“It’s rare to see a filmmaker who doesn’t have a movie here in Cannes do a press conference,” said Cannes Film Festival chief Thierry Frémaux as he introduced Quentin Tarantino to journalists this afternoon. But Cannes loves Tarantino and the feeling is clearly mutual. His Pulp Fiction Palme d’Or is “my single, absolutely, positively greatest achievement,” the director said. Besides, even if he doesn’t have a new movie here, Pulp Fictionis screening tonight in celebration of the 20th anniversary of winning that Palme. Tarantino is also hosting the Closing Night screening of Sergio Leone’s A Fistful Of Dollars. That film, he said, marked “the birth of genre action cinema as it’s become to be known ever since.” Otherwise, there was plenty to discuss. In a wide-ranging chat with the press, Tarantino waxed on the rise of digital projection as the “death of cinema”; the status of The Hateful Eight; and possibly revisiting Django Unchained as a miniseries, among other topics.
Tonight’s Pulp Fiction showing will be the only time during this two-week event that a movie will be screened in 35mm, Frémaux noted. Later queried about that, Tarantino said, “The fact that now most films are not shown in 35mm means the war is lost. The death of 35mm is the death of cinema.” He allowed that the “good side of digital is the fact that a young filmmaker can now just buy a cell phone, and if they have the tenacity… can actually make a movie” to help start them on their way. But, he thundered, “Why would an established filmmaker shoot on digital? I just don’t get it.” He likened seeing movies digitally projected in a theater to watching “television in public.” Perhaps as we’re in the waning days of May, he did allow for some optimism to spring. “I’m hopeful that we’re going through a woozy, romantic period with the ease of digital, and I’m hoping that while this generation is completely hopeless, the next generation will come out and demand the real thing.” Read More »
Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchainedre-opened yesterday in China to disappointing numbers after it was yanked suddenly from the country’s theaters last month. Some “minor changes” were made, according to Shanghai’s UME Cineplex. The re-do reportedly is three minutes shorter, with nudity scenes omitted. The actioner about race relations was pulled within minutes into screenings on April 11, its opening day in China, without an official explanation. The film was expected to take in “a conservative 60 million yuan ($9.8M) in ticket sales” during its April debut, according to China Daily. But Sunday’s re-opening was poor. “The film’s seat occupancy rate is below 30 percent as of 3:30 this afternoon,” Zhang Wenwen, manager of Wanda International Cineplex, Beijing, told China Daily. In Shanghai, UME International Cineplex in Xintiandi showed a 50 percent rate, but that was still below the box office average compared with other Hollywood movies, including Iron Man 3 and Tom Cruise’s Oblivion, which debuted on Friday. Sony Pictures handled the international rollout of the film, which is a co-production between The Weinstein Company and Sony.
UPDATE, 10:49 AM:Sony Pictures just announced that China is going to give Django Unchained another bow in theaters. This time, maybe it’ll even screen all the way through. The studio releasing the Quentin Tarantino actioner about race relations issued this announcement this morning: “We are delighted that audiences throughout China will be able to experience Django Unchained beginning Sunday, May 12th. There is tremendous excitement, anticipation and awareness for the film and we thank the local authorities for quickly resolving this issue.” On April 11, Django was booked into theaters around China only to be pulled within minutes into screenings without an official explanation. It has taken Sony and Chinese officials all this time to complete negotiations. Read More »
UPDATED: The controversy here in the U.S. over Django Unchained‘s depiction of slavery apparently didn’t bother China’s oft-finicky film czars. Django has been cleared for an April 11 release in the territory, after the film already has grossed more than $400 million worldwide ($241 million overseas) since its December 25 domestic bow. We’re hearing that the edits to the film, with a running time of 2 hours and 45 minutes, are minimal — a little more than a minute of the total, a source with knowledge of the situation says. This marks the first release in China for a Quentin Tarantino film. Sony Pictures has handled the international rollout of Django, which is a co-production between The Weinstein Company and Sony and is coming off an awards season that included five Oscar nominations and two wins — Tarantino for Best Original Screenplay and Christoph Waltz for Best Supporting Actor.
Anthony D’Alessandro is Managing Editor of AwardsLine. Paul Brownfield and David Mermelstein are AwardsLine contributors.
Auteurs wouldn’t be auteurs if they weren’t enigmatic, especially when it comes to deconstructing details of their oeuvre. “Let the film speak for itself” is often the motto, and for Amourdirector and screenwriter Michael Haneke, that’s not too far from his own credo. However, he’s not completely inaccessible when responding to the audience’s fervor for his work.
“It’s very difficult for me to say, it was so long ago, I can’t remember”, Haneke told AwardsLine when asked if there were one particularly challenging scene to write for Amour. “Generally, when it comes to screenwriting, I can say that if it’s flowing, you enjoy it. If not, it’s far less pleasant. But there’s always ambivalence—the struggle to put something there on a blank page when there was nothing there before. If it’s successful, you’re happy; if not, you’re depressed”.
In writing the story of 80-year-old husband Georges who contends with his dying wife Anne’s debilitated state, Haneke was spurred by a beloved aunt’s long and painful battle with a degenerative condition. For the director, the story of the elderly couple’s struggle was a universal tragedy versus a tragic drama “about a 40-year-old couple who is coping with a child dying of cancer”.
In researching the script, Haneke met extensively with medical specialists who work with stroke victims. … Read More »
As the industry kicks into full awards mode, with one guild after another handing out trophies to whomever they consider the year’s best in any given field, it’s become increasingly clear this is a year like we have not seen in a while. Certainly every season we go through this ritual of watching the crème de la crème of the industry line up to get awards, but rarely have we seen as dense a field of top contenders, and especially deserving ones, as we have this year. The common denominator among most, if not all, of the contenders in Oscar’s 24 categories is how difficult it was in the first place to get any of these films made in a sequel-happy, franchise-loving, play-it-safe motion picture industry.
For example, Steven Spielberg began talking about Lincoln with Doris Kearns Goodwin before she started writing the book and struggled for well over a decade to bring it to the screen, getting turned down by three studios in the process. And first-time feature filmmaker Benh Zeitlin went against all industry norms to make the unique and hard-to-define Beasts Of The Southern Wild come to life. But no matter who the filmmaker is, the most often-heard mantra is stick to your core beliefs and vision and somehow an Oscar-worthy film can be willed into being. Even James Bond ran into trouble when MGM went bankrupt and a normal 2½-year process turned into twice that for Skyfall,which went on to win five Oscar nominations. It also got recognition as one of the year’s best pictures from the Producers Guild, as well it should, considering what its veteran producers went through to just to make it. Read More »
This season’s supporting actor and actress Oscar races can be summed up in one word: Winners! A remarkable seven of the 10 nominees actually already have at least one Oscar on their mantel, and all of them have been previously nominated. Unlike the marquee lead races, not a single newcomer has been invited to the supporting party. In fact, all five supporting actor nominees are past winners, a rare occurrence that proves Feb. 24 will indeed be veterans’ day at the Dolby Theater. And though there is a strong frontrunner emerging for the women, the male race is one of the most wide open in years, with no one taking the lead to date and the outcome a real question mark. So how did they all get here? Here’s the rundown.
Alan Arkin |Argo
This veteran actor got his first lead actor Oscar nomination in 1966 for his film debut in The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. And then a second just two years later for The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter. But it was a near-record 38 years before Arkin returned to Oscar’s inner circle, finally winning a supporting actor prize for Little Miss Sunshine. Now, six years later, he is back in contention as the Hollywood film producer in Argo,and the reason is simple: He not only gets the best lines, he’s playing … Read More »
Actual betting on the Oscars is outlawed in the U.S.. But it is permissible in England – and after today’s British Academy Awards show which just wrapped in London, people would be wise to put some pounds on Argo‘s Best Picture Oscar chances. In what is becoming a familiar sight every weekend, Ben Affleck once again was in the winner’s circle at BAFTA, and along with Best Film he also took Best Director, a prize for which he is famously not nominated at the Oscars even though his movie has 7 nominations – just as it did at BAFTA. So add another strong precursor award to the Argo stockpile that now includes PGA, DGA, SAG, Golden Globes, Critics Choice Movie Awards. Last night, it also added an honor for Chris Terrio’s adaptation at the USC Scripter Awards. (Terrio wasn’t there to accept; instead he was in London for the BAFTAs where he lost to David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook – the only award that film picked up.)
So how reliable is BAFTA as an Oscar predictor? Pretty good in recent years, although spotty sometimes in acting categories. But the two organizations have several hundred of the same members, and last year BAFTA and Oscar matched … Read More »
In a year filled with remarkable imagery, the work of the Oscar-nominated cinematographers stands out as integral to the success of the movies they shot.
The nominees bring broad experience to their films. Seamus McGarvey, nominated for shooting Anna Karenina with director Joe Wright, came to the project off the summer blockbuster Avengers; Robert Richardson shot his fourth film with Quentin Tarantino with Django Unchained; Claudio Miranda went both digital and 3D to lens Life of Pi for Ang Lee; Janusz Kaminski made his 13th film with Steven Spielberg in shooting Lincoln; and Roger Deakins ventured into the world of James Bond with Skyfall.
AwardsLine asked the five nominees for Oscar’s Best Achievement in Cinematography to pick a key scene and break it down in detail. The choices, like the nominated films themselves, speak to the challenges inherent in the craft and its essential importance to making a movie.
The Scene: In a single sweeping, shot Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) leads Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley) on the dance floor at a high-society ball, with their electricity igniting movement from the other dancers. They connect in a moment of silence, and, for a moment, the auditorium is empty before the dancers return, bringing the star-struck couple back to reality.
Behind the Scene: “(Director) Joe (Wright) worked very closely with Sidi Larbi … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Quentin Tarantino won his only Oscar in 1995 as a co-writer on the original screenplay Pulp Fiction. He has since been nominated in the same category for his scripts Inglourious Basterds and now again this year for Django Unchained. His gift for dialogue is unparalleled as is his way with actors, who seem to relish the opportunity to get their hands on a Tarantino script. Whatever the controversy about the film’s depiction of slavery, Django is pure Tarantino unleashed, and for him it all starts with the word as this featurette on the screenplay will attest.
The last in a three-part series in which AwardsLine breaks down all nine of the best picture contenders.
What the Academy says: 5 nominations (Picture: Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin, Pilar Savone; Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz; Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino; Cinematography: Robert Richardson; Sound Editing: Wylie Stateman)
What the public says: $147.5M domestic boxoffice; $111.5M international (as of Feb. 1)
What Pete Hammond says: Quentin Tarantino’s spaghetti-western homage was a Christmas Day release and struggled just to meet its late-year release date. That means its five nominations including best picture are an impressive feat considering many members probably didn’t get a chance to see it because of the earlier voting schedule. It just shows the love for all things Tarantino, as this is the third film for which the director has seen a best picture nom. Although unlike Inglourious Basterds and Pulp Fiction, Tarantino didn’t earn a best director nomination this year. Read More »
With less than a month to go, the stage is set for one of the strangest Oscar showdowns in memory. Certainly the season started with some clear favorites emerging, like Argo at Telluride, Silver Linings Playbook at Toronto, then Lincolnjust after the election, followed by Life Of Pi. I thought Paramount’s Flight also might emerge as a major best picture contender around this time, but when critics awards and early nominations for Globes and CCMAs started coming in, it was clear this was mainly just a play for Denzel Washington and John Gatins’ original screenplay. At Christmas time, we got Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained,and the hotly anticipated Les Misérables to complete our seven-pack of best picture contenders. What many weren’t anticipating was that two small indie films that made a splash earlier in the year were also going to come in. Beasts Of The Southern Wild managed to hold on to all that momentum from its Sundance debut a year ago, and then Read More »
The Django Unchained actor is already in the thick of the Supporting Actor Oscar race after taking the Golden Globe earlier this month for his role as bounty hunter King Schultz in the Quentin Tarantino pic. Now Christoph Waltz will get some free “for your consideration” face time when he hosts Saturday Night Live for the first time February 16 — a week and a day before the February 24 Academy Awards. NBC made the announcement today about the gig, which puts Waltz in front of the country (and undecided Oscar voters?) three days before Academy members’ final ballots are due. Alabama Shakes will be the musical guest.
EXCLUSIVE: Last Monday, after a trade report had him skipping Park City for the D.C. inauguration, Harvey Weinstein met me in Sundance for what has become an annual sit down lunch. He and his COO David Glasser looked as tired as I felt—they brokered and I covered an all-night negotiation for Fruitvale, a film that went on to win all the big festival prizes. A fixture at Sundance since turning the festival into a lucrative marketplace with Steven Soderbergh’s crossover success sex, lies & videotape, Weinstein is as busy right now as a one-armed wallpaper hanger.
Beyond his D.C. stature, Weinstein owns the last two Best Picture Oscars with The King’s Speech and The Artist, and he’s got Silver Linings Playbook andDjango Unchainedin this year’s wide-open race. He’s making a fortune on a film he didn’t release–The Hobbit–because he made five points of first dollar gross the price for allowing Peter Jackson shop The Lord of the Rings and subsequent Tolkien films elsewhere when Michael Eisner refused to let Weinstein make them at Miramax. The Hobbit is closing in on $1 billion in worldwide gross. If all that isn’t enough, Harvey recently learned that he and his fashion designer wife, Georgina Chapman, are now expecting their second child together (that will make five children for the mogul). In between all that chaos, Weinstein took an hour to discuss politics, Sundance and of course the Oscars. … Read More »
EBay has halted sales of NECA’s Django Unchained dolls depicting characters from Quentin Tarantino‘s slavery movie as prices on the auction website jumped upwards of $2,000 after complaints from civil rights groups led The Weinstein Company to stop production on the action figures, which were also pulled from retailer shelves. Listings for the dolls “were removed as they were in violation of our Offensive Materials policy”, an eBay representative tells Deadline. EBay forbids offensive products “that graphically portray graphic violence or victims of violence, unless they have substantial social, artistic, or political value” including “racially or ethnically offensive language, historical items, reproductions, and works of art and media”.
Quentin Tarantino will receive the Santa Barbara Film Festival‘s American Riviera Award on January 30th at the Arlington Theatre. Leonardo DiCaprio was to have received the award at the previously announced event on February 1 but could not attend because of scheduling conflicts. “We were obviously saddened by DiCaprio’s conflict, but blown away at the chance to honor Tarantino, one of the most stylistically daring directors who is an SBIFF favorite,” Executive Director Roger Durling said in a statement. Tarantino’s latest film Django Unchained is nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The American Riviera Award recognizes artists who have had a strong influence on American cinema. Past recipients include Martin Scorsese, Sandra Bullock and Mickey Rourke. The festival runs through February 3rd.
Leonardo DiCaprio says he’s taking a break from acting. After working on three films in two years, according to the Agence France-Press translation, DiCaprio told the Germany daily Bild ”I am a bit drained. I’m now going to take a long, long break. I’ve done three films in two years and I’m just worn out.” Whether we’ll have time to miss him is another matter. He’s been promoting Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. Publicity appearances for upcoming releases of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (due out May 10th from Warner Bros) and Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street (4th quarter 2013 via Paramount) will likely cut into his time off. There’s also his production company Appian Way. DiCaprio says he plans to use the time to travel and promote environmental awareness. “I would like to improve the world a bit. I will fly around the world doing good for the environment”. His personal environmental lifestyle? “My roof is covered with solar panels. My car is electric. A normal person does not drive more than 50 kilometres (31 miles) a day. That can be done with a plug.”
Action figures created for Quentin Tarantino’s slave pic Django Unchained are going for $300 apiece and up right now on sites like eBay after distributor The Weinstein Company announced today it was pulling they toys off the shelves. The dolls based on the Best Picture Oscar nominee prompted pundits and civil rights groups including Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network to call for a boycott. The NECA-issued toys had been selling for $39.99 on Amazon and had been created “as a matter of course” for fans 17 years and older, according to the studio, which released a statement today announcing the move. “In light of the reaction to the Django Unchained action figures we are removing them from distribution. We have tremendous respect for the audience and it was never our intent to offend anyone. Action figures have been created for all of Quentin’s films including Inglourious Basterds, and as a matter of course produced them for Django Unchained as well. “They were meant to be collectibles for people 17 years and older, which is the audience for the film.” Right now, a complete set of the toys is bidding up past $1000 and counting on eBay. Read More »