Clint Eastwood, Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer talk about making ‘J Edgar’

For nearly five decades, J. Edgar Hoover was the face of law enforcement in the U.S., but to most Americans, the longtime Federal Bureau of Investigations director remains an enigma."J. Edgar," directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Hoover, chronicles the FBI founder's controversial tenure as a hunter of gangsters and a collector of secrets and explores his mystery-shrouded private life, defined by a devoted relationship to his colleague Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer).

Last week at Warner Bros. studio — on the stage where they shot much of the film — Eastwood, DiCaprio and Hammer spoke with The Times about Hoover's public legacy, his secrets and the future of adult dramas in contemporary Hollywood. The following is an edited excerpt of their conversation. "J. Edgar," which was written by Dustin Lance Black and also stars Naomi Watts as Hoover's trusted secretary, Helen Gandy, and Judi Dench as his imperious mother, opens Nov. 9.

READ MORE AT LA TIMES

Next Gen 2011: Hollywood’s Fastest-Rising Stars

What is talent?

For some, in the ever-evolving business world of Hollywood, it's the ability to see potential before anyone else does. For others, it's a knack for negotiating a deal through complex industry channels. Sometimes, says Fox co-chairman Jim Gianopulos, it's "coming up with the right answer. More often, it's coming up with the right questions. … And if you're smart enough to already have the answer, that's talent."

READ MORE AT HR REPORTER

Universal Pictures abandons ‘Tower Heist’ early VOD release

Following staunch opposition from theater owners, Universal Pictures has abandoned its controversial plan to make the movie “Tower Heist” available to consumers via video on demand just three weeks after it opens in theaters.

"Universal Pictures today announced that in response to a request from theater owners, it has decided to delay its planned premium home video on demand (PVOD) experiment,'' the studio said in a statement Wednesday. "Universal continues to believe that the theater experience and a PVOD window are business models that can coincide and thrive and we look forward to working with our partners in exhibition to find a way to experiment in this area in the future."

Universal did not say when it would attempt to launch another similar VOD release.

Universal recently said it would make “Tower Heist,“ which opens in theaters Nov. 4, available to about 500,000 cable subscribers of Universal's corporate  parent, Comcast Corp., in two markets, Atlanta and Portland, Ore., for $59.99 via video-on-demand.

READ MORE AT LA TIMES

Sony acquires rights to Steve Jobs movie biography

Coming just two days after the death of Apple co-founder and chairman Steve Jobs, Sony Pictures is reportedly ironing out a deal for the feature rights for the upcoming biography of the innovator, the simply-titled Steve Jobs. The authorized look at Jobs’ life has been penned by Time managing editor (and former CNN chairman) Walter Isaacson. Mark Gordon (Source Code, Saving Private Ryan, Speed) will produce the project. The film will hopefully only further Sony’s recent track record of spinning real-life business-based bios into massive popular and critical hits (a la The Social Network and Moneyball).'

READ MORE AT FILM SCHOOL REJECTS

Hollywood studios are embracing star-powered, faith-based films

In many quarters, Hollywood has long been regarded as an essentially godless place. But judging by the offerings at the movies this season, and more in the works, Tinseltown is rediscovering religion.

In the span of just a few weeks starting in late August, audiences looking for God at their local multiplex have had their choice of titles, including "Higher Ground," a chronicle of one woman's struggle with her faith; "Seven Days in Utopia," an inspirational golf drama; and "Machine Gun Preacher," about an evangelist who takes up arms in Africa.
Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/10/06/3190888/hollywood-studios-are-embracing.html#ixzz1a36qWMjL

‘Drive’ Director Nicolas Winding Refn Talks Film Violence, Ryan Gosling, & ‘Logan’s Run’

With movies like Bronson and Valhalla Rising, Nicolas Winding Refn has proven himself to be one of the leading auteurs working in film today. In his latest film Drive, the Danish-born director continues to explore themes of masculinity and the nature of violence, pushing the limits of genre filmmaking and perhaps, finally launching him into mainstream recognition.

During a press tour in support of Drive (a first for the director),  I had the opportunity to talk with Refn about his unique style, his close working relationship with actor Ryan Gosling, and his future projects, including the remake of Logan’s Run.

READ MORE AT SCREEN RANT

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.

READ MORE AT LA TIMES

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.

READ MORE AT LA TIMES

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.

READ MORE AT VARIETY

Hollywood viral videos that worked

Some great examples of moving away from traditional trailers to more original content include Disney's short original video they produced to promote the new Muppets movie Green With Envy that is a parody of The Hangover II. The video racked up innumerable views on YouTube and other channels.

Another great example of non-standard content is the interactive YouTube video page for Kung Fu Panda 2 that features a mix of videos of Jack Black and the animated main character, Po.

We also think the promotion for Super 8 has really taken things to another level. For example, they actually placed an interactive video ad for the movie as a playable level inside of the video game, Portal 2. Look for more of this type of social video integration in the future, both on console games as well as inside social games on Facebook.


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