Artificial Intelligence Pioneer Gives ‘Her’ A Thumbs Up

By | Monday February 17, 2014 @ 6:30pm PST

Her posterHe might not be the next Roger Ebert, but that didn’t stop futurist and artificial-intelligence pioneer Ray Kurzweil from giving Spike Jonze‘s Oscar-nominated and slightly satirical sci-fi dramedy Her a strongly positive review — on cinematic if not all technology grounds. “This is a breakthrough concept in cinematic futurism in the way that The Matrix presented a realistic vision that virtual reality will ultimately be as real as, well, real reality,” Kurzweil writes in a review posted recently on his site KurzweilAI.net. Kurzweil, now Google’s director of engineering, is author of books such as The Singularity Is Near and The Age of Spiritual Machines and subject of the documentary Transcendent Man, all of which detail Kurzweil’s vision of a future when computer intelligence becomes self aware and merges more fully with human intelligence.

Related: OSCARS: How The Adapted And Original Screenplay Races Could Go Down To The Wire
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OSCARS: William Butler’s Score For ‘Her’ Balances ‘Warm And Fuzzy and Droning Unease’

By | Thursday February 13, 2014 @ 7:51am PST

Photo of ARCADE FIREFirst-time Oscar nominee William Butler, from the Grammy-winning band Arcade Fire, who is nominated along with Owen Pallett for the score of Her, said the music for the movie morphed as the relationship became stronger between … Read More »

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Specialty Box Office: ‘Her’ Nabs $42K Per-Screen; Bollywood’s ‘Dhoom 3′ Sizzles; ‘The Past’ Coasts In Opening; ‘Llewyn Davis’ Still Faring Well

By | Sunday December 22, 2013 @ 10:47am PST

Specialty Box OfficeIn its limited debut, Spike Jonze‘s Her opened on 6 screens and tallied $257,815 over 3 days averaging $42,969 per screen. The tech-themed drama-romance starring Joaquin Phoenix as a man in love with his Siri-esque operating system (Scarlett Johansson) jumped to $361,474 over 5 days, averaging $60,246 for WB which has Oscar hopes for Phoenix. And beyond the Hobbits and Ron Burgundy shenanigans it was a Bollywood weekend in the USA (and Canada) this weekend. Bollywood also bows to the franchise machine and it cashed in with Dhoom 3, which Yash Raj Films opened in 236 theaters in North America, grossing over $3.3M and averaging a solid $14K. America and India did not have a good week diplomatically as protests raged in the subcontinent after a diplomat was arrested in NYC. Yash Raj touted some exciting factoids about the release Sunday morning: Dhoom 3 had the highest opening day gross of any Indian movie in North America Highest opening weekend gross of any Indian movie in North America Dhoom 3 box office First Bollywood movie to do over $1 million on opening day. Only Bollywood movie to do more than $1 million on 2 consecutive days. “Our biggest strength has been that our audiences are so clued in that technically we just need to announce a date and they will be there for a film like this,” Yash Raj’s VP – Int’l Operations, Avtar Panesar said this week. It will roll out further in the coming weeks.

Related: ‘Dhoom 3′ Breaks Record For Biggest Bollywood Opening Weekend In North America

China also made a grand opening with Feng Xiaogang’s Personal Tailor, launching in 9 locations this weekend. It opened in 9 runs, growing $104K for an $11,555 PSA. Read More »

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National Board Of Review Names Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ Best Film

By | Wednesday December 4, 2013 @ 10:19am PST
Pete Hammond

The ever-quirky National Board Of Review has crowned Her as the year’s Best Film and its helmer Spike Jonzeher-movie-poster as Best Director. It only adds to what is becoming a year without consensus — at least so far, after the New York Film Critics Circle named American Hustle their best film yesterday and the Gotham Awards chose Inside Llewyn Davis. The latter won Best Screenplay from NBR, but there was no mention of Hustle anywhere on its list this morning (see the full list of winners below). Also largely ignored were three films most pundits put at the top of their Oscar frontrunners: 12 Years A Slave, Gravity and Captain Phillips. The latter was completely dissed and 12 Years and Gravity mentioned only in NBR’s Top Ten list, but NO individual awards other than a technical citation for Gravity’s “creative innovation”.

NationalBoardOfReview_logonewUnlike last year when NBR and NYFCC agreed on Zero Dark Thirty as Best Pic and Director , this morning’s list was far apart. The groups’ only matches came for The Wind Rises in animation, Stories We Tell in Documentary and Fruitvale Station as best first film. NBR’s acting choices of Bruce Dern and Will Forte in Nebraska, Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks and Octavia Spencer for Fruitvale represented a completely different quartet than the NYFCC picks of Robert Redford, Cate Blanchett, Jared Leto and Jennifer Lawrence. But for those who harbor Oscar hopes, don’t despair. The National Board of Review, which describes itself as “a select group of knowledgeable film enthusiasts and professionals, academics, young filmmakers and students”, has had a lousy track record in recent years of picking eventual Oscar winners.  In the past five years only one of their Best Film picks — Slumdog Millionaire — and just two acting choices — Christopher Plummer and Penelope Cruz — went on to win Academy Awards.  They haven’t had a Best Director in common with Oscar since Martin Scorsese for The Departed in 2005 — the same year they chose Letters From Iwo Jima as Best Film. Here is NBR’s full list of winners:

Best Film
HER
Best Director
Spike Jonze, HER

Best Actor
Bruce Dern, NEBRASKA

Best Actress
Emma Thompson, SAVING MR. BANKS

Best Supporting Actor
Will Forte, NEBRASKA

Best Supporting Actress
Octavia Spencer, FRUITVALE STATION

Best Original Screenplay
Joel and Ethan Coen, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS

Best Adapted Screenplay
Terence Winter, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

Best Animated Feature
THE WIND RISES

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Hot Trailer: Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’

By | Tuesday December 3, 2013 @ 5:52pm PST

After Warner Bros unveiled its first trailer for Spike Jonze‘s unconventional romantic drama in August, the studio made a strategic move to December and took it to the NYFF and Rome fests, collecting kudos for star Scarlett Johansson. But early … Read More »

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The Contenders 2013: Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ Creative Team Talks About Challenges Of Getting “Sucked Into Joaquin Phoenix’s Universe” (Video)

By | Tuesday November 19, 2013 @ 11:26am PST
Pete Hammond

The unique cinematic worlds of Spike Jonze would provide any behind the scenes wizard a unique challenge as evidenced in such films as Adaptation, Being John Malkovich or Where The Wild Things Are, but his latest film Her could … Read More »

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NYFF: Could Warner Bros. Holiday Entry ‘Her’ Be Poised To Make Oscar History?

Pete Hammond

The New York Film Festival closed Saturday night with the World Premiere of Spike Jonze‘s fourth feature, the irresistibly charming romantic fantasy Her, about a man who falls head over heels for his “operating system”. The studio held a simultaneous screening on the West Coast … Read More »

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NY Film Fest Sets Spike Jonze-Helmed ‘HER’ For Closing Night Gala

By | Thursday August 8, 2013 @ 9:27am PDT
Mike Fleming

The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced today that Spike Jonze’s HER, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde and Scarlett Johansson will make its World Premiere as the Closing Night Gala presentation for the upcoming 51st

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Hot Trailer: Spike Jonze’s ‘HER’

By | Wednesday August 7, 2013 @ 11:29am PDT

Warner Bros. has dropped the first trailer for Spike Jonze‘s HER, about an introverted man (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with an artificially intelligent operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). Amy Adams and Rooney Mara also star in the pic written and … Read More »

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Warner Bros Sets Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ For November 20

By | Tuesday May 21, 2013 @ 1:43pm PDT

Spike Jonze wrote and directed Her, which stars Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Samantha Morton and Olivia Wilde. The film is about a guy who falls in love with the voice of a computer, … Read More »

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Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Lands Offshore Rights To Spike Jonze, David O Russell Pics

Mike Fleming

David O Russell American BullshitSpike Jonze Sony MovieEXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has made a deal with Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures for international rights on two untitled film projects that will be directed by Spike Jonze and David O Russell, respectively. As she often does with auteur fare, Ellison stepped up to fully fund both films, as she did with the Paul Thomas Anderson-directed The Master, Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher and Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty. Read More »

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R.I.P. Maurice Sendak

By | Tuesday May 8, 2012 @ 8:35am PDT

Maurice Sendak DeadMaurice Sendak, author of Where The Wild Things Are, died today after suffering a stroke Friday. He was 83. Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are was awarded a Caldecott Medal for best children’s … Read More »

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Samantha Morton, Amy Adams And Carey Mulligan Circle Spike Jonze Film

By | Wednesday February 1, 2012 @ 6:12pm PST
Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Sources tell me that the project that Morton, Adams and Mulligan and Phoenix are doing was written by Spike Jonze himself, and not Charlie Kaufman. The … Read More »

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Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures Acquiring Reteam From Charlie Kaufman And Spike Jonze

By | Tuesday March 1, 2011 @ 2:09pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures is negotiating to acquire an untitled satire that will re-team screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and director Spike Jonze, the tandem behind the mind-benders Adaptation and Being John Malkovich. The project was pitched recently to financiers, and … Read More »

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BOX OFFICE GROSS: ‘Jackass 3D’ No Joke With $50M Weekend, ‘Red’ Strong #2

SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM UPDATE: Two movies roundly rejected by Hollywood, one for being too moronic and the other too moldy, led the North American box office weekend with a big $125M weekend overall:

1. Jackass 3D (Paramount) NEW [3,081 Theaters]
Friday $21.8M, Saturday $17M, Weekend $50M

As a studio exec joked to me Friday, “The Oscar race has been turned on its head”. That’s because Paramount’s Jackass 3D aimed at the youth market not only earned twice the gross of Sony’s Academy Awards-touted Facebook origins film starting its 3rd week Friday, but knocked it out of #1. Producers Johnny Knoxville’s and Spike Jonze’s stupid stunt pic directed by Jeff Tremaine earned a “B+” CinemaScore. Still the headline is that, despite the restriction of an “R” rating, it opened to a whopping Friday for the biggest single day ever in October because of the higher 3D ticket prices. That included $2.5M from midnight shows, also the most ever for October. Plus a healthy Saturday after the “first to see” subsided. Its $50M weekend take was the record for the biggest opening in the month of October (besting Scary Movie 3 which did $48.1M in October 2003 but was only 2D). Guess this shows Hollywood that movies don’t need a script and a plot, right? With a budget of only $20M, the studio would have been more than happy with the $30M weekend it expected from the higher ticket prices from the 2,452 3D-equipped locations. (The first 2D Jackass opened with a $22.8M weekend and the 2D sequel to $29M.) Believe it or not, I’m told the filmmakers debated whether or not shooting a film in 3D would mess up their comedic timing.

Exit polling showed the audience was 60% male, and 67% under age 25. Two of the biggest components of the Jackass 3D marketing campaign were premiering 10 minutes of 3D footage at Comic-Con via a mobile 3D screening room and the public spectacle of letting MTV’s Jersey Shore cast been seen watching and talking about the new film. There’s been relentless promotion by the Viacom sister company which first gave birth to the Jackass TV and movie franchise and even product licensing program (now featuring apparel, sunglasses, skateboards, even a Converse shoe, and hardbound book. As if Jackass fans read.) Last weekend, MTV marked the 10th anniversary of Jackass with 2 TV specials leading up to the film’s release: Jackass: The Beginning and The Making Of Jackass 3D featuring never-before-seen content from the gang: Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Ryan Dynn, Jason “Wee Man” Acuña, Preston Lacy, Dave England, and Ehren McGhehey. MTV also showed the franchise’s humble TV origins back in 2000 before it became a pop culture phenom. (P.S. The Making of Jackass 3D contains a visual of Deadline Hollywood. I couldn’t be more proud)

2. Red (Summit) NEW [3,255 Theaters]
Friday $7.3M, Saturday $9.2M, Weekend $22.5M

Every studio passed on making the stylish PG-13 comedy Red aimed at the adult audience except for Summit Entertainment: now the Robert Schwentke-directed pic features Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, and Bruce Willis — some of them as past-their-expiration-date assassins. That’s surprisingly strong considering the over-the-hill stars and subject matter. But the pic received an “A-” Cinemascore and 73% definite recommend. Exit polling showed the audience was 53% male, and 58% over age 35. In pre-release screenings, I’m told the film played as a crowd pleaser by mixing the right amount of action with humor based on witty lines and deft timing. It was tracking across all quadrants with the strongest being male moviegoers over age 30. But that cast was the #1 reason people went to see the film based on the cult DC Comics graphic novels by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner. Read More »

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