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Category: CinemaCon

Josh Hutcherson: 'The Hunger Games' hasn't changed my life [Video]

May 1, 2012 |  6:00 am

Josh Hutcherson stars in The Hunger Games
Before he signed on to "The Hunger Games," everyone warned Josh Hutcherson that taking part in the massively popular franchise would change his life.

Over a month after the film's release, the adaptation of Suzanne Collins' novel has racked up a phenomenal $600 million in ticket sales worldwide. But Hutcherson, 19, says the success of the movie hasn't affected his personal life.

"Everyone was telling me that my whole world was going to change and I couldn't go anywhere or it'd be too crazy," the actor said in Las Vegas last week, where he was named the Breakthrough Performer of the Year by theater owners at CinemaCon.

The paparazzi barely follow him, Hutcherson said — and even when they do, he tries not to alter his behavior.

"I think sometimes when people get in the spotlight, they feel like they have to act and behave a certain way to live up to what people expect of them," he said. "For me, I'm just going to be myself and live my life the way I'm going to. I'm not going to let paparazzi determine the way I live."

Meanwhile, Hutcherson is readying himself to shoot "Catching Fire," the second installment in the series, starting this August. Despite the fact that the start date is rapidly approaching, the actor says he has yet to speak with Francis Lawrence, who is taking over directing duties from Gary Ross.

"I have heard from literally everyone that he's the nicest man alive, so I'm really excited to work with him," Hutcherson said, adding that he's a big fan of Lawrence's "I Am Legend" but has yet to watch the filmmaker's most recent movie, "Water for Elephants."

"I still have to do some of the homework," he said with a smile.


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— Amy Kaufman


Photo: Josh Hutcherson stars in "The Hunger Games." Credit: Lionsgate.

Anna Faris knows 'Dictator' star only as 'Supreme Leader'

May 1, 2012 |  6:00 am

Anna Faris is named Comedy Star of the Year at CinemaCon
Sacha Baron Cohen made headlines when he surprised theater owners at CinemaCon in Las Vegas last week, storming into Caesar's Palace dressed as Gen. Adm. Aladeen and ragging on Hollywood executives and studios.

Anna Faris, the actor's costar in "The Dictator" — about the ruler of the fictional Republic of Wadiya — said she was just as taken aback as the crowd by his antics. Cohen didn't inform her about the publicity stunt in Las Vegas — nor the one he pulled with Ryan Seacrest at the Academy Awards earlier this year — because Faris says she barely talks to the actor out of character.

"In fact, when my husband [Chris Pratt] and I went to the Oscars, I saw [Sacha] ahead of me and I was like, 'Honey, we just have to avoid him.' I just knew that he was going to be up to something," the actress recalled last week at CinemaCon, where she was named comedy star of the year.

Working on set with Cohen, Faris said, was often bizarre because the actor would only be addressed as "Supreme Leader."

"You definitely know when he's on set. It's like, 'Oh, OK, he's here now,'" she said. "He's incredibly kind, but he was in character most of the time. ... It is really weird."

In the film, Faris plays the owner of a Brooklyn co-op who helps guide the general when he is stranded in New York City. It was an unglamorous role for the actress, who grew out her armpit hair and donned a short, brown wig for the part.

"It was a fun, liberating look — it has an androgynous feel," she explained. "She just doesn't really have any concern for wardrobe or fashion. I loved it. For an actress, it was like, 'Oh, OK, so I can have the doughnuts at craft service.' "


Sacha Baron Cohen targets Ryan Seacrest

CinemaCon: 'The Dictator' rips Jeffrey Katzenberg, Rich Ross

Sacha Baron Cohen follows Oscars stunt with new Paramount deal

— Amy Kaufman


Photo: Anna Faris is named comedy star of the year at CinemaCon 2012. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press.

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

April 26, 2012 |  9:01 pm

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.


CinemaCon: James Franco, Mila Kunis talk 'Oz' [video]

CinemaCon: Ang Lee's 3-D 'Life of Pi' inspires early Oscar talk

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

-- Amy Kaufman


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

CinemaCon: Ang Lee's 3-D 'Life of Pi' inspires early Oscar talk

April 26, 2012 |  3:08 pm

"Life of Pi"

LAS VEGAS -- 20th Century Fox showed off footage from a handful of splashy summer blockbusters, including Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" and "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," at CinemaCon, the theater owners' convention now underway. But studio co-chairmen Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos made it clear that they're hopeful their biggest movie this year will be December's "Life of Pi," Ang Lee's 3-D adaptation of Yann Martel's best-selling novel.

"Ang wants to raise the bar," Rothman said. "The medium skips forward again [with 'Life of Pi'], and you will believe the unbelievable."

Indeed, the footage shown from the film seemed to inspire a resounding positive reaction from the crowd. In it, 17-year-old protagonist Pi finds himself on a cargo ship with his family and a slew of zoo animals when a storm begins to rage in the middle of the night. The young man rushes to the ship's deck to witness the intense weather first-hand when he ends up being thrown overboard and into a lifeboat with a zebra and a Bengal tiger. The 3-D technology was especially impressive in the underwater scenes, where Pi floated lifelessly for nearly a minute, and in moments when waves of bubbling water and animals came rushing toward him.

Despite the encouraging response from the crowd -- many of whom were even brought to tears and seemed quick to proclaim the movie a possible Oscar contender -- Lee immediately walked on stage and told the audience: "It's unfinished! When you see the movie, it will be a lot more moving."

In an interview after the screening, the "Brokeback Mountain" filmmaker said being compared to directors like James Cameron and George Lucas -- two directors who appeared along with Lee in a promo reel screened at the event -- made him uncomfortable.

"To be honest with you, I like to be modest," the 57-year-old said. "I would like people to get surprised about my work, instead of it being over-hyped. That's what I'd be more comfortable with. But it's a big picture. I have to go with the flow."

Lee said it was the performance of young Indian actor Suraj Sharma, chosen from more than 3,000 hopefuls, that ultimately inspired him to move forward with the technically challenging production -- even though Sharma couldn't swim when he was first cast.

"I met him, I tested him, and he held his breath for 20 seconds. So I got him a swimming coach, work-out coach -- every coach," the filmmaker said with a laugh. "He gives an emotional performance in a movie that has the look of a family film, but it's also a movie about big ideas. I hope people will spend weeks talking about it -- that's my idea of a family film."


CinemaCon: James Franco, Mila Kunis talk 'Oz' [video]

Ang Lee says his 3-D learning curve on 'Life of Pi' was huge

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

--Amy Kaufman


Photo: "Life of Pi" Credit: Rhythm and Hues / 20th Century Fox

Ang Lee says his 3-D learning curve on 'Life of Pi' was huge

April 25, 2012 |  7:09 pm

“Life of Pi’s” Pi (played by Suraj Sharma) and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker

LAS VEGAS -- Ang Lee didn't make the decision to film "Life of Pi" in 3-D lightly. For months, he agonized over whether the technology would enhance the story or come across as a gimmick. In the end, it was the number pi that inspired him to make the leap.

Making an expensive 3-D film based on an intellectual, philosophical book required Lee to take "a leap of faith to see the circle that the pi indicates," the filmmaker said at CinemaCon, the theater owners' convention now underway in Las Vegas. On Wednesday, the Oscar-winning director joined Martin Scorsese in conversation, speaking candidly about the future of 3-D and its importance in the industry.

Despite his belief in the format, Lee was open about his struggle to adapt to the technology. While filming "Life of Pi," he said, the 3-D cameras were cumbersome, and he compared working with them to "operating a refrigerator." While directing 17-year-old actor Suraj Sharma, Lee thought he was giving appropriate instructions until he watched the footage in 3-D. "I'd have to go back to him and bring his performance down because it just enhanced it so much more. It's like a new film language," Lee said, describing his learning curve as "humongous."

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CinemaCon: James Franco, Mila Kunis talk 'Oz' [video]

April 25, 2012 | 12:20 pm

When word first emerged that Walt Disney Studios was planning a new spin on "The Wizard of Oz," generations of the original movie's fans were outraged.

James Franco, who stars as the Wizard in next year's Sam Raimi-directed "Oz: The Great and Powerful," says he understood the reaction over toying with such a classic film.

"I certainly had some of those fears myself before signing on," admitted Franco, who was in Las Vegas this week to help sell the film to theater owners at CinemaCon. "But I felt really good about it when I learned that it would have a mix. With a movie like this, you wanted to be both loyal to people's idea of Oz, but also give something fresh."

Indeed, the film doesn't tell the traditional tale of "Oz." Instead, it centers around the Wizard's path in the magical land, following him from a young age as he encounters various characters including a trio of witches played by Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis.

"He is a comedic character," Franco, 34, said of the Wizard. "There are a lot of sides to Oz, but one of the main aspects of Oz is his comedy and his sense of humor. I think that allows a movie to get away with a lot."

Kunis, who was also on hand at Caesar's Palace, acknowledged she was more nervous to partake in this movie than any that came before.

"You create a character from scratch, and it's your little being," she said. "But when there's an anticipation for what the character ultimately turns out to be, you don't want to mimic that or copy that, because you'll never be able to replicate it."

The film, due out next March, was produced by former Disney studio head Joe Roth. On stage in front of the exhibitors, Roth joked that he got involved with the project because he "wanted to make as many March billion dollar movies for Disney" as he could -- a reference to "Alice in Wonderland" and the upcoming "Maleficent."

"We built eight gigantic stages and had 2,000 special effects shots in 3-D," Roth said, describing the film's scope. "But this is more Disney than any movie I can ever remember."


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Michelle Williams: I'm reinventing my 'Wizard of Oz' character

--Amy Kaufman in Las Vegas


Photo: James Franco and Mila Kunis talk about "Oz: The Great and Powerful" at CinemaCon. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press


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

April 25, 2012 | 11:40 am

"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"  director Timur Bekmambetov, CinemaCon's International Filmmaker of the Year, talks about his new film and the globalization of Hollywood
Over the last decade, Russia has become one of the leading international film markets. Just look at "Titanic 3-D": In 1998, the original film played in only 32 theaters in the country, compared with roughly 1,000 showing the new version of the movie this year. 

But as a result of such globalization, Kazakhstan-born director Timur Bekmambetov said he fears American movies "are losing their voice."

"The American film industry isn't American anymore -- it's global," said the "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" director, who was in Las Vegas this week to accept CinemaCon's International Filmmaker of the Year award. "Nobody makes movies for American audiences anymore. To be understandable everywhere, you have to deal with basic ideas -- very relatable for everybody."

He's even unsure about how his upcoming 3-D horror film, which presents the 16th president of the United States as -- well, a vampire hunter -- will play with moviegoers in some parts of the country.

"I don't know how people in Lousiana or Alabama will accept the idea that Confederates were supported by vampires," he said with a chuckle.

Despite its American themes, Bekmambetov said he thinks that "Vampire Hunter" has the potential to play well overseas, describing it as a superhero movie at its core -- a genre to which international audiences tend to gravitate. 

The filmmaker said that in Russia, at least, he has witnessed the significant impact Hollywood films have had on local audiences.

"Hollywood films destroyed the Soviet Union in the '80s," he said. "The whole revolution -- perestroika -- happened because of American movies, I feel. When the first VHS players appeared, everyone had one in their house and could copy and distribute movies. People thought, 'Oh my God, there is a great life somewhere else.'"


CinemaCon: Footage of "The Hobbit" draws mixed reaction

CinemaCon: "The Dictator" rips Jeffrey Katzenberg, Rich Ross

CinemaCon: Chris Pine, talking "Guardians," nods to J.J. Abrams

-- Amy Kaufman in Las Vegas

Photo: Benjamin Walker and director Timur Bekmambetov on the set of "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter." Credit: Stephen Vaughan 

CinemaCon: Tom Cruise bares 'fantastic' backside in 'Rock of Ages'

April 25, 2012 | 11:13 am

With "Rock of Ages," Tom Cruise is aiming to show audiences a different side of himself. Literally.

In the first scene of the upcoming musical, the actor will reveal his backside, says director Adam Shankman. Cruise's buttocks have made on-screen appearances before, in "Far and Away," "Jerry Maguire" and "Eyes Wide Shut." But at 49, he's still not ashamed of showing off a little skin, said Shankman.

"We were filming a scene and I told him, ''You do know when I come around, I'm gonna see your [butt]?'" the filmmaker recalled this week in Las Vegas, where he was on hand at the CinemaCon theater owners convention to promote the June release. "And he's like, 'Is there any way to shoot around it?' And I said, 'No.' And he said, 'How is it?' And I said, 'It's fantastic.' And he said, 'OK, well then let's shoot it.'"

In "Rock of Ages," an Cruise plays Stacie Jaxx, an aging, out-of-control rocker whom Shankman describes as a mix of Axl Rose, Bret Michaels and Keith Richards. To prepare for the role, Cruise had lunch with Jon Bon Jovi, though the director says the actor wasn't able to garner much about bad-boy behavior from the "humble, down-to-earthy" singer of "Dead or Alive."

"It wasn't so much that there was a rock star I wanted him to emulate," said Shankman. "It was the fact that these guys lived in a world where no one said no to them, during a period where they were not conscious of things like AIDS. They were literally children run amok."

Shankman admitted he was initially hesitant to direct a jukebox musical, which is based on a popular 2006 Broadway musical. But after the filmmaker attended a performance of the show in New York City and saw how "every straight guy in the house knew the words to every song," he changed his tune.

He'd discussed working on a musical with Cruise before, and after the actor expressed how much he loved Shankman's 2007 take on "Hairspray" -- saying it was his daughter Suri's favorite movie -- the two decided to team up for "Rock of Ages." 

"I think it's a risk that we're both really excited about how it turned out," said Shankman. "When this opportunity came up, I thought, 'If he can pull this off, people will go crazy.' It's a real performance. It's an incredible show of talents no one ever thought he had."


CinemaCon: Footage of 'The Hobbit' draws mixed reaction

CinemaCon: 'The Dictator' rips Jeffrey Katzenberg, Rich Ross

CinemaCon: Chris Pine, talking 'Guardians,' nods to J.J. Abrams

--Amy Kaufman in Las Vegas


Photo: Tom Cruise stars in "Rock of Ages." Credit: Warner Bros.

CinemaCon: Jay Roach's 'The Campaign' skewers American politics

April 25, 2012 | 10:30 am


Last year, George Clooney presented his rather cynical perspective on the state of American politics with the drama "The Ides of March." This year, director Jay Roach will offer up a film that arguably has an equally jaded viewpoint, but one which aims to express that acrimony through humor.

"The Campaign," due out in August, stars Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as rival politicians campaigning for a seat in Congress from North Carolina. Roach was inspired to work on the film after recent campaigns which featured negative advertising and over-the-top debates.

"Truth is even stranger than fiction right now, because the political system is pushing people to such extremes to make a splash," said Roach, who was in Las Vegas this week to promote the comedy at CinemaCon. "It's about who can do the most expensive series of campaign ads to crush your opponent with damning, scandalous facts."

To gather material for the screenplay, Roach and writer Chris Henchy have been steadfast about keeping up with the news -- checking the headlines each day to make sure their script "was still as funny as the real life stuff." 

"A lot of what's going on that gets the most media attention right now is designed to be outrageous. It's almost like being Sacha Baron Cohen; to be noticed, you have to do something so ridiculous," said Roach, who also directed the recent HBO movie about Sarah Palin, "Game Change." " Our thing is to raise questions through comedy like, 'Really? Is this where we're all heading?' Politics is so entertainment-oriented now, and so reality show-like. A movie with two hilarious guys is actually the perfect arena."

Fans of Ferrell may immediately draw comparisons between the actor's performance in the film and his "Saturday Night Live" impression of George W. Bush. But Henchy insists Ferrell is doing something different in "The Campaign" -- more of a Bush-John Edwards hybrid.

"It does take place in North Carolina, so he's got a Southern accent, but he's also got good hair," the writer said. 


CinemaCon: Footage of 'The Hobbit' draws mixed reaction

CinemaCon: 'The Dictator' rips Jeffrey Katzenberg, Rich Ross

CinemaCon: Chris Pine, talking 'Guardians,' nods to J.J. Abrams

-- Amy Kaufman in Las Vegas


Photo: Zach Galifianakis, left, and Will Ferrell star in "The Campaign." Credit: Warner Bros.

CinemaCon: Dwayne Johnson is 'franchise Viagra,' says director

April 25, 2012 |  8:54 am

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has reinvigorated so many flagging franchises in recent years that his friends in Hollywood have started to refer to him as "franchise Viagra."

"He's created a brand for himself that's unlike any star ever before, and he brings an energy to properties that need it," Jon Chu, director of Johnson's latest film, "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," said at the CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas this week. The Paramount Pictures movie hits theaters in June.

Indeed, the "G.I. Joe" series was in need of what Johnson calls a "creative shift" after 2009's "Rise of the Cobra" received scathing reviews from both fanboys and critics. While the film was a financial success, raking in over $300 million worldwide, Johnson was cast in the sequel in an effort to help win moviegoers back after the original's poor reception.

The brawny actor has fulfilled the role of the white knight before: He replaced Brendan Fraser in the sequel to "Journey of the Center of the Earth" and helped reinvigorate both "The Mummy" and the "Fast & Furious" franchises.

Still, the 39-year-old actor joked he only considers himself "franchise Viagra" when he's drunk.

"The goal was never to find franchises, go in and take them over," said Johnson, who was in Las Vegas to accept CinemaCon's Action Star of the Decade award. "The first question is, 'Well, can I come in and help elevate a movie?' With this film, it was an opportunity I wanted to grab by the throat and make right. I wanted it to veer off from the first."

Johnson said he was eager for "Retaliation" to have a grittier, more grounded feel.  Despite the increased emphasis on physical stunts, Chu says the movie will offer up a more emotional side of its characters -- especially Johnson's.

"I think people will see a whole new face of Dwayne when they get to see him perform some pretty dramatic stuff," the filmmaker said. "OK, he doesn't shed tears. But he sheds punches."


CinemaCon: Footage of 'The Hobbit' draws mixed reaction

CinemaCon: 'The Dictator' rips Jeffrey Katzenberg, Rich Ross

CinemaCon: Chris Pine, talking 'Guardians,' nods to J.J. Abrams

--Amy Kaufman


Photo: Dwayne Johnson accepts the Action Star of the Decade award at CinemaCon. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press


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