News & Updates
October 18, 2020
Post-“Tenet,” when major studios have all but abandoned theaters, it’s the indies that shine a little light. They have their pick of the screens and an ability to hold them not seen since… well, ever. (“Unhinged”: nine weeks and counting in the U.S.) It’s not enough to make up the difference of a COVID-impacted marketplace, but it’s enough for Open Road’s Liam Neeson vehicle “Honest Thief” to take no. 1 with $3.7 million
Overall grosses continued a slow uptick, with this weekend’s Top Ten total of $11.8 million the best since the second weekend of “Tenet” in the U.S. The full total looks to be around $14 million, again an improvement. (The same weekend in 2019 was $138 million.)
Regal, the second-largest chain, remains all but closed. New York state and Seattle are now open; New York City, Los Angeles County, and San Francisco remain closed. Those missing theaters impacted “Honest Thief,” which bested “The War with Grandpa” by a small margin in initial estimates. (Praise to Open Road for not including a full week of earlier Canadian grosses in its weekend report, unlike some of its competitors.) With access to all theaters and regions, “Honest Thief” might have seen $7 million.
Since “Taken” in 2008, Liam Neeson has made nearly a dozen action thrillers in the same vein (including the two “Taken” sequels), of which “Honest Thief” is the latest. The one prior, 2019’s “Cold Pursuit,” opened to $11 million. As a very rough guess, projecting $7 million as a feasible gross would suggest that audience reluctance to go to theaters is equal to a 35 percent-40 percent drop. These are the kind of equations studios consider as they determine which titles will go foraward this year. (Seating restrictions have had virtually no impact; there are far too few people going to test them.)
Two other new titles appeared in the top 10. “2 Hearts” eschewed VOD and tried to appeal to younger females with its faith-based romantic story and Cuban-American appeal, went nowhere with only $565,000 in 1,683 theaters. That’s a per-theater average of $336. At least “Love and Monsters” had the excuse of parallel PVOD play. It took in $255,000 in 387 theaters.
With reduced competition, holdovers continued to show smaller drops. “The War with Grandpa” dropped 31 percent its second weekend, for #2. “Tenet” continued decent holds, down 25 percent at #3. It was helped by Seattle’s openings, where it held five of its 10 best theaters. That suggest that there is still interest in Christopher Nolan’s film and could mean significant new business ahead in other currently closed areas.
“Unhinged” and “The New Mutants” (now in its eighth week) continue in the top 10. “Tenet” and now “Unhinged” are the only titles to gross more than $20 million since theater reopenings began. “Tenet” is now over $50 million domestic and $334 million worldwide; the optimistic maximum is $400 million.
“The Nightmare Before Christmas”
Three Halloween-related reissues placed in the top 10. “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” which is #4, joined “Hocus Pocus” from Disney. That’s the second Tim Burton revival, with “Beetlejuice” also placing. (Warner Bros. did not report numbers, but estimates are below.) His “Corpse Bride” (Warner Bros.) is #13. Indeed, 10 of the top 20 grossing films this weekend are Halloween revivals.
The pandemic will continue to inform many decisions, and many countries are seeing significant resurgence. Upcoming (at this writing) are Universal with “Freaky” (November 13) and “Croods: New Age” (November 20). Those titles have the incentive of the studio’s limited-window AMC deal. “Wonder Woman 1984” still holds December 18; word from Warners sources is it hopes to stay.
The Top Ten
1. Honest Thief (Open Road) Week 2; Last weekend #7
$3,700,000 in 2,425 theaters (+2,182); PTA: $1,526; Cumulative: $4,200,000
2. The War with Grandpa (101) Week 2; Last weekend #1
$2,502,000 (-31%) in 2,260 theaters (+10); PTA: $1,107; Cumulative: $7,256,000
3. Tenet (Warner Bros.) Week 7; Last weekend #2
$1,600,000 (-25%) in 2,001 theaters (-214); PTA: $800; Cumulative: $50,600,000
4. The Nightmare Before Christmas (Disney) REISSUE
$1,323,000 in 2,194 theaters; PTA: $603; Cumulative: $(adjusted) 168,300,000
5. Hocus Pocus (Disney) REISSUE; Last weekend #3
$756,000 (-35%) in 1,640 theaters (-660); PTA: $461; Cumulative: $(adjusted) $93,500,000
6. 2 Hearts (Freestyle) NEW
$565,000 in 1,683 theaters; PTA: $336; Cumulative: $565,000
7. The New Mutants (Disney) Week 8; Last weekend #4
$465,000 (-34%) in 1,293 theaters (-370); PTA: $; Cumulative: $22,721,000
8. Unhinged (Solstice) Week 10; Last weekend #5
$425,000 (-38%) in 1,276 theaters (-332); PTA: $364; Cumulative: $20,038,000
9. Love and Monsters (Paramount) NEW; also on Premium VOD
$255,000 in 387 theaters; PTA: $659; Cumulative: $255,000
10. Beetlejuice (Warner Bros.) REISSUE; Last weekend #8
$(est.) 220,000 (-2%) in 315 theaters (-54); PTA: $698; Cumulative: $(adjusted) 178,600,000
Source: IndieWire film
October 18, 2020
Rhonda Fleming died last Wednesday in Santa Monica, California. The 97-year-old actress, who had left a successful 15-year career as a leading lady in studio films 60 years ago, was correctly noted in her obituaries as “the Queen of Technicolor” because of her flaming red hair, as well as her significant presence as a film noir actress, particularly in Jacques Tourneur’s masterpiece “Out of the Past” (1947).
Her films included a number of now-acclaimed auteurist titles like Budd Boetticher’s “The Killer Is Loose,” Allan Dwan’s “Slightly Scarlet” and “Tennessee’s Partner,” and Fritz Lang’s “While the City Sleeps,” to go along with more mainstream titles like “The Spiral Staircase” and “The Gunfight at O.K. Corral.”
Unlike actresses like Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly, Tippi Hedren, and others who made multiple films with Alfred Hitchcock, Fleming is less identified with the master. But he provided her with her breakout role in 1945’s “Spellbound.” A contract player for its producer David O. Selznick, she played a nymphomaniac under study by a psychiatrist and Bergman in the murder mystery, one of Hitchcock’s few Best Picture nominees.
The film is held in lower regard among his titles (its Freudian aspects have not dated well), but it did place Fleming among the remain actors that were still alive. We have previously listed the survivors, the last time two years ago when Barbara Harris (“Family Plot”) died. At that point, we counted 24 actors who had credited roles in Hitchcock’s features. The number now stands at 19, with along with Fleming, Doris Day, Katherine Helmond, Michel Piccolli, and Karin Dor no longer alive.
Of the remaining, two are over 100, eight over 90, 17 over 80.
Fleming for much of her retirement (she had amassed lucrative holdings in real estate by the time she left movies) was married to sometime producer and exhibitor Ted Mann. His Mann Theaters included the Chinese (which he renamed the Mann Chinese) as well as significant Los Angeles area locations, particularly in Westwood. They were socially active until his death in 2001, keeping her a familiar figure in film business circles even though her popular fame waned.
It’s nearly impossible to track every actor who appeared in his work. (Anyone from Hitchcock’s early British films would have had to be a very small child.) However, there are still a number of still-living significant actors with major roles in his films.
Here are the best-known actors and/or roles (their age after their name):
Norman Lloyd (105)
“Saboteur” (1942), a wartime spy film with a coast-to-coast chase, climaxes with a classic Hitchcock scene of the hero and villain fighting atop the Statue of Liberty. Lloyd was the villain, famously tripping over the side and begging Robert Cummings to save him in a foreshadowing of “North by Northwest” and “Vertigo.” He’s still an active presence in film circles today. He also had a less-prominent role as a psychiatric patient in “Spellbound” (1945), and his legacy also includes roles for Jean Renoir, Anthony Mann, Charles Chaplin, and Martin Scorsese.
Nehemiah Persoff (101)
This veteran character actor played Henry Fonda’s brother-in-law in “The Wrong Man.” He was a prominent Golden Age of Television actor; later in his career, he was Barbra Streisand’s father in “Yentl.” (Also making their very brief debuts in “The Wrong Man” were Tuesday Weld and Bonnie Franklin.)
Eva Marie Saint (96)
One of the most luminous of Hitchcock’s blondes, her companionship with Cary Grant on his cross-country journey in “North by Northwest” is perhaps her best-known role.
Brigitte Auber (95)
Remember Cary Grant’s surprise when he learns in “To Catch a Thief” that his rival as a Cannes cat burglar is a woman? That was Brigitte Auber. Her career otherwise, mainly in the 1950s, was in her native France.
Patricia Hitchcock (92)
His only child was a strong presence in two 1950s Warner Bros. films: “Stage Fright” (1950) with Marlene Dietrich, and more memorably as Ruth Roman’s precocious sister in “Strangers on a Train” (1951). Later, she has a brief but notable appearance in the early Phoenix-set scenes of “Psycho” (1960).
Vera Miles (91)
Hitchcock was grooming Miles for bigger things when he cast her in a somewhat thankless role as Henry Fonda’s wife “The Wrong Man.” She had already made an impact the same year in John Ford’s “The Searchers.” She became pregnant right as Hitchcock hoped she’d play Madeleine in “Vertigo,” but returned as Janet Leigh’s sister in “Psycho.”
Sean Connery (90)
Right in the middle of his early Bond films, Connery played the wealthy publisher who took a somewhat obsessive interest in “Marnie.”
Tippi Hedren (89)
None of his actors is more closely tied for his or her work with him as Hedren. Her debut roles in “The Birds” (1963) and “Marnie” (1964) led to her charging her mentor with psychological abuse and more, with her career withering soon after working with him.
Kim Novak (87)
Her career would have been memorable without “Vertigo” (1958), but that film will forever be her legacy.
Shirley Maclaine (86)
This legend’s film career began with her debut in “The Trouble With Harry” (1955) as a young mother in a New England town who must help the locals deal with an inconvenient corpse.
Jean Marsh (86)
In the middle of her best-known role on TV’s “Upstairs Downstairs,” Marsh appeared in “Frenzy” — one of several delicious small parts played by major British actors.
Julie Andrews (85)
After “The Sound of Music,” her next role was in Cold War thriller “Torn Curtain” (1966) as Paul Newman’s fiancee.
Bruce Dern (84)
He played a small part in the 1964 “Marnie,” then the lead in “Family Plot.”
Barbara Leigh-Hunt (84)
The film debut for this stage actress as the strangled woman in “Frenzy” (1972) is by far the best known in her career.
William Devane (81)
His biggest roles have been for TV, but Devane’s turn as a jeweler with a shady past in “Family Plot” was a standout in his film work.
Diane Baker (82)
“Marnie” is one of several supporting roles from the late 1950s to mid 60s from Baker, who here played Connery’s sister in law who warns him about his new passion.
Mariette Hartley (80)
Also in “Marnie,” she played a coworker of the title character. She remains a busy actress, mostly on TV.
Jerry Mathers (70)
Before “Leave It to Beaver,” Mathers received his first credited screen role as the boy who first stumbles over the body in “The Trouble With Harry.”
Veronica Cartwright (68)
Her role as Rod Taylor’s perky kid sister in “The Birds” led to an extensive career primarily in TV. She later had prime roles in the remake of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” “Alien,” and “The Right Stuff.”
Source: IndieWire film
October 18, 2020
Sienna Miller got a taste of what the Hitchcock Blonde experience might’ve been like when she portrayed Tippi Hedren in 2012’s HBO movie “The Girl” about the making of “The Birds” and the filmmaker’s torturous methods. Alfred Hitchcock notoriously held control over Hedren’s career with a seven-year contract, and reportedly made her life a living hell on the set of “The Birds” and “Marnie,” the only two films they did together after Hitch plucked her out of a Sego commercial.
While Miller said she’s never experienced any abuse in her career firsthand, she still found resonance in the role, as she said while reflecting on Hedren’s destructive relationship with her director, and how Hedren’s story might play out today, during a recent Montclair Film Festival Q&A.
“With certain directors, there’s an element of control. I tend to respond really positively to nurturing warmth and support, but there are directors who have gotten performances out of me by doing the opposite,” said Miller, who was attending the festival virtually to support her new movie “Wander Darkly.” “Nothing on the level of Hitchcock and Tippi. That was a really, really traumatizing, appalling experience for her. And not only how he treated her in the making of those films but in the aftermath. He kept her under contract. He wouldn’t release her to work with Godard and Truffaut, etc. who we were all trying to hire her, but just kept her for 10 years under this contract and watched her grow old, without making anything. It was very sadistic.”
Miller added, “Thankfully I think the world has changed enough where if anybody even attempted that kind of abuse, there is an army of women that would come out and fight it. And I feel very fortunate to be working in these times, because I think that story is not uncommon of that era. You really belonged to the studio that you were assigned to and, essentially, to the director.”
Miller said that she’s never been confronted with any “sexual abuse” in her career. “But there was yelling, and there was inappropriate behavior. I do remember when I was younger going for auditions. You’d do do the tape, and they’d seem disinterested, but then they’d make you turn around and film your whole body, and zoom in… people are a lot more careful,” she said.
“Wander Darkly” will be released by Lionsgate in December in select theaters and on VOD, and it’s currently playing virtual festivals, including Montclair and AFI Fest.
Source: IndieWire film
October 18, 2020
As movie theater chains scramble to recoup losses due to shutdowns caused by the pandemic nationwide, AMC Theatres has at least one new trick up its sleeve. Following in the footsteps of the Alamo Drafthouse, which unveiled a similar program earlier this year, the Private Movie Showing program at AMC now allows consumers to rent out an entire theater for the cool starting price of $99.
You can host a personal screening for one, or host a party for up to 20 people. While $99 is the base rate for older films — there’s a limited selection available — additional costs accrue if you want to have food, or use a microphone to emcee the event, and newer movies cost at least $149. The selection currently includes “Tenet,” “The War with Grandpa,” Honest Thief,” “The New Mutants,” and “Unhinged” on the newer side of things, plus classic movies like “Hocus Pocus,” “Jurassic Park,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and “Shrek.”
The catering fee for bringing food is currently at a steep $250, and you’re not allowed to bring any food that requires heating. The program started rolling out on Friday in most states, though Alaska and Hawaii aren’t currently listed on the website.
Cinemark is also offering a similar plan, though with a more limited selection of older movies. This new kind of personalized screening experience arrives as theaters are getting desperate, with AMC warning it could run out of cash by early 2021. There’s also the lack of new product, with the majority of major studio movies either pushed to streaming (like Disney/Pixar’s “Soul”) or into next year entirely (Warner Bros.’ “Dune” and MGM/United Artists’ “No Time to Die”).
However, there was some good news yesterday for theater chains in New York State, as Governor Andrew Cuomo said theaters can reopen their doors beginning October 23. (Everywhere except New York City, that is.) As has been the usual for reopened theaters, assigned seating will be required in all theaters (which means even those not equipped for assigned seating). Social distancing will be required at all times. Additional staffing will also be required to control crowds, general traffic, and seating in order to ensure compliance. Theaters will also be required to meet air filtration, ventilation, and purification standards.
Source: IndieWire film
October 18, 2020
Andrew Bujalski may be best known as the godfather of mumblecore, but “Support the Girls” director’s career took a surprising turn last year when he wrote the screenplay for Disney’s live-action remake of the beloved 1955 animated classic “Lady and the Tramp.” But it’s not uncommon for big studios to turn to more low-key talent to bring an elevated sensibility to a project (see Alex Ross Perry’s “Christopher Robin” screenplay). In a recent conversation out of the BendFilm Festival, moderated by IndieWire’s Eric Kohn, Bujalski spoke about molding his vision into a pre-existing property, and what made it (and didn’t make it) into the final film.
“Just when I started batting ideas around with the producer [Brigham Taylor], I really tried to rethink, I tried to kind of take it from scratch,” he said. “There [were] never any illusions that like this was going to be my movie and, by the way, at no point was I attached as a director. It was always very clearly this was going to be a writing job, where I tried to just take the existing thing and do a kind of update on it. I was always trying to write in a Disney voice more than my own voice.”
Bujalski was offered the project by a Disney producer who was already in Austin to meet with fellow Texan director Jeff Nichols. It provided Bujalski with his first taste of writing to meet the expectations of a studio. “Because this is the only way I know how to work, I kind of stripped it down and started throwing other images and ideas in it and building something back up,” he said. “And ultimately, the producer kind of gently guided me back toward like, ‘Remember how they did everything before? Let’s do it like that.’”
Still, he said that process was cathartic. “However, as much as I generated stuff that got thrown away, having gone through that process really helped me. I don’t think I would’ve known how to do just a carbon copy of the original if I hadn’t gone through finding my voice in it,” he said.
In a moment that has found Disney reckoning with its legacy — even going to the lengths of placing disclaimers ahead of classic titles on Disney+ — Bujalski said that certain elements of the original were scrapped for the refresh. “The first thing that everybody agreed on before we really got into anything was ‘I think we’re probably going to lose the racist cats,’” he said, referring to “The Siamese Cat Song” reinterpreted by Janelle Monae for the new movie.
While Bujalski doesn’t have another project coming out this year, he said he did complete writing on a new project that he was about to head into earlier this year right when the pandemic hit, and said he was developing a smaller project that might be more viable to shoot in the immediate future.
Source: IndieWire film
October 16, 2020
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Pelican 1610 Watertight Hard Case
October 16, 2020
Live streaming with Sony cameras made easy.
In August, Sony released its Imaging Edge Webcam software that turns compatible cameras into a live streaming webcam via USB. At the time, it was only available for Windows 10 (64 bit).
Sony has now released a version for macOS (10.13 – 10.15).
The software is very easy to use. After downloading the correct version for your computer, it’s essentially plug-n-play where all you need is a USB cable that can connect from one end of your camera into your machine.
The one thing to note is to first set your camera to the auto position and then after launching the live streaming platform, you can then change the setting on the camera.
Sony has made a number of cameras compatible in its Alpha A-mount, E-mount, and digital still lineup, including the a7S III. Both the Windows and macOS versions can be downloaded here.
October 16, 2020
Is he is, or is he ain’t, the Dane’s boy?
My introduction to Miller’s Crossing was during a course taught on the Coen brothers by Robert Ribera, a professor at Portland State University. I was his Teacher’s Assistant when he was at Boston University, and he gave me the movie to watch to prep for the course.
It was the only Coen brothers movie I had never seen… and it is the one that’s stuck with me as long as even the more famous ones, like Fargo. It was different than other mafia movies, but still had the balls to have an opening shot directly from The Godfather.
I consider this movie to be one of the finest gangster movies ever made, a classic of the gangster genre.
The story is an amoral tale… about morals within the criminal underworld of the 1930s. There are two rival gangs vying for control of a city. The police are pawns, and the busts of illicit drinking establishments are just ways for one gang to get back at the other.
October 16, 2020
Something clicked when Scorsese saw his first film… and now he’s working to preserve film for all of us today.
Martin Scorsese is one of the most important people in cinema. Not only is he a wonderful director, but he also has done incredible work to preserve the use of film and the historical films of our times.
The magic of movies still fascinates us today. The films of yesteryear are an important portal for us to see how the art form has changed and what life was like across decades.
In the video below, Scorsese appears as director and founder of The Film Foundation, giving insight into why film preservation is vital and how he works to keep the history of cinema alive.
We’ve lost a ton of old movies. Film is fragile, and there was a time when the silver nitrate used to make them was melted down to extract precious metals. For Scorsese, films are the common image and idea that define humanity.
They capture a moment in time that can echo in eternity, with the proper work and preservation.
October 16, 2020
Filmmaking can be a tough industry to break into. And in my case, I thought it would be especially difficult in my 40’s.
I didn’t have the option of spending months or years working as a PA to make connections, moving up the ladder slowly, or learning on set as I go.
On the other hand, I also read uplifting success stories of many filmmakers who started their careers later in life, such as Ava DuVernay or Valerie Faris.
After a 20-year career in the fashion corporate world, I decided to go into documentary filmmaking—an industry that many thought would be too tough to break into and take too long to monetize. But just one year later, I have a documentary short screening at several film festivals and streaming on Amazon, a feature documentary that is in post- production, and a third in the planning stages.
So how can you accelerate the learning process and get on a successful track in the movie business? Here are some tips I can share through my experience in hopes that it will help other people who are in a similar position.