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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Harry Potter

Oscars 2012: VFX artist says ‘Potter’ best pic snub ‘a shame’

January 24, 2012 |  1:23 pm


Warner Bros. campaigned heavily for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” with hopes that the final installment in the eight-movie series could get some awards attention in best picture and best adapted screenplay categories. But the Oscar nominations announcement revealed Tuesday morning that the fantasy film would only get attention in technical and craft categories.

The movie, based on the second half of J.K. Rowling’s seventh book in her beloved series, received Oscar nominations for visual effects, makeup and art direction.

“It’s a shame it didn’t get more nominations in categories like best picture,” said Tim Burke, one of the filmmakers sharing the visual effects nomination. “It’s difficult to know quite why ['Harry Potter' films] are often shunned by the academy and especially in the U.K. -– where it’s homegrown –- with the BAFTAs. Maybe it’s negative response to the commercialism, that these are very successful films at the box office that puts people off.”

PHOTOS: Oscar nominees react

Burke said he was still “absolutely thrilled” to learn about his nomination when he saw several texts from friends and family from London upon waking up in his Los Angeles hotel room. The visual effects artist is currently in L.A. working with Disney on a project in development.

Burke, who supervised visual effects on all eight “Harry Potter” movies, earned Oscar visual effects nominations for two other films in the franchise. He won the award in 2001 for “Gladiator.”

Despite any lingering disappointment at “Harry Potter’s” snubs in other categories, Burke noted there’s still cause for plenty of butterbeers and fire whiskeys -– or at least the Muggle alternatives.

“There will be a few drinks when I get back to London with my crew,” Burke said. “We’ll have a little toast to the success of ‘Harry Potter.’”


And the nominees are ...

PHOTOS: 84th Academy Awards nominees

Power Players: Warner Bros. hoping 'Harry Potter' conjures Oscar nods

-– Emily Rome

Photo: Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2." Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Six points worth noting about 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' box office

July 18, 2011 |  8:09 am

"Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" broke the opening-weekend box-office record with nearly $169 million. But where will it end up on the all-time totals chart?  How does it stack it up with non 3-D openings?  And what movies have the best chance to beat it? A wizardly -- and occasionally stat-minded -- edition of our Monday-morning-quarterback post.

Next stop Nolanville? The movie that "Deathly Hallows" beat for the opening-weekend record was "The Dark Knight." So it shouldn't have much trouble topping the comic-book movie's total on the all-time domestic chart ($533 million, the third-highest ever, and best ever for a film not directed by James Cameron). But as it turns out, that could be a tall order. "The Dark Knight" played solidly throughout the summer, as people not previously inclined to see a superhero movie began hearing the buzz. "Deathly Hallows" won't easily replicate that feat -- it might get repeat viewings from the J.K. Rowling faithful, but at this advanced stage of its story development, it probably won't attract a lot of new fans.

Splitting the atom. It seems like ancient history now, but there was originally carping about Warner Bros.' decision to make two movies out of Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," with skeptics seeing it as a money-grabbing move and wondering if the source material could sustain two films. In retrospect, of course, it proved a financially and creatively satisfying decision -- which may provide encouragement to those worried about Summit's "Breaking Dawn" mitosis.

The 3-D effect. Amid all the hype about the weekend record, it's worth remembering that "Deathly Hallows" did have the benefit of 3-D ticket prices. Adjust for that advantage and it's still a robust performer, but not anywhere near a record breaker. (Instead it's on par with "Star Wars Episode III" -- or, for that matter, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," which tallied just north of $100 million selling 2-D tickets.) What "Deathly Hallows" has done, though, is set a new high-water mark for 3-D releases. That $53 million for "Green Lantern" looks even more paltry by comparison.

Holding history. How long will it hold the weekend record? There's no movie this summer that will come close. (Sorry, "Conan the Barbarian") But several will vie for the crown in the not-too-distant future. Next summer brings "The Dark Knight Rises," which has as an excellent shot of opening to even bigger numbers. And not long after that come two "Hobbit" movies as well as the final two "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn" films.

Inflationary tendencies. If you're comparing "Deathly Hallows" with recent openings, inflation doesn't matter much. But some of the older films would give it a serious run if they came out today. Although the Daniel Radcliffe-Emma Watson blockbuster already is off on a breakneck pace that could see it reach a half-billion dollars domestically, that pales in contrast to the all-time inflation-adjusted record holder, "Gone with the Wind." Scarlett and Rhett raked in what would be about $1.6 billion dollars in 2011.

World domination. The $168 million for "Hallows" in the U.S. is impressive  But even more persuasive is how the boy wizard got the entire globe to move in lockstep. Overseas, the film tallied more than $300 million, giving it a great chance to be the worldwide top-grossing non-Cameron movie of all time. The number to beat? The $1.12 billion of "The Lords of the Rings: The Return of the King." The new Potter is already almost halfway there.


Final Harry Potter has highest domestic opening of all time

Harry Potter fandom: As quiet and introspective as it is public and raucous

Hero Complex: Complete Harry Potter coverage

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Daniel Radcliffe in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2." Credit: Warner Bros.

Harry Potter fandom, as introspective and quiet as it is public and raucous

July 15, 2011 | 11:04 am

Photo: Sarah Coluccio before a "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" screening. Credit: Steven Zeitchik People do crazy things for love, and crazier things for Harry Potter. Like Sarah Coluccio, a 23-year-old from Queens, N.Y., who, if a nationwide superfan contest was held, would stand a good chance of reaching the elimination round.

Is Coluccio on the most intense island in a sea of fanaticism? A case could be made. There's the Dumbledore quote that, she noted shyly, she had tattooed on her ribs a few years back, or the fact that she nearly got crushed against a police barricade earlier this week to be the first at the Harry Potter premiere. (It was worth it to get a glimpse of Harry, Hermione and Ron in the flesh. And besides, that alert NYPD officer was there to save her.)

At 5 p.m. on Thursday, Coluccio was standing quietly inside the lobby of the AMC Loews Kips Bay Theater on the East Side of Manhattan waiting for the first screening of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2." She was decked out in full-on Hogwarts uniform, her hand gripping a wand. (That's her above.) Potter dress-up is hardly new, of course -- it's been part of the ritual of book and movie releases for a decade -- but it often comes as part of a loud communal celebration. Coluccio was standing by herself waiting for a screening, and she spoke only in the singular about her history with the wizard franchise.

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Critical Mass: 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2' is 'satisfying,' guaranteed

July 14, 2011 |  3:42 pm

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2" is a "satisfying" end to the franchise. How do we know this? Because that very word, "satisfying," is the adjective du jour in reviews from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Associated Press, Chicago Sun-Times, Time magazine, Entertainment Weekly, the Hollywood Reporter, USA Today — well, you get the idea.

Why are the critics all using this particular S-word (other than them being part of a vast media conspiracy)? They're enjoying pure "Potter" satisfaction thanks to the film's craftsmanship, its fidelity to its source material and the undeniably avuncular feeling the audience gets in having watched stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint grow up on film.

The Times' Kenneth Turan, who was not a huge fan of Part 1, says Part 2 provides a storybook ending to the eight-movie epic: "The Harry Potter films, like the boy wizard himself, have had their creative ups and downs, so it's especially satisfying that this final film, ungainly title and all, has been worth the wait. Though no expense has been spared in its production, it succeeds because it brings us back to the combination of magic, adventure and emotion that created the books' popularity in the first place."

Continue reading »

Harry Potter's Rupert Grint: 'It's weird that next year there won't be one of these' [Video]

July 12, 2011 |  9:08 am

If you're worried about experiencing withdrawal symptoms after the "Harry Potter" franchise takes its final bow this weekend, there might be some comfort in knowing that Rupert Grint is feeling some of those symptoms too. The man who plays pure-blood wizard Ron Weasley in the Hogwarts franchise says that he's become so accustomed to shooting and watching these films that he's not sure he can imagine a Potter-less world.

"It's weird to think that next year there won't be one of these," he told 24 Frames from the red carpet at the "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" premiere in New York on Monday night. "These films have become quite a big part of people's lives. It's been their childhood as much as it's been ours." (You can check out video from our interview with Grint below.)

Photos: New York premiere of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2'

Grint says that even though the production of the film has been a maturation process, he can't get his head around the fact that so much time has passed.  "I can still see the year 2000 Dan and Emma," he said, referring to costars Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, adding, "I can't believe I'm 23 this year. It seems to have gone so quickly."


Hero Complex: Full Harry Potter coverage

With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 trailer, Harry begins his final wand wave

Should Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 have come out in 3-D

-- Steven Zeitchik in New York


Harry Potter's Emma Watson: I've become a better actress playing Hermione [Video]

July 12, 2011 |  7:00 am

One of the joys of the Harry Potter franchise has been the chance to watch performers such as Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint go from novice child actors to experienced adult ones.  At the "Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" premiere in New York on Monday night, 24 Frames talked to several of these actors and their directors.

Emma Watson said that her own interest in the character of Hermione increased as the series went on.  "As the material got darker, it got more challenging," she said. "When that started happening, I started to take more of an interest." (You can watch the full video of Watson above). She also expressed surprise that fan investment in the series grew as more films were made. "The following just seems to get bigger," she said. "That doesn't really happen with franchises."

Photos: New York premiere of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2'

Meanwhile, David Yates, Watson's director on four of those films, said he observed a change in Watson as she grew "more committed to" and "more passionate about" her acting in the time between 2007's "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" to the final film. "Their acting's improved as they've gotten older," he said of the cast. (He also said that Radcliffe's jokes got better.)

As for his own evolution, Yates said he found a huge difference between helming "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" and "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" on the one hand and the final two films on the other. "My previous movies ended with commas rather than full stops, and 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' finishes with a really nice, fat full stop," he said

Check out the video from Yates below, with more to come from the series' other stars.


With "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" trailer, Harry begins his final wand wave

Hero Complex: Full Harry Potter coverage

Should "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 1" have come out in 3-D

-- Steven Zeitchik


Do any summer releases actually get a boost from the MTV Movie Awards?

June 6, 2011 |  9:10 pm

Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds. Click for more photos from the MTV Movie Awards
The MTV Movie Awards can sometimes seem like the film-publicity equivalent of tax cuts for the wealthy: It provides help to those that need it least.

At the awards show frequently known for setting the record for most mentions of "my fans" in a single telecast -- the latest installment of which of course aired Sunday night -- the upcoming releases of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I" and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II" were demonstrated, lest anyone doubt it, to be major events among the tween and teen sets. It's doubtful there's a single person who watched the telecast who wasn't going to see those movies anyway.

Pretty much everything else, on the other hand, faced a tougher road. In fact, when the summer winds down and the final tally is counted, it will be telling to look back and see whether a single movie can track its success to the June marketing-a-thon.

Photos: Best and Worst at the MTV Movie Awards

The telecast would seem like a perfect venue, for instance, to promote raunchy comedies. But it rarely works out that way. On Sunday night, the R-rated laugh-fest "Bad Teacher" offered an at times awkward stage bit involving Jason Segel butt-texting to costar and co-presenter Cameron Diaz. In the outside world, a star like Segel fits solidly with a young demographic. Compared with Taylor Lautner and Emma Watson, he seemed out of place.

Then again, Segel seemed downright in the demo in contrast to appearances from  Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams, who were among those who came to the podium to flog "Super 8."

Judged by sheer airtime, "Green Lantern" was a winner on Sunday night, with a long bit featuring stars Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, who traded jokes with audience plants sporting phallic green lasers. But the skit had more than its share of rocky moments, and other jokes about Lively's recent photo scandal got a lot more attention than anything she did to plump the superhero film.

Some of the stunts, meanwhile, seemed downright head-scratching. For "Mr. Popper's Penguins," Jim Carrey came out in a green-screen jacket that flashed an image of fornicating dogs, which seemed like an odd choice for a movie aimed at a family audience.

You know it's an uneven bunch when the sight of "Friends With Benefits" stars Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake fondling each other's genitals prove one of the more clever promotions of the night.

 "Crazy, Stupid, Love" -- a film riding wave of buzz ahead of its July release -- did fare marginally better with a bit that had stars Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell and Emma Stone in some byplay about interspecies copulation. But by the time the show ended, the moment was a distant  memory.

As a lower-profile release with a notable comedy ensemble, "30 Minutes or Less" would also seem like a prime candidate for a Movie Awards boost. But it was hurt by the absence of Jesse Eisenberg (he didn't come in from N.Y.), and the skit seemed to lose its way with a dreadlocked Aziz Ansari goofing on, of all things, Jaden Smith and "The Karate Kid." Then it was all quickly forgotten anyway when Justin Bieber made a surprise appearance.  A "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" promo with Shia LaBeouf might have also worked out. But one could barely hear stars' banter among the residual shrieks from a recently awarded "Twilight" prize.

That would all be disheartening enough. But then, even a good Movie Awards skit hardly translates into any sort of tangible success. Last year, one of the most clever sketches had Steve Carell and Paul Rudd spoofing in advance of  "Dinner for Schmucks." And we all know how that turned out for them.

You can understand why a film publicist's eyes widen at the thought of the MTV Movie Awards : millions of viewers, viral-video potential and the chance to position a movie in front of an audience that can't easily be reached in a fragmented world of Twitter and Facebook. But it often seems like the cable telecast has the opposite problem: It's too large a beast. And like creatures from a certain vampire franchise, it doesn't so much pull up smaller movies as it does devour them.


Photo Gallery: Best and Worst at the MTV Movie Awards

Awards Tracker: MTV Movie Awards: Some jaw-dropping awards results

The Envelope: MTV Movie Awards arrivals

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, stars of "Green Lantern," at the MTV Movie Awards. Credit: Matt Sayles/AP


'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



With trailer for 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2', Harry begins his final wand wave [Video]

April 28, 2011 |  1:31 pm

On Wednesday, we got the first taste of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" with a trailer (the first of what will likely be several) showing a flurry of action, dragons, explosions and, of course, wand-play.

This final chapter will wrap up the major quest begun In "Part I," in which Harry set off on an odyssey to destroy Horcruxes, objects containing fragments of the soul of Lord Voldemort, discovering powerful objects that could help win the war against evil.

The series has grown from a simple foray into a magical world into a full-fledged dark fantasy with world-ending implications, and that dire mood is set early in the trailer. Unfortunately, with the frenetic series of action sequences, those who have seen only the movies and shied away from the bicep-building books may be a little lost  on some plot points.

Still, we do get a tantalizing sense of what's to come, particularly as we're teased by images of the battle of Hogwarts, one of the central events of the movie for anyone not named Harry Potter.


'Harry Potter' coverage on Hero Complex

Critical Mass: 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1'

Should 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1' have come out in 3-D?

-- Jevon Phillips

Should 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1' have come out in 3-D?

November 22, 2010 |  7:00 am


Squinting into the $125 million that "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1" took in this weekend in the U.S. alone, it's easy to forget that it was just six weeks ago when some were questioning Warner Bros.' decision not to convert the film into 3-D. Moviegoers loved Potter, and they seemed to like putting on those glasses, so why not combine the two?

Yes, there was the possibility of a backlash -- but even  "Clash of the Titans," that poster child for sloppy conversions, was one of the most successful movies of the year, the argument went. And "Clash" was no "Potter."

Yet when the seventh installment of the Hogwarts series came out this weekend and fans flocked to it, it silenced most of those questions. Even in two dimensions, the movie marked the biggest-ever opening of the series; Potter has somehow managed to retain all of the 20-something fans who grew up with the series while attracting a lot of younger ones too.

It's now the case that the two biggest openings of the year ("Iron Man 2" is the other) happened with movies that stayed far away from the Z-axis   And although "Iron Man" and Potter are, granted, sui generis, it's also the case that by the time "Deathly Hallows" ends its theatrical run, four of the top five live-action movies in 2010 will have been in 2-D ("Eclipse" and "The Karate Kid" are the other two; "Alice in Wonderland" is the lone exception). And all this in the supposed golden era of 3-D.

You could argue that these 2-D movies would have made even more money had they come out in 3-D. But it's of course impossible to know if doing that wouldn't have turned off at least some portion of the fan base. Certainly that would have been a concern for Potter, which remains one of the few billion-dollar corporate juggernauts in American life to be treated as such a pure and fan-driven enterprise.

The counter-arguers say that the biggest movies don't need 3-D the way others do. But, in a sense, that only confirms what critics of 3-D have been saying for a while now: that, maybe "Avatar" and some animated movies excepted, 3-D is a novelty suited best to middling movies, essentially a marketing gimmick and/or a chance to collect a few extra dollars in ticket fees.

I suppose you could argue that watching Harry, Ron and Hermione attempt to destroy the Horcruxes in three dimensions this weekend would have been better than watching  them in two dimensions (though I suspect most fans wouldn't). But it's kind of getting harder to argue that, for a truly beloved property, 3-D is necessary or even relevant.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Daniel Radcliffe (left), Rupert Grint and Emma Watson in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1." Credit: Warner Bros.


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