One foggy morning in 2007, screenwriter Travis Beacham was walking along the beach in Santa Monica and he looked out at the famed amusement park pier jutting out into the water. His imagination ever running rampant, he pictured behind those mist-covered, empty rides a towering machine, a robot -- a mech, actually -- waiting to do battle with some vicious monstrosity. The germ of "Pacific Rim" was born.
Well, I think it's fair to say the Venice Film Festival has won the Opening Film contest this year. While Cannes had its parade slightly rained upon by the fact that their opener -- Baz Luhrmann's otherwise suitably sparkly "The Great Gatsby" -- was released in the US beforehand, their Italian rivals will be kicking things off on August 28 with a world premiere that happens to be one of the year's most anticipated films: Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity."
UPDATE (7/5): Okay, this is probably due an update by now. Fireworks on and offline over the holiday, it seems. Weinstein appealed, Lee Daniels begged (and got a private reply, which I'm stunned hasn't shown up somehow in the reporting given the pettiness of all of it) and now this Hollywood Reporter story pretty much lays out WB's beef. Straw/camel's back for them. Waiting on Weinstein retort.
EARLIER (7/2): Lee Daniels' "The Butler," the Precious" director's follow-up to 2012's sultry train wreck/masterpiece (depending on who you're asking) "The Paperboy," showed up here and there in our uncovered Oscar Contenders section earlier this week. I get a "Bobby" vibe from the film (and hey, I actually liked "Bobby"), but whatever. We'll see what it is when we do, but in the meantime, the film has some unexpected branding decisions to make.
Deadline reported yesterday that Warner Bros. was seeking to block usage of the title "The Butler," claiming copyright on a 1916 short film. I guess it turns out the film violated Title Registration Bureau rules by using "The Butler" and judgment was swift, levied today: The Weinstein Company has to find a new title for the film. The clock is ticking, too: the term has to be removed from all marketing by midnight tonight, so hang onto those posters, movie theater workers. They might be worth something.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, "The only things certain in life are death, taxes and a new Woody Allen movie every single year." I paraphrase, but only for the sake of greater accuracy: now 77 years old, the quintessential New York writer-director shows no sign of relaxing his work rate. And why would he? His output is hit-and-miss, but only two years ago, "Midnight in Paris" proved that he can still hit pretty squarely, scoring the highest box office returns of his career and a fourth Oscar to boot.
All-star music festivals are a dime a dozen every summer -- as, for that matter, are film festivals, at any time of year. Festivals that mix the two, however, are still relatively thin on the ground. The US, famously, has South by Southwest in the spring, and for the last three years, the Swedes have taken a leaf from their playbook (right down to the hat-tipping name) with the Way Out West fest, which takes place this year in Gothenberg on the weekend of August 8 to 10.
Fairly soon, the first formal contenders will start trickling into the race for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, as individual national committees make their official selections and submit them to the Academy for consideration. It's a trickle that will swiftly turn into a flood as the submission deadline of October 1 nears. Last year, 71 countries entered the race -- an all-time record that could well be beaten this year. But in a race that's all but impossible to handicap at this stage -- dependent as it is on the whims and politics of different countries, rather than the Academy itself -- what are the films we're expecting to see in the mix?
Will the Coen brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis" be a big awards player at the end of the year? CBS Films is sure positioning it for that but forget all of that, forget the Grand Prix win at Cannes, etc. I just really, really want to see this movie. A Coen film just feels like an oasis in every dreary film year, so while "The Lone Ranger" may be stinking up the multiplexes next weekend, remember, we have stuff like this coming around the corner.
It seems like just yesterday Ben Affleck was on stage at the Dolby Theatre accepting his Best Picture Oscar for "Argo" and one of the more dramatic awards seasons was drawing to a close. Since then we've had a refreshing handful of months away from the fray, but today, we're going to ruin all of that, just for a moment.
Last week Greg, Guy and I offered up our "for your consideration" Oscar picks from the year's first half that we'd like to see remembered come year's end. With that as a launching off point, and with today marking the actual mid-way point of 2013, let's really dig in. How has the year shaped up for awards hopefuls so far?
When Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim" crashes into theaters on July 12, you'll only be getting part of the story. The universe of the film was too big for one movie, you see. It inevitably spilled over the edges and left an excess of material without a home, but with so much to say.
I haven't yet had a chance to see "The Heat," but it's one of the summer studio movies I've been looking forward to most this year. Director Paul Feig's "Bridesmaids," if not a home run, made me laugh more than any film of its type in the last couple of years, and I'm a fully paid-up member of the Sandra Bullock fan club. (Why, yes, I do own a "Forces of Nature" DVD. Thanks for asking.) If you haven't been paying attention, this is Bullock's first leading role since winning the Oscar for "The Blind Side" nearly four years ago. Drew McWeeny didn't enjoy the film but gives it a respectable B- rating, while many critics seem to be higher on Bullock's chemistry with Melissa McCarthy than the film itself. Fine by me -- commercial movies headlined by two female stars are rare enough these days that I can accept some compromise. Is this buddy comedy worthy of them? Vote in the poll after the jump, and share your thoughts in the comments.