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Category: Shia LaBeouf

Harvey Weinstein explains 'Wettest County' release date move

January 6, 2012 |  1:33 pm



On Thursday, the Weinstein Co. pushed the release date of “Wettest County,” the Depression-era drama starring Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy as bootlegging brothers, from April 20 to Labor Day weekend.

Today Harvey Weinstein offered an explanation for the postponement, citing a media strategy that aims to capitalize on the post-“Dark Knight Rises” appeal of Hardy as well as a release template followed by other action-tinged dramas.

“We have a star in Tom Hardy who’s completely anonymous right now. If you go to a line at the ArcLight nobody would know who he is,” Weinstein told 24 Frames. But the film executive said that would change with the release of Hardy’s Batman picture (Hardy plays the villain, Bane) in July. “He’s going to be a huge movie star by August,” Weinstein said.

John Hillcoat directed “County,” which the musician-screenwriter Nick Cave adapted from Matt Bondurant’s novel. It concerns a family in rural Virginia that lives on the edge of the law and finds itself under violent pressure from authorities who want in on the action. The movie will now hit U.S. theaters on Aug. 31.

Weinstein, who said he believed performances from Hardy and LaBeouf would attract awards attention, also said that the new date would allow the film to play at at least one major international festival.

“The idea is to go to Venice and then hit the domestic market right after,” he said. It was a tack Weinstein said was taken by “The Constant Gardener,” Fenrando Mereilles' 2005 John le Carre adaptation; the movie, released by Focus Features in late summer, went on to gross $33 million domestically and $48 million internationally.

Labor Day is typically considered a very slow weekend in U.S. moviegoing, but Weinstein noted that “it can be a great bridge between the summer and the fall. And we wanted the holiday weekend for the movie, especially down South, where there’s a big audience for this film.”

While a movie’s period setting usually dictates a limited release, Weinstein said he saw “Wettest County” as a wide play and planned on opening it in several thousand theaters.

“Wettest” will kick off a packed fall season for the Weinstein Co. The company in recent years has been stocking up at festivals for its fall slate (its 2011 best-picture contender, “The Artist,” was acquired just ahead of last year’s Cannes Film Festival). But next fall is already crowded, with Brad Pitt-starring mob tale “Cogan’s Trade,” the David O. Russell family reconciliation story “The Silver Linings Playbook,” Paul Thomas Anderson’s so-called Scientology movie “The Master,” and Quentin Tarantino’s slave picture  “Django Unchained" all likely to come out in the fourth quarter.


Shia LaBeouf-Tom Hardy drama 'Wettest' delayed to August

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Tom Hardy in "Wettest County." Credit: The Weinstein Co.

Shia LaBeouf-Tom Hardy drama 'Wettest' delayed to August

January 5, 2012 |  3:14 pm

If you were waiting to see Shia LaBeouf get serious, you’ll have to wait a little longer.

The Weinstein Co. has pushed “Wettest County,” a drama about Depression-era bootleggers that features the “Transformers” star in a lead role, from its scheduled April 20 release date to Aug. 31.  The move puts the film, which at one point had been considered a candidate for the 2011 award season, into a Labor Day weekend slot that is regarded by some distribution experts as a film-release black hole.

A Weinstein spokeswoman declined to comment on the move.

[Updated, 3:40 p.m. Weinstein Co. COO David Glasser told 24 Frames that "The film wasn't ready [for April] and we believe we've found a really great date when a lot of movies have done really good business." Glasser noted the August release of "Inglourious Basterds" in 2009; that film came out two weeks before Labor Day.]

John Hillcoat (“The Road”) directed "Wettest," which features a who’s-who of emerging stars, including Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain, as well as a re-emerging one, Gary Oldman. The film centers on a group of bootlegging brothers (including characters played by LaBeouf and Hardy) who must fight to protect their turf. According to one person who’s seen it, the film features some violent action moments amid its dramatic elements.

The movie, which the Weinstein Co. acquired at last year's Cannes Film Festival, is one of the first films to be financed by Annapurna Productions, the company founded by Megan Ellison that has been spending aggressively on prestige pictures. It's of particular interest because of the LaBeouf factor.

Known mainly for thrillers and action vehicles, the actor has recently been hoping to turbocharge his dramatic career. He starred in the financial-crisis sequel "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" in 2010 and over the past few months has also been shooting the Robert Redford-directed “The Company You Keep,” about the relationship between a journalist and a member of the Weather Underground.

The Weinstein Co. initially contemplated bringing "Wettest" at the end of 2011 and positioning it for an awards run but eventually decided on a spring date. The company had a crowded end-of-year release calendar that included “The Artist,” “My Week With Marilyn” and “The Iron Lady.” (Hillcoat’s “The Road,” also distributed by Weinstein, itself faced delays before finally coming out in November 2009.)

The new date means "Wettest" won't compete with the generally lighter spring fare—“Scary Movie 5” is scheduled to open the same April weekend. But the current slot is not generally seen as an auspicious time for serious films: last year, for instance, Labor Day weekend saw genre fare like "Shark Night 3D" and the company’s own "Apollo 18." The one higher-end film to come out that weekend, "The Debt," did modest business.

So far, the 2012  Labor Day weekend is occupied by "7500," a low-budget supernatural thriller.
--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Tom Hardy in "Wettest County." Credit: The Weinstein Co.

Hollywood sequels bite into a new crust

July 1, 2011 |  9:00 am

Photo: A scene from "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." Credit: Paramount Pictures / Associated Press Last year, Domino's Pizza made headlines when it launched a campaign acknowledging that the pizza it had been making up to that point had been, well, pretty bad. "There comes a time when you know you've got to make a change," the company's president said in a television spot, as a customer Tweet about the pizza tasting like cardboard flashed across the screen. The badness, the executive promised, would go no further.

Domino's brand of mea culpa marketing (radical transparency, as Madison Avenue called it) impressed some pundits. It was rare for a company that big to so bluntly admit its shortcomings, let alone to try to use the admission in its favor. Of course, this sort of honesty didn't really cost Domino's much, because it wasn't trying to sell pizza made in the past. In fact, it was kind of brilliant: it simultaneously made the company appear candid while still touting a new product.

The Domino's campaign came to mind as Hollywood rolls out its big-budget sequels. The recurrence of summer cinema's most familiar names is supposed to provide a serving of comfort food. But in the case of some franchises' third and fourth installments, it's served to remind us how much we didn't like the second and third installments.

So studios and actors have made an admission. Yes, yes the last movie in our franchise wasn't that good, they've said. Sorry for not telling you that then. But this time we've gotten it right.

Leading the charge has been Shia LaBeouf, star of this weekend's "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." "We screwed up but we'll do better" has practically been a mantra for the young actor as he makes his publicity rounds. "The second movie we were making on the fly and it was too convoluted," LaBeouf told my colleague Rebeeca Keegan, one of several interviews he gave to this effect. "This movie's very different ... more story line, clearer thought."

Similar spin came, albeit privately, from producers and  executives close to "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" and "X-Men: First Class," both fourquels whose third installments were seen by many as the cinematic equivalent of cardboard pizza. The previous films did get over-freighted and confusing, they said, but now we've gone back to the franchise's roots.

Critics and average filmgoers seem to be picking up the mantle too, noting almost reflexively when describing a new sequel it may not exactly be an Oscar winner, but at least it's better than the previous film.

The obvious problem with all this, of course, is that it sets the bar kind of low. But it also presents a more subtle issue, one that speaks to how and when studios decide crank out another installment in the first place. Years ago when fan word of mouth went sour on a sequel, that could well stop a franchise in its tracks. (That was often true even when the film took in more money than its predecessor -- e.g., "Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade" in 1989). But in the era of the never-ending sequel, a badly received follow-up isn't a franchiser-killer -- it's just another step on a path to redemption.

The honesty tack worked for Domino's. The company saw sales climb by double digits after it went candid. But the formula may not be easily replicated. The bad taste from the second "Transformers" looks like it could affect "Dark of the Moon," which is on pace to make considerably less over its first six days of release. It may not be long before there's a mea culpa for the new film -- just as soon as the fourth "Transformers" begins rolling out.


"Transformers" will detonate the weekend competition

"Transformers" actor Shia LaBeouf, rough edges and all

Movie review: "Transformers: Dark of the Moon"

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: A scene from "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." Credit: Paramount Pictures / Associated Press

Critical Mass: 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon' gets thrashed (who knew?)

July 1, 2011 |  7:30 am

The reviews for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" prove that there are actually three certainties in life: death, taxes and the reality that critics hate "Transformers" movies. So it's not saying much that the film also known as "Transformers 3" is probably getting the best reviews in franchise history -- or that they may contain more positives than the notices for the Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts dud "Larry Crowne."

Some damn Michael Bay's film about Autobots and Decepticons with faint praise or backhanded compliments; others with good old-fashioned fulminations. At least one, Marshall Fine, decided it wasn't even worth the time to watch and put pixels to screen. But perhaps that was too hasty, considering how much fun some reviewers are having in chopping up the bots.

The Times' Betsy Sharkey delivers one of the more positive assessments, praising -- at some level -- the use of 3-D, star Shia LaBeouf and the film's humorous touches. "Don't get me wrong, the franchise remains as much an endurance test as a movie," she writes, "but at least a better Bay has delivered a leaner, meaner, cleaner 3-D rage against the machines."

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Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy will be bootleggers

December 7, 2010 |  7:18 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy together? In the 1920s?

The hot young acting pair will team up to make "The Wettest County in the World," a Prohibtion-era dramatic thriller from director John Hillcoat ("The Road"), according to two people familiar with the film.

LaBeouf, who had previously been mentioned in conjunction with the project, and Hardy, who hadn't, will both be taking a turn to period pieces. LaBeouf did star in the golf movie "The Greatest Game Ever Played" but is of course best known for action movies and thrillers.

Hardy, meanwhile, was in adaptations such as "Wuthering Heights" and "Black Hawk Down" but is best known for his role as the agent Eames in "Inception" this summer, and he has an as yet unrevealed part in "The Dark Knight Rises." (He's also currently shooting the Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy "This Means War.")

Nick Cave wrote the screenplay for "County" (speaking of teen pinups, albeit from another era). The film is based on a novel from Matt Bondurant about a family of Prohibition-era bootleggers, and crimes committed by and against them. The movie, an independently financed project that's being produced by the producers of "Jarhead" and "Girl, Interrupted" and executive produced by the man behind "Paranormal Activity," aims to begin shooting in the spring.

The firming up of LaBeouf and Hardy for "County" does put a pin, at least for the moment, in "College Republicans," in which LaBeouf was to play a young Lee Atwater and, sources say, Paul Dano a young Karl Rove, in the "Social Network"-esque story about the two conservative kingmakers in college.

That would have been juicy. But to see LaBeouf and Hardy as bootleggers may be worth the wait.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Tom Hardy in 'Inception.' Credit: Stephen Vaughan / Warner Bros.

Can a Hollywood troublemaker play a conservative hero?

October 14, 2010 |  9:00 am


We reported last week that Shia LaBeouf was seriously weighing a role in "College Republicans," a fictionalized story of the late Republican political consultant Lee Atwater and recent presidential advisor Karl Rove during their campus days.

Earlier this week, LaBeouf's interest in the part was highlighted with the most unexpected of sightings: outside a Washington cafe, where he was spotted underlining passages in a book about Atwater. (The Atwater part is considered the meatier of the two; the film's plot centers on Rove running for the head of a college Republican group in the 1970s, with Atwater orchestrating his campaign.)

Whether LaBeouf has the acting chops to pull it off is an open question, one we're sure commenters will have an opinion on. But it's hard not to be amused, in a general casting sense, about the possibility of an actor who started out as a Disney Channel star and then became the center of a Hollywood action franchise like "Transformers" now inhabiting the part of the cutthroat strategist responsible for George H.W. Bush's notorious Willie Horton ad. Certainly playing an ends-justify-the-means type would be a refreshing switch after LaBeouf''s idealistic turn in 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps."

Yet for those who admire Atwater as a pivotal figure in Reagan-era political blood sport, the part will be scrutinized with a far more ideological lens. LaBeouf would, it's safe to say, probably not be the first choice to play Atwater among those who hold Republican values dear. Apart from having little known affinity for the GOP, the actor has been known for assorted bad behavior, particularly with a series of arrests several years ago.

It's almost easy to hear the chorus of exasperation already: The casting of LaBeouf is further proof that Hollywood is intent on telling its own version of history will little regard to accuracy, and with even less favor for ideologies to which it is unsympathetic.

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Who does Shia LaBeouf play from here (and is it Karl Rove)?

October 7, 2010 |  6:26 pm


The occasional tabloid debacle or Frankie Muniz throwdown aside, Shia LaBeouf has proved he's one of the most bankable young stars out there.

Love him or hate him, with the actor in a lead role even movies with mixed reviews become mega-hits ("Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull") and sequels with questionable premises ("Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps") gain a sizable audience. And if he's in a big-budget special-effects tentpole, it's a barn-burner at the box office (the first two "Transformers" films). Critics -- and he has plenty -- will say he just chooses surefire projects, and there's something to that. But then, you need a certain appeal even to be offered those parts in the first place.

Yet after the third movie in the "Transformers" series is released next summer, LaBeouf, who's made five movies in four years, won't be seen anywhere for a while.

He's yet to book his next part, which means we likely will go through the end of 2011 and well into 2012 before catching him on the big screen again. His representatives in Hollywood have in recent weeks been talking up a storm with numerous executives and producers trying to figure out what his next part would be -- and furrowing their brows about his potential lag in taking one.

LaBeouf has been mentioned in conjunction with "The Associate," the adaptation of the John Grisham legal thriller. But that movie has been in development for two years and has no director, so that's probably not happening overnight.

Those close to LaBeouf have said that the 24-year-old is very interested in "College Republicans," the comedy-drama about a young Karl Rove vying for the position of chief campus conservative under the guidance of one Lee Atwater, who's his campaign manager. A lot of actors have expressed interest in either of the two lead parts -- Wes Jones' script, set up at "Beaver" producer Anonymous Content, has been a hot commodity in recent months and will likely end up high on the year-end Black List -- and LaBeouf is said to be among the actors who wants in. (There's officially no director yet, though Richard Linklater's name has surfaced, which means the recently studio-minded LaBeouf would be working with one of the forefathers of the modern indie movement.)

A part in "Republicans" would be a milestone of sorts. For one thing, it would be a more meaty part -- he's never played a well-known political or historical figure. LaBeouf also hasn't had a leading role in a major comedy in his film career. That's kind of hard to believe given his likability among younger women, but since he vaulted to megastardom about four years ago, most of the movies he's made have been thrillers ("Disturbia," "Eagle Eye") or action franchises ("Transformers," "Indiana Jones"). If there's comedy in his movies at all, it usually passes quickly while alien robots are exploding around him.

That's striking, and a bit of a conspicuous hole, for a star who's often compared to Tom Hanks. Hanks had diversified into "Big" and "The Bachelor Party" at a comparable point in his career. While LaBeouf's intensity might seem to militate against comedy, at the beginning of his career goofy was pretty much all he did (starring as the practical-joker younger sibling on the Disney Channel hit "Even Stevens." For an, um, reminder, check out the clip below.)

A star like LaBeouf is in an enviable position. He pretty much has the clout to star in any film he pleases, and get a costar and director he approves of along with it. For actors with similar carte blanche, this can mean repeated trips to the action-movie cash register (Tom Cruise, for a certain part of his career) or leveraging that power into quirky roles in passion projects (Matt Damon and Brad Pitt, at their most recent stages). LaBeouf is still young enough to decide which way he wants to go. But he may want to make up his mind soon -- there's another crop of even younger male stars coming  up right behind him.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky in "Transformers." Credit: Paramount Pictures. Video research credit: Amy Kaufman


Cannes 2010: Shia LaBeouf: We botched the last Indiana Jones

Critical Mass: 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps'

September 24, 2010 |  1:00 pm


The years have not been kind to Gordon Gekko, as we see from the opening moments of Oliver Stone's "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps." The '80s bad boy who once famously boasted that "Greed is good" is now an ex-con, recently released from prison into a world even more cutthroat than the one he left.

The same could be said for Stone's film, which attempts to recapture the magic of the 1987 original but seems to have cleanly divided the critics. They generally still love Michael Douglas' Gekko but could pass on the rest of the stuff Stone adds to his plate.

The Times' Kenneth Turan found the sequel to be unfocused and sloppy: "The film has more moving parts than a pricey Rolex, and they are not all in sync." But he does have high praise for the bad guys, if only we could see more of them. "So let's hear it for Josh Brolin's Bretton," Turan says. "And some applause for the fearless 94-year-old Eli Wallach's Julie Steinhardt, terrifying when he makes eccentric bird noises and talks about the crash of '29 and the end of the world. And we can't forget Michael Douglas as Gekko Redux, at least in those moments when the film allows him to be as bad as he ought to be."

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Tony Scott could get Grisham-ed

August 4, 2010 |  7:27 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Tony Scott has directed a lot of commercial pictures in his prolific career -- action movies set amid fighter pilots, hostage movies set on trains, thrillers set in high-level government agencies. But he's never taken on the pinnacle of commercial pictures: a John Grisham thriller.

That could change shortly, as the director is, according to sources, just a step away from taking the director's job on "The Associate." The film, set up at Paramount, is a Grisham-derived conspiracy thriller about a young lawyer blackmailed into taking a job at a high-profile firm to pass along secrets to a shady defense contractor. Paramount was not immediately available for comment.

Like that other big-firm blackmail movie from Grisham, the mega-hit "The Firm," in which Sydney Pollack directed Tom Cruise, "The Associate" comes with a boatload of talent -- William Monahan wrote the script, Shia LaBeouf is starring and Lorenzo Di Bonaventura is producing.

Scott has a proven box-office hand, though his record has been uneven of late -- a movie of his hasn't earned more than $70 million domestically since 2004 ("Man on Fire"), and hasn't exceeded $100 million since 1998 ("Enemy of the State").

That might make Paramount think twice about the film's budget; certainly that was an issue for Fox in an on-again-off-again backstage drama around the Scott-directed, Denzel Washington-starring action movie "Unstoppable" (which wound up getting greenlighted and will be released in the fall).

Still, there are bigger gambles. Scott is known as one of the more reliable thriller hands out there, and if you're trying to limit the uncertainty on a bigger-budget thriller, teaming Scott with the writer of "The Departed" and a "Transformers" star would seem pretty much the best way to do it.

As for Grisham, he could use a seasoned pedigree and a big marketing budget: After four $90-million-plus grossers in four years in the mid-1990s, he hasn't had a legal thriller crack the $50-million mark since "A Time to Kill" did it in 1996.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Tony Scott. Credit:  Stefano Paltera / Los Angeles Times

Denzel Washington, at an action-movie crossroads

Tony, Ridley Scott looking at MGM?

Shia LaBeouf: 'We botched the last Indiana Jones'

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Cannes 2010: Shia LaBeouf: We botched the last Indiana Jones

May 15, 2010 |  3:48 pm

The last time Shia LaBeouf came to Cannes, in 2008, it was to promote "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," the revival of the swashbuckling adventure franchise that went on to earn a whopping $787 million around the world. LaBeouf is back on the Croisette this weekend to flog "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," another revival of a classic from several decades ago. But he's not willing to forget about what he says were rampant problems with Indy 4 -- and he doesn't expect fans to, either.

"I feel like I dropped the ball on the legacy that people loved and cherished," LaBeouf said, explaining that this upped the ante for him before he began shooting the "Wall Street" sequel. "If I was going to do it twice, my career was over. So this was fight-or-flight for me."

Meeting with reporters Saturday on a terrace at the Hotel du Cap, he had some strong, confessional words about his acting in the film, which he said he felt didn't convince anyone that he was the action hero the movie claimed him to be. "You get to monkey-swinging and things like that and you can blame it on the writer and you can blame it on Steven [Spielberg, who directed]. But the actor's job is to make it come alive and make it work, and I couldn't do it. So that's my fault. Simple."

LaBeouf said that he could have kept quiet, especially given the movie's blockbuster status, but didn't

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