<p>Zoe Saldana and Sam&nbsp;Worthington in &quot;Avatar&quot;</p>

Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington in "Avatar"

Credit: 20th Century Fox

James Cameron taps 'Terminator,' 'Jurassic Park IV' and 'Aliens vs. Predator' writers for three 'Avatar' sequels

The first of the three films is set for release in December 2016

Four years ago James Cameron's "Avatar" made a huge impact on the film industry landscape. Raking in over $2 billion worldwide, it became the highest grossing film of all time and altered the business pattern of distribution by (unfortunately) ushering in the era of inflated ticket prices for 3D movies.

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<p>Not walking off into the sunset just yet.</p>

Not walking off into the sunset just yet.

Credit: Sony Classics

With 'Before Midnight' expanding once more, can it stay on the awards radar?

Over two months after its release, Sony increases the screen count to 226

With a healthy but still humble $7,743,294 gross so far in the US, Richard Linklater's "Before Midnight" isn't exactly an art house blockbuster, but it's one of the summer's strongest survivors. Ten weeks after it first went into limited release back in May, the critics' favorite isn't just hanging around in theaters -- it's expanding once more. Sony Pictures Classics is tripling the film's screen count this weekend to 226 theaters, a move that should see the season's artiest franchise entry comfortably through to the fall.

That's good news for the film commercially, of course -- it's already out-grossed "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset," and its performance so far proves the validity of releasing well-chosen prestige films as summer counter-programming. (Particularly one that evokes summer as naturally as "Midnight" does.)

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<p>Robert Redford in &quot;All is Lost&quot;</p>

Robert Redford in "All is Lost"

Credit: Roadside Attractions

The trailer for 'All is Lost' strands Robert Redford at sea

J.C. Chandor's latest hits theaters in October

The latest I've heard on J.C. Chandor's one-man-show "All is Lost" starring Robert Redford is that we can expect to see the film at Telluride. That's a little bit surprising, given the Sundance connection, though in the same breath I have to wonder whether Redford could be up for a medallion tribute, or if the Sundance Institute itself could be recognized with a Special Medallion, like we've seen with the likes of Janus Films and Sight & Sound in the past. There's certainly little argument against the man or the organization deserving it. (More Telluride spitballing here.)

In any case, the film seems to have Redford all set up for an awards season run. How much work the 76-year-old actor would be willing to put into the grueling circuit is yet to be seen, but the built-in narrative of a 40 year gap since the legend's last nomination for acting sure will get a lot of mileage this year. "It is a classic Oscar bait movie," HitFix's Gregory Ellwood said in sizing up Oscar potential coming out of Cannes back in May. "This is the perfect opportunity to nominate him."

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<p>Ben Stiller in &quot;The Secret Life of Walter&nbsp;Mitty&quot;</p>

Ben Stiller in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Ben Stiller's 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty' to premiere at New York fest

Fox is following last year's 'Life of Pi' strategy to the letter so far

The 51st annual New York Film Festival already lined up a splashy opening night premiere in the form of Paul Greengrass' Tom Hanks-starrer "Captain Phillips." Today it's been announced that Ben Stiller's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" will be the festival's centerpiece gala.

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<p>Tom Hanks in &quot;Captain Phillips.&quot;</p>

Tom Hanks in "Captain Phillips."

Credit: Sony Pictures

'Captain Phillips' to open BFI London Film Festival

Paul Greengrass' hostage drama is also opening the New York and Tokyo fests

Well, if it's good enough for New York, it's good enough for London. On Monday, Paul Greengrass' fact-based thriller "Captain Phillips" was announced as the curtain-raiser for next month's New York Film Festival, where it'll have its world premiere. And nearly two weeks later, it'll have its European premiere as the Opening Film for the BFI London Film Festival, which runs from October 9 to 20. 

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<p>Taylor&nbsp;Kitsch, Mark Wahlberg and Ben&nbsp;Foster in &quot;Lone Survivor&quot;</p>

Taylor Kitsch, Mark Wahlberg and Ben Foster in "Lone Survivor"

Credit: Universal Pictures

Mark Wahlberg and friends go to Afghanistan in the trailer for Peter Berg's 'Lone Survivor'

Universal recently set the film up with an Oscar qualifying run

Back in June it was announced that Universal would be slating Peter Berg's Afghanistan drama "Lone Survivor" for an Oscar qualifying run. With only Ron Howard's "Rush" to work with otherwise (a film I hear is a knock-out), the studio needed the extra firepower.

The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Eric Bana, Ben Foster and Emile Hirsch. A trailer has been released through Moviefone which gives it a commercial sheen. Who knows whether it will have the muscle to play the circuit, but Berg could sure use a palette cleanser after last year's "Battleship."

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<p>AMPAS</p>

AMPAS

Credit: AMPAS

AMPAS approves new branch for casting directors

That brings the organization up to 17 branches

The Academy's Board of Governors has announced the creation of a new branch for casting directors, who began to be invited to Academy membership more than 30 years ago, many of them admitted as Members-at-Large. The decision was approved at the regularly scheduled board meeting on Tuesday, July 30, which saw Cheryl Boone Isaacs nominated president of the Academy.

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<p>2012 Gotham Awards&nbsp;Afterparty at Andaz Wall Street</p>

2012 Gotham Awards Afterparty at Andaz Wall Street

Credit: AP Photo

IFP sets 2013 Gotham Awards date and adds a few more categories

Last year's winners included 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' and 'Moonrise Kingdom'

The Independent Filmmaker Project has announced that the first true film awards show of the season, the Gotham Awards, will be held this year on Dec. 2. Not only that but a couple of new categories have been added to the mix.

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<p>David&nbsp;O.&nbsp;Russell promotes &quot;American Hustle&quot;&nbsp;on Good Morning America</p>

David O. Russell promotes "American Hustle" on Good Morning America

Credit: ABC

David O. Russell brings the trailer for 'American Hustle' to Good Morning America

ABSCAM-inspired romp hits theaters in December

Well, you don't see this too often. Eschewing the usual Apple/Yahoo!/MSN launching pads, Sony premiered the trailer for David O. Russell's "American Hustle" on ABC's Good Morning America earlier today, with Russell on hand to talk about the movie.

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<p>Cheryl Boone Isaacs.</p>

Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

Credit: Courtesy of AMPAS

Cheryl Boone Isaacs makes history as Academy's new president

She replaces Howard Koch

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences made history Tuesday night by electing its first African-American president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs. The marketing and publicity veteran replaces Howard "Hawk" Koch who served one eventful year-long term. Isaacs is only the third woman to hold the position and the first since Fay Canin was president between 1979 and 1981.

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