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Chris Messina on Returning to ‘Mindy Project,’ His Sexy New Thriller ‘Blame’

53 minutes ago

Chris Messina courts controversy in “Blame,” a new thriller about a substitute drama teacher who develops an unhealthy obsession with an emotionally damaged student.

The film earned solid reviews at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival and marks the feature debut of Quinn Shephard, a 22-year-old wunderkind who also edited, produced, wrote, and stars in the film as the object of Messina’s desire. Messina shot his part in the indie drama in a little over a week, as he juggled several different projects, but he wanted to do the film because he was convinced of Shephard’s talent.

The “Mindy Project” and “Julie & Julia” star keeps busy, hopping between big and small screens. He’ll next be seen in Jean-Marc Vallee’s HBO limited series “Sharp Objects” with Amy Adams. Messina spoke with Variety shortly before “Blame’s” festival premiere about working with Shephard, his openness to returning to “The Mindy Project, »

- Brent Lang

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Laura Dern in the Mix for Film Academy President (Exclusive)

1 hour ago

With current president Cheryl Boone Isaacs set to term out at the end of July, the board of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will soon be voting on new leadership. A handful of contenders have been bubbling up, but one particularly compelling name has just been tossed into the hat: two-time Oscar nominee Laura Dern.

Sources tell Variety the actress is interested in taking the reins after being elected to the board of governors last July. If she runs and wins, it would be a splashy choice, not least of all because Dern is Hollywood royalty, the daughter of Oscar-nominated actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd. She would also be the fourth woman to hold the office, after Isaacs, Bette Davis and Fay Kanin — not an incidental footnote given the organization’s push for diversity as of late.

Dern did not respond to a request for comment. »

- Kristopher Tapley and Brent Lang

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Film Review: ‘Rupture’

1 hour ago

There appears to be no onscreen torture we can invent but some producer’s first thought is “I’d like to see Noomi Rapace undergo that in a movie.” Graphic sexual violence? Niels Arden Oplev’s “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.” Excruciating self-surgery? Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus.” Strangulation by a dead woman’s identical twin? Brian De Palma’s “Passion.” And now we get “Rupture,” perhaps the sine qua non of the “let’s torture Noomi Rapace” subgenre in which she is tased, kidnapped, tied to a gurney, repeatedly drugged, forced to wear a helmet full of spiders and other things too spoilery, and too daft, to go into here.

But maybe the cruellest extreme rendition to be visited on Rapace is her ongoing, tantalizing proximity to the A-list, where despite an impressive resume, she’s never quite managed to establish herself. And that is one effort in which “Rupture” does her no favors. »

- Jessica Kiang

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Tribeca Film Review: ‘Take Me’

1 hour ago

In the history of bad ideas, entrepreneurial or otherwise, perhaps none has ever been worse than that of Ray Moody (Pat Healy), who earns his living providing kidnapping role-playing scenarios for clients interested in confronting personal issues or acting out deviant fantasies. Ray’s wannabe-therapeutic business predictably leads to trouble in “Take Me,” star Healy’s nimble directorial debut, which exploits its screwy premise for both unnerving laughs and volatile thrills. Tailor-made for a cult following, it should be eagerly snatched up by audiences after its Tribeca film festival premiere.

Having relocated from Atlantic City to Los Angeles due to a shady past incident involving his ex-wife, Ray finds banks unwilling to financially commit to his Kidnap Solutions, LLC, which he claims “helps people,” such as an early, overweight client (Jim O’Heir) who uses a seizure scenario to overcome his fast-food eating habits. Forced to secretly borrow cash from his brother-in-law, »

- Nick Schager

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Tom Shadyac to Direct ‘Brian Banks’ Biopic for ShivHans Pictures

1 hour ago

Producer and film financier Shivani Rawat and her production company ShivHans Pictures have acquired the rights to the project “Brian Banks” and have attached “Bruce Almighty” director Tom Shadyac to helm.

“Banks” tells the real-life story of Brian Banks, an all-American high-school football player committed to USC by his junior year whose life was upended in 2002 when falsely accused of rape. Despite furiously maintaining his innocence, Brian was nonetheless railroaded through the system and sentenced to a decade of prison and parole. Ultimately, with the help of the California Innocence Project, Banks’ conviction was overturned in 2012 and he ultimately achieved his NFL dream with the Atlanta Falcons’ pre-season squad in 2013.

“After meeting Brian and hearing his story, I felt compelled to make this movie,” Rawat said. “I’m committed to stories about social justice, which is why this project resonated with me. Tom’s life journey the past »

- Justin Kroll

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Metropolitan Filmexport Acquires ‎Taylor Sheridan’s Cannes-Bound ‘Wind River’

2 hours ago

Paris– Gaul’s top indie distributor Metropolitan Filmexport has acquired French distribution rights to Taylor Sheridan’s “Wind River” which will play in Un Certain Regard at Cannes.

Wind River,” which world premiere at Sundance, marks Sheridan’s directorial debut. Sheridan is the screenwriter of “Sicario” and most recently “Hell or High Water” which had also played at Un Certain Regard and earned four Oscar nominations, including a best picture nom.

Set on a Native American reservation, “Wind River” stars Elizabeth Olsen as an FBI agent who is investigating the murder of an 18-year-old Native American with the help of a local wildlife officer played by Jeremy Renner.

Voltage reps the film in international markets. “Wind River” will be released in the States on August 4.

Headed by Samuel and Victor Hadida, Metropolitan Filmexport is one of main purveyors of American films, both indies and studio movies, in France. Its upcoming »

- Elsa Keslassy

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Yeah, Baby! ‘Austin Powers’ Shagged Its Way to Theaters 20 Years Ago

2 hours ago

When “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” opened May 2, 1997, Variety described it as an “odd mix of sophisticated and lowbrow humor” but was enthused about the Mike Myers-Jay Roach collaboration. The film had cost less than $20 million so it was profitable with a modest $67 million worldwide. There was no deal in place for a sequel, but New Line execs noticed the comedy was a huge hit in home video and on cable. When the studio greenlit a sequel, many rival execs were surprised: They were still defining success solely by domestic box office.

Boosted by massive marketing tie-ins, 1999’s “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” saw a spectacular domestic opening weekend of $55 million and completed its global run with $312 million. “Austin Powers in Goldmember” (2002) scored $296 million worldwide. After many years, rumors persist that a fourth edition is imminent. As Powers himself would say, “Yeah, baby!”

The nothing-is-sacred »

- Tim Gray

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‘Justice League’ Star Ray Fisher Signs With CAA

2 hours ago

Rising star Ray Fisher has signed with Creative Artists Agency.

Fisher is best known for his role as Victor Stone/Cyborg in the DC cinematic universe. He made his feature film debut in Warner Bros.’ “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” last year and will reprise that role in the upcoming “Justice League,” which hits theaters on Nov. 17. The ensemble cast includes Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Amy Adams, Willem Dafoe, and Jesse Eisenberg.


Watch All the ‘Justice League’ Character Teaser Trailers

Fishers will also star as the superhero in a standalone “Cyborg” movie from Warner Bros. and DC. The project was announced by the studio in 2014, but has not yet moved into pre-production or been dated.

Fisher, a native of New Jersey, gained notice after receiving strong reviews for his portrayal of Muhammad Ali in the Off-Broadway production of “Fetch Clay, Make Man »

- Dave McNary

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Film Review: ‘Animals’

3 hours ago

If you can’t trust the talking cat — or perhaps the question should be if you can — whom do you trust? Such are brain-frying quandaries viewers may face deep into the darkness of “Animals,” a deliciously unhinged, blood-laced adult fairy tale from Swiss-Polish writer-director Greg Zglinski. Setting out with real-world levels of macabre nastiness as it wittily probes the marital faultlines between a bourgeois Viennese couple attempting a restorative Alpine getaway, the film takes a smooth, almost imperceptible left turn into Lynchian realms of illogic that will leave adventurous audiences both rapt and dazed, dreamily uncertain of where exactly they lost the plot. Unraveling this cat’s-cradle isn’t half as important or pleasurable as getting entangled in it to begin with; Zglinski’s espresso-dark humor and icy formal precision may nod to a host of expert cinematic mind-gamers, from Polanski to von Trier, at different intervals, but “Animals” gleefully »

- Guy Lodge

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‘Fate of the Furious’ Pirated 2.1 Million Times in First Week After Theatrical Debut

3 hours ago

Universal’s “The Fate of the Furious” is burning rubber on piracy networks, after the car-racing actioner crashed through box-office records since its theatrical premiere two weeks ago.

The pirated copies currently in circulation on file-sharing networks are all illegal camcords shot in cinemas, apparently originating from India, according to piracy-analytics firm Tecxipio.

“Fate of the Furious,” which bowed April 14 in the U.S., was illegally shared 2.1 million times worldwide in the following seven days, Tecxipio data shows. That makes it the most-pirated film for that week — however, the movie was well off the pace of its immediate predecessor, “Furious 7,” which was pirated by 4.74 million users over a comparable seven-day span in April 2015. Another data point: Universal’s “Jurassic World” had 3.1 million illegal shares in the first seven days after hitting pirate nets.


Why Vin Diesel and the ‘Fast and the Furious’ Franchise Should Eye the Exit Ramp »

- Todd Spangler

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Box Office: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ Hits $22 Million Internationally

3 hours ago

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” has blasted to $22.3 million at 29 international markets, a week ahead of its U.S. launch.

Australia is leading the way with $6.2 million, followed by France with $2.7 million and Italy with $2 million.

Germany generated a $1.5 million opening day on Thursday, the second-highest debut day of 2017 behind only “The Fate of the Furious.” Brazil opened with $1.2 million — nearly double the launch of 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which also bowed on a Thursday.


Box Office: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ Blasts Off Overseas

Taiwan opened with $600,000 and a 62% market share. Netherlands launched with $500,000, the highest opening day of 2017 to date and the second-highest Marvel debut day ever, behind only “Captain America: Civil War.”

The sequel is ahead of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” and “Thor: The Dark World” at the same point in their international runs.

Disney-Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 »

- Dave McNary

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‘How to Be a Latin Lover’ Edges Tom Hanks’ ‘The Circle’ at Thursday Box Office

4 hours ago

The romantic comedy “How to Be a Latin Lover” topped the Tom Hanks-Emma Watson thriller “The Circle” on Thursday night.

“Latin Lover” grossed $450,000 at 925 U.S. locations, while “Circle” took in $430,000.

Both new movies are expected to trail “The Fate of the Furious” this weekend, which should land in the $15 million to $20 million range during Friday-Sunday. The eighth film in Universal’s “The Fast and the Furious” franchise has topped $171 million domestically in its first 13 days.

The Circle,” from STX and EuropaCorp, opens at 3,163 venues, and is projected to reel in between $10 million and $15 million. The movie, which premiered on Wednesday at the Tribeca Film Festival, has a relatively thrifty $18 million budget.

The Circle” is set in the near-future and stars Hanks as the founder of a Silicon Valley social media company, with »

- Dave McNary

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Dionne Warwick Movie in Works With Mister Smith Selling at Cannes

4 hours ago

A documentary feature film about singer Dionne Warwick, “Don’t Make Me Over,” is in the works, which will provide a “glimpse into the life of one of the most famous, yet notoriously private, superstars of the last 60 years,” according to a statement. David Garrett’s Mister Smith Entertainment will launch sales on the film and present select footage to international buyers at next month’s Cannes Market.

The film, co-directed and co-produced by Dave Wooley and David Heilbroner, and written by Wooley, “brings to life the real Dionne Warwick, an African-American woman who broke racial and gender barriers, a dedicated humanitarian fighting injustice worldwide, and a singer whose music became the soundtrack for generations.”

Directors of photography are Oscar nominee Tom Bergmann (“Life, Animated”) and Academy Award winner Ronan Killeen (“O.J. Made in America”). The film is being edited by Emmy Award winner Aljernon Tunsil (“Through the Fire: »

- Leo Barraclough

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‘Fast and Furious’ Franchise Honored With 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards Generation Honor

5 hours ago

MTV announced Friday that the “Fast & Furious” franchise will be receiving this year’s Generation Award at its 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards. “Fate of the Furious” — the eighth film in the long-running series — continues to be the No. 1 movie in the world.

Vin Diesel will accept the award on behalf of the entire cast. It’s the first year the Generation Award is not going to an individual actor. Diesel has appeared in more “Fast & Furious” films than any of his castmates; his only absence was in 2003’s “2 Fast 2 Furious.” Co-stars Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, and Jordana Brewster will also be by his side.


2017 MTV Movie and TV Awards: Complete Nominations List

MTV also announced that J Balvin, Pitbull, and Camila Cabello will be performing their hit track “Hey Ma” featured in “Fate,” marking the song’s television debut.

To celebrate this year’s award recipient(s), MTV will »

- JD Knapp

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Film Review: ‘The Wall’

5 hours ago

In the vast majority of war movies, the act of combat is a show of force in which the stronger side wins, barreling through the enemy’s defenses like a bowling ball. But in “The Wall,” war is like a protracted game of chess, where each side is down to its final pieces on the board, and strategy matters.

A lean, back-to-basics thriller from director Doug Liman (who made the original “The Bourne Identity”) and first-time screenwriter Dwain Worrell (whose tricky script landed on the Black List), this wide-release Amazon Original film pits a pair of American snipers against an unknown foe, who just might be the notorious Iraqi sniper known as Juba, aka “the angel of death” — an adversary with 75 U.S. casualties notched on his belt, and countless others unconfirmed.

As this high-tension standoff escalates, we never learn who the mystery shooter is, though this much is certain: »

- Peter Debruge

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Filming Begins in Southern California on ‘Nuns-With-Guns’ Documentary

6 hours ago

Salon Pictures has begun principal photography in Southern California on its feature documentary “Breaking Habits,” described as a real-life “nuns-with-guns tale.”

The film tells the story of the Sisters of the Valley, a group of women living as nuns who currently run an illegal marijuana farm in Merced, California, producing medicines while facing constant threat from local drug cartels and the California state Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation. The women produce cannabidiol tinctures and salves which they sell online through an Etsy store. Although they wear religious habits and refer to each other as sisters they are not affiliated with any traditional religious order.

Focusing on head nun Sister Kate, Salon describes “Breaking Habits” as the story of a woman caught up in a modern day Wild West, determined to heal her community and put independence back in the hands of women. The documentary is written and directed by Rob Ryan. »

- Robert Mitchell

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Tribeca Review: Puff Daddy’s ‘Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop’

6 hours ago

Among the many skills that Sean “Puff Daddy/P. Diddy” Combs has (or has not) displayed over the years, the greatest might be a preternatural ability at self-promotion that borders on self-mythologizing. And with the aid of first-time director Daniel Kaufman, and the extended family and friends around Bad Boy Records, the wildly successful record company Combs founded in 1993, the documentary “Can't Stop, Won't Stop: The Bad Boy Story” — which premiered on Thursday at New York’s Beacon Theatre as part of the Tribeca Film Festival — goes a long way toward sealing that myth.

While the story of Combs and the label is compelling — fatherless kid rises up from the streets and founds company that leads him to become one of the greatest black entrepreneurs in history, overcoming adversity and tragedy along the way — the fact that the filmmakers didn’t really have much to work with beyond »

- Jem Aswad

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Lionsgate Teaming With Fandom to Reach Movie Fan Communities

6 hours ago

Lionsgate and Fandom have launched a strategic partnership to reach movie fan communities with Lionsgate’s properties.

The multiyear agreement — announced Friday — expands a strategic relationship that’s already included partnership on “John Wick: Chapter 2,” Starz’s television series “American Gods,” which debuts Sunday, and “Power Rangers.”

“By deepening Lionsgate’s engagement and connection with the fan communities for its properties, the pact will enable the company to continue to refine its marketing strategies, expand the worlds of its franchises and create fresh content for fans,” the announcement said.

Under the partnership, Fandom users will have access to enhanced content, some of it exclusive. The companies did not elaborate.

Lionsgate’s upcoming movie titles include “All Eyez on Me,” “Robin Hood,” “My Little Pony,” “Saw: Legacy,” “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” and “Wonder.”

Fandom has an audience of 360,000 fan communities and over 175 million monthly unique visits. Lionsgate has a 16,000-title library, »

- Dave McNary

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Udine Focus Asia: Aurora Media Boards Southeast Asian Genre Projects (Exclusive)

8 hours ago

Udine, Italy – Singapore-based Aurora Media Holdings, an investment outfit with Hollywood ties, has inked financing and production deals for two upcoming Southeast Asian pics during Focus Asia, the new genre-focused project market and industry platform being held at the Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy.

Aurora Media has boarded Indonesian black comedy “Abracadabra,” which turns on a magician who finds women inside his magic box, to be helmed by Faozan Rizal (“Habibie & Ainun”). They will also invest in supernatural drama “The Long Walk” by Laos’ Mattie Do, about an old man who travels back in time to the moment of his mother’s death. Do is Laos’ first female director. “The Long Walk” is her third feature after chillers “Chanthaly” and “Dearest Sister,” which earned her international recognition.

“Abracadabra” will topline Indonesian megastar Reza Rahadian. “Faozan and I are happy to be co-producing ‘Abracadabra’ with Aurora Media, and we »

- Nick Vivarelli

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Cannes Film Market Adds Haf, Vilnius, New Horizons, Thessaloniki to Pix-in-Post Showcases

9 hours ago

The Cannes Film Market, the world’s biggest – and still growing – film industry meet, is raising the bar once more in industry initiatives, adding four new events to its 5th Goes to Cannes works-in-progress brand: FilMart’s Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (Haf), Lithuania’s Vilnius Intl. Film Festival, New Horizon Polish Days and Greece’s Thessaloniki Intl. Film Festival.

The Marché du Film also added four more festival showcases last year to the Goes To series. In all, in the space of four years, from 2013’s inaugural single-event Bal Goes to Cannes, this year 10 festivals will showcase key movies at rough-cut, nearly always screened for the first time outside their own pix-in-post strands.

Haf also marks Goes to Cannes’ first Asian fest partner. As in 2016, the new additions target some of the world’s fastest growing regions, such as, undoubtedly, Asia (Haf), as well as buzzed-up national cinemas (Nhpd, »

- John Hopewell

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