Miramax Launches Facebook App For Streaming Movies

Following the lead of Warner Bros, Paramount, and Universal, Miramax has jumped on the Facebook app bandwagon offering movie rentals in exchange for Facebook credits. Along with watching movie clips and playing games, users will get access to full-length feature films from the Miramax library, including Clerks, Kill Bill, Good Will Hunting, and No Country For Old Men.

As of right now, the app is still in beta. It was built in “just eight short weeks,” so you should expect a few bugs and hiccups in the beginning. US Facebook users will have a choice between 20 movies, each of which cost 30 Facebook credits to rent — that’s the equivalent of $3. The service was also made available in the UK and Turkey this morning, with France and Germany on deck, according to the Miramax Blog.


Things that go bump in the light

Back in 2008, while hope was still alive, I was canvassing for Barack Obama in Nevada -- in a suburban area that borders the Las Vegas Strip. At first glance, the neighborhood looked idyllic.

Bright new housing developments, green parks every few blocks, wide sidewalks. I was reminded of the optimistic opening shots of many of my favorite Spielberg films.

There were kids on bikes, speeding past rows and rows of family homes, clustered close together and thick with a sense of community. But as in those films, something mysterious and unsettling lurked beneath the agreeable surface.


Streaming Video’s Emerging Bounty

AT this point in its evolution streaming video can still feel like your neighborhood VHS rental shop, circa 1985.

Mikhail Romm’s “Nine Days One Year” (1962).

The shelves of the two leading services, Netflix Instant and Hulu Plus, seem to be full of films you’ve never heard of, arranged in no particular order. The latest hits haven’t arrived yet, and there’s no one around to help you out except for the digital equivalent of the surly, underpaid clerk: those “recommended for you” algorithms that pretend to know your taste but come up with the oddest suggestions imaginable. Why does Netflix keep insisting that I need to see “Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew”? Is it trying to tell me something?

But where there is chaos, there is also opportunity. Both Netflix and Hulu are full of hidden gems, but often it’s not easy to dig them out. Somewhere on Netflix, between Ashley Tisdale in “Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure” and Christopher Walken and Jennifer Beals in “The Prophecy II,” there’s a very good copy of Edgar G. Ulmer’s 1948 film noir “Ruthless” in its full 105-minute version, rather than the 88-minute public domain cut that’s been the only edition available for years. To find it, though, you have to know it’s there.


Box office heading toward record despite economy

A popular boy wizard, comic-book heroes and some foul-mouthed women are leading Hollywood toward a record-breaking summer despite the sour economy and high unemployment resulting in tightened consumer spending.

Underscoring the notion that movies are recession-proof, U.S. and Canadian ticket sales are expected to finish nearly 5 percent higher than a year ago thanks to the "Harry Potter" finale and other big-budget sequels plus raunchy adult comedies such as "Bridesmaids."

Summer ticket sales in the domestic (U.S. and Canadian) market through last weekend stood at an estimated $3.8 billion. Attendance was up 2.8 percent, though that was compared with last year's 13-year low, according to figures from tracking firm Hollywood.com. Premium charges for 3D films and slightly higher average ticket prices helped raise revenue.


How the Polish Brothers Are Raking It In With a Stealth, No Budget Movie

"For Lovers Only," an intimate romance made in luminous black-and-white by twin auteur filmmakers Michael and Mark Polish, is a wildly successful experiment in New Hollywood Math.

Production budget: $0
Marketing and advertising budget: $0
Profits that begin at dollar one: priceless.

For Lovers Only poster

As of Monday afternoon, the film, which stars Mark Polish with "Castle's" Stana Katic, sat at the No. 2 spot on the iTunes romance chart, the four-spot on its independent films chart and the Top 100 in all movie rental and downloads.


Using animals in films leads to a jungle of issues

At the premiere of "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" last month, a clutch of impassioned animal activists gathered on Hollywood Boulevard. But they weren't there to throw red paint on fur-coat-wearing celebrities. Instead, one demonstrator — dressed in a full-body monkey suit — had arrived with a sign complimenting the filmmakers: "Thanks for not using real apes!"

The creative team behind "Apes" used motion-capture technology to create digitalized primates, spending tens of millions of dollars on technology that records an actor's performance and later layers it with computer graphics to create a final image — in this case, one of a realistic-looking ape.


‘Final Destination 5’: Q&A With Director Steven Quale and Producer Craig Perry

For those that like elaborate, tension-building death scenes (and who doesn't?), Final Destination 5 has some of the franchise’s best, redeeming the New Line series after a flat fourth movie. That’s partly due to director Steven Quale, a longtime James Cameron cinematographer who makes his feature directorial debut here. But it's also thanks to the horror series’ producer, Craig Perry, whose been holding Death’s scythe since 2000. Heat Vision caught up with Perry and Quale at the movie's premiere after-party at Hollywood nightclub Rolling Stone on Wednesday night.


Being an extra on the new Batman movie shooting in Pittsburgh

To say I am a Batman fan is an understatement. Growing up, I had the costume, the action figures, the sleeping bag and the toys. I used to parade around my house, leaping down stairs singing “Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-BATMAN” in full bat costume. My first prayer was for a Batman towel set to complete my collection (I’m not proud of that).

So when my brother, Ben, told me that the latest Batman film by Christopher Nolan, “The Dark Knight Rises” was looking for extras in Pittsburgh, it didn’t take me long to clear my calendar and round up my entire family (father, mother, brother, older sister and her husband) to join me.

What awaited us was explosive.


How marketing ties up movie studio money

Studio corporate brass have long complained about the spiraling costs of marketing films -- particularly the ever-rising fees charged by TV networks for commercial time -- and have futilely pondered ways to lower those expenditures.

Now, with the emergence of new media, that picture may be changing -- sort of.

The bad news: Pricey spots on TV remain a drain. They amounted to nearly three-quarters of Hollywood's ad spending for theatrical releases last year.


Actress Emma Stone’s star rises with a little ‘Help’

"Sorry I look like a hooker," deadpans Emma Stone, her lips a shade of candy apple red, as she rushes into the bar at the Sunset Tower hotel.

She's wearing the bright lipstick, she explains, because she has just come from taping an interview with Jay Leno, the umpteenth late-night appearance the 22-year-old actress had booked in recent weeks to promote the three films she is in this summer: "Friends With Benefits," "Crazy, Stupid, Love" and "The Help," which arrives in theaters Wednesday.

"My brain feels like liquid mush," she sighs, collapsing into a corner booth and promptly ordering a glass of white wine. She has barely taken a sip before the hotel's famous Eastern European maitre d', Dimitri Dimitrov, notices a starlet in his midst and rushes over to greet her.


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