Wednesday, April 25, 2018

News Briefs

Displaying 1 - 10 of 2969
  • Wednesday, Apr. 25, 2018
Ridley Scott to curate Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase in partnership with MPC
Ridley Scott

Acclaimed film and commercial director Ridley Scott will curate the Saatchi & Saatchi annual New Directors’ Showcase for this one special celebratory year at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity in June.

Saatchi invited Scott to take on the task as his RSA Films celebrates 50 years of commercial production. Recently honored with a BAFTA fellowship and having such recent feature credits as All the Money in the World and The Martian, Scott will work with Saatchi and VFX house MPC to select this year’s reel of the best new directing talent.

Saatchi’s Showcase has been wooing and wowing audiences at the Cannes Lions Fest for the past 27 years. The Scott family and RSA have a long association with the Showcase. Jake Scott, for example, was featured in the very first Showcase in 1991. And RSA/Black Dog Films alumni Chris Cunningham and Dawn Shadforth were featured in 1997 and ‘99, respectively.

  • Tuesday, Apr. 24, 2018
MPAA head says theaters will survive rise of streaming sites
Charles Rivkin, chairman and CEO of the MPAA, addresses the audience at CinemaCon 2018, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, at Caesars Palace on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Two film industry leaders told theater owners Tuesday that are optimistic about the movie and theatrical exhibition business despite concerns about declining attendance and competition from streaming services.

New MPPA chief Charles Rivkin and John Fithian, the president and CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners, delivered a state of the industry speech at CinemaCon, saying the strength of the movies being released will dictate box-office sales.

"Our business rises or falls on the movies in our cinemas," Fithian said.

CinemaCon is an annual gathering of theater owners and exhibitors, during which they get a look upcoming films from major Hollywood studios and a preview of some of the latest and greatest in theatrical technologies and even concession options.

Rivkin, who recently took over the position at the MPAA from Christopher Dodd, said that 263 million people went to the movies at least once in North America in 2017 — more than three quarters of the North American population. He noted that while the box office was slightly down from the record in 2016, it was on par with the 2015 record. He says he believes the market will always move between record-high or near record years.

He also stressed that he would continue to fight to protect intellectual property with anti-piracy efforts.  Film and television account for $16.5 billion in exports, he said, and that the industry supports 2.1 million jobs and $139 billion in wages every year.

Rivkin was previously the president and CEO of The Jim Henson Company and also served as the U.S. Ambassador to France and as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs.

"Let's always deliver on the promise of our creative industry: high quality stories that speak to the hopes and dreams of our audience, and will continue to do so for generations to come," Rivkin said.

Fithian also applauded filmmakers and distributors for "taking significant steps to achieve more diversity and positive representation on the big screen," which he says their consumers are "demanding."

"We are optimistic that 2017 and 2018 will one day be viewed as a turning point on this front," Fithian said.

Fithian also spoke to some of the major fears of the movie business and said that younger audiences are still passionate moviegoers.  According to comScore, moviegoers ages 18-44 constituted 63% of the total box office in 2017_up from 61% in 2016.  Fithian said that disruption, whether it's streaming or shortened periods where films are show exclusively in theaters, will not kill the theatrical business.

He wondered if "Black Panther," ''Get Out" or "Wonder Woman" would have been cultural landmarks had they gone straight to streaming.

"I have worked with (theater owners) for 26 years. I can't begin to tell you how often reporters have asked me if the movie theater industry is dying. Every downturn in admissions is a sign of secular decline, every innovation or improvement is intended to 'save' the movie theater business," he said. "There has been a lot of hype about the next 'disruption,'" he said, listing off advancements ranging from VHS to the advent of films releasing in theaters and home services the same day. "Yet we never die but remain a strong business in the face of disruption everywhere else in the entertainment landscape."

  • Tuesday, Apr. 24, 2018
At Tribeca, the night belongs to Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen, center, and Patti Smith, right, perform after a special screening of "Horses: Patti Smith and Her Band" at the Beacon Theatre during the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, on Monday, April 23, 2018, in New York. (Photo by Brad Barket/Invision/AP)

The night belonged to Patti Smith at the Tribeca Film Festival — and to her friend Bruce Springsteen, who thrilled the crowd with a surprise visit to perform the hit they co-wrote, "Because the Night."

The occasion was Monday night's premiere of a new concert documentary about Smith, "Horses: Patti Smith and Her Band," directed by Steven Sebring. After the film, which documents the January 2016 Los Angeles concerts where Smith performed her album, "Horses," to mark its 40th anniversary, the curtain rose at Manhattan's Beacon Theater. Standing there was Smith, 71, and her band — this time in the flesh.

They performed several hits, including "Dancing Barefoot" and "Gloria." After Smith introduced her band members, she said she had one more person to introduce — and out strolled Springsteen, to the roaring of the crowd. Together, they performed "Because the Night," for which Springsteen wrote the music and chorus, and Smith the verses. Springsteen stayed around for the finale, too, a spirited rendition of Smith's "People Have the Power." On that one, they were joined another friend — former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe.

During the concert, Smith paid tribute to the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and their fight against gun violence, calling them "the hope of this planet."

"We have to be with them — pray with them, march with them," she said, before launching into a rendition of "For What It's Worth." ''Their cause is our future.

Again at the end of the set, Smith called on "our young people to lead us."

"People, we have to make change NOW," she said.

Sebring's documentary will become available for streaming in May.

  • Monday, Apr. 23, 2018
Strong ad sales boost Google parent Alphabet's 1Q earnings
In this Feb. 14, 2018, file photo the logo for Alphabet appears on a screen at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York. Alphabet Inc. reports earnings Monday, April 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Google parent Alphabet on Monday reported a jump in first-quarter net income on the back of strong digital ad sales and an accounting adjustment.

The Mountain View, California-based company's net income surged 73 percent to $9.4 billion, or $13.33 per share. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring gains including those from the accounting change, were $9.93 per share.

The results beat Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 13 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $9.21 per share.

The internet search leader posted revenue of $31.15 billion in the period. After subtracting Alphabet's advertising commissions, revenue was $24.86 billion, also beating Street forecasts. Eleven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $24.2 billion.

Still, Google's sunny quarter comes amid the backdrop of looming privacy regulations in the U.S. and Europe.

Backlash over Facebook's "breach of trust" regarding Cambridge Analytica could spark U.S. regulation that would crimp political ad spending on Google properties including YouTube. The Federal Election Commission has begun to review rules around ads that directly support federal candidates, though that would not have prevented Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

In Europe, the May 25 kick off of the General Data Protection Regulation is forcing Google, Facebook, Slack and other U.S. companies to adopt policies that make consumers more aware of what data they are handing over to online services. If users around the globe get more squeamish about how their data is used, it could slow Google's ad-revenue machine.

But these clouds did not deter Alphabet investors who sent shares up about 1 percent in aftermarket trading.

Shares in Alphabet Inc. have risen 2 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has stayed nearly flat.

  • Monday, Apr. 23, 2018
Stephen Curry signs broad production deal with Sony Pictures
This March 6, 2018 file photo shows Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry during an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

NBA star Stephen Curry is heading to Hollywood in a big way.

Sony Pictures Entertainment announced Monday that it has struck a deal with the Golden State Warriors All-Star guard to produce television, film and possibly gaming projects.

A press release states Curry and the company he has co-founded, Unanimous Media, will have their production headquarters on the Sony backlot in Culver City, California.

The projects developed by Curry's company will focus on family, faith, and sports themes.

No specific projects were announced Monday, but Curry says in a statement he wants to use the deal "to affect the world positively."

  • Monday, Apr. 23, 2018
Oscars returning to February, announce key dates of season
This Feb. 8, 2016 file photo shows a giant Oscar statuette at the 88th Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon in Beverly Hills, Calif. Next year’s The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Feb. 24, 2019. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP, File)

Next year's Oscars season has been set, with several events leading up to the broadcast of the 91st Academy Awards on Feb. 24, 2019.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced key dates during the season on Monday, including the handing out of its honorary Oscars, the Governors Awards, on Nov. 18.

Nominations will be announced on Jan. 22, and scientific and technical awards will be bestowed during a Feb. 9 gala.

The Oscars are traditionally handed out in February, but were bumped to March this year due to the Winter Olympics.

This year's Oscars reached 26.5 million viewers, easily a record low for what is often the second most-watched program of the year after the Super Bowl.

"The Shape of Water" won this year's best picture award.


  • Monday, Apr. 23, 2018
Director Oliver Stone in Iran for movie festival
This photo provided by Tasnim News Agency, shows American movie director Oliver Stone in a photo opportunity while attending the Fajr International Film Festival, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, April 23, 2018. (Hamed Malekpour/Tasnim News Agency via AP)
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- 

American movie director Oliver Stone was in Iran on Monday attending an international film festival.

Stone hosted a workshop for filmmakers during the Fajr Film Festival and planned to hold a news conference on Wednesday, Iranian media reported. French actor Jean-Pierre Léaud and Italian producer Giovanni Spagnoletti are also attending the festival.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency said Stone briefly visited the historical city of Isfahan the previous day.

This is the Hollywood director's first visit to Iran.

In 2007, Iran's then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rejected a proposal by Stone to make a film about him. Ahmadinejad said at the time that Stone is part the "Great Satan" cultural establishment, a reference to the United States.

In 2012, Stone's son Sean Stone visited Iran and converted to Shiite Islam.

  • Friday, Apr. 20, 2018
Call for submissions opens for DGA Student Film Awards spotlighting diverse talent

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) announced that the application period for the 24th Annual DGA Student Film Awards for African-American, Asian-American, Latino, and women directors is now open. The awards are designed to honor, encourage and bring attention to exceptional direction by diverse student filmmakers in film schools and select universities across the country.

Over the years, the DGA Student Film Awards have highlighted dozens of African American, Asian American, Latino and Women filmmakers. Winners of the DGA Student Film Awards in each category will receive a $2,500 prize from the DGA and have their films screened in a special ceremony at the DGA Theater.  

A number of past winners have gone on to enjoy successful directing careers, including:

  • Steven Caple Jr. (Creed II; Grown-ish; Rapture; The Land)
  • Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians; Now You See Me 2; G.I. Joe: Retaliation; Step Up 3D)
  • Ryan Coogler (Black Panther; Creed; Fruitvale Station)
  • Nicole Kassell (Westworld; The Americans; The Following; The Killing)
  • Patricia Riggen (Miracles From Heaven; The 33; Lemonade Mouth; Under the Same Moon)
  • Sylvain White (Slender Man; The Americans; Hawaii Five-0; Empire; Stomp the Yard)

This year’s application period runs from April 18-October 5, 2018, and the winners in each category will be announced in November. 

Eligible films must be made in the 2017/2018 school year (September 2017 through August 2018), and produced as a student project under the supervision of a faculty member. Dramas, comedies and documentaries are all eligible. Animated films, experimental films, commercials, music videos and webisodes are not eligible. Applicants must be enrolled in, or be a recent (one-year) graduate from, an accredited post-secondary institution located in the United States and selected by the DGA. Eligible films are those in which a student holds every major crew position. 

The DGA Student Film Awards application and submission process is entirely online. For more information, or to begin the application process, visit here.

  • Thursday, Apr. 19, 2018
Nat Geo says "Frankenstein" author is its next "Genius"
In this April 24, 2017 file photo, filmmaker Ron Howard arrives at the premiere of "Genius", in Los Angeles. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)

"Frankenstein" author Mary Shelley is the National Geographic TV network's third genius.

The network announced Thursday that the 19th-century writer will be the next subject of what is becoming a franchise, a miniseries on a particular historical figure. The first series, featuring Albert Einstein, premiered last year. The second, profiling artist Pablo Picasso, starts Tuesday.

Shelley was a prolific writer in the early 1800s, with "Frankenstein" in particular still alive as a piece of literature. The Shelley series will air in 2019, most likely in the spring. The same creative team of Brian Grazer and Ron Howard's Imagine Entertainment will make it.

Shelley died of a brain tumor in 1851 at age 53.

  • Thursday, Apr. 19, 2018
Company 3 opens new Chicago digs
Tyler Roth

Company 3’s Chicago color studio is relocating to a suite on State Street, housed on the 26th floor within the same building as Cutters Studios.

“We are very happy about this new location,” said Company 3 CEO Stefan Sonnenfeld. “Recent corporate changes have fueled some speculation about Company 3’s continued presence in Chicago but we fully intend to continue serving this very important region with Tyler (sr. colorist Roth) as the top talent in the city.”

Roth added, “Company 3 has been an integral part of the advertising community in Chicago since we opened the facility almost six years ago. I look forward to launching the new operation and continuing to partner with my agency friends, directors, cinematographers, and editors in our exciting new space.”