Making a movie on a shoestring budget


A year to the day after "Once" premiered at Ireland's Galway Film Fleadh, writer-director John Carney was trying to explain how he pulled it off.

How did he turn E130,000 (approximately $160,000 at the time) into a film that has earned more than $5 million in U.S. release? How did he parlay an average filmmaker's tip money into a contender for Oscar recognition and what looks to be an Independent Film Awards player in several categories?

The short answer: Economy-class filmmaking was familiar territory.

(Source: Variety)

INTERVIEW: John Tavolta is a real woman in ‘Hairspray’


WE had only just met, but John Travolta, big and handsome and hypnotic, was fondling the lapel of my navy blue blazer. “Ooh, what a great idea to match this with a cobalt blue shirt,” he cooed. “I wouldn’t have thought of that.”   Disarming, but doubtful. When it comes to appearances, Mr. Travolta seems to think of everything. Chatting on Father’s Day in his Spanish-style home here in the Brentwood hills, he was a carefully considered composition in black — blazer, shirt, pants — and crocodile slip-ons. His hair was precisely deployed in a center part flip, which made his bangs look like quotation marks framing his face.  Because we were discussing his role as the obese, fashion-challenged laundress Edna Turnblad in the $75 million movie version of the musical “Hairspray,” which opens nationwide on Friday, the subject naturally kept returning to clothing, coiffure and body type.

(Source: New York Times)

INTERVIEW: The makers of ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’


MoviesOnline sat down with producers David Heyman and David Barron, director David Yates, screenwriter Michael Goldenberg, and actor Imelda Staunton at the Los Angeles press day to talk about their new film, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” In this latest installment of the Potter franchise, Harry returns for his fifth year of study at Hogwarts and discovers that much of the wizarding community is in denial about the news that the evil Lord Voldemort has returned. Harry is met with suspicious glances and the headline in The Daily Prophet twists his surname from Potter to "Plotter,” accusing him outright of lying about Lord Voldemort’s return.

(Source: Movies Online)

The best acting teacher in Hollywood


Giovanni Ribisi called me. Burt Reynolds asked me to call him at home. The director Joel Schumacher called me from Romania between takes for his next movie. Anne Archer and I played phone tag for two weeks. A-list, B-list, stars of stage, stars of screen, they were all eager to talk. The Tony winners John Glover and Tyne Daly. Edie McClurg, the dippy secretary in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” David Carradine.

Put the word on the street that you’re writing about Milton Katselas, and every student he has ever had will want to tell you about the best acting teacher in the world, the man who took them from fresh-faced, straight-off-the-plane-at-LAX ingénues looking for work — commercials; God willing, someday a sitcom — to being real artists. They’ll tell you about how he saved them from the failings of the artist’s personality, like narcissism and drug addiction, and set them aright. They were born with the talent, but he gave them careers.

(Source: New York Times)

DVDs still biggest moneymaker for movie industry

Despite competition from Internet-based movie delivery, cable and satellite on-demand, and digital cinema, DVD continues to attract the majority of consumer spending on movies, according to the 2007 Annual Report on the Home Entertainment Industry, which was released today.  

Relying on data from industry sources, the report states that consumers spent $23.0 billion on DVD purchases and rentals in 2006, compared to $9.5 billion in box office revenue and $982 million for Internet, cable, and satellite on-demand. The report was released in conjunction with EMA's Home Media Expo 2007, the annual convention for the home entertainment industry, which opens tomorrow at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas. 

(Source: Entertainment Merchants Association)

The evolving relationship between moviemakers and online sites


When Leonardo DiCaprio's "The 11th Hour" trailer went up on his MySpace page, the site got overloaded with so many trailer views that the stat counter started going backwards. 

When Bruce Willis jumped into an Aint it Cool News chat to defend "Live Free or Die Hard," the fanboys flamed him until he turned on his iChat camera and proved his identity. Then they warmed up to him. The guy who turned him on to Aint it Cool News in the first place was another star with a comeback sequel: Sylvester Stallone. 

When Steven Spielberg started filming "Indiana Jones 4," he posted a video of himself popping champagne on His photo of Harrison Ford slouching in his Indy costume spread through Cyberspace like wildfire.  The dynamic between celebrities and their audience is shifting. The critics and the media no longer have the last word.  

Thanks to evolving technology, moviemakers and stars have new weapons to not only promote their projects directly to moviegoers, but to fight back against what they perceive as misinformation. They are taking advantage of their Internet fanbases to promote their projects, skipping the marketing middlemen and interacting directly with the people who buy tickets. Fan sites offer them valuable feedback about what their audiences like and dislike. But they also offer an opportunity to set the record straight. And sometimes, change the world. 

(Source: Variety)

PROFILE: Director Milos Forman on his new film ‘Goya’s Ghosts’


"I don't care if people are Democrats or Republicans, communists or anti-communists," says director Milos Forman. "I divide people between those I am afraid of and those I am not. Once you have lived under the Nazis and the Communists, you learn these kinds of things." The official portraitist of "Amadeus" and "The People vs. Larry Flynt" will return to theaters Friday with "Goya's Ghosts," a costume drama and controlled historical epic that marks his first film since the Andy Kaufman biopic "Man on the Moon" in 1999.

Yet rather than a meta-portrait of the great court painter of Spanish royalty Francisco Goya, "Goya's Ghosts" chronicles the long tail of the Spanish Inquisition, the "liberation" of Spain at the hands of Napoleon and the subsequent expulsion of the imported French Revolution by a guerrilla uprising, in conjunction with the British Duke of Wellington and the Catholic clergy.

(Source: LA Times)

Studios set date for 2009 movie releases


Summer 2007 is just a little more than half over, but studio chiefs are already anxious about their plans for another season of eye-popping tentpoles. We're not talking about next summer; we're talking 2009.  With demands for ever-more-elaborate special effects, the expectation of bigger and better megapic events and the threat of a crippling strike, studios are being forced to plot out their release strategies even farther into the future. 

Studios are jockeying to stake their claim to the best prospective dates, clashing into each other in some cases. As things stand, Fox's James Cameron-directed 3-D "Avatar," set for May 22, 2009, will go up against DreamWorks "Monsters vs. Aliens," another 3-D pic.  It doesn't matter that many theaters are not yet equipped to show 3-D.  And even though "Narnia 2" hasn't been released, Disney has slated "Narnia 3" for May 1, 2009.

(Source: Variety)



  • Charlize Theron will star in "The Burning Plain," a drama that marks the feature directing debut of "Babel" screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga. Financed by 2929 Productions, the drama will shoot in November.

  • Jim Carrey will star in a Robert Zemeckis adaptation of "A Christmas Carol," playing Scrooge, the ghost of Christmas past, the ghost of Christmas present and the ghost of Christmas future. 
  • Dustin Hoffman, who can next be seen in Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium , told USA Today that he will star, produce and co-write the script for Personal Injuries , an adaptation of Scott Turow's book. 
  • Fox Searchlight Pictures announced today that principal photography began in Los Angeles on The Night Watchman . Keanu Reeves stars as Tom Ludlow, a veteran LAPD cop who finds life difficult to navigate after the death of his wife. When evidence implicates him in the execution of a fellow officer, he is forced to go up against the cop culture he's been a part of his entire career, ultimately leading him to question the loyalties of everyone around him.

PROFILE: Producer Gianni Nunnari on his portfolio of blockbusters


With the year already half over, only four films have managed thus far to join Hollywood's $200 Million Club. 

Three of them, which are easy to guess, are the blockbuster franchise three-quels that blossomed in May. "Transformers," which just opened July 3, has already done around $175 million and before long will be joining the group as its fifth member. But naming that fourth film requires thinking back to the quieter days of spring when "300," from Warner Bros. Pictures in association with Legendary Pictures and Virtual Studios, opened March 9 to nearly $71 million. The Mark Canton/Gianni Nunnari Prod. directed by Zack Snyder went on to gross $210.6 million domestically. It goes into DVD release July 31 and should be a big seller for Warner Home Video. 

Nunnari, who produced "300" with Canton, Bernie Goldmann and Jeffrey Silver, has been associated with many hits over the years, including as an executive producer of Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" and David Fincher's "Se7en." In the case of "300," Warner Bros.' production notes explain, "Five years ago, producer Gianni Nunnari and Snyder were discussing future projects on which to collaborate when Snyder noticed Nunnari's copy of the graphic novel on his desk. Nunnari championed the project solo for several years. He was able to reach out to convince producer Mark Canton to get involved with him and develop the project in earnest with Snyder as director and co-writer." 

(Source: Hollywood Reporter)

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