24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Sony Pictures

Trailer Trash: Sony's new spot for 'The Amazing Spider-Man'

May 23, 2012 | 12:28 pm

“The Amazing Spider-Man” is a reboot of a reboot.

Ten years ago, Sony Pictures reintroduced “Spider-Man” with amazing results. The three Peter Parker films grossed a combined $2.5 billion around the globe.

But Sony grew worried that the movies were getting too expensive and needed a fresh start. So the studio replaced original director Sam Raimi with Marc Webb, the 37-year-old maker of 2009's popular independent romantic comedy “(500) Days of Summer.” Star Tobey Maguire was switched out for Andrew Garfield, the star of “The Social Network,” who is eight years younger than Maguire.

The resulting movie, called “The Amazing Spider-Man,” arrives in theaters July 3.

So far, it's been a great year for superheroes. "The Avengers" just crossed $400 million in domestic theaters after just two weeks. In North America, "The Avengers" is now the sixth highest-grossing release of all time, passing "Toy Story 3" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest." Later this summer, Batman is back (maybe for the last time?) in "The Dark Knight Rises."

In our new 24 Frames video feature above, we take a look at the latest "Spider-Man" trailer, and assess the film's ambition and obstacles.

 

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--John Horn

Video: "The Amazing Spider-Man" trailer. Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment


Cannes 2012: Sony Pictures Classics picks up Gael Garcia Bernal's 'No'

May 22, 2012 |  2:31 am

Sony Pictures Classics announced at the Cannes Film Festival that it had acquired North American rights to the buzz dramedy "No"
"No," Gael Garcia Bernal's tersely titled tale of 1980s Chilean politics, is headed to theaters.

Sony Pictures Classics announced Tuesday morning at the Cannes Film Festival that it had acquired North American rights to the buzz dramedy. Though it had played the comparatively smaller Directors' Fortnight section, "No" had been attracting festival-goer interest and critical attention since it screened in the early days of the event. The Times' Kenneth Turan was a strong supporter of the film.

Directed by Pablo Larrain ("Tony Manero") and set in 1988, "No" stars Bernal as Renee Saavedra, a Chilean advertising executive recruited by the opposition after dictator Augusto Pinochet calls for a referendum on his presidency.

Floundering with dour campaigns about human-rights abuses, the opposition (nicknamed "No") hopes Saavedra can bring a little flash to the campaign; much of the movie then unfolds as Saavedra's jazzy approach collides with the opposition's serious one.

The movie also explores Saavedra's complicated home life, with his wife a more serious opposition ideologue.

Shot to look like a 1988 VHS movie, the film has elements of comedy, satire and drama. It's based on a true story, with Pinochet eventually losing the election.

In an interview with 24 Frames, Larrain said he wasn't concerned about the esoteric subject matter. "I think a lot of people outside Chile know a little about Pinochet but they'd like to know more," he said. "They know the story of how he got in, but they don't know how he got out."

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-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Gael Garcia Bernal in "No." Credit: Cannes Film Festival

 

Cannes 2012: SPC picks up Gael Garcia Bernal's 'No'

 

"No," Gael Garcia Bernal's tersely titled tale of 1980's Chilean politics, is headed to theaters.

 

Sony Pictures Classics announced Tuesday morning at the Cannes Film Festival that it had acquired North American rights to the buzz dramedy. Though it had played the comparatively smaller Directors’ Fortnight section, "No" had been attracting festivalgoer interest and critical attention since it screened in the early days of the festival. The Times' Kenneth Turan was a strong supporter of the film. (Link?)

 

Directed by Pablo Larrain ("Tony Manero") and set in 1988, "No" stars Bernal as Renee Saavedra, a Chilean advertising executive  recruited by the opposition after dictator Augusto Pinochet calls for a referendum on his presidency.

Floundering with dour campaigns about human-rights abuses, the opposition (nicknamed "No") hopes Saavedra can bring a little flash to the campaign; much of the movie then unfolds as Saavedra's jazzy approach collides with the opposition's serious one.

 

The movie also explores Saavedra's complicated home life, with his wife a more serious opposition ideologue.

 

Shot to look like a 1988 VHS movie, the film has elements of comedy, satire and drama. It's based on a true story, with Pinochet eventually losing the election.

 

In an interview with 24 Frames, Larrain said he wasn't concerned about the esoteric subject matter. "I think a lot of people outside Chile know a little about Pinochet but they'd like to know more," he said. "The know the story of how he got in, but they don't know how  he got out."

 

--Steven Zeitchik


James Bond 'Skyfall' trailer released [Video]

May 21, 2012 | 12:00 pm

Sony has released its first teaser trailer for the long-delayed James Bond film "Skyfall," starring Daniel Craig and directed by Sam Mendes
James Bond may be used to action. Director Sam Mendes is rather new to the game.

But Monday's first teaser trailer for the long-delayed "Skyfall," in which Mendes ("American Beauty," "Road to Perdition") takes on a huge Hollywood franchise for the first time, does not spare the kind of pyrotechnics that Bond fans expect their 007 movies to have.

"Skyfall" stars Daniel Craig, coming off "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and the flops "Dream House" and "Cowboys & Aliens." It's his third Bond film and the first since 2008's tongue-twister "The Quantum of Solace," which grossed $586.1 million globally, about on par with 2006's "Casino Royale." Plot details are not clearly spelled out in the trailer, but it does suggest that Bond is on the wrong side of the glass in an interrogation scene. It's unclear why the word "Skyfall" triggers bad memories when Bond is asked about it, but it appears to be a mission that didn't go that well.

There are fleeting glimpses of Judi Dench's M, and Bond girls Bérénice Marlohe and Naomie Harris. As for memorable dialogue (the screenplay credit is likely to be shared, but "Gladiator's" John Logan did extensive work on the project), it's pretty slim pickings, the best being Bond saying in what sounds like a Hemingway parody, "Some men are coming to kill us. We're going to kill them first."

"Skyfall" is scheduled to open Nov. 9.

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-- John Horn

Photo: Daniel Craig in "Skyfall." Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Skyfall2012 / Danjaq / United Artists Corp. / Columbia Pictures


Cannes 2012: An Osama bin Laden battle brews by the beach

May 16, 2012 |  7:35 pm

 

Osamabi

CANNES, France--The news today that Harvey Weinstein was poised to buy an assassination-of-Osama-bin-Laden movie called “Code Name Geronimo” brought a jolt of politics to the just-opened Cannes Film Festival, where the deal was being negotiated.

It also sets up one of the most epic film-meets-politics moments in a long time--not to mention a potential catfight with Sony Pictures. That studio  of course has its own Bin Laden movie, titled “Zero Dark Thirty” and directed by “The Hurt Locker” helmer Kathryn Bigelow,” due before the end of the year.

Weinstein has basically closed the rights deal for the independently made "Geronimo," according to a person familiar with the negotiations, and is talking as though he's pretty much decided to release the movie in late September or October. That’s a crucial period because it of course comes before Americans head to the polls--and while voters and talking-heads will be debating just how much credit President Obama deserves for the killing. The election could affect the film, and the film could certainly affect the election.

INTERACTIVE: Cheat sheet guide to Cannes films

(Already "Dark" has been the subject of scrutiny from congressional Republicans over whether the script benefited from classified information. It remains to be seen whether another movie, this one right before the election--and from a noted Hollywood liberal,  no less--spurs its own backlash.)

 In releasing the movie during the pre-election period, Weinstein would take a page from his own playbook. He famously pulled a similar move in bringing out Michael Moore’s “Farenheit 9/11" the summer before the Bush-Kerry contest in 2004. It didn’t sway the results for the Democrats, though it certainly paid off for the Weinsteins at the box office.

 “Geronimo” is directed by John Stockwell, the actor turned-director of water-themed commercial pictures such as “Dark Tide” and “Blue Crush” as well as the Kirsten Dunst romance “Crazy/Beautiful.” It stars Cam Gigandet, baddie from the first “Twilight,” as a key member of the team that assassinated the Al Qaeda leader.

Stockwell’s new movie, shot this winter and spring, isn’t finished — a sales trailer and limited additional footage is what's being shown to Weinstein and international distributors — so anyone buying it must really want a Bin Laden movie.

After talking to those here on the Croisette with knowledge of the production, here’s what we do know about the film.

The movie centers on three groups: the CIA, the U.S. military leadership and the SEALs who went on the risky mission. It takes its best shot at theorizing what final piece of intelligence tipped the decision for Obama to send in the SEALs. (No one has proved what exactly prompted him to pull the trigger on the operation.) There’s no footage of  Obama, actual or actorly, in the current cut of the film, though that may change. It doesn't take a heavily partisan position, though it does shine a light on an event that the administration touts as a major success. It's basically an indie action movie, and it's more modest in budget and scope than "Zero Dark Thirty."

So what would an October date for "Geronimo" do to Sony? It would certainly put the screws to the studio, which pointedly decided not release “Zero Dark Thirty” before the election, presumably out of fear of politicizing the film. 

Sony is now set to release its film Dec. 19, and while a spokesman said it had no plans of moving off that date, even a “Geronimo"  success could poison the well for another Bin Laden movie two months later. This isn’t two wildly different takes on Snow White, after all; it’s a dramatization of the same event.

Private grumbling will no doubt come from both sides about which version stands a better chance at the box office.

Weinstein executives and the film's producers will point out that they will have first-mover advantage. Sony will say that with Bigelow and fellow Oscar winner/screenwriter Mark Boal, they have the stronger pedigree. (Their movie, incidentally, stars Joel Edgerton and Mark Strong.)
 
Harvey Weinstein must also contend with his own very crowded calendar. With new movies from Quentin Tarantino, David O. Russell, Andrew Dominik and others,Weinstein already has perhaps the most high-profile fall slate since breaking away from Disney seven years ago.

And if the chess match wasn’t complicated enough, “Geronimo" comes from financier-producer Voltage Pictures, which previously worked with Bigelow and Boal on "The Hurt Locker. (We're guessing that didn't all end well--especially after campaigning from the Voltage chief got him banned from the Oscars.)

And finally, there's this: One of the reasons Weinstein's fall slate is so crowded is that it's populated by a couple of movies from big-game financier Megan Ellison, with whom he's gone into business. And what other picture did Ellison produce for the fall? Sony's Bin Laden movie.

State Department politics don't get this complicated.

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How should Hollywood react to the killing of Osama bin Laden?

--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Osama bin Laden. Credit: Rahimullah Yousafzai / Associated Press


Oscars 2012: Studio nominations by the numbers

January 24, 2012 | 12:07 pm

 

Click for photos of reactions from the top nominees


Sony Pictures emerged as the studio with the most Oscar nominations on Tuesday morning, tallying 21 in all. Eleven of those were attached to a pair of films associated with heavyweight producer Scott Rudin: six for the Brad Pitt vehicle "Moneyball," on which Rudin was a producer, and five for the David Fincher adaptation of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," on which Rudin was an executive producer.

Eight of Sony's nominations came from its Sony Pictures Classics label, home to the Woody Allen film "Midnight in Paris" (four nominations) and the Iranian film "A Separation" (two), among others.

Paramount followed Sony with 18 nominations, 11 of which were for "Hugo," which led all films. Three of Paramount's nominations came from an unlikely source, "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (sound editing, sound mixing and visual effects), and two were courtesy of DreamWorks Animation, with whom Paramount has a distribution deal set to expire this year.

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The Weinstein Co. nabbed 16 nominations, largely on the strength of the near-silent film "The Artist" and its 10 noms, as well as the biopics "The Iron Lady" and "My Week With Marilyn," which earned two apiece.

Disney received 13 nominations, though it has DreamWorks to thank for 11 of them, having distributed the DreamWorks pictures "The Help" (four nominations), "War Horse" (six) and "Real Steel" (one) under its Touchstone Pictures label. Disney's two other nominations were for animated short and original song.

Fox came away with 10 nominations in all (eight under its Fox Searchlight division), while Universal had seven (five from its Focus Features division), and Warner Bros. had five.

At the 2011 Oscars, two big-name producers, Harvey Weinstein and Scott Rudin, battled in the best-picture race, with Weinstein backing "The King's Speech" and Rudin behind "The Social Network" as well as "True Grit." This year, it's the same situation, with Weinstein pushing "The Artist" and Rudin  behind "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" (via Warner Bros.) and "Moneyball."

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Pals Clooney, Pitt are rivals; ‘Artist,’ ‘Hugo’ dominate

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: Actress Jennifer Lawrence and Tom Sherak, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, announce the nominees for best picture. Credit: Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images


Will Aaron Sorkin take on Steve Jobs?

October 24, 2011 |  4:44 pm

Jobste

EXCLUSIVE: Steve Jobs was front and center again Sunday night when "60 Minutes" aired its much-anticipated interview with his biographer, Walter Isaacson. It proably won't be the last time the Apple co-founder will dominate our screens.

Sony is moving forward with a Steve Jobs movie based on Isaacson's book. And one of the writers being courted by producers to pen his story, according to a person who was briefed on the project but not authorized to speak about it publicly, is Aaron Sorkin, Hollywood's chronicler-in-chief of the complicated visionary.

The "Moneyball" and "Social Network" writer was said by the person to be considering the prospect but had made no decisions. Sony and a Sorkin representative declined to comment on the writer's potential involvement.

Would the writer be a good fit for the story of the Apple leader, which is being produced by "Saving Private Ryan" producer Mark Gordon and the Hollywood management and producing mainstay Management 360?

Sorkin is known for penning stories about the lives of fiercely smart, if difficult, figures, of which Jobs certainly was one. Isaacson's take on the late executive as someone whose penchant for "magical thinking" was both a great advantage and a fatal liability seems particularly suited to a Sorkin script, as does the detail about Jobs' biological father, whom he met unwittingly at a Silicon Valley restaurant.

Of course, Sorkin could feel like he's already been done the Silicon Valley thing with "Social Network." And Sorkin did know Jobs, which could make things a bit sticky. In fact, it's rare for a biopic to cover someone who so recently died, which could create a challenge for any writer.

On the other hand, the tech pioneer had once asked Sorkin to write a Pixar movie. Sorkin declined, saying he couldn't "make inanimate objects talk." But writing a movie about the man behind Pixar might serve as a certain kind of tribute.

Whoever winds up penning it, there's clearly an appetite among the viewing public for Jobs' story, especially as told by Isaacson: Sunday night's edition of "60 Minutes" was up an impressive 47% in the coveted 18-49 demographic compared to the previous week.

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-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Images of Steve Jobs at an Apple store. Credit: Christian Palma/Associated Press


'Anonymous': Hollywood takes on the Shakespeare debate

October 5, 2011 | 12:53 pm

Rhysifansanonymous
Roland Emmerich is best known for ending the world with brio in movies such as “2012” and “The Day After Tomorrow.” With his newest film, “Anonymous,” the German director has taken on a more highbrow, if equally explosive, subject: the true authorship of Shakespeare’s works.

On Tuesday night in a ceremony at Sony Pictures, the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles presented Emmerich with its Crystal Quill award for his 10-year effort to make “Anonymous,” a movie due in theaters Oct. 28 that posits the theory that Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford  (played by Rhys Ifans),  actually wrote the plays and poems attributed to William Shakespeare.

“It’s a very gutsy thing to do,” Emmerich said in a speech of the group’s decision to award him the prize. “You will learn in the next few weeks. It will not go over that well.”

In Emmerich’s tale of Elizabethan intrigue, from a script by John Orloff, Shakespeare is a subliterate, narcissistic actor providing a front for a nobleman whose literary gifts are considered beneath his class. Vanessa Redgrave plays an admiring and politically vulnerable Queen Elizabeth and Rafe Spall is the puckish Shakespeare. Emmerich said he shot the film with an uncharacteristically thrifty $25 million, an all-British cast and some selectively chosen visual effects to convey the grime and glory of 16th century England.

The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles has already taken heat for acknowledging a movie that discredits its namesake Bard, according to its founding artistic director, Ben Donenberg. “I started getting hate mail,” Donenberg said when introducing the movie. “How dare we take this on? This film… will only propel the debate.”

The Shakespeare Center recognized another Hollywood mover and shaker Tuesday night -- attorney Bert Fields, who wrote the 2005 book “Players: The Mysterious Identity of William Shakespeare,” in the hours when he wasn’t handling deals for A-list clients such as Tom Cruise and James Cameron.

“The fact that we don’t know if the man from Stratford really wrote these works doesn’t detract from them,” Fields said of the authorship question. “It’s a marvelous mystery.”

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-- Rebecca Keegan

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Photo: Rhys Ifans as the Earl of Oxford in "Anonymous." Credit: Columbia TriStar Marketing Group Inc.


With re-release, can 'Ghostbusters' pull a 'Lion King'?

September 22, 2011 |  2:19 pm

  Photo: Bill Murray, left, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis in "Ghostbusters." Credit: Sony PicturesIt worked for lions, so why not for Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd too?

Sony announced Thursday that it was bringing back 1984's "Ghostbusters" for a weekly engagement in theaters in October, continuing the revival theme embodied by last week's re-release of the box office hit "The Lion King."

For three consecutive Thursdays beginning Oct. 13, director Ivan Reitman's action-comedy will play in about 500 theaters around the country, the studio said. The Los Angeles-area venues have not yet been announced.

Reitman's classic starred Murray, Aykroyd and Harold Ramis as a trio of paranormal specialists who remove ghosts from New York City buildings, and built to a climactic showdown with the larger-than-life (and larger-than-skyscrapers) Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. A sequel was released in 1989.

The Halloween-themed presentation is being touted as a chance for filmgoers to see an improved viewing experience. "This is a special celebration of the movie, giving the fans a chance to see it on the big screen in perfect digital presentation," said Sony Distribution President Rory Bruer, noting that the re-release will benefit from sound and projection technology that had not yet been created 27 years ago. 

With the move, Sony will try to replicate Disney's current success in dusting off "The Lion King." The 1994 musical hit has grossed nearly $40 million since being re-released last weekend. Most of those dollars, however, have come from new 3-D showings; "Ghostbusters" is not getting a 3-D conversion. 

Whether nostalgia and a slightly enhanced viewing experience will be enough to compel filmgoers to see "Ghostbusters" again remains to be seen. (Other classics have tried similar gambits over the years, including limited runs for "The Godfather" and an upcoming 3-D re-release of films in the "Star Wars" franchise.)

It's hard not to see another motive in the revival. As a third "Ghostbusters" film from the lead writers of TV's "The Office" remains in limbo (in part because of Murray's equivocation), a "Ghostbusters" re-release could prime the pump for a new film -- and, maybe, show the quirky star that it's worth coming back for it.

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-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Bill Murray, left, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis in "Ghostbusters." Credit: Sony Pictures


'Attack the Block' director on killing off kids, 'E.T.' and more

August 2, 2011 | 12:00 pm

Attack the Block John Boyega

While Jon Favreau's big-budget, star-studded "Cowboys & Aliens" earned less-than-rave reviews and what could be described as a shrug at the box office, a much smaller alien movie also released last weekend is quickly becoming a critical darling.

"Attack the Block," the story of a group of inner-city London kids who defend themselves against an outer-space menace, has an 89% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with 86 positive reviews out of 97. The film opened Friday in eight theaters, earning $130,000 total and a per-theater average of $16,306 -- a decent start for the modestly budgeted movie starring a slate of first-time and little-known actors.

Over on our sister blog Hero Complex, the film's young star John Boyega, who plays Moses, described his character's journey from hoodlum to hero as he leads a group of teens in their battle against the giant, furry space beasts. It was Boyega's first big-screen role.

"Attack the Block" also marked the directorial debut of Joe Cornish, who co-wrote Steven Spielberg's upcoming comic-book adaptation, "The Adventures of Tintin." 24 Frames sat down with Cornish to talk about "Attack the Block."

Q: It's hard to root for your protagonists at the beginning of the film. They're a bunch of punk kids who rob a lady at knifepoint.

A: There's no doubt that what they're doing at the beginning is a bad thing, and the film is making no apologies. And we knew we were doing something a little bit edgy and a little bit risky to start a movie like that. It's unusual. Most contemporary movies bend over backwards to make their protagonist as sympathetic as humanly possible -- you know, the underdog, the guy who's never quite made it, with the beautiful wife and the gorgeous children, and then they're kidnapped or murdered. But we flipped it around. We wanted to challenge the audience. When people asked me that question when we were developing the script, I would say, "Well, look. You're allowed to hate them." When the title of the movie comes up, "Attack the Block," and that second wave of meteors is coming down, you're allowed to go, "Good. Eat those [expletives]." You know what I mean? But the thing that drove me to write it was to take that energy and then try and turn it round. We're not being cheesy. It's not a huge, soppy, redemptive arc. It's (hopefully) subtle and truthful. ... At the end of the movie, Moses knows the consequences of his actions. He understands that he is in charge of his life. He understands that his choices will directly affect him and his hopes and his potential. So yeah, we've absolutely made it with heart and sincerity, and as a positive story.

Q: What do you think happens to Moses after the movie?

A: I think the rule of the law is pretty strict. I think he would be prosecuted for what he did at the beginning. When the full story came out, I think his positive actions would at least balance his negative actions. But I don't know. I like the ambiguity. I like the question mark. ... You have to bring your own intuition and bring your own morality. That's going to freak out some viewers who are used to everything being laid out for them. This is a movie for smart people, for open-minded people. I like the fact that we don't answer those questions.

Continue reading »

For 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,' Sony takes a page out of 'Black Swan'

June 8, 2011 |  2:52 pm

Tattoooo
Even with its tough-as-nails protagonist, David Fincher's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is a broad audience play: It's based on a book read by millions, contains an accessible mystery and sports an A-list star in Daniel Craig. So whatever gritty elements the "Se7en" director was putting into the film, you'd expect to get played down in a marketing campaign.

But studio Sony is choosing a different path. After a red-band trailer that went for the gore, a new poster goes one step further: It shows Rooney Mara, of course taking on the Lisbeth Salander character that Noomi Rapace made famous in the original, looking tough and baring a pierced nipple as Craig looms behind her. The image is risqué enough that we can't show it here, though here's a link (more sensitive readers, note the partial nudity).

It's hard not to see the poster as a reply to early questions about whether the actress, most recently on screen as a well-scrubbed Boston University coed in "The Social Network," was tough enough for the part. Who knows if the film is as hard-edged as the early marketing material suggests? But it's telling that Sony is doing this much to emphasize that angle.

It's an interesting strategy for a studio with a wide-release picture coming out over the holidays; a campaign like this may turn off more delicate filmgoers. But there's a logic too: This image gets the buzz going and appeases fans worried about losing the grit. There's time to soften things up later. Or, given how well "Black Swan" did last winter, not.

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-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT


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