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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Justin Bieber

What would Justin Bieber do? Pop star, Ashton Kutcher look to buddy comedy

March 30, 2011 |  2:59 pm


EXCLUSIVE: Fresh off his turn in “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never,” the singer could be heading back to the big screen –- in scripted, non-musical form.

Bieber is eyeing a lead role  in the comedy “What Would Kenny Do?” according to a person who was briefed on the project but was not authorized to speak about it publicly. The film tells of a relationship between a 17-year-old and his thirtysomething self. Said thirtysomething would be played by Ashton Kutcher, the source said.

The project is set up at Sony and will be produced by Kutcher's Katalyst Entertainment and Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment (Bieber and Jaden Smith are of course friends). An Overbrook spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Although Bieber has expressed interest in being an actor, the "Kenny" project would have to overcome Bieber's packed touring schedule; he has commitments consistently until 2012. [Update, 5:41 p.m. -- It's a bit more than an "eyeing" situation for the Biebs -- the project has been developed for months with Bieber both in mind and on board; originally the goal was to shoot this year, but the aforementioned touring obligations could push it to 2012.]

Kutcher and Bieber represent a canny commercial pairing -- the singer's fan base is composed primarily of teen girls, while Kutcher's appeal, also strong among females, skews a bit older. The pair has already discussed at least one other project -- the former “Punk’d” host made news in January when he said he has had conversations with the teen phenom about taking over a revitalized version of the cable reality show. At the time, Kutcher described Bieber as "a nice kid" and "a funny kid."

Chris Baldi’s “Kenny” script, which landed on Hollywood’s Black List  in 2008, is an R-rated comedy describing a teenager who meets a hologram claiming to be the adult version of himself; the hologram then helps guide the teen through high school. The project was originally set up at MGM label United Artists when MGM was under different management.

“(500) Days of Summer” writers Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber then came on and wrote a new draft of the script. According to a person who was briefed on the new (less raunchy) draft, the story now involves Kutcher's successful character actually jumping back in time to help the present-day Bieber, who remains awkward.  A new writer and director are currently being sought.

Bieber proved to be a box-office draw with “Never,” a music doc that grossed more than $70 million in the U.S., though it of course remains to be seen whether Bieber's fans will come out to see him in a fictional movie, let alone in one in which he plays someone not as popular as his real self. Bieber would be following a path taken by Miley Cyrus, who made the transition from music idol to actor -- she made her first feature role a drama, “The Last Song,” and stars in the upcoming high-school tale “LOL.”

--Steven Zeitchik



Can Justin Bieber be a movie star?

Justin Bieber tries to make the big screen his world

The critics agree; Justin Bieber rocks (relatively speaking)

Photo: Justin Bieber in concert this month in Antwerp. Credit: Francois Lenoir / Reuters

With 'Never Say Never' re-release, Justin Bieber has a new cut

February 21, 2011 |  4:51 pm

Bieb Justin Bieber fans flew into an anxious tizzy Monday when it was revealed that the pop star had cut off his trademark bangs.

But now comes some news that will likely calm the distraught Beliebers. Only hours after the singer shed his locks, Paramount announced plans to release a new version of Jon M. Chu's 3-D documentary, which follows Bieber on his recent concert tour.

That's right, for one! week! only! beginning Feb. 25, those who can't seem to recover from Bieber Fever will have the chance to get ill all over again. Like Coppola restoring "Apocalypse Now Redux," the studio is releasing a version of "Never Say Never" containing 40 new minutes of Biebs footage (although the movie's running time will only be extended by 10 minutes; about half an hour from the previous version will be cut).

The new movie will run in place of all 3-D screenings of the original, so fans will have to pay a premium to see the added scenes; the older version will continue to screen in 2-D.

So what new insights can we expect? According to Paramount, the added scenes will reveal more of Bieber hanging with his friends in his Canadian hometown as well as new concert material shot at Madison Square Garden last year (not to be confused with the old concert material shot at Madison Square Garden last year).

The release is a smart -- or shameless, depending on how you see it -- ploy to capitalize on the interest of Bieber's rabid fan base. Concert films don't traditionally have a long shelf life, and a quick-turnaround re-release is a way to keep the momentum going.

Bieber's film has so far actually been faring better than other recent movies centered on teen idols. After nearly beating the new Adam Sandler film for the No. 1 spot at the box office over Valentine's Day weekend, "Never Say Never" dropped 55% on its second weekend. That may seem sizable, but compared with other tween-pinup concert movies, it's pretty small (“Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience" fell 77%).

Of course, Paramount will still have one big question to contend with: Which version of the documentary should it submit for Oscar consideration?

--Amy Kaufman



Can Justin Bieber be a movie star?

Box Office: Justin Bieber and Adam Sandler in close race for No. 1 [Updated]

Justin Bieber at the 'Never Say Never' premiere: 'I want to act' [Video]

Photo: Fans scream at the Canadian premiere of "Never Say Never." Credit: Ben Stansall / AFP / Getty Images

Can Justin Bieber be a movie star?

February 14, 2011 |  7:30 am

Even before Justin Bieber appeared onstage at the Grammys on Sunday night with Jaden Smith, setting minds racing about a "Karate Kid 2" appearance, it was becoming clear the movie star thing may actually fit the singer.

The weekend's box office proved that young audiences still want to see the swoop-haired one on the big screen even after they've already seen him pretty much everywhere else. Bieber's "Never Say Never" documentary came in a close second to Adam Sandler's "Just Go With It" with a $30.3-million gross, and may well end up in first place when the final numbers are tallied.

Of course concert movies have about as much to do with a star's box office potential as YouTube hits have to do with Oscars. Audiences want to see you do what you do well; they may not want to see you do something else. And teen pinup singers historically face a tough road at the multiplex. For every Mark Wahlberg, there are a lot more Donnie Wahlbergs.

But Biebs has some things going in his favor. The 16-year-old says he has a desire to act and has aligned himself with Will Smith (or is it the other way around?), which already puts him ahead of other young musicians trying to make the jump. He also showed he can handle the rigors of a publicity tour, and even allow some gentle ribbing, with appearances on "Saturday Night Live" and a Super Bowl commercial (though someone may need to institute a moratorium on his shout-outs to his fans).

And he may have the most important motivation when it comes to the film business: necessity. When Bieber's voice inevitably drops, acting may be not just a secondary option but the best option.

The Miley Cyrus comparisons came fast and furious in the weeks leading up to "Never Say Never." Cyrus may well turn out to be an apt template: After her movie performed well, Cyrus started booking the feature roles.

At this point the question may be less a matter of whether Bieber can land some big roles but what kind of actor he'll become when he does. Does he follow in the footsteps of Robert Pattinson and other tween idols, trying desperately to go beyond his brand only to repeatedly be put back in his place? Or does he take youthful music stardom to a more sophisticated, Justin Timberlake-like place? Either way, those feeling relief after this weekend that the Bieber big-screen hype is finally over may need to accept that it's only just beginning.

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Justin Bieber at the Grammys. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times


Justin Bieber's 'Never Say Never' opens big at No. 2

Justin Bieber: 'I want to act'

The critics agree: Justin Bieber rocks


The critics agree: Justin Bieber rocks! (Relatively speaking)

February 11, 2011 | 12:23 pm

There’s no denying it’s easy to joke about Justin Bieber. But when it comes to his new movie, the 16-year-old singer/heartthrob is having the last laugh over the competition.

Four movies are opening in wide release this weekend, and “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” is collecting the best reviews of any of them. Bieber’s 3-D concert-biography movie is particularly trouncing the Adam Sandler romantic comedy “Just Go With It,” which is receiving notices even worse than the usual Sandler slap-down, way down there with the critically drubbed "Bedtime Stories."

"Never Say Never" got the best average score of the four movies on two of three leading movie review aggregation sites, Rotten Tomatoes and Movie Review Intelligence. Rotten Tomatoes and Movie Review Intelligence gave the Paramount release a positive review average of 65% and 64.5%, respectively. Those marks topped the normalized marks for Disney's animated “Gnomeo and Juliet” (52% from Rotten Tomatoes, 54% from Movie Review Intelligence), Focus Features' Channing Tatum historical epic “The Eagle” (34% and 48%) and Sony's “Just Go With It” (22% and 39%).

The site Metacritic assigned a slightly better score to “The Eagle” (56) and “Gnomeo and Juliet” (53) than “Never Say Never” (50), but it was nonetheless hard on “Just Go With It” (33).

Entertainment Weekly
(B+) and US Weekly (3.5 stars) gave “Never Say Never” strongly positive reviews, yet there certainly were any number of detractors. Los Angeles Times reviewer Mark Olsen said of the Bieber movie, “Strictly as a piece of filmmaking, 'Never Say Never' is a bit of a mess.”

But apparently the other new movies are even bigger messes.

-- John Horn

Photo: Justin Bieber in "Never Say Never." Credit: Paramount Pictures


Justin Bieber at the 'Never Say Never' premiere: 'I want to act' [Video]

February 9, 2011 |  7:00 am

You could hear the shrieking from blocks away.

Thousands of girls, decked out in glittery tops and toting camera phones, made the pilgrimage to L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles on Monday night in hopes of spotting their pint-sized teen idol: Justin Bieber.

Hours before the premiere of "Never Say Never," the new documentary that follows the pop star on his recent concert tour, the hordes were already waiting outside the Nokia Theatre. Many didn't even have tickets. Some said they wanted to catch a glimpse of the singer with the infamous hairdo; others simply seemed to be enjoying the idea of indulging in Bieber Fever alongside fellow "Beliebers."

This Justin Bieber movie premiere was not -- could not -- be like any other movie premiere.

The carpet was purple, not red, in honor of the teen icon's favorite color. Bleachers were erected so more fans could get a glimpse of the action. Tween-friendly music from artists including Miley Cyrus, Willow Smith and, of course, Bieber himself blasted over the stereo system. And a team of cameramen was dispatched to follow Bieber's every move, so that fans at home could watch him throughout the night via Livestream. 

The event was a family affair for many of the celebrities in Hollywood -- "Glee's" Jane Lynch brought her children to the movie, as did rapper Diddy and Bieber's mentor Usher. It was also populated by a slew of kid actors, all dressed like they were heading to prom.

Bieber was constantly surrounded by a mass of humanity, all shoving their way into his line of vision. But he never lost his cool, smiling nonchalantly and keeping an even pace as he made his way down the carpet, where he was barraged with a slew of questions about his rumored girlfriend, Disney star Selena Gomez. [More from Bieber below, after our video interview.]

Bieber told us he's interested in acting in a feature.

"I'm gonna start doing more movies -- start getting more scripts and start finding some things that I really wanna do," the 16-year-old said.

And what would that be, exactly? Manager Scooter Braun elaborated, saying the singer had been itching to team up with Will Ferrell.

"He knows every line from every Will Ferrell skit on 'SNL' and every movie. In fact, he did a whole interview once just quoting Will Ferrell," Braun said.

It's no surprise that Bieber wants to take on a character outside of himself. In "Never Say Never," audiences quickly learn that Bieber would rather do just about anything than talk about or examine himself. (We witnessed this first-hand last spring when we spent the day with the teen, who seemed less than interested in sitting down for an in-depth interview: "Justin Bieber & Co.") 

Continue reading »

Is the world ready for a(nother) Justin Bieber attack?

January 11, 2011 |  9:26 pm

By now, the publicity strategy for the new "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" concert documentary is becoming clear. It involves three key people: Justin Bieber, Justin Bieber and Justin Bieber.

The plan seems to be to make Biebs so pervasive as to be unavoidable -- and not just in the usual tween precincts, either.

CBS confirmed today that the bowlcutted one will be making a return to "CSI" as troubled teen Jason McCann (he guested last year). He'll appear in an episode titled "Targets of Obsession" that will air Feb. 17 -- which also happens to be the first full week his movie is in theaters.

This after a TVLine report that the same week will see a "Glee" episode built around Bieber songs (but not, at the moment, the pop star himself). That show will air two days before the "CSI" episode.

It all comes on the heels of Biebs gracing the new Vanity Fair cover, in his lipstick-smooched glory, as well as guest-editing the magazine's Facebook page. And, of course, the late-night musical guesting that will inevitably accompany the movie's rollout.

Putting the teen into older-skewing venues like Vanity Fair and "CSI" may seem a little odd. But it's also a clear attempt to make sure that his new documentary, in which director John Chu cuts in footage of Bieber's (earlier) childhood with footage from a recent tour, doesn't fall prey to that which befell "Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience" two years ago.

That movie, also a bubblegum-pop oncert doc that came out in February, earned a measly $19 million after garnering more limited publicity. So on this go-round, Bieber is gonna tell us one time, and one time, and one time...

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Justin Bieber on stage in New York in December. Credit: Lucas Jackson / Reuters


Justin Bieber tries to make the big screen his world

October 26, 2010 |  8:30 am


The newly released teaser for Justin Bieber's 3-D nonfiction movie, "Never Say Never," promises that, on watching the film, you will "experience his world." Whether that's a selling point we'll leave for others to decide. What it does suggest -- with its recollections from Usher and archival footage of a young(er) Bieber -- is that John Chu's quick turnaround movie, whose teaser you can see here, will give the 16-year-old the full biopic treatment. Or at least the "This Is It"-esque here's-your-chance-to-watch-a-musical-genius-at-work treatment. (There's also, apparently, an inspirational element to the film: "He came from such a small town. It gives us hope," a tween girl tells the camera.)

Cultural questions about millennials aside, "Never Say Never" does raise an interesting business issue. Movies built around tween musical sensations have a mixed commercial record -- a trip to the big screen worked out for the Hannah Montana movie; it didn't pan out quite as well for the Jonas Brothers (though Bieber's YouTube popularity dwarfs both of those phenoms). So we'll see how he translates. In the meantime, you have to wonder which will come first -- an ebb in the Beeb's popularity or the movie's Feb. 11 release date. The race is on.

-- Steven Zeitchik



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