24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Tweens

Cannes 2012: Redoing ‘Romeo & Juliet’ for the Twilight Generation

May 19, 2012 |  1:03 pm

Romeoand

CANNES, France -- A film version of "Romeo and Juliet" seems to pop up every generation. Are the Millennials ready for one to call their own?

The people behind a recently wrapped production of the classic love story believe they are. The simply titled “Romeo and Juliet” is a somewhat unexpected collaboration between high-end Austrian design house Swarovski (it financed and also brought some of its fashion savvy) and Julian Fellowes, the novelist and Oscar-winning screenwriter (he wrote the script).

Starring British teen Douglas Booth and “True Grit” It girl Hailee Steinfeld as the star-crossed pair, the film looks to capitalize on the timelessness of the love story and the youthful appeal of its stars. It is being directed by Carlo Carlei, an Italian director who shot the traditional costume period piece in Italy earlier this year.

The film is still being edited, with footage shown to buyers here at the Cannes Film Festival. The idea is to eventually land a U.S. deal and bring it out Stateside, possibly, though not necessarily, in 2013, according to producers. It’s one of several new spins on the classic play currently being attempted by Hollywood and independent financiers.

At a swishy beachside party Saturday night aimed at shining a light on the Steinfeld project, filmmakers gathered to toast their film and woo distributors such as Sony Pictures Classics, whose executives were in the room. Sparkly Swarovski bracelets were handed out and a designer-cocktail menu with concoctions like "The Capulet" and "The Montague" was served. 

But despite the setting and the source material, the filmmakers said they were aiming for youthful, populist entertainment.

“It’s a classic story that we want every teenager in the world to come see,” Ileen Maisel, one of the film’s producers, told 24 Frames, adding that even though the dialogue retained Shakespeare’s flavor, it was uttered in “understandable iambic pentameter."

Or as one of the film’s publicists put it: “This is ‘Romeo and Juliet’ for the Twilight Generation.”

Central to that effort is Steinfeld, a teen star since her breakout turn in “True Grit" in 2010. It was hard Saturday night to forget Steinfeld’s presence in the film, with a giant painted portrait of her dressed in full Juliet regalia adorning one end of the party's lounge space.

The tortured-love vibe of “Romeo And Juliet” is felt strongly in much of today's youth entertainment. But given that baby boomers had their version of the Shakespeare classic (Franco Zeffirelli’s in 1968) and Generation X had its version (1996’s quick-cut “Romeo + Juliet,” directed by Baz Luhrmann), it was only a matter of time before someone in the 21st century tried the actual thing. The Cullen-obsessed, these filmmakers hope, want some of their dramatic romance without vampires, too.

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Cannes 2012: Shia LaBeouf's 'Lawless,' parable for the drug war?

--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth in "Romeo and Juliet." Credit: Swarovski 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 »

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.

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-- 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


'Harry Potter' star Tom Felton sees a connection between his franchise and 'Hunger Games' [Video]

June 6, 2011 |  1:14 pm

In a little more than a month, the eighth and final installment in the "Harry Potter" film series will hit theaters. Tweens seeking a new obession of course shouldn't be too distraught -- there are still two films left in the "Twilight" franchise, and Lionsgate is already in production on the first film based on "The Hunger Games" trilogy.

Tom Felton, who has starred as the evil Draco Malfoy in the "Harry Potter" franchise, told 24 Frames that he believes the boy wizard has a lot to do with the onslaught of genre-tinged tween cinema. "I think ['Harry Potter'] certainly helped" pave the way for movies such as "Hunger Games," Felton said at the MTV Movie Awards on Sunday, where he was on hand to present new footage from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2."

"I think one of the great things about what ["Harry Potter" book author] Jo Rowling has done is she's made literacy and reading kind of cool again. And that allows the way for lots of these other franchises to kind of come through," he said.

Even though production wrapped long ago on the final film in the Potter franchise, Felton said he still doesn't feel like the experience is over. "It really hasn't ended at all. Everyone keeps saying, 'What's it like, now that it's finished?' And to me, it really hasn't," he said. "Because we've got another month of touring starting next week, I think."

"Obviously, yeah, it's going to be very sad when it's over. I'll probably cry in copious amounts when it's all finished," he said.

Meanwhile, Felton is working out his post-"Potter" career. His first major role outside of the franchise will come in this summer's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." Asked if he felt pressure about choosing roles as an adult actor, Felton shrugged.

"Some people think there is [pressure], yeah," said the actor, who was convinced to be a part of "Apes" after meeting with director Rupert Wyatt. "But we're just keeping our ears open and eyes to the ground and seeing what happens, really."

Also unclear is where he'll put that lovely gold popcorn statuette he took home Sunday night at the MTV Movie Awards for playing the villainous Malfoy. "The other one [I won] is still boxed up because I don't have a good place to put it yet. I'm saving it. I don't want to put it on the downstairs toilet."

-- Amy Kaufman

Twitter.com/AmyKinLA

 


With the Denali castings, a 'Twilight' coven comes together

September 30, 2010 |  7:24 pm

  Buring
Twihards have been waiting with bated breath for news on casting of the Denali vampire coven, the longstanding allies of the franchise's Cullen family.

Today, Summit Entertainment confirmed much of the Denali cast for Bill Condon's two "Breaking Dawn" films, which are slated for release in November 2011 and 2012. The company revealed that Christian Camargo has come aboard as Eleazar, Casey LaBow has joined as Kate, Mia Maestro will play Carmen and MyAnna Buring (who came to prominence with a movie called "Lesbian Vampire Killers" -- you can't make this stuff up) will star as Tanya. (Maggie Grace had already been announced as Irina.)  The role of Garrett has not been cast at this time.

Tanya, who once expressed an interest in Edward Cullen, is the leader of the clan. Like the Cullens, with whom they have a longstanding relationship, the Denalis drink only animal blood.  The previous film, "Eclipse,” did see tensions between the Cullens and the Denalis, however, and the new book and films will continue their saga, with the Denalis now taking on a more prominent role.

Camargo, at 39, is probably one of the more veteran actors of the group, with "The Hurt Locker," "K-19: The Widowmaker" and "Dexter” among his credits. It remains to be seen whether these actors get the long-term boost that some believe a “Twilight” casting can provide, but today's announcement at least shines a brief spotlight on a group of workaday actors.

The announcement no doubt broke the hearts of many lesser-known actors, and average teenagers, hoping for a shot in the franchise. But fear not -- when it comes to "Twilight," there's always a bit part somewhere waiting to be filled.

--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: MyAnna Buring in 'Lesbian Vampire Killers.' Credit: Celador Films.


Can 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse' bring new fans into the fold?

June 30, 2010 | 10:53 pm

Eclip 

Two rules are axiomatic in the slippery business of Hollywood franchises:

A) The second movie in a franchise usually grosses more than the first, even when that second film is clearly inferior (see under: "The Matrix Reloaded").

B) The third movie then dips down again (see under: "Spider Man 3," "Pirates of the Caribbean 3" and many others).

The idea is that a movie gains fans as it moves between the first and second installments, as people who missed it in theaters hear about it, rent it and grow their enthusiasm. But if someone hasn't discovered it by No 2., they probably aren't going to find it by the time a third movie comes around -- while, at the same time, some of the diehards naturally get distracted and lose interest between the second and third films. Think of a bell curve, with the second movie sitting at the top.

But as with many other things this summer (like quality), Rule A has been turned on its head. "Iron Man 2"  and "Sex and the City 2" will actually wind up earning less than their original installments (in the case of "Sex and the City," much less). People got tired of these properties a lot sooner than they usually do, and they certainly weren't willing to put up with a lesser movie, even for a familiar brand.

In light of the first axiom being upended, it's fair to ask if "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" can disprove the second axiom: Namely, can its third installment actually earn more than the second? The magic number to hit in the United States is $297 million -- a high bar, but one that's not impossible. It's already off to a strong start. As my colleague Ben Fritz writes, midnight showings of the Kristen Stewart-Rob Pattinson film on Wednesday topped $30 million, and the film will pick up steam as it heads into the weekend. The $297 million number is within reach.

One factor in favor of the movie pulling it off? Only seven months have passed since the last movie. That's not a lot of time for people to get tired or see their attention drift. So there won't be much audience bleeding.

But will there be an infusion of new fans? In talking about the prospects for "Eclipse," some will point to the fact that David Slade's take on the vampires and werewolves is (slightly) better than Chris Weitz's "New Moon." That may be so, but it doesn't necessarily mean more fans -- it's hard to imagine someone who likes the Stephenie Meyer novels sitting out "New Moon" because the buzz is bad but coming back for "Eclipse." With this kind of franchise, once you're in, you're in. You don't drift out for one film and then come back.

Even without a burst of new people though, this movie could still end up earning more than "New Moon," for a simple reason: repeat viewing. That factor has always been key to the success of "Twilight" and tween franchises in general. And with perhaps a (slightly) better movie this time around -- and the fact that, with this one, teenagers are off from school and have more time on their hands -- there may be an uptick in the number of people who go again.

It may well be impossible for more people on God's green earth to love this franchise. But it may turn out that it's somehow possible for the same people to love it even more.

-- Steven Zeitchik
http://twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Rob Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner in "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse." Credit: Summit

RECENT AND RELATED:

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Can Miley Cyrus make ‘Last Song’ her opening number?

April 5, 2010 |  3:02 pm

With “The Last Song” performing respectably at the box office this weekend, earning $25.6 million over five days, it’s fair to wonder whether Miley Cyrus isn't entirely delusional in thinking a serious, or at least a commercial, acting career lies ahead of her.

Cyr The tween pin-up has said repeatedly that over the coming years she wants to eschew singing in favor of acting. ("I'm really good at comedy," she recently told my colleague Amy Kaufman.) Producers, their hearts a-twitter at the fan following Cyrus comes with (if not exactly her Angela Lansbury-esque acting skills) have done their part; in recent months, they’ve attached Cyrus to projects ranging from an action-comedy called “Family Bond” to a remake of the Sarah Jessica Parker '80s dance movie “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”

“Miley is coming of age as an actress, and you’re seeing her fans follow her even when she’s doing something that has nothing to do with 'Hanna Montana,' ” Disney executive Chuck Viane told us ahead of "The Last Song's” opening.

Of course, if you're trying to make this kind of transition, talent helps too. Like that of other emerging tween stars, Cyrus’ acting isn’t without promise, but it’s not without shortcomings either. In “The Last Song,” she’s perfectly fine playing to type as a pouty, lovelorn teenager, but runs into trouble when she’s trying something more  substantial.

Cyrus may also want to keep in mind that the path has been rocky for the many Disney Channel stars who’ve tried to walk it before. Zac Efron (and before him, in a slightly different way, Shia LaBeouf) parlayed their exposure and fan base into a significant film career. But most of the others to come from the network’s crop of shows and movies this past decade have thus far failed -- personalities like Vanessa Hudgens, Hilary Duff and Ashley Tisdale (whose careers have given us the combined cinematic output of “Bandslam,” “Material Girls” and “Aliens in the Attic”).

There’s an issue for Disney Channel stars trying to make the jump to movies, even frilly ones. The network's shows give their actors plenty of exposure, but they don’t exactly showcase their best acting. Even good acting gets lost there.

So it’s almost impossible for anyone casting these movies to know what an actor can or can’t do.  And it may be unreasonable for the rest of us to expect that because someone is a star there they’ll be a star anywhere else.

With this weekend's box office performance, Cyrus will get at least one or two more cracks at big film roles; look for at least one of the 17-year-old's development projects to gain some new elements and momentum. But it's a long road from life as a stadium pop star to life as a film celebrity. Cyrus could well wind up being good at comedy. Let's just hope it's not the unintentional kind.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Miley Cyrus at "The Last Song" premiere. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press


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