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Who knew the wicked witch was once such a saucy wench? How Green Was My Valley. Boomstick to the Big O, after the cut.

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Improvise, adapt, overcome.

So the news broke a while ago that George Lucas had sold LucasFilm to Disney to “let Hooper take a turn.” So now Disney will start making the new movies, etc. Twitter had a total meltdown over it, with names like Brad Bird and Joss Whedon being bandied about. Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back are the only two good ones, in my opinion. I also love American Graffiti. I am sure I am not the target audience for this.

But it’s worth noting that I’ve seen Star Wars maybe more than any other movie except Jaws and know the movie line for line. Literally, line for line. I can quote most of the scenes. I fell madly in love with Luke Skywalker when I was around 11.

“Aren’t you a little short to be a storm trooper?”

The press release:

Global leader in high-quality family entertainment agrees to acquire world-renowned Lucasfilm Ltd, including legendary STAR WARS franchise.

Acquisition continues Disney’s strategic focus on creating and monetizing the world’s best branded content, innovative technology and global growth to drive long-term shareholder value.

Lucasfilm to join company’s global portfolio of world class brands including Disney, ESPN, Pixar, Marvel and ABC.

STAR WARS: EPISODE 7 feature film targeted for release in 2015.

Burbank, CA and San Francisco, CA, October 30, 2012 – Continuing its strategy of delivering exceptional creative content to audiences around the world, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction. Lucasfilm is 100% owned by Lucasfilm Chairman and Founder, George Lucas.

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Long may they reign, thanks to the powers behind the throne.

(MovieLine) Colin Firth won an Oscar playing Britain’s King George VI in the 2010 historical drama The King’s Speech. And Dame Helen Mirren won her Academy Award playing the current U.K. monarch Queen Elizabeth II back in 2006 for her role in The Queen. Now both are set to wear their crowns again in two separate projects.

The Press Association U.K. said that Firth’s new film is in the “very early stages,” but Bonham Carter and fellow King’s Speech co-star Geoffrey Rush are also likely to return. In this follow-up, Firth will return as George VI during the dark days of the Blitz, in which Buckingham Palace along with much of London during frequent night raids. Along with a Best Actor win for Firth, The King’s Speech won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.

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When Venus in Fur was nominated for a Tony Award and won a slew of NY awards including a Tony for its star Nina Arianda, I filed it away with dozens of of other great stage productions that I figured I’d never have a chance to see. A stylized two-person black comedy involving the erotic head games between a playwright and an actress during an audition? Not something Hollywood would likely touch. Thanks to Roman Polanski, we don’t have to rely on Hollywood. He’s adapting the play with its original author David Ives and it will be filmed in French, starring Emmanuelle Seigner and Louis Garrel. Polanski who directed Seigner in Frantic and Bitter Moon, says the project will fulfill a wish he’s had for years.

“I’ve been looking for a chance to make a film in French with Emmanuelle for a long time. Reading ‘Venus in Fur’ I realized the moment had arrived. I got so fired up to put this brilliant black comedy on film that I decided to fit it in before ‘D.,’ whose screenplay and pre-production will demand a few more months. Louis Garrel and Emmanuelle Seigner will make for a stunning duo.” (Coming Soon)

The Weinstein Co. has announced they will finance and distribute The Ends of the Earth, about an oil tycoon who loses everything when he begins a controversial love affair with his adopted daughter, Lydie Marland, to be played by Jennifer Lawrence.

No director has been chosen for the project but the script was written by Chris Terrio, who also wrote Argo.

No word on who will play the 50-something E.W. Marland, with whom she has an affair and later marries (and remains with him until his death). After his marriage, he switches from being a Republican to a Democrat, then becomes a congressman and then governor of Oklahoma, with Lydie as his first lady. Her story is stranger:

“After Mr. Marland’s death in 1941, Lydie continued to live in her cottage. She lived a quiet, reclusive life and some people even thought she had died. Then, in 1953, she loaded her Studebaker with paintings and tapestries and left Ponca City, not to be seen again locally for 22 years. For most of that time, very few people knew where she was and once again, some even thought she had died. The Saturday Evening Post ran an article entitled “Where is Lyde Marland?” However, while she was gone, she was in touch with her attorney and continued to pay taxes on the little cottage and property that Marland had left to her in his will. She lived on the west coast for a while and in New York City near Central Park. In the 1960’s, during the unrest that surround the Vietnamese War and civil rights, she participated in peace marches in Washington, D.C.”


Or 2015. THR has the good news.

The studio’s big summer bet was Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, June’s sort-of Alien prequel. The $130 million-budgeted film grossed a solid but not spectacular $303 million globally, putting it right on the franchise bubble. Fox confirms to THR that Scott and the studio actively are pushing ahead with a follow-up (stars Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace are signed) and are talking to new writers because Prometheus co-scribe Damon Lindelof might not be available. “Ridley is incredibly excited about the movie, but we have to get it right. We can’t rush it,” says Fox president of production Emma Watts, who also has overseen the successful reboots of the X-Men and Planet of the Apes franchises. A Prometheus sequel would be released in 2014 or 2015.

Emma Watson leads a relatively unknown cast in The Bling Ring, Sophia Coppola’s new film based on the real life escapades of the “Hollywood Hills Burglars.” In 2008 and 2009 a group of teenagers raided the home of several celebrities making off with as much as $3 million in cash and booty before they were nabbed, most of it from Paris Hilton, whose house was burglarized several times. The best account of the burglaries is by Nancy Jo Sales in Vanity Fair, who called the crime spree “completely unprecedented in the history of Hollywood.” The heists have been fodder for hundreds of lurid cover stories for many months. Here’s the questionable segue Maxim chose.

Time was, the Manson family haunted these hills, striking fear into the hearts of the rich and photogenic. Forty years later, Hollywood was once again being simultaneously terrorized and captivated. But the culprits this time were just a knuckleheaded crew of errant teenagers enraptured by the glitz and glamour of Hollywood’s cult of celebrity. They would pick out the jewelry and designer clothes from the pages of fashion magazines, target the celebrities who had what they wanted, and then track their locations and movements using online sites like TMZ and celebrityaddressaerial.com (a kind of map to the stars’ homes using helicopter photography). From there it was easy: Hop a fence, open a window, and rummage through enough closets until they found what they were looking for. Call it the Home Invasion Shopping Network.

In one short year of operation, from October 2008 to their arrest in October 2009, the crew’s hit list of brand-name marks—Paris Hilton, Lohan, The Hills’ Audrina Patridge, The O.C.’s Rachel Bilson, Orlando Bloom, Brian Austin Green, and Ashley Tisdale of High School Musical—netted them a reported $3 million in cash and swag. The same magazines and Web sites they fetishized ate it up. TMZ dubbed them the Burglar Bunch. The Los Angeles Times went with the Bling Ring. Media blog Gawker made their pitch for the Beverly Hills Bandits. Whatever you called them, it was apparently a story tailor-made for Hollywood, especially when the culprits—young, wealthy, and attractive—were finally collared. (Maxim)

It was always going to be a mere matter of weeks (days, minutes) before Hollywood adapted its own investigation, so I suppose we’re lucky Sophia Coppola got her hands on the case before the Lifetime Channel trampled the evidence. Oh, too late.

“There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” – Alfred Hitchcock

Gentlemen, start your engines. Take a look at some of the most promising forthcoming films in the year ahead. Remember how we all wanted to ride War Horse a year ago? Time to scout out all the pretty horses of 2012.

  • Haywire, Steven Soderbergh (Jan 20)
  • The Grey, Joe Carnahan (Jan 27)
  • The Woman in Black, James Watkins (Feb 3)
  • Wanderlust, David Wain (February 24)
  • The Raven, James McTeigue (March 9)
  • The Hunger Games, Gary Ross (March 23)
  • Cabin in the Woods, Drew Goddard (April 13)
  • Wettest County, John Hillcoat (April 20)
  • The Avengers, Joss Whedon (May 4)
  • Dark Shadows, Tim Burton (May 11)
  • The Dictator, Larry Charles (May 11)
  • Amour, Michael Haneke (May 23, France)
  • Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson (May 25)
  • Prometheus Ridley Scott (June 8 )
  • Brave, Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman (June 22)
  • Magic Mike, Steven Soderbergh (June 29)
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Timur Bekmambetov (June 22)
  • The Amazing Spider-Man, Marc Webb (July 3)
  • All You Need Is Love, Susanne Bier (July 11)
  • The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan (July 20)

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Lee Daniels directs this adaptation of the Pete DExter novel. With Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, Matthew McConaughey, Scott Glenn.

(Publishers Weekly) Moat County, Fla., is located where the St. John’s River flows north-a geographical rarity and, in literature, a signal that we’ve entered the strange and violent world of National Book Award-winner Dexter (Paris Trout). Narrator Jack James is the son of the Moat County Tribune’s editor and publisher.

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From children’s story to serial killer thriller, When Marty swings the pendulum, he swings it hard.

(THR) Norwegian author Jo Nesbo and Brit production company Working Title Films have confirmed that Martin Scorsese will direct the feature film adaptation of Nesbo’s global bestseller The Snowman.

Scorsese had been circling the project for some time now but Nesbo had to give final approval for the director. He has done so, confirming to a Swedish newspaper that Scorsese will direct the first English-language adaptation of his work. Nesbo added that he would not insist Snowman be shot on location in Olso, where the book is set.

… The novel features Norwegian detective Harry Hole, described as an anti-authoritarian, anti-sobriety cop, who investigates particularly gruesome killings. In Snowman, the seventh book in the Harry Hole franchise, a son finds his mother’s pink scarf wrapped around the neck of a ominous looking snowman. Hole realizes she is the latest victim of a serial killer.

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Sooner or later someone had to do it.  It might as well be Charlie Kaufman.  He doesn’t really explain what his next project will be but it sounds like he’s ready to start ruminating on the craziness here online – why we’re all here:

‘If I look at some of the things in the script that I’m about to embark on, I’d have to say I don’t really have any idea how we’re going to do it. I’ve been pretty good at keeping logistics away from the writing process. It’s important when you’re writing to not bridle yourself with pragmatic concerns. The movie I’m about to do has got a lot of scenes and a lot of characters. And the scope of it and the world it inhabits is very, very large. In the broadest possible sense, it’s about online film criticism, but as usual, the world that I’m writing about is not necessarily the world that I’m writing about. It’s just a place to set it. There’s a lot in there about the internet and anger: cultural, societal and individual anger. And isolation in this particular age we live in. And competition: it’s about the idea of people in this world wanting to be seen. I hate to use the word “about”, as it implies that what I’m doing is an analogy and that I’m trying to say something. I’m not. That’s for the audience to do.’

Look at me!  Kaufman on pitching, movie stars and screenwriting.

Just announced by Mandate Pictures, Julianne Hough and Russell Brand will star in Diablo Cody’s first directorial effort about a young woman who loses her faith after a plane crash and decides to go to Las Vegas to experience the wild side of life. On her journey, she meets an unlikely companion (Brand) who inadvertently helps her find her true self.”

I know Cody gets a lot of flack and people like to hate on her but I think she’s funny — and I think he’s funny.  So I hope it’s a good one.  I think the reason Cody gets hate is because of her own cultivated persona — the tattooed stripper schtick, which I never really bought entirely.  But hey, dudes get to cultivate their own images so why not women?  But when you remove all of that greasy coating, underneath it all is, I think, a funny, insightful writer.  She might have needed the schtick to break through.

Joe Wright will direct the epic romance Anna Karenina, adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel by Academy Award winner Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love). The Working Title Films production will commence filming in the U.K. and Russia this month. Focus Features will distribute the movie domestically, and Universal Pictures International (UPI) will distribute the movie internationally, in the second half of 2012.

Anna Karenina marks Mr. Wright’s third Working Title movie with Focus and UPI, following the award-winning boxoffice successes Pride & Prejudice and Atonement. Also for Working Title and UPI, he directed The Soloist; also for Focus, he most recently directed the hit adventure thriller Hanna.

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Click on the entrance to Fox Searchlight’s new site for Martha Marcy May Marlene and a mist of drifting particles merge and disintegrate in an eerily elusive silhouette. Mouse over the indistinct features of that female face with your cursor to isolate further points of entry for a virtual exploration of the conflicting voices inside her head. It’s an effective interactive metaphor for the journey of discovery the film itself will take. Winner of the Directors Award for Sean Durkin at Sundance this year, Martha Marcy May Marlene puzzling structure is an ideal showcase for Elizabeth Olsen’s range, as her character loses grasp of one reality as she comes to grip with another — both creepy. The official site does a fine job preparing us with clues to help unlock her disturbing mental breakdown and equally troubling reconstruction. IAmaTeacherandaLeader.com

A few more screenshots and impressions of Martha Marcy May Marlene by Slant’s Glenn Heath from Cannes, after the cut.

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I could transcribe some quotes, but then you’d miss the thrill in Guillermo del Toro’s voice, however oblique his explanation may be. Among other things (I hope beyond our imagination to guess) The Film Stage guesses correctly that Del Toro is talking about Cuarón’s use of long takes:

It has been said the film has at least a 20-minute single opening scene, with possibly the entire film being made up of just a few shots. If one matches that with the fact that every element must convincingly be in zero gravity, these “mindblowing” technological advancements could be to capture both. Considering he is recreating space inside a studio, and Cuarón’s insistence on photo-real CGI, this continues to be most-anticipated film of 2012.

Warner Bros has announced release dates for its two high-profile Oscar hopefuls. (thanks phantom)

Warner Bros has set the Clint Eastwood-directed Leonardo DiCaprio-starrer J Edgar for a limited release on Wednesday, Nov. 9, with a wide release set for two days later. Eastwood produced with Imagine partners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, and Robert Lorenz.

Warner Bros has dated the Stephen Daldry-directed drama Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close for limited release on Dec. 25, with a wide release to take place on Jan. 20, 2012. That film stars Oscar winners Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, and it was produced by Scott Rudin, who’s always got at least one film in the Oscar race. (Deadline)

Sasha keeps a complete chart of release dates in the sidebar, and these updates will be added soon. Meanwhile, the dance card has been filling up so fast lately, it might help clarify the roll-out agenda for 25 of the most important upcoming movies, after the cut.

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Kathryn Bigelow’s Bin Laden assassination film has been strategically positioned for next year’s Oscars — a slot, incidentally, that could help tilt some influence in the 2012 presidential elections.

When bin Laden was killed, Boal and Bigelow were well along on a project called Killing Bin Laden, about the so-far unsuccessful attempt to kill the mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks. It immediately became the hottest project in town, and Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Films banner agreed to fund the film. Buyers materialized during the Cannes Film Festival even as Boal was rewriting the script to reflect a most satisfying third act. Deadline broke news around that time that Sony signed on as distributor. They’ve kept details close to the vest even as thesps like Warrior’s Joel Edgerton were rumored to be taking part. (Deadline)

Vanity Fair asks, “Could Kathryn Bigelow’s Osama bin Laden Movie Be the 2012 Election’s October Surprise?”

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Just announced: Spike Lee will be back in the director-as-controversial-figure when he brings the masterful, violent film OLDBOY to the big screen here in America. Roy Lee and Doug Davison (The Departed!) will produce the film. Full press release after the cut.

Controversial because the Virginia Tech shooter referenced Oldboy when he went on his rampage.  But … only stupid people take movies that seriously.

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