24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Ben Fritz

Dick Clark's brief film career: 'Spy Kids,' 'Killers Three' psycho

April 18, 2012 |  6:00 pm

Dick Clark, who died Wednesday at 82, is best known for his starring roles on the small screen from "American Bandstand" through to "New Year's Rockin' Eve," but he did make a handful of appearances on the big screen early in his 60-year career.

Most were dramatic turns, showing Clark's effort to avoid being pigeonholed in the teen music genre. His first film role came in the 1960 youth drama “Because They're Young,” directed by Paul Wendkos, about a young high school teacher who tries to help the troubled students at the school. In 1961, he starred as one of the titular "Young Doctors," alongside Fredric March and Ben Gazzara, in a story about romance and lifesaving decisions at a hospital.

Perhaps his most unusual role came in the low-budget 1968 crime drama "Killers Three," in which Clark played a backwoods psycho killer. He also served as a producer and writer on the film.

PHOTOS: Stars react to the death of Dick Clark

Clark had only one more movie role, which came decades later in 2001's family movie "Spy Kids," in which he played a nameless "financier."


PHOTOS: Dick Clark | 1929-2012

Dick Clark: Chaperone to generations of music-loving teens

Dick Clark: From 'American Bandstand' to 'New Year's Rockin' Eve' [video]

— Ben Fritz and Susan King

Word of Mouth: Eddie Murphy's not laughing on way to bank [video]

March 8, 2012 | 11:18 am

Eddie Murphy

Not that long ago, an Eddie Murphy was a box-office slam-dunk.

And then came "Meet Dave."

And "Imagine That."

DreamWorks' "A Thousand Words," which stars Murphy as a fast-talking book agent, is finally being released nearly four years after it was filmed. Paramount, which releases DreamWorks movies made at the studio before Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider's company moved to Disney, isn't expecting "A Thousand Words" to break any records.

Paramount initially hoped that "A Thousand Words" would benefit from Murphy's work in the ensemble caper comedy "A Tower Heist" and his hosting this year's Oscars. But "Tower Heist" fizzled fast, and Murphy quit as the Oscar MC when Brett Ratner (who directed "Tower Heist") was forced to resign as the Academy Awards' producer.

This week's Word of Mouth column looks at the film's troubled history, with this video preview:



'A Thousand Words': Can Eddie Murphy regain his voice?

Eddie Murphy Oscar kerfuffle won't affect 'Words'

Eddie Murphy out as host of the Oscars

Photo: Eddie Murphy. Credit: Chris Pizzello/Associated Press

Would you help 'The Vow's' Channing Tatum pick his next film?

February 15, 2012 |  1:20 pm

Channing Tatum knows firsthand the power of social media — he has more than 800,000 followers on Twitter and made Facebook videos to promote his recent hit "The Vow."

But in an interview about how those platforms helped make his latest film a hit (for more on that topic, see this story in Wednesday's Times), Tatum said he has bigger ambitions in the world of likes and retweets: He wants fans to help him pick his movies.

"I really, really hope I can be like, 'Guys, what do you want me to do? Option A or Option B?'" he said. "And people can vote and then I can go do that. Then I can get notes on what we did right and wrong."

PHOTOS: 'The Vow' premiere

The actor, whose next starring role comes in March with "21 Jump Street," sees the approach as part of a larger evolution for the digital world beyond a platform for marketing and audience research.

"Studios — rightfully so because that's the system — try to manipulate [people] into wanting something they might not want," he said. "I don't think that's the right way to go about it. I want to straight up ask them: Should I make a comedy? An action movie? A love story?"

But as much as he values how social media fosters a  conversation with fans, Tatum acknowledged that more operational details elude him. The actor said he "is not a computer person" and, like many other stars, pays someone to manage his Twitter and Facebook accounts.


Review: 'The Vow' leaves you wanting more

'The Vow' a hit after marketers say 'I do' to Twitter, Facebook

'The Vow' sets Valentine's Day record with $11.6 million box office

— Ben Fritz

Will Hollywood Republicans rally for Mitt Romney?

December 6, 2011 |  5:55 pm

The volatile Republican presidential race has kept candidates and pollsters busy in recent months, but in Hollywood, the GOP politicking has kept to a whisper level.

That may change Tuesday night, when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney holds his first Hollywood fundraiser at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

“I do think most [Hollywood Republicans] are for Romney, but they haven’t publicly come out and endorsed him," said Harry Sloan, the former Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer chief turned investor who is an organizer of tonight's event. "There hasn’t been much courting of Hollywood."

By this point in the 2008 presidential election, the small group of Republicans in Hollywood had begun to rally around their candidates. That isn't happening this year, said Sloan.

"There isn’t near as much going on at this point in time as I thought there would be, or as there was in the past," Sloan said. "[In 2008], there were Giuliani supporters at this time, there were Romney supporters at this time, there were certainly McCain supporters at this time. There were three decent groups at that point. Now you’ve got the Mitt supporters and you’ve got the people who know ultimately they’re gonna be Mitt supporters.”

Tickets for tonight's Romney fundraiser are $2,500. Lionsgate Vice Chairman Michael Burns said that though he won't be able to attend the event, he is backing Romney. 

"I've swung to him," Burns said of the former Massachusetts governor. "I've been watching the debates and I feel he's the best chance Republicans have."

Though he's currently rising in the polls, Newt Gingrich has yet to hold a major fundraiser in Los Angeles. Herman Cain and Rick Perry--other Republicans candidates who enjoyed a temporary surge in polls--also failed to gain much traction here.

“Hollywood Republicans don’t tend to be as focused on religious and social conservative issues," Sloan said. "That’s good for Romney, because Romney’s message is economic.”

--Rebecca Keegan and Ben Fritz



Photo: Mitt Romney signs autographs and talks with supporters at the Hermosa Inn in Paradise Valley, Ariz., on Dec. 6. Credit: Laura Segall / Reuters

'Fast and Furious' 6 and 7 may speed into production together

October 21, 2011 | 11:09 am

EXCLUSIVE: Eager to move ahead with new installments of what's currently the studio's hottest series, Universal Pictures is considering shooting its sixth and seventh "Fast and Furious" movies back-to-back with a single story connecting the two films.

Screenwriter Chris Morgan, who wrote the last three films, is busy working on story ideas while director Justin Lin, who also worked on the last three "Fast" movies, is expected to return behind the cameras for both films, according to people familiar with the studio’s plans but not authorized to discuss them publicly.

Universal already has penciled in a May 24, 2013, release for “Fast and the Furious 6,” but the consecutive shooting schedule may result in a later launch, as Lin would be shooting the seventh film before he could edit the sixth. By making the two movies together, the seventh film could be in theaters sooner than the typical two-year gap between the Vin Diesel movies.

The idea of shooting multiple films has been tried (and has succeeded) before. Recent examples include “Back to the Future,” whose first and second  sequels were filmed consecutively, as were the second and third “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.  Peter Jackson shot all three “Lord of the Rings” films in one epic swoop, a pattern he is following with his two “Hobbit” films, due Dec. 14, 2012, and Dec. 13, 2013.

Paramount Pictures is also considering shooting the fourth and fifth "Transformer" movies together, according to a report in Variety.

Such combined production schedules can significantly reduce the combined cost of the two films and also minimize scheduling and staffing issues, as the lead cast and filmmakers essentially work on one longer production rather than coordinating their calendars to reassemble two separate times.

Universal's potential "Fast and the Furious" strategy would represent a risk for the studio, as it already would have invested hundreds of millions to make a seventh movie before knowing if the sixth was a hit.

The "Fast and Furious" franchise, which began in 2001, almost died with 2006's modest performer "Fast and the Furious 3" before revving back with 2009's fourth installment and this year's hit "Fast Five," which grossed $624 million worldwide.

A Universal spokeswoman declined to comment.


When can we expect the sixth film in the 'Fast and Furious' franchise?

Why 'Fast Five' isn't 3-D

-- John Horn and Ben Fritz

Photo: Elsa Pataky and Vin Diesel in "Fast Five." Credit: Universal Pictures

Legendary East's first film project: scaling China's 'Great Wall'

August 23, 2011 |  5:53 pm

Legendary Pictures is kicking off its new China venture with a movie about the country's best-known structure. The newly formed Legendary East announced Tuesday that its first production will be "The Great Wall," which will tell "why this magnificent structure came to be," according to the company.

"Last Samurai" and "Love and Other Drugs" writer-director Edward Zwick is penning the screenplay with his longtime collaborator Marshall Herskovitz. It's based on a story by Max Brooks, writer of the upcoming thriller "World War Z," and Thomas Tull, Legendary Pictures' chairman.

Legendary East aims to produce English-language movies in China based on local culture that are intended to be released around the world. Because it works with a local distributor, Huayi Brothers, its films are not subject to the communist country's restrictions on how many foreign movies can be imported each year.

"The Great Wall" will be directed by Zwick, but does not yet have a release date.


Legendary East to go public with initial value of $441 million

Legendary Pictures to produce movies in China through joint venture

Relativity Media opens a door into China

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Marshall Herskovitz, left, and Edward Zwick at an AFI event in June. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI

Stallone: I'm contemplating an 'Expendables' sequel

August 10, 2010 |  5:10 pm

Expendables With pre-release surveys for "The Expendables" indicating huge levels of excitement among male filmgoers, director Sylvester Stallone says he's ready to roll on a sequel if investors are willing.

"If this does perform, I think it will open a little more liquidity in funding the sequel," he said. "I have an idea ready to go. People think doing a sequel is easy, but it's not because you need the element of surprise. I'm going to try to do something that's quite radical."

Stallone offered few specifics on what that radical idea might be, but the hyphenate isn't shy about what "Expendables," which is poised to open north of $30 million this weekend, means for his career. In an interview for a story that ran in today's Times, Stallone said he first pitched the movie, which he also co-wrote, at the American Film Market more than two years ago. AFM, held in Santa Monica each November, is traditionally a bazaar of sorts for movies starring actors a little past their prime domestically but well known overseas. But Stallone, who still has plenty of cachet internationally, initially couldn't find investors for "The Expendables."

It was only later in 2008 that independent financier Avi Lerner stepped up to cover the movie's $82-million budget, most through foreign presales. In addition, Lionsgate paid nearly $20 million for rights to distribute the movie -- which co-stars action names such as Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Jason Statham and Jet Li (and features cameos from classic action heroes Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger) -- in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain.

Of course, big expectations don't always result in big results at the box office, as Lionsgate learned the hard way with "Kick-Ass." But Stallone, who admits he's as nervous as he has ever been before a movie opened, said his fears are eased a bit when he remembers that he broke his neck doing stunts on the set of "The Expendables."

"It's a good omen," he explained. "I didn't get a hangnail on the set of 'Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.' "

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren and Sylvester Stallone in "The Expendables." Credit: Karen Ballard / Lionsgate


'Expendables' could be a hit for Lions Gate

'Expendables' remedies world's testosterone shortage

Are men or women more obsessive about movies?

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Sony will open the cage doors on 'Zookeeper' nine months later

April 27, 2010 |  4:59 pm

The 2011 spring and summer movie-going period is already looking bigger, badder and more spectacle-driven than previous springs and summers, which is saying something. Films such as the Marvel action movie "Thor," the next "Pirates of the Caribbean," "The Hangover" sequel and the fourth "Mission: Impossible" are already tentatively scheduled for release -- and that's just in May.

James Now Sony is dropping another star-driven title into the mix. It will move the Kevin James- Adam Sandler comedy "The Zookeeper" out of its Oct. 8 date and to July 8.

The film features live-action animals voiced by a group of stars (Sandler, Jon Favreau and Sylvester Stallone, to name several) as they help the titular zookeeper (James) land the woman of his dreams. Sony several weeks ago took over distribution duties from co-financier MGM, as the latter faces a lack of capital and a cloudy fate. And after testing the film last week, Sony has now decided that a summer release date accommodated its larger ambitions.

The movie's new date does come in a very crowded corridor, a week after “Transformers 3” and four days before the second part of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” is released. Sony is clearly hoping its comedy will stand out amid the two big-budget event films. “It plays like a big, big summer movie and this move is all about the opportunity,” said Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures' distribution president.

What this means for another Sony project remains an open question. The studio had quietly spread the word in the development community for the last few weeks that it had a slot open for a summer tentpole and was considering moving forward on "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune," the adaptation of a popular video game, for a summer 2011 release. We'll see if "Zookeeper" fills its need or if it still wants another creature to feed.

--Ben Fritz and Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Adam Sandler and Kevin James. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by the Los Angeles Times. The Times Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.


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