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#1 ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Widens For $24M, ‘Haunted House’ Beats Disappointing ‘Gangster Squad’ For #2; ‘Silver Linings’, ‘Lincoln’, ‘Life Of Pi’ Get Oscar Bumps

By | Sunday January 13, 2013 @ 9:00am PST

SUNDAY AM, 6TH UPDATE: Looks like Sony Pictures, Amy Pascal, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal should stop worrying about all those torture scene critics in Hollywood and Washington DC. Not only did the controversy fuel filmgoers’ curiosity across the country this weekend but also inside the U.S. intelligence community. Sources tell me that as Zero Dark Thirty broke nationwide, the #1 theater in the country Friday was just minutes from CIA Headquarters in Langley, VA. The top 2 of 3 screens Friday and Saturday were Tysons Corner 16 in McLean, VA, and then Hoffman 22 in Alexandria, VA. The big story is that Best Picture candidate Annapurna Pictures/Sony Pictures’ expansion made it Bigelow’s top-grossing pic. “The public has spoken,” a Sony exec told me, referring to the Academy’s snubbing her for a Best Director nod. Domestically it was #1 today and for the weekend by a lot. The hunt for Bin Laden pic made more than I’d expected given its long 2-hour 37-minute running time. However, it’s got 5 fresh Oscar nominations to help marketing after playing in NYC and LA only since mid-December. According to exit polls, 59% of the opening weekend audience for the film was male/41% was female, and 38% was under 30 years of age/62% was older than 30. Filmgoers gave the pic an ‘A-’ CinemaScore.

Open Road Films’ newcomer, R-rated spoof A Haunted House, was helped by being the marketplace’s only new comedy. It surprisingly … Read More »

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Are Gun Control Pleas By Movie Stars Undermined By Onscreen Violence?

By | Wednesday January 2, 2013 @ 3:06pm PST
Mike Fleming

Well, you had to know this was coming from the gun crowd. A bunch of celebrities got together to speak out for gun control. In this video making the rounds, their pleas are superimposed with footage of the same actors taking part in gratuitous and sometimes cartoonish scenes of gunfire carnage in movies they’ve made over the years. This video goes overboard, but Hollywood has put itself on rocky moral footing by relying so heavily on violence, and when rampant gunfire is such a staple of features, TV shows and the commercials that sell them. We are not just talking about cheesy action films here–when I was at Variety and we had issues overstuffed with ads for AFM and Cannes B-films, it seemed like every one showed someone holding a gun–but also major film releases.

While Jack Reacher pulled back the gun violence in early trailers and now just shows Tom Cruise breaking the bones of bad guys even though the film’s plot is triggered by sniper fire, it seemed like every movie trailer I saw over the holidays had gunfire galore. That included Gangster Squad and The Last Stand, the latter an Arnold Schwarzenegger film where he and his cohorts are seen shooting a machine gun out of the back of a school bus (talk about tacky). I still maintain it’s the height of lunacy for an organization like the NRA to blame Hollywood for the carnage in Newtown, Read More »

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NRA’s Anti- Hollywood Stance An Assault On Our Intelligence

Mike Fleming

OPINION: Is anyone surprised that, following a one-week waiting period since 20 children and six others were gunned down in a Newtown, Conn. elementary school, the National Rifle Association would surface to pass the buck and blame the carnage on violent Hollywood movies and video games?

It has only been a few months since the last gun massacre, when 12 were killed and 58 wounded by an assault weapon-wielding madman during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. In the aftermath, I asked a number of filmmakers — and even studio moguls assembled at our The Contenders panel — if that tragedy caused them to re-evaluate the violence they depict onscreen. It’s a no-win question for studio moguls, and they were circumspect; they said they understood the responsibility of movies that project into the culture differently than other forms of media. But they haven’t dramatically changed the decision-making process on the movies they finance and distribute to the masses because they feel they already exercise responsible restraint. Quentin Tarantino — whom I interviewed before the Connecticut massacre — flat out rejects the notion that movie violence leads to the real thing.

Related: NRA Blames Violent Movies And Video Games For Gun Deaths

“I think that guy was a nut,” Tarantino told me in Playboy Magazine, referring to the Aurora shooter. “He went in there to kill a bunch of people because he knew there would be a lot of people there and he’d make a tremendous amount of news doing it. That’s no different from a guy going into a McDonald’s and shooting up people at lunchtime because he knows a lot of people will be there.” When I asked him to address criticism that onscreen violence promulgates the real thing, Tarantino pointedly said, “I make violent movies. I like violent movies. I’m on record about how I feel there is no correlation between art and life in that way.”

Some of my favorite films, from The Godfather to Heat and Goodfellas, depict violence. I hate guns, have never owned one, and do worry about gratuitously violent films — particularly in the horror genre — and I won’t watch them. I do find it disconcerting that right after the last two major shootings that studios and TV networks had to alter movies like Gangster Squad and more recently change marketing on films like Jack Reacher because of parallels to tragic events. I don’t play video games, and personally loathe those that make players participants in warfare settings. That’s mainly because I feel it is the height of disrespect to the armed forces risking their lives, only to have their soldiering reduced to a form of mindless entertainment. But for a gun lobby to point the finger at Hollywood for semi-automatic killing sprees is preposterous and it’s too bad that we are only just waking up to that. Read More »

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Sean Penn On Life In The Movie Business

By | Thursday December 13, 2012 @ 4:50pm PST

Sean Penn has never been one to mince words — and he doesn’t in a recent, wide-ranging interview with Esquire. When he gets around to talking about the current state of the movie biz, it seems he’s not too happy. The complete interview appears in the January issue of Esquire. Here are some excerpts:

I just did this picture that I enjoyed doing. Gangster Squad. But I do think that in general the standard of aspiration is low. Very low. And mostly they’re just doing a bunch of monkey-fuck-rat movies, most actors and actresses. And I blame them just as much as I do the business. I know everybody wants to make some money, everybody’s got a modeling contract, everybody’s selling jewelry and perfume. I’m blinded by it. Bob Dylan said in an interview one time — somebody asked him, Are you really this reclusive? He says, No, I’m not reclusive, man. I’m exclusive. Exclusivity is like intimacy.

Read More »

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Hot New Trailer: ‘Gangster Squad’

By | Thursday October 11, 2012 @ 6:51pm PDT

Here’s the new trailer for Gangster Squad which opens January 11.  The original trailer was attached to some prints of The Dark Knight Rises. WB also shifted Gangster Squad to January 11 from September 7. The delay put some distance between the Aurora theater tragedy and Gangster Squad, and allowed Warner Bros to cut the offending scene and film a new version in a different setting.

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It’s Official: WB Confirms Moving ‘Gangster Squad’ To Jan. 11, 2013

By | Wednesday July 25, 2012 @ 7:36pm PDT

Gangster Squad Release DateWarner Bros confirmed this evening it has moved Gangster Squad from September 7 to January 11, 2013. The delay will allow filmmakers to excise a shootout scene that takes place in a movie theater, due to the Aurora, Colorado tragedy at a midnight Thursday screening of The Dark Knight Rises. An alternate murder spree scene will be shot that does not take place in a movie theater. The six months of breathing room should help return the focus to the L.A. mob storyline.

UPDATE: Warner Bros Pulls Trailer Of Gangster Shooting Up Movie Theater
Fox’s Alien Comedy Retitled ‘The Watch’ After Florida Shooting

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New Date For ‘Gangster Squad’: January 11

By | Wednesday July 25, 2012 @ 7:48am PDT
Mike Fleming

Related It’s Official: WB Delays ‘Gangster Squad’ Till January 11

Gangster Squad Release DateUPDATED, 7:36 PM: Warner Bros confirmed today that it has moved Gangster Squad from September 7 to January 11. The move allows the filmmakers to excise a shootout scene that takes place in a movie theater, which nobody wants to see after the Aurora, Colorado, tragedy at the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. There will be an alternate murder spree scene shot, but it will not be in a movie theater. The move also creates some distance for the film, which unfortunately had a trailer attached to the Batman finale. Fox faced a similar dilemma with its comedy The Watch. Even though that film is about a volunteer neighborhood patrol encountering aliens, its original title Neighborhood Watch brought unfortunate connotations to the fatal shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. Changing that title was an attempt to avoid appearing sensitive and tasteless, and it seems to have worked.

The Ruben Fleischer-directed Gangster Squad is an L.A. Confidential-style period mob tale that stars Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and Emma Stone, and it takes place in the 1940s and ’50s during the crime reign of Mickey Cohen. The six months of breathing room should help bring the focus back to the storyline, and not a murder spree that has no other correlation to the … Read More »

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UPDATE: Warner Bros Pulls Trailer Of Gangster Shooting Up Movie Theater

Warner Bros Gangster Squad TrailerEXCLUSIVE … UPDATE 9:30 AM: Warner Bros is now telling me that its outside non-studio spokeswoman failed to tell me the whole and accurate story about the process that led to the studio taking down its offensive Gangster Squad trailer this morning. A Warner Bros executive now tells me how the studio was scrambling to deal with the Aurora theater shooting crisis in the pre-dawn hours of the morning. Then, at 5 AM, one of the top distribution execs remembered that Warner Bros’ Gangster Squad trailer was playing “loose” this weekend timed to the studio’s The Dark Knight Rises release in about 30% of domestic theaters. (“Loose” means that theaters had been asked to play the trailer which was not paired with The Dark Knight Rises.)

Gangster Squad Trailer ShootingAccording to Warner Bros, this distribution exec suddenly remembered that the trailer for the mob movie contained a scene showing a gangster with a machine gun shooting up people in a movie theater from behind the big screen. This distribution exec quickly instructed the studio to “replace it as soon as possible”. At 6 AM, Warner Bros started notifying the theater circuits to pull the offensive Gangster Squad trailer. That is being done all over North America today. Meanwhile, Warner Bros’ marketing department is scrambling to get out its second-generation Gangster Squad trailer already in the works. This new trailer, without the movie theater scene, will be swapped out for the offensive one within a week. Warner Bros says this is now the whole story.

And the studio’s explanation which I absolutely believe also makes clear that, while my phone calls overlapped with their behind-the-scenes process, I was not responsible for the studio pulling the offensive Gangster Squad trailer with the movie theater shooting scene.

PREVIOUS 7:30 AM: This was truly terrible decision-making by Warner Bros – both to release a trailer like this and then not to pull it immediately after today’s tragedy. I have confirmed that the studio which released The Dark Knight Rises paired offered it with the official movie trailer for Gangster Squad, an upcoming pic set in 1949 about a ruthless Mafia Godfather who runs Los Angeles. One of the scenes in the trailer that’s been playing all morning today shows a gangster with a machine gun shooting up people in a movie theater from behind the big screen. Several outraged moviegoers tipped me to this scene. Read More »

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Ruben Fleischer Signs Pod Deal With 20th Century Fox TV

Ruben Fleischer 20th Century Fox TVRuben Fleischer has closed a pod deal with 20th Century Fox TV. The two-year pact will see the director-producer develop, direct and executive produce new comedy and drama projects for network and cable TV. As a part of the deal, the Gangster Squad helmer will launch a new production company to be based at Fox. “We were so taken with Zombieland, it has such an original tone. The mix of scary and funny—he’s just incredibly creative. He has the greatest skill set, and we know he has what it takes to create a hit television show,” 20th Century Fox TV chair Dana Walden told Deadline today. Fleischer, who made his feature directorial debut with 2009’s Zombieland and followed up with 2011′s 30 Minutes Or Less, is producing the indie Two Night Stand, which Mike Nichols’ son Max is attached to direct. Fleischer started out directing music video and commercials. He moved on to directing segments for ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! as well as episodes of Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis and Funny Or Die videos plus creating and executive producing MTV’s Rob And Big and Fantasy Factory. The LA period drama Gangster Squad, starring Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin, comes out September 7. Fleischer is repped by UTA and attorney Warren Dern.

Related: ‘Zombieland’ Scribe Team Tackles Hasbro’s ‘Micronauts’ For JJ Abrams And Paramount

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Hot Trailer: ‘Gangster Squad’

By | Tuesday July 10, 2012 @ 11:24pm PDT

We saw the initial trailer for Gangster Squad a couple of months ago, now here’s the second. The cast for the period mob drama about the LAPD’s battle against Mickey Cohen includes Sean Penn (as Cohen), Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Mireille Enos, Anthony Mackie, Nick Nolte, Michael Pena, Giovanni Ribisi and others. Screenplay is by Will Beall, based on Paul Lieberman’s book. A release date for the Warner Bros pic is set for September 7.

Watch this video on YouTube

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Warner Bros Drops ‘Gravity 3D’ To 2013, Moves ‘Gangster Squad’ To Sept. 7

By | Monday May 14, 2012 @ 4:39pm PDT

The Sandra Bullock space pic Gravity 3D had been scheduled for November 21, but now it will premiere sometime in 2013. Warner Bros already has a full plate in the fourth quarter — Argo, Gangster Squad, The Hobbit and The Great Gatsby among its titles — so it’s possible the studio wanted to give the Alfonso Cuaron drama some extra breathing room, especially since it will need IMAX’s 3D screens, which are in short supply. George Clooney co-stars in the movie but the big role is Bullock’s, so the studio could also be looking at another Oscar campaign for her (it also released The Blind Side, which won her a Best Actress Oscar).

Meanwhile, Ruben Fleischer’s LA period drama Gangster Squad starring Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin had moved around twice before, first set for October 19, 2012 before moving up a week to October 12 and now landing on September 7. That date also houses Summit’s The Cold Light Of Day and Oscilloscope’s Hello I Must Be Going. Warner Bros also said its drama Beautiful Creatures is being shifted ahead two days to open on a Wednesday, February 13, 2013, to capitalize on Valentine’s Day weekend.

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Hot Trailer: ‘Gangster Squad’

Warner Bros has released the initial trailer Ruben Fleischer‘s Gangster Squad. The cast for the period mob drama about the LAPD’s battle against Mickey Cohen includes Sean Penn (as Cohen), Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Mireille Enos, Anthony Mackie, Nick Nolte, Michael Pena, Giovanni Ribisi and others. Screenplay is by Will Beall, based on based on Paul Lieberman’s book. Pic’s release date is currently up in the air, after Warner Bros shifted calendar slots in October 2012.

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CAA Signs ‘The Killing’ Star Mireille Enos

By | Monday October 10, 2011 @ 11:09am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Mireille Enos has signed with CAA. She was with Innovative Artists. Enos got her big break when she was cast as the lead on AMC’s drama series The Killing, a role that earned her a Primetime Emmy nomination. Since then, Enos has landed her first lead role in a studio feature, Paramount Pictures’ Brad Pitt starrer World War Z, which she just wrapped. She is now filming Gangster Squad opposite Josh Brolin and will next begin production on the second season of The Killing. Enos, who previously had a recurring role on HBO’s Big Love and was nominated for a Tony in 2005 for Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, continues to be repped by manager Howard Green and attorney Mitch Smelkinson.

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L.A. On-Location Filming Up 15% In 3Q

On-location filming in Los Angeles increased by 15.4% year-over-year during the third quarter, helped in part by eight feature film shoots in the region that were supported by the California Film & Television Tax Credit. The films — which include Warner Bros’ Ben Affleck-directed Argo and period L.A. mob pic Gangster Squad, as well as Screen Gems’ Steve Harvey book adaptation Think Like A Man — certainly help the industry’s case when it comes to touting the value of the state tax credit, an annual $100 million program that recently was renewed for one year rather than a hoped-for five years after it was hacked back by the state Senate in committee. Overall, since its 2009 launch the program has brought $3.8B in economic output and supported 20,040 jobs — and elevates quarterly on-location production numbers like the ones released today by FilmL.A.

Also during the third quarter, non-tax-credit films like Oliver Stone’s Savages contributed to the feature production uptick — the sector grew 49.9% compared with last year. TV production grew 5.8% in the quarter but wasn’t helped by a slide in drama as Los Angeles lost 10 one-hour series this season. “Unfortunately, our summer prediction of diminished third quarter TV drama production was spot-on,” FilmL.A. president Paul Audley said. “While the California state incentive brought six television dramas to Los Angeles this quarter, we’ve seen other jurisdictions capture an unusually high number of these economically beneficial projects.”

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Ambyr Childers Signs With WME, Lands ‘Gangster Squad’

Mike Fleming

Ambyr ChildersAmbyr Childers, who played the daughter of the faith founder (Philip Seymour Hoffman) in Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film for Megan Ellison’s Annapurna and The Weinstein Company, has landed a key role in Gangster Squad, the Ruben Fleischer-directed period drama for Warner Bros. The film stars Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin. Childers just signed with WME and remains managed by McKeon-Myones Management.

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Holiday Movie Release Date Moves: A Recap

It’s been a busy week for Hollywood studios settling on release dates. Here’s what’s happened:

Unauthorized, Sundance Now, Oct. 7**
Puss In Boots, DreamWorks Animation, Oct. 28 (Nov. 4)
Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol
, Paramount, Dec. 16 sneak previews (Dec. 21*)
The Adventures of Tintin, Paramount, Dec. 21 (Dec. 23)
War Horse, DreamWorks/Touchstone/Disney, Dec. 25 (Dec. 28)
The Lucky One, Warner Bros, April 20, 2012 (Aug. 12, 2012)
Argo, Warner Bros, Sept. 14, 2012 (–)
Gangster Squad, Warner Bros, Oct. 19, 2012 (–)

*wide-release date

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Warner Bros Dates ‘Gangster Squad’

Warner Bros said today that it will release its Ruben Fleischer-directed mob drama Gangster Squad on Oct. 19, 2012, right in the teeth of next year’s awards season. Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin and Emma Stone star in the pic, which is set in 1940s-era Los Angeles and centers on a police unit that is formed to take down head gangster Mickey Cohen, who is played by Penn. Also set to be released on that date is Lionsgate’s romantic comedy The Big Wedding with Robert De Niro and Susan Sarandon as well as Paramount Vantage’s untitled David Chase film, his feature directorial debut, about a group friends in 1960s New Jersey who form a garage band. UPDATE: The studio also said it is shifting its Zac Efron-starrer The Lucky One, based on the Nicholas Sparks novel, from Aug. 12, 2012 to April 20, 2012.

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Nick Nolte Joins ‘Gangster Squad’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Nick Nolte continues his recent career resurgence. He’s been set to join the cast of the Ruben Fleischer-directed Warner Bros drama Gangster Squad. Nolte will play Bill Parker, the new chief of police in Los Angeles, and the first in a awhile who hasn’t been corrupted by Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn). The chief, a Purple Heart recipient at Normandy, is the one who starts the Gangster Squad, a crack team designed to bring down organized crime. Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Mireille Enos and Anthony Mackie star.

Nolte stars in the Gavin O’Connor-directed Warrior, and he just wrapped the Taylor Hackford-directed action film Parker for FilmDistrict opposite Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez and Michael Chiklis. Nolte is about to begin work on the Robert Redford-directed The Company You Keep opposite Redford and Shia LaBeouf, and he also stars with Dustin Hoffman in the David Milch/Michael Mann HBO series Luck.

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Holt McCallany Joins ‘Gangster Squad’

By | Thursday July 14, 2011 @ 9:05am PDT

EXCLUSIVE: Holt McCallany, who starred in FX’s now-canceled but critically acclaimed boxing drama Lights Out this past season, has landed a role as the bodyguard and main enforcer to Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) in Warner Bros’ Gangster Squad. He joins Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Anthony Mackie, Michael Pena and Giovanni Ribisi in the Ruben Fleischer’s crime drama set in 1949 Los Angeles. Will Beall wrote the script, about an elite police squad that tracks down bad guys like Cohen. McCallany recently wrapped the indie film White Space and is now shooting Walter Hill’s Headshot opposite Sylvester Stallone for Joel Silver and Warner Bros. He is repped by APA and Mosaic.

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