24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Kristen Stewart

After four years, Universal returns to CinemaCon with A-listers in tow

April 26, 2012 |  9:01 pm

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LAS VEGAS -- Universal Pictures hasn't brought a slate of films to CinemaCon for four years, but this year the studio pulled out all the stops at the exhibitors convention, teasing 10 movies from its slate and putting on a star-studded presentation with more big names than any other studio, including Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron and John Travolta.

The footage included scenes from Oliver Stone's "Savages" and "The Bourne Legacy" starring Jeremy Renner; a teaser of "Les Misérables" with Anne Hathaway singing "I Dreamed a Dream"; and a glimpse of the recently delayed Keanu Reeves action flick "47 Ronin."

"Snow White & The Huntsman" received one of the more enthusiastic responses from the audience, who were visibly excited to see Stewart, Theron, director Rupert Sanders and producer Joe Roth emerge from backstage.

Studio chairman Adam Fogelson emphasized that choosing first-time feature director Sanders to helm the film was an unorthodox movie, saying it was "a pretty big risk to hand a movie of this size over to somewhat of a rookie."

Sanders said he was intrigued by the project because the Snow White fairy tale has long been his favorite, describing it as "the least princessy, least pink one" of the folklore tales.

Stewart, who seemed somewhat uncomfortable in front of the large audience, tapped her leg slightly as she called the film the "perfect choice for me. It was something to prove myself in," the "Twilight" veteran said.

Theron, who plays the film's evil queen, said that once the filmmaking team agreed with her vision to take the character "balls to the wall," she agreed to sign on.

"I didn't realize it'd be my balls," Sanders quipped.

The presentation only got more vulgar once "Family Guy" creator Seth McFarlane came out to promote "Ted," the summer comedy starring Mark Wahlberg and a talking teddy bear. The film's trailer has already created an immense amount of buzz in recent weeks, but McFarlane insisted the film has as much heart as it does raunch.

"Despite the tonnage of the language, it actually has a fairy tale undertone that permeates it," he said.

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'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' director: U.S. films losing voice

-- Amy Kaufman

twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Kristen Stewart stars in "Snow White & The Huntsman." Credit: Universal Pictures


Cannes 2012: Watch trailers of six films playing the festival

April 19, 2012 | 12:19 pm

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Bruce Willis, Wes Anderson, Josh Hutcherson, Marion Cotillard, Lee Daniels and Nicole Kidman are among the talents bringing films to the Cannes Film Festival, whose lineup was announced Thursday. The prestigious festival kicks off in the southeast France town on May 16. Check out the trailers below to get familiarized with some up this year’s films.

“Moonrise Kingdom,” directed by Wes Anderson
Opening the festival is the Edward Norton-starring comedy by Wes Anderson. It’s his first film to appear at Cannes. Set in the 1960s, "Kingdom" centers on two young lovers who run away from their New England town, prompting a search party to go after them. Focus Features will distribute the film in the U.S. starting May 25. Bill Murray, Bruce Willis and Frances McDormand round out the cast.

“On the Road,” directed by Walter Salles
Starring Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund and Sam Riley, this long-gestating adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s 1957 Beat novel will be in competition at the festival. Executive produced by Francis Ford Coppola, the film also features Viggo Mortensen, Terrance Howard and Amy Adams.

Continue reading »

Are fans shunning repeat viewings of 'Breaking Dawn'?

December 5, 2011 |  8:00 am

Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn."

The repeat-filmgoer is a time-honored, and much-coveted, Hollywood tradition. Teenage girls around the world came out again and again to see Leo's Jack Dawson shed a romantic tear in "Titanic." (He still died.)

Director Christopher Nolan has practically mastered the repeat feat -- art-house audiences came back to see "Memento" twice just to figure out what in the name of Einsteinian theory was going on -- while "Inception" was a double-dip favorite among the fan boy set a few summers back.

If there's any movie that would seem to lend itself to repeat viewing this year, it's "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1" The film's fans are the rabid sort who want to cry with each gesture of vampiric love and tense up with each werewolf confrontation. For many, buying a ticket is less an act of filmgoing than a ritual. And you don't perform a ritual just once.

PHOTOS: 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn'

Yet the movie's box office performance this weekend shows that the movie may not be generating that sort of reaction. As my colleague Amy Kaufman writes in Monday's Los Angeles Times, the Kristen Stewart-Robert Pattinson picture tallied $16.9 million this weekend -- not a bad total for a third weekend, but down a bit according to one key metric.

Though the fourth movie in the franchise has grossed $247 million since opening two weekends ago, it’s still lower than  the November opening of the second movie, “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” which took in $255 million over the same period. (The third picture “Eclipse,” came out in June, which makes comparisons difficult.)

It’s impossible to know why the numbers are slightly lower this time around, but executives at studio Summit Entertainment have a theory: This film isn’t generating the repeat buyers like “New Moon” did.

PHOTOS: What's next for 'Twilight' stars?

"I think our audience has grown a little bit older, and therefore their interests have changed," the studio's Richie Fay told Kaufman. "That audience was also a big repeat audience, so maybe this time they've only seen the movie once, when they would have seen it 4 1/2 times before."

It’s an interesting theory, though repeat viewings don’t on their face seem to be correlated with the age of the filmgoer -- certainly “Inception” wasn’t playing primarily to the grade-school set.

There is, however, a neater explanation. This movie is the first of two, as its title, not to mention its cliffhanger ending, suggests. After all, Stewart's Bella Swan (spoiler alert, though if you somehow do not know this then you probably don't care to), after appearing dead during the movie's climax, bolts her eyes wide open just before the movie ends, hinting at the vampire life she will soon lead. And when you tease people that much about what’s to come, they may not be satisfied with what they have.

Or, put another way, when you leave them wanting more, they don’t always come back for more of the same.

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-- Steven Zeitchik
twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn." Credit: Summit entertainment


'Twilight: Breaking Dawn:' Does it send the wrong message?

November 21, 2011 |  7:00 am

 

Kristen Stewart's and Robert Pattinson's "Twilight: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1" carries an antiabortion message, say some feminist critics
It was of course never much of a question whether millions of Americans were going to rush out to see "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1" this weekend, which they did -- about 18 million people, to be specific. For comparison's sake, that's just slightly behind the number who watched last year's "American Idol" finale -- as studio Summit Entertainment rang up $139.5 million in box office for the latest Kristen Stewart-Robert Pattinson film.

The bigger question, though, might be what these millions were left thinking after they left the theater, particularly in the areas of sex, love and childbirth, areas in which the Bill Condon-directed, Melissa Rosenberg-penned script has plenty to say.
 
A quick recap, in the unlikely event there isn't a Twihard in or around you. In this fourth installment of the vampire film franchise, adapted from about half of Stephenie Meyer's final book in the “Twilight” series, Bella Swan (Stewart) and the vampire Edward Cullen (Pattinson) finally consummate their love. Though still a teenager, she marries Edward in a glittery affair while the shape-shifting werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) hovers nearby. The wedding leads to a surprise honeymoon in Brazil as well as to Bella's deflowering (not to mention de-feathering; vampire men and pillows are apparently a dangerous combination).

Most conspicuously, the wedding-night sex results in Bella becoming pregnant with a kind of human-vampire hybrid, which soon threatens the life of its mother. Told of the danger, Bella doesn't even consider terminating the pregnancy.

Continue reading »

'Breaking Dawn': Kristen Stewart's extreme 'Twilight' transformation

November 20, 2011 |  4:17 pm

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1"

The fans who lined up over the weekend to see "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1" — and there were a lot of them, considering that the fourth installment in the franchise adapted from Stephenie Meyer's bestselling young-adult novels raked in an estimated $139.5 million — witnessed some pretty radical upheaval in the lives of young Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and her vampire beau Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson).

The couple marries, and during a romantic honeymoon getaway, they finally consummate their relationship. But Bella unexpectedly becomes pregnant and fights to carry the child to term, though the fetus is seemingly incompatible with her body.

To depict the great physical toll the pregnancy takes on Bella's body — she's unable to eat and essentially is withering away as her stomach swells — the "Breaking Dawn" filmmakers looked to Lola Visual Effects, the company responsible for downsizing muscular Chris Evans to a pre-transformation weakling in this summer's comic book superhero film "Captain America." The results are certainly eyebrow-raising, with Bella becoming increasingly pale and extremely gaunt. 

"The idea was to leave you with a question mark about how they did it," said the film's director, Bill Condon. "We wanted you to think it was possible that Kristen actually lost a lot of weight for it."

The visual-effects team added prosthetics to Stewart's face (a process that took three hours of application) to make her eyes look more sunken and her ears larger. Stewart likened wearing the prosthetics to having a "big, skinny head" for the scenes. Still, the 21-year old actress was game for the transformation.

"I'm so happy that they were not afraid of it — to have your main character look so awful for half of the movie is a bold choice for a huge film," Stewart said. "It was the one thing I wasn't fully responsible for concerning Bella and it made me really nervous. I didn't know what it would look like until I saw the movie."

RELATED:

'Breaking Dawn' with 'Twilight' director Bill Condon

'Breaking Dawn--Part 1' review: Vampire tale is lifeless

— Nicole Sperling

Photo: Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson as Bella and Edward in 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1'

Credit: Summit Entertainment


'Breaking Dawn': Twihards gather to watch Bella and Edward wed

November 18, 2011 | 11:34 am

Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in 'Breaking Dawn - Part 1'

"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1” grossed $30.3 million from midnight showings early Friday morning according to an estimate from distributor Summit Entertainment, and it appears to be on pace to have the biggest opening yet for any movie in the vampire franchise adapted from author Stephenie Meyer's bestselling novels.

24 Frames checked in with some fans who came out for the movie’s first screenings at the Rave Motion Pictures 18, which showed the vampire flick on five screens at 12:01 a.m., with one additional showing at 12:45 a.m. Many people at the theater were continuing a tradition of seeing each installment at midnight that dated back to the 2009 debut of the second "Twilight" movie, “New Moon.”

“We’ve been doing it for two or three years. You wait all year to watch it, so you might as well come and see it at midnight,” said Alejandra Toribio, 21, of Long Beach.

“I feel like the movie’s always better when you see it before it’s really out,” said Liz Hook, 14, of Westchester, who came to the movie in her pajamas with her twin sister and a friend.

The audience was by far mostly female, but there were a few men on hand to support their friends and some fathers bringing young daughters to watch Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) marry her undead beau Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), despite the protestations of her best friend, werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner).

“I’m not a fan. I’m just here to support my friends. I’m just dragged along,” said Jay Rice, 24, of Gardena.

His friend Yontique McHenry, 21, of Harbor City said to him, “People are gonna see this [article], and they’re gonna beat you up because you’re a fake fan. And you have a seat!”

“Go 'Twilight,' ” he responded, flashing a thumbs-up.

There were the occasional guys who considered themselves true fans, though, including 25-year-old Alexander Solis of South Gate, who donned a “Twilight” sweatshirt and T-shirt for the event. So what’s his answer to the great “Twilight” debate?

“Team Edward. Because he will be marrying Bella!” said Solis, who bought his ticket for the movie a month ago.

Favorite characters varied from Jacob (“I don’t find Edward attractive. He’s too pale,” said Rosario Carrera, 31, of Orange County) to Jasper, a vampire played by Jackson Rathbone.

“I’m Team Jasper. I think he’s funny-looking. In the film he’s all crazy-eyed,” Hook said.

Melissa Nelson, 31, of Torrance, said she was eager to see how the movie depicted Bella's surprise pregnancy -- in the film, she and Edward conceive a child on their honeymoon, though carrying the baby to term threatens Bella's life -- because of how she was introduced to the series. Nelson said she watched the first movie on a portable DVD player while her cousin was in labor.

“I was her birthing partner… While we were waiting for the baby to come, we were like, ‘Might as well watch a movie,’ ” Nelson said. “I’m really interested to see the transformation of [Bella’s] body when she’s pregnant.”

Nelson came to see the movie with other adult friends, but on Saturday she plans to bring young cousins and her 4-year-old son –- who’s Team Jacob and “can recite the movies for you” she said -– after she makes “sure it’s child appropriate” at the midnight screening. “He asked today, ‘Well, when am I going to see ‘Twilight’? Cause you know the new one is out today and we have to go see it,’ ” Nelson explained.

She said her husband scoffs at the series. “He says they’re fake vampires. He’s like, ‘How do they walk around in the daylight?’ ”

As for the franchise's enduring popularity, most fans chalked it up to the sweeping romance of the supernatural tale.

“It’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ for now,” said Dawn Fagenson, 45, of Brentwood, who owns a cardboard cutout of Lautner as Jacob and has traveled to Forks, Wash., where the series takes place.

“It’s a very classic story,” said Jennifer Daskevich, 43, of Westchester. “They’ve done really well with marketing to younger people. We don’t really fit into that category, but they’ve done a really good job of casting young, dynamic people. It’s a great love story.”

A number of moviegoers cited their awe for the “great love story," but there were a few who were more cynical. Liz Hook’s sister, Joans, discovered the series when she was in fifth grade and “was really into them” upon the first read.

“And then after I read them, I was like, ‘Why did I read these? These are really stupid,’ ” she said. “Bella’s so desperate. She needs a man in her life, otherwise she cannot function. So I really hate the point of it, but it’s just fun to go [to the movies] with your friends.”

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–- Emily Rome

Photo: Robert Pattinson, left, and Kristen Stewart in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1." Credit: Andrew Cooper / Summit Entertainment


'Breaking Dawn -- Part 1' lacks bite for many critics

November 18, 2011 |  6:00 am

Breaking Dawn
Just as the "Twilight" series of books and films split fans into two camps (Team Edward and Team Jacob, for the uninitiated), the latest film, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1" is dividing movie critics: Many find the film lifeless and silly, but some are content to go along for the ride.

The Times' Betsy Sharkey laments, " 'Breaking Dawn' kinda sucks, in the metaphoric rather than the vampiric sense." Although the highly anticipated wedding sequence between vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) and human Bella (Kristen Stewart) is "superb in its execution," Sharkey feels Stewart is underused on the whole. Ultimately, both the film (directed by Bill Condon, who did "Dreamgirls") and the script (by Melissa Rosenberg) fail "to mine all the dramatic potential of the symbolic implications of immortality." In terms of the "Twilight" franchise, Sharkey ranks "Breaking Dawn" squarely in the middle of the pack.

Continue reading »

'Mirror Mirror' trailer: Are the Snow White wars overblown?

November 16, 2011 |  9:20 pm

Mirrror
Those of us who make our living following the entertainment business tend to look for rivalries because, well, it's fun, and because Hollywood is enough of a copycat place that it's impossible to avoid the competition even if we wanted to.

But we didn't have to look very hard to find a battle between Universal Pictures and Relativity Media over the last year as they each raced to mount Snow White movies. The fight had more story lines than the Grimm Brothers could come up with: Two movies, each putting a new spin on the virginal beauty and the mirror-gazing villain, were pushing forward at the same time.

Each had buzzy young actresses in the title role (Kristen Stewart for Universal's "Snow White and the Huntsman" and Lily Collins for Relativity's film, which would eventually be titled "Mirror Mirror") and an established Oscar winner as the Evil Queen (Charlize Theron in “Huntsman” and Julia Roberts in “Mirror”).

Each hired Hollywood outsiders to get behind the camera (Rupert Sanders for "Huntsman" and Tarsem Singh for "Mirror").

To top it off, you had two companies with history: Relativity for years had financed a large section of Universal's slate before breaking out to produce and release movies on its own.

Throughout the summer, it seemed like the companies played chicken with release dates, before settling on March 16 ("Mirror") and June 1 ("Huntsman").

But there's been a nagging feeling for a while now that the movies may not turn out that similar to one another, if only because that's not really in anyone's interest. As much as each side in one of these battles says it wants to win, what it really wants is to avoid cannibalization. Sure, these standoffs sometimes amount to riches for everyone -- "Armageddon" and "Deep Impact,” from 1998, is the oft-cited example -- but chances are if two studios make their movies too similar to each other, they’ll both lose at least a little bit.

If there was any doubt that the similarities were overstated, the newly released trailers underlined the point. The spot for "Snow White and the Huntsman" came out last week, and it immediately made clear it owed a creative debt to a host of genre movies, from "Twilight" to "The Dark Knight." The villains were genuinely scary and the mood was ultra-serious; even the heroine's not doing much smiling.

Right on its heels came Relativity Media on Wednesday -- it seemed like a response, but who could say for sure -- with its own trailer for "Mirror Mirror." The company appeared to have blinked when it took the "Snow White" name off its movie. But it may also have been hinting at something else: Its film really doesn't go to the dark roots of the Grimm Brothers or to the hunter/hunted angle of its counterpart.

As the trailer suggests, it's a light, bouncy story, somewhere between "The Princess Diaries" and a live-action "Shrek." Roberts’ Evil Queen isn't fearsome as much as goofy, and Collins looks like, well, a princess, not sprinting, breathless prey. (For our sister blog Hero Complex's take on the two trailers, please check out its story here.)

It's possible that some filmgoers will still conflate the films. But at this point it's becoming clear that each movie can succeed on its own.

Not that that will be easy. "Mirror Mirror" has to battle it out with the proliferating number of family films, which has already claimed some victims. And "Huntsman" has plenty to worry about with the other dark mythology-laden stories, such as "The Dark Knight Rises," which comes out this summer, and fairy-tale television dramas  like "Grimm" and "Once Upon a Time." There will be rivalries, in other words. Just not necessarily the ones we expect.

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Kristen Stewart vs Lily Collins: Who's the fairest of them all?

-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Julia Roberts in "Mirror Mirror." Credit: Relativity Media


Kristen Stewart ‘Breaking Dawn’ pic was 3-D candidate

November 16, 2011 | 11:47 am

Breakingda

“Breaking Dawn” fans probably would be eager to see the Twilight exploits of Kristen Stewart's Bella and Robert Pattinson's Edward even if they were shown in a shoebox. But one film installment in Stephenie Meyer's vampire series almost lured fans with a much splashier look: 3-D.

A person familiar with the discussions who was not authorized to talk about them publicly told 24 Frames several days ago that "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2" came close to being shot with the z-axis.  And in an interview Tuesday, director Bill Condon confirmed that he and Summit Entertainment executives discussed making the fifth and final installment in the series, which comes out next November, in 3-D.

That movie is, of course, the one in which (spoiler alert, for the three people who know “Twilight” but don’t know this) Bella lives as a vampire. The idea would have been to convey that shift in a heightened 3-D world, using the format as a kind of storytelling device (and, oh, yes, collecting ticket premiums to boot).

As Condon explained: “You’ve stepped through the looking glass and you’re seeing the world through Bella’s point of view, as a vampire. To know what it feels like to see the way they do, to hunt, all that stuff. It was a good reason to do it.”

But according to both Condon and the person  familiar with the discussions, cost proved too much of a deterrent.  Among the rationales for shooting the two "Breaking Dawn" movies  simultaneously was to save some cash, and toggling between 2-D and 3-D cameras would have undermined that goal.

Plus, Condon added, it could have become really overwhelming for everyone on set.  “It was hard enough to keep the two movies straight between the morning and the afternoon, but then to have these two huge camera packages and approaches, it seemed like too much to take on,” he said. (Instead, filmmakers used high-definition cameras and other sophisticated lenses for the second “Breaking Dawn” film; the first, of course, comes out this weekend. A 3-D conversion has not been discussed as a serious option.)

Shooting in 3-D remains one of the more polarizing moves around, with the battle lines drawn in unexpected ways. Despite its reputation as a commercial gimmick, high-end  auteurs such as Martin Scorsese (this month’s “Hugo”) have begun to embrace it. But some commercial franchises -- particularly those that, like “Twilight” and the upcoming “The Dark Knight Rises,” have built up a strong amount of goodwill in 2-D — have stayed away. When you’re raking in hundreds of millions, that added 3 can seem like a small number.

RELATED:

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Kristen Stewart: Motherhood confounds me

Breaking Dawn director on giving Twilight a vamps CG makeover

-- Steven Zeitchik and Nicole Sperling

http://twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

http://twitter.com/nicsperling

Photo: Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1." Credit: Summit Entertainment


'Breaking Dawn:' Director on giving 'Twilight' vamps a CG makeover

November 14, 2011 |  2:42 pm

Twilightpremiere

You only had to take a quick jaunt to downtown Los Angeles this weekend to find proof that "Twilight" fever is alive and well. Fans set up a tent city in advance of Monday night's premiere of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" -- the fourth film in the franchise and the first installment of a two-part finale that sees teenage Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) wed her vampire beau (Robert Pattinson).

"Twilight" fans have been camped out around the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live for days now in order to secure a wristband that will grant them access to watch the stars of the movie arrive for the premiere. To entertain them, the film's distributor, Summit Entertainment, has screened the preceding three movies in the series and sent supporting cast members -- and author Stephenie Meyer, who penned the "Twilight" novels -- to say hello.

Bill Condon, the writer-director behind "Dreamgirls" and the Oscar-winning "Gods and Monsters," is taking the directing reins of the franchise for its all-important finale, and he said he set out to marry melodrama and horror for "Breaking Dawn." He also made a point to utilize special effects to enhance the storytelling.

Taken together, the two parts of "Breaking Dawn" have more CG shots than James Cameron's groundbreaking "Avatar." Even the vampire makeup in "Breaking Dawn" is being done digitally for the first time.

"We didn't use any of the pancake make-up [on the vampires], just a simple base," Condon said. "And we didn't go super white because that makes everyone look so ... unattractive. We actually used very little makeup."

The director told The Times that the post-production crew spent three weeks removing the film grain from the vampires' faces to create the perfect ethereal look.

"That quality that Stephenie Meyer describes, I think we finally got it. And it has nothing to do with makeup. It's all CG."

RELATED:

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--Nicole Sperling

Photo: A fan waiting for the Monday night premiere of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" poses for a photo at the Nokia Theatre.  Credit: Valerie Macon/Getty Images


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