

His comments came as the House Judiciary Committee is poised to approve legislation Thursday  aimed at shutting down foreign websites that offer pirated movies, music, medicine and other products. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved similar legislation in May.

Hollywood strongly backs the legislation, which would grant new authority to the Justice Department to block so-called rogue sites. The legislation also would give movie studios, music companies and other copyright holders the ability to seek court injunctions against Internet companies they believe are aiding in copyright theft.

But major Internet companies, including Google, Yahoo, EBay and Facebook, are fighting to water down the legislation because they fear it opens the door to censorship on the Internet. They argue that the piracy bills are too heavy-handed and would even threaten the technological stability of the Internet through new mechanisms to block access to piracy sites.

Speaking in Washington on Monday, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said the content industry has "over-reached" in the legislation and filtering technologies that companies would have to develop could be used by some countries to curb free speech.

Dodd has taken heat for recent comments that Internet censorship by China showed that blocking rogue sites was possible.

"When the Chinese told Google that they had to block sites or they couldn't do [business] in their country, they managed to figure out how to block sites," he told Variety.

But Dodd said Tuesday that the industry opposes censorship of free speech by repressive governments and that any comparison of the legislation to such efforts was "absolutely reprehensible."

"We stand with those who strongly oppose foreign governments that would unilaterally block websites, and thus deny the free flow of information and speech," he said.

But Dodd said that a free and open Internet also must contain strong copyright protection.

"There is a difference between believing that the Internet should be free and open, and believing that just because something's on the Internet, it should be free," he said.

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Photo: MPAA chief Christopher J. Dodd. Credit: Associated Press

On Location: New Santa Fe Studios beckons filmmakers


A longstanding artists community and celebrity vacation destination, Santa Fe has a new rising star -- one it hopes will help the state regain its footing as a leading production destination for filmmakers.

This week, Santa Fe Studios, a nearly $30-million production facility in the southeast part of the mountain town, will open for business. Built in line with the city’s traditional pueblo architectural style, the 65-acre studio includes two 19,275-square-foot soundstages with lush offices and dressing rooms, access to electric cars and ultra-high-speed broadband technology.

Financed partly by a $10-million economic development grant from the state, the facility will be New Mexico’s fifth studio and the second largest after Albuquerque Studios, which has eight soundstages and has been home to dozens of feature film and television productions including Marvel Studios’ “The Avengers” and four seasons of AMC’s “Breaking Bad.”

While the investment in a new studio less than 80 miles from the Albuquerque appears to be a gamble, its owners -- longtime producing and directing brothers Lance and Conrad Hool, along with Lance’s son Jason -- tout the smaller-city facility as the boutique alternative for filmmakers looking to shoot in the state.

“New Mexico now has a first-class studio,” said Lance Hool, producer of such movies as "Man on Fire" and "Flipper." "This will help stabilize the industry and with the backing of the administration will result in more activity."

One of the pioneers of state-implemented film incentives, New Mexico’s 25% tax rebate, combined with its proximity to Los Angeles, mild weather, experienced crew and aggressive state film office, proved to be a gold mine for the state, resulting in $275 million in annual direct film spending at its peak in fiscal year 2008. Films shot in New Mexico include “Transformers,” “Terminator Salvation” and, most recently, “The Last Stand” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.  

The future of the state’s film industry was thrown into question earlier this year when New Mexico became the latest of several states, including Michigan, to consider cutting its film subsidies. Gov. Susana Martinez had attempted to reduce rebates to 15% but lawmakers ultimately reached a compromise to keep the incentive but implemented a rolling annual cap of $50 million.

Although the cap is well below the tax credits approved in the last two years -- $65.9 million in 2010 and $76.4 million in 2009 -- New Mexico Film Office Director Nick Maniatis said the new limit should not hinder the state’s ability to attract future productions, as applications for qualifying projects filed after the limit was reached would fall into queue for payment the next year.

“We saw a fallback when the incentive was in question, but we’re hoping that by the spring we’ll be back to where we were,” Maniatis said.

The total value of approved tax credits has been on the decline for the last two years, with $54.6 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30, compared with $65.9 million in the same period a year prior and $76.4 million in fiscal 2009, according to the New Mexico Film Office.

Despite this decline, Hool is confident about the future of the movie industry in the state after meeting with Martinez earlier this week. “She’s 100% behind the film business,” Hool said.

Hool says Santa Fe Studios has received substantial interest from filmmakers considering shooting at the new facility. “We have several features and television shows booked.”

Although Hool would not confirm which productions were heading toward the studio, he said Disney’s much-publicized “The Lone Ranger,” starring Johnny Depp, was among the possibilities. Albuquerque Studios is expected to be the main base for "The Lone Ranger" but Santa Fe is negotiating to have some of the film shot at its new studio, said one person familiar with the matter. Production of "Lone Ranger" halted in August in a dispute over the film's budget, which is more than $200 million, but is scheduled to resume early next year.

Jon Hendry, business agent for Local 480 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which represents crew members in New Mexico, is optimistic about the state’s ability to bounce back from the uncertainty of the last few months and says Santa Fe Studios will play into that recovery.

“Albuquerque Studios was transformative for New Mexico,” Hendry said. “I have no reason to believe Santa Fe Studios won’t be able to accomplish the same thing."

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Photo: Santa Fe Studios in Santa Fe, N.M. Credit: Santa Fe Studios

On Location: 'Iron Man 3' lands in North Carolina

Iron_Man_Robert_Downey_Wilmington_Screen_Gems

In a blow to Los Angeles' below-the-line community, Marvel Studios will take its next "Iron Man" movie to Wilmington, N.C.

After weeks of speculation about where the movie would land, EUE/Screen Gems co-owner and Chief Operating Officer Chris Cooney confirmed Thursday that Manhattan Beach-based Marvel will shoot its next "Iron Man" movie at his studio in North Carolina.

“We aggressively pursued this piece of business,” Cooney said at a press conference held at the studio. “We negotiated hard and it paid off.”

Marvel also had been considering Michigan, but uncertainty surrounding the future of that state's tax credit took it out of the running.  Marvel executives also weighed filming in Los Angeles -- where the first two films in the superhero franchise were shot -- and New Mexico, but executives were ultimately wooed by North Carolina’s 25% film tax credit, in addition to the large Wilmington studio. California offers a film credit of up to 25% but it excludes big-budget movies like "Iron Man 3."

“We have a massive film facility and the third-largest film and television based crew in the country,” EUE/Screen Gems Executive President Bill Vassar said.

Vassar also noted that EUE/Screen Gem’s relationship with Disney, which bought Marvel Studios in 2009, played an instrumental role in getting Marvel executives to consider the Wilmington studio for filming. EUE/Screen Gems, which owns additional studios in Manhattan and Atlanta, also operates a lighting and grip company in Charleston, S.C., that has worked with Disney on several projects including the ABC pilot “Revenge" and four seasons of the television series “Army Wives."

“We’ve been under Disney’s radar for a long time,” Vassar said. “We have a wonderful relationship with them.”

“Iron Man 3,” scheduled for a 2013 release with a budget estimated at more than $140 million, will be the largest film to shoot in North Carolina so far. Offices will open in early January and cameras are expected to start rolling in the spring, Vassar said.

Most of the production, expected to last about 10 months, will take place in the state. Marvel will use all 10 of EUE/Screen Gem’s stages, the largest of which is 37,5000 square feet and includes a special-effects water tank, over the course of production.

At the press conference, North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue predicted an economic windfall for the state. The movie is expected to create 550 jobs for crew members and crafts people and pump $80 million into North Carolina's economy, Perdue said.

Representatives of Marvel were unavailable for comment.

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Photo: EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, N.C. Credit: EUE/Screen Gems.

On Location: 'The Frozen Ground' heats up filming in Alaska

alaska frozen ground cusack

Apart from hosting shows such as Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" and History Channel's "Ice Road Truckers," Alaska isn't exactly a hotbed for film production.

But after the state implemented generous film incentives in 2009, Hollywood has begun to warm up to the Last Frontier, sending several new feature film productions its way.

“The Frozen Ground,” based on the real-life 1980s Alaskan hunt for serial killer Robert Hansen, became the most recent Hollywood feature to shoot in Alaska when cameras started rolling in Anchorage this week.

The film will be directed by Scott Walker, who also wrote the script, and will star John Cusack as Hansen and Nicholas Cage as the Alaska state trooper who tracked Hansen down. Emmett/Furla, Amber Entertainment and rapper 50 Cent, who will play a pimp in the film, are producing with Lionsgate and Grindstone Entertainment distributing the picture.

The six-week production will film in and around the suburb where Hansen lived in the northeast part of Anchorage as well as in neighboring mountains where the killer took his victims, said the film’s producer, Randall Emmett.

The project sought to stay true to the actual events of the story by filming in Alaska but the decision to film in the distant state was ultimately a financial one. Emmett had considered splitting the production between Michigan and Louisiana, where the producer has taken advantage of filming incentive programs for past productions.

“But when we did the numbers, it made more sense to shoot in Alaska,” Emmett said, “We’re now talking about doing other films up there.”

Filming future projects in Alaska, said the producer, would offset the hefty cost of shipping equipment and getting crews to the state. The budget for “The Frozen Ground” is in the $20 million to $30 million range, Emmett said.

As several other states’ film incentive programs are being scaled back or eliminated altogether, Alaska’s tax rebate is expected to expand, according to Dave Worrell, development specialist at the Alaska Film Office. The $100-million program offers a 30% base credit toward qualified production expenses. Additional incentives for hiring Alaskans, filming in rural areas or filming in winter can increase the possible credit to 44%.

Current incentives are set to expire in 2013, but a bill that would extend the program until 2023 and add an extra $200 million has unanimously passed the Alaska Senate and is awaiting approval from the state’s House Finance Committee, which will vote on the bill next year.

According to Worrell and the Alaska Film Office’s 2011 Report to the Legislature, 13 feature films pre-qualified for tax credits in the state’s 2011 fiscal year, compared with just one in fiscal 2009, including Universal's "Big Miracle," starring Drew Barrymore, which was filmed in Alaska last year and is set for a February release.

Although crews remain scarce and infrastructure is lacking, Worrell said resources are steadily improving. For example, Evergreen Films, one of the production companies behind the $65-million “Walking with Dinosaurs 3D," which is currently filming in Alaska, has already built a post-production facility in Anchorage that will include a 50-foot-by-50-foot green screen used to simulate backgrounds.

“We are seeing folks who grew up in Alaska and those who left coming back home to work,"Worrell said.

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Photo: Valdez, Alaska. Credit: State of Alaska Tourism Office

On Location: Soderbergh brings 'Magic Mike' to L.A.

Soderbergh
 
With his latest pandemic thriller “Contagion” enjoying critical praise and generating more than $50 million in ticket sales, Steven Soderbergh has already started rolling the cameras on his next project, and this time, he’s keeping it in town.

The Oscar-winning director, who hasn’t shot a film primarily in L.A. since 2006’s “The Good German,”  recently began production on “Magic Mike,” a comedy about male strippers living in Tampa, Fla., at Mulligan’s Family Fun Center in Torrance. The five-week shoot, which will mostly film in L.A. with some on-location filming to take place in Florida, has since shot scenes in Hollywood and Studio City and at Dockweiler Beach, according to FilmL.A. Inc., the nonprofit that handles film permits.

Soderbergh’s filming locations have spanned several states and countries over his lengthy career, which began more than two decades ago with the cult classic “Sex, Lies and Videotape.” “Contagion” was shot primarily in Illinois, a state the director has also used for filming parts of “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Ocean’s Twelve” and “The Informant!” His next film to hit theaters, “Haywire,” a spy thriller starring Channing Tatum that is scheduled for a Jan. 20 release, was shot largely in Ireland.

“Magic Mike,” is based on Tatum’s early life as an exotic dancer in Tampa and has Tatum playing the title character, Mike Martingano, a veteran stripper who takes a newbie dancer, played by Alex Pettyfer, under his wing. Matthew McConaughey, Olivia Munn, Joe Manganiello and Elvis Presley’s granddaughter, Riley Keough, will also star in the film.

The privately financed project does not yet have domestic distribution and is being produced by Nick Wechsler, Gregory Jacobs, Tatum and Reid Carolin, who also wrote the script.

A publicist for the film said producers were unavailable for comment.

After “Magic Mike,” Soderbergh is planning to direct the Warner Bros. film “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” based on the 1960s television series and scheduled to begin shooting in February, and the biopic “Liberace” about the flamboyant pianist, scheduled to start filming in June.

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