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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Piranha 3D

When producers attack: 'Piranha's' Mark Canton takes on James Cameron

August 31, 2010 | 11:33 am

"Piranha 3D" may not have conjured up a huge number of scares, but the meta-story around the Dimension Films release is turning into entertaining bloodsport.

After first releasing a fake Oscar video from members of the cast, the Weinstein Co. division is now sending out word about one of the producers, Mark Canton, responding angrily to James Cameron's (slight) knock on the film.

Piran In a much larger VanityFair.com interview about his views on 3-D, the "Avatar" re-release and his latest work, Cameron says that he didn't like the way "Piranha 3-D" used the technology. Cameron, who worked for a few days on the sequel to the Joe Dante original before being fired from the production, said that "I tend almost never to throw other films under the bus, but that is exactly an example of what we should not be doing in 3-D. Because it just cheapens the medium and reminds you of the bad 3-D horror films from the '70s and '80s."

That was all Canton needed to pounce like, well, a piranha. In a 15-paragraph screed sent to reporters Tuesday morning that led with  "Jim, are you kidding or what?" and "Mr. Cameron, who singles himself out to be a visionary of movie-making, seems to have a small vision regarding any motion pictures that are not his own," Canton makes his broadside against the director.

Part of Canton's invective is personal, "What it comes down to, Jim, is -- that like most things in life -- size doesn’t really matter. Not everyone has the advantage of having endless amounts of money to play in their sandbox and to take ten years using other people’s money to make and market a film ... like you do. Why can’t you just count your blessings?"

Part of it goes to Canton's irritation that Cameron is claiming ownership of Hollywood's z-axis craze. "Let’s just keep this in mind Jim -- you did not invent 3D. You were fortunate that others inspired you to take it further."

Then it gets into what Canton, who produced "300" and a host of Hollywood films over the last few decades, really thought about Cameron's piece de resistance. "To be honest, I found the 3D in 'Avatar' to be inconsistent and while ground breaking in many respects, sometimes I thought it overwhelmed the storytelling," he said. "Technology aside, I wish 'Avatar' had been more original in its storytelling."

And finally it comes down to, well, getting attention for the film, of course. "My sense is that Mr. Cameron has never seen Piranha 3D ... certainly not in a movie theatre with a real audience. Jim, we invite you to take that opportunity and experience the movie in a theatre full of fans -- fans for whom this movie was always intended to entertain. ... [You have] no clue as to how great and how much of a fun-filled experience the audiences who have seen the film in 3D have enjoyed."

One gets the sense from the e-mail that Canton is genuinely upset, though it doesn't hurt publicity efforts for "Piranha" to engage in a fight with a much bigger fish like Cameron.

But the real irony here is that Cameron's original comments may have targeted what audiences actually like about "Piranha." Part of the movie's appeal comes from its throwback campiness. Director Alexandre Aja basically said as much when he told our colleague Gina McIntyre that his intention was for an '80s era pop pleasure  modeled as a kind of "Gremlins" for adults. The idea, he said, was for "a very simple, efficient concept to reboot or reinvent that kind of disaster movie, creature movie from the '80s, that kind of guilty-pleasure movie that delivers on every front." Canton may have felt it more personally, but Cameron's attack seems largely bloodless.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: An image from "Piranha 3D." Credit: Dimension Films


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Something's fishy: 'Piranha 3D' spawns a sequel

August 23, 2010 |  4:21 pm

Piranha-3d "Piranha 3D" may have only bit off a small portion of box office receipts this weekend, but the cash-strapped Weinstein Co. is already ready to take another dive into risky waters.

On Monday -- after an opening weekend during which "Piranha 3D" lured in a moderate $10 million in ticket sales -- Dimension Films said a sequel to the movie about flesh-eating fish is already "in the works." (News, undoubtedly, not being received well by Lake Havasu locals.)

A press release about the sequel touted the film's "80%-82% favorable reviews" on Rotten Tomatoes, along with "rave reviews from top critics" as evidence of the film's success.

Still, with news coming so quickly after the film's release, the announcement seems somewhat -- well, fishy.

Just a year ago, immediately after the opening of the Weinstein Co's "Halloween II," (which also fared modestly at the box office) the independent studio's co-chairman Bob Weinstein said a 3-D sequel was being developed. The release date for the potential "Halloween 3D?" Summer 2010. 

-- Amy Kaufman


Photo: A vicious fish from "Piranha 3D." Credit: Dimension Films


With 'Piranha 3D,' Playboy cover girl Kelly Brook shows her teeth

'Piranha 3D' is too hot for ... something

'Piranha 3D,' the Oscar campaign

Lake Havasu fears 'Piranha 3D' could take a bite out of tourism

'Halloween 3D' coming in summer 2010

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With 'Piranha 3D,' Playboy cover girl Kelly Brook shows her teeth

August 20, 2010 |  8:00 pm

If you're a British actress fired by Simon Cowell from the judge's chair of a reality talent show -- after three days -- you do what any British actress fired by Simon Cowell would do: You go on a long holiday.

You just don't expect that to lead to "Piranha 3-D."

That, in a nutshell, is the journey of Kelly Brook,  the Internet sensation, Playboy cover girl and co-star in the campiest of summer movies. It's that last one where audiences across the U.S. will get a chance to see her in what is, by all reasonable assumptions, a first in mainstream cinema: an unclothed underwater Sapphic love scene. With an adult-film star. In 3D.

BrookBrook attempts a breakout of sorts in the Alexandre Aja movie, one of her first notable film roles after a decade of parts in little-known indies such as "School for Seduction" and "Survival Island." ("Smallville" devotees may also remember her arc as Victoria Hardwick in the show's first season.) She doesn't have many lines in the movie, but she does survive longer than some of the other pretty faces, which is something.

Brook's in-person appearance -- dark hair pulled back, dark skirt -- bespeaks a restrained elegance, but talking to her one quickly is shown a giddy, daffy quality. When asked why she thinks producers chose her for "Piranha,” she replies, "Well, there are two obvious things," and gestures to her breasts.

As the actress orders a very un-model-like side of garlic truffle fries (where's M.I.A. when you need her?) at a restaurant at the Luxe Hotel in Beverly Hills, where Dimension Films is putting Brook up for several weeks of film promotion, one is struck by a sense of self-reflection -- though that self may not entirely be filled with musings on, say, the collected writings of Soren Kierkegaard.

"I've always been branded the girl who's not that bright, the bimbo, because I've got big boobs and I laugh a lot and I'm girly," she says, laughing. "All of those things in England that growing up you have to fight against. And all of a sudden I'm in a movie for me. It's a bit of an up-yours to all my critics -- 'I'm going to be all those things you told me I was going to be and I'm going to be in a big blockbuster doing all those things you said were really bad for me.' I'm 30, for goodness sake. For me it's, like, the perfect thing to do right now."

The actress, whose laugh is airy, with a certain musicality, began modeling and appearing in Maxim  while still a teenager.  Television and small film roles followed, as did a place in the limelight as a girlfriend of British action-star Jason Statham.

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Carla Gugino could be a bad bad mother

August 19, 2010 |  5:23 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Carla Gugino has returned to "Entourage" this season to bust Hollywood tail as a hard-nosed agent. We could soon be watching her on the screen busting more than that.

GuginoGugino is in talks to star as the title character in "MILF." Not the kind you may be thinking of, but Mothers I'd Like to...Fight, a revenge story about a woman who, recently released from prison, returns to the street to take care of some unfinished business.

Franck Khalfoun, who directed the garage-set horror thriller "P2," is on board to direct the film, while "Piranha 3D" director Alexandre Aja and executive producer Alix Taylor will likely be involved in producer capacities. Gugino, for her part, continues a Hollywood career in which she's especially adept at tough-girl roles, with "Watchmen," "Karen Sisco" and "Sin City" all lining her resume.

Outlaw women with weapons and a score to settle are proliferating on the big screen: Angelina Jolie in "Salt," Noomi Rapace in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," Michelle Rodriguez in the upcoming "Machete" (and pretty much anything else she does), all the women in Zack Snyder's upcoming alternative-reality action movie "Sucker Punch," about a woman in a mental institution who must fight her way out. Gugino herself is in that film, as the tough-cookie madam of said institution. Which we guess  makes her a Madam I'd Like to Fight.

— Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Carla Gugino as Karen Sisco. Credit: Glenn Watson/Universal Network Television.


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Lake Havasu fears 'Piranha 3D' could take a bite out of tourism

August 18, 2010 |  4:33 pm

Pr-512x769 “Piranha 3D,” out Friday, is set on “Lake Victoria” – a fictional popular tourist destination where spring breakers find themselves attacked by vicious fish. But city officials in the region where the film was shot, Lake Havasu -- which borders Arizona and California – are fearful that moviegoers might recognize the vacation spot in the horror film and be led to believe piranhas actually exist in local waters. 

At least that was the sentiment conveyed by the city's publicist, Jeff Blumenfeld, who called us somewhat frantically Wednesday morning to express concern over the movie.

“We’re gritting our teeth -- we’re just hoping that the reaction is a good one for the city,” he said.

While it might seem preposterous that tourists could truly believe that there are piranhas swimming around Lake Havasu, some local hotel owners say they've already encountered a few nervous patrons.

“One woman was bringing up to me that the movie was coming out, and she asked – as serious as serious can be – ‘Oh, but are there still piranha in the lake?’ ” recalled Cal Sheehy, general manager of the London Bridge Resort, which is right on Lake Havasu. “At first, I kind of took it as a joke. But then I let her know that that’s the computer-generated part of the movie. And she was very relieved, saying, ‘Oh, I’m so glad to hear that.’ ”

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