Inside Movies and Pop Culture with Gregory Ellwood

Sneak Peek: 'Voyage of the Dawn Treader' sets sail for redemption

'Narnia' franchise has a new home and audience perspective

Lucy casts a snow spell in "The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader"

Lucy casts a snow spell in "The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader."

Credit: Walden Media

What exactly when wrong between Walden Media and Walt Disney Studios during and after the release of "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" is still unclear, but it lead to one of the more puzzling breakups over the past decade.  The union between the family friendly brand and the inspirational thinking production entity should have been a match made in heaven and for one film it was. 

Watch: Jeff Bridges shows 'True Grit' in Coens' new Western

New preview debuts for the Christmas contender

Jeff Bridges reunites with the Coens in "True Grit"

Jeff Bridges reunites with the Coens in "True Grit."

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Sometimes it pays to be last.  Every other major winter release and Oscar contender has already released a preview, but the Coens' "True Grit" was intentionally quiet.  Now, just in time for the debut of "Grit" producer Scott Rudin's other contender, "The Social Network," "Grit" finds it way onto the awards season landscape.

Contender Countdown: 'Social Network' can't spam 'King's Speech' from No. 1

'Rabbit Hole' makes the top ten and more

Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake after the world premiere of "The Social Network"

Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake after the world premiere of "The Social Network."

Credit: Sony Pictures

It's not even October and the pronouncements around this year's Oscar race are already flying fast and furious.  Speaking to a publicist at a non-competing studio late last week, this pundit was told the Academy was basically out of touch if it didn't award "The Social Network" the Best Picture statue as it's "the most important movie of the year."  Of course, this respected professional hasn't seen most of the other competitors (a bit of a problem), the picture hasn't even screened for most Academy members and Mark Zuckerberg hasn't been taken off suicide watch yet (seriously, we kid), but that's the sort of passion that's already being generated by David Fincher's latest.

'The Social Network' won't make Mark Zuckerberg's day, but can you blame him?

Thoughts on David Fincher's impressive Oscar contender and watch five new clips

Justin Timberlake and Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network"

Justin Timberlake and Jesse Eisenberg in a late scene from "The Social Network."

Credit: Sony Pictures

It's not a good day for Mark Zuckerberg.  Shoot, it probably hasn't been a good couple of weeks for Zuckerberg.  Sure, it's hard to complain when you're 26 and a billionaire, but when a major motion picture is opening the prestigious New York Film Festival that spotlights some mistakes from your very young life, well, that's never a good thing.  Oh, and even after attempting some pre-release public relations damage control by making a major donation to Newark schools and appearing on Oprah, Facebook was down for a good chunk of Thursday (worst crash in four years).  And, as you'll learn if and when you see "The Social Network," nothing frustrates Zuckerberg more than when his site is down.

Oscar Bait Alert: Kate Winslet and Jodie Foster ready for 'Carnage'

Roman Polanski takes on the Tony Award winning play

Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet is set to star in Roman Polanski's adaptation of the Tony Award-winning play "God of Carnage."

Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

There is a somewhat snide term in Hollywood industry circles known as "Oscar bait."  It's basically a project set up with the intention of getting awards attention even if that's part of the larger scheme to make money.  Most serious studio dramas (the few that are greenly lit these days) actually have that in mind for planning purposes.  Sometimes it works out ("The Departed") and sometimes it doesn't ("Nine").  In fact, a good number of this year's Academy Award contenders were categorized as Oscar bait before production began.  Now, we're at the time of year where the bait pictures for 2011 start to come to light. 

Producer's Guild to honor James Cameron for 'historic contributions'

'Avatar' maestro will receive award in January

<p>James Cameron discussing 3-D filmmaking in Asia earlier this year.</p>

James Cameron discussing 3-D filmmaking in Asia earlier this year.

Credit: AP Photo

Call it producer's envy and appreciation.  The Producer's Guild of America are awarding their most prestigious honor to arguably the most successful filmmaker and producer in history, James Cameron.  The "Avatar" and "Titanic" producer and director will be awarded the 2011 Milestone Award during the 22nd Annual Producer's Guild Awards ceremony on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011. 

In a statement from the PGA, Paula Wagner, Chair of this year's event said,"“James Cameron is an exceptionally talented producer—a true innovator with the rare combination of technical ingenuity and creative vision. Jim has continued to change the film landscape with his ability to deliver groundbreaking masterpieces that present audiences and the industry with unrivaled beauty, originality and impact.”

In recognizing Cameron, the guild isn't just acknowledging his milestones at the box office or his boatload of Academy Awards and nominations, but his achievements in underwater filming, visual effects and in the advancement of 3-D filmmaking.  In fact, it's clear "Avatar" is partially responsible for the 3-D boom that has swept the industry over the past 18 months and provided substantial returns for his peers.  Need we say more?

While sequels to "Avatar" are still a bit down the road, Cameron has recently announced he'll be producing Guillermo Del Toro's "Mountains of Madness" for Universal Pictures.

The Producer's Guild of America Awards will be handed out on Jan. 22 at the Hyatt Regency Century City Plaza in Los Angeles.
 

10 minutes for '127 Hours': James Franco and Danny Boyle

Franco shows his passion for the best picture contender

Danny Boyle and James Franco on the set of "127 Hours"

Danny Boyle and James Franco on the set of "127 Hours."

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Following Danny Boyle and James Franco across the United States into Canada was not part of the plan.  Having seen the moving and exhilarating "127 Hours" while at the Telluride Film Festival, congratulating the duo would have been much more convenient in the small confines of the Colorado Labor Day staple.  Instead, the opportunity to chit chat at a casual Fox Searchlight soiree was interrupted by a fascinating conversation with Aron Ralston, the real life outdoor adventurer who is the subject of Boyle's impressive work.  Fast forward a week to a suite at the Toronto Four Seasons where the duo have popped in for a quick conversation during a whirlwind of press opps.  

Oscar Watch: It's Annette Bening vs. Julianne Moore for Best Actress

Plus: Is 'The Town' now in the best picture race?

Annette Bening and Julianne Moore in the indie hit "The Kids Are All Right"

Annette Bening and Julianne Moore in the indie hit "The Kids Are All Right."

Credit: Focus Features

It's been speculated since January, but "The Kids Are All Right" best actress dilemma has finally come to pass.  Awards Campaign can confirm that both Annette Bening and Juliane Moore will both be competing for best actress this upcoming season. 

James Bond producers making MGM think twice over Spyglass deal

Update: Broccoli's deny Bloomberg News report, what gives?

Daniel Craig at the press conference announcing production of "Quantum of Solace."

Happier times.  Daniel Craig poses for the paparazzi during a press conference announcing production of "Quantum of Solace."  It appears it will be quite awhile before any similar fun for "James Bond 23" occurs.

Credit: AP Photo

Update - 9/20 2:50 PM PST: The MGM soap opera just gets curiouser and curiouser.  A spokesman for the Broccoli's ION Productions told the LA Times of the company's reported alignment with potential suitor Sahara India, "We have no involvement with them whatsoever."  This completely discredits Bloomberg News' report which is somewhat shocking considering the sterling reputation of the financial news outlet.  Either Bloomberg's reporter misunderstood their source or something very fishy is going on.  More on this intriguing story as it develops. 

Original post:

It's hard to believe, but as a slew of major deals have come and gone over the past year MGM's fate is still dangling in the air.  Disney sold Miramax in less than eight months (assuming the money actually came in), Overture Films' assets were purchased by Relativity in less than seven months and Apparition pretty much came and went as an independent distributor.  And still, the fate of one of Hollywood's most prestigious and oldest studios is still unclear. 

Is 'The Fighter' a late season Oscar contender or pretender?

Christian Bale already generating buzz for new drama

Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg in "The Fighter"

Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg in "The Fighter."

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Unlike the past few awards seasons, a majority of this year's serious contenders such as "The Social Network," "Black Swan," "127 Hours" and "The King's Speech" will have been screened for critics and media pundits by Oct. 1.  And, of course, that doesn't even take into account films already released such as "Inception," "Toy Story 3" and "The Kids Are All Right."  There are, however, a few last minute holdouts that are hoping to crash the party in Dec.  One of those is Paramount Picture's true-life boxing story, "The Fighter."

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