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Film News Roundup: DreamWorks Animation Campus Sold for $290 Million

22 November 2017 4:33 PM, PST

In today’s film news roundup, Griffin Capital has sold the DreamWorks Animation Studio Campus for $290 million, “Happy Death Day” tops $100 million in box office, and the comedy “Future ’38” gets sold.

Property Deal

Griffin Capital has sold the DreamWorks Animation Studio Campus for $290 million to Korea-based Hana Asset Management and Los Angeles-based Ocean West Capital Partners.

The five-building, 460,000-square-foot property is located in Glendale, Calif., and was built in 1997 for DreamWorks Skg, headed by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen. The campus remained headquarters for DreamWorks Animation when it became a separate company in 2004 and produced the “Shrek,” “Kung Fu Panda,” and “How to Train Your Dragon” franchises. It will continue as home to DreamWorks Animation under the new owners.

On August, 2016, NBCUniversal acquired DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion, making it a division of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group. Griffin Capital acquired the building in 2015 for $215 million. The seller was represented by the Shannon Team of Newmark »


- Dave McNary

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Box Office: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Tracking for Stellar $200 Million Opening Weekend

22 November 2017 6:52 AM, PST

Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is heading for a massive launch in the $200 million range during its Dec. 15-17 opening weekend in North America, according to the first estimates released by tracking services on Wednesday.

Directed by Rian Johnson, the movie picks up where 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” left off. It stars returning cast members Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Andy Serkis.

The new stars include Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, and Benicio del Toro. It’s the final film role for Fisher, who died last December.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens” set an all-time record in December of 2015, with a domestic opening of $248 million at 4,134 theaters for the first “Star Wars” movie in a decade. The first “Star Wars” spinoff, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” opened a year later with $155.1 million.

The debut for “Rogue One” — which starred Felicity Jones, es [link=nm »


- Dave McNary

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Virtual Reality Conference Promises to Ignite Singapore Media Festival

2 hours ago

Virtual Reality is the buzz phrase these days at film festivals, big and small. They are keen to explore alternate means of entertainment that might just possibly the future. The Singapore Media Festival is no different and has set up a one-day event – the Vr X Smf Ignite Conference – that will unspool Nov. 29 with a packed line-up.

Kicking off proceedings will be the keynote presentation by Mohen Leo, creative director and visual effects supervisor at ILMxLAB, an immersive entertainment and Vr laboratory belonging to Lucasfilm, Industrial Light and Magic, and Skywalker Sound. While Leo is expected to share insights about storytelling for immersive entertainment, “Star Wars” fans in Singapore will be hoping that he provides a sneak peek into “Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire,” a Vr joint venture between ILMxLAB and The Void, that is designed to transport users to a galaxy far, far away.

The conference continues with Allen Foo, founder and chief »


- Naman Ramachandran

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Singapore: ‘Scorpions’ Director Readies Third Film With Irrfan Khan (Exclusive)

2 hours ago

Top Indian director, Anup Singh is poised to reunite with star Irrfan Khan on “Lassa – The Gentle Dance.”

Singh’s “The Song of Scorpions,”, starring Khan, Golshifteh Farahani and Indian cinema legend Waheeda Rehman, is playing as a special presentation at the Singapore International Film Festival, part of the Singapore Media Festival. Singh’s previous film “Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost” also starred Khan.

“As with all film directors, I suppose, I have a few film scripts juggling in my head. I await the one that keeps flying in my imagination while the others steadily fall away,” Singh told Variety. “At the moment, that one seems to be my next film with Irrfan Khan. It will be my third film with him, a kind of conclusive trilogy bringing to some resolution, I hope, the themes that have been haunting me since “Qissa” and have continued to pursue me with “The Song of Scorpions.”

The film is »


- Naman Ramachandran

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Canal Plus Orders Thomas Lilti’s ‘Hippocrate’ Medical Series

7 hours ago

French helmer Thomas Lilti will be making his TV debut with “Hippocrate,” a medical drama series inspired by his 2014 film, which world premiered at Cannes’ Critics’ Week.

The contemporary series, comprising eight one-hour episodes, has been commissioned by French TV channel Canal Plus.

Lilti created the series with Anais Carpita (“Call My Agent!”), Claude Le Pape (“Love at First Fight”) and Julien Lilti. “Hippocrate” is being produced by Lilti’s regular partners, Agnes Vallée and Emmanuel Barraux at 31 Juin Films.

The plot will revolve around a public hospital located in suburb of a major city where doctors have being quarantined due to a health hazard. The series follows three interns lacking experience and a forensic medical expert who don’t know each other and must join forces to handle the entire hospital and patients alone while the quarantine gets unexpectedly extended.

Hippocrate” the film was sold by Le Pacte in major territories and turned out to be a »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Luca Guadagnino Relied on a Pair of Longtime Friends for ‘Call Me by Your Name’ Decor, Costumes

7 hours ago

Two longtime friends of director Luca Guadagnino added their personal touch to “Call Me by Your Name,” his sensual summer romance from Sony Pictures Classics that’s set in northern Italy in 1983.

An interior decorator by trade, first-time set decorator Violante Visconti (Luchino Visconti’s grandniece) dressed the 17th-century villa where young Elio (Timothée Chalamet) lives with his scholarly parents, the Perlmans (Michael Stuhlbarg and Amira Casar) and falls for the visiting American intern Oliver (Armie Hammer).

Fashion designer and repeat Guadagnino collaborator Giulia Piersanti created the film’s understated costumes.

Visconti conceptually married the Perlmans’ worldliness with the villa’s nostalgic past to attain the eclectic, lived-in feel of a deeply loved home. “[Much] of the furniture belonged to my father,” she says. “That made it cozy and personal. The Perl-mans are open-minded. They love books, music, history. … Their house is easygoing and non-structured, with flowers from the garden, furniture from their travels. It was there »


- Tomris Laffly

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Mar del Plata: Argentina on the Rise — Demián Rugna

7 hours ago

Mar Del Plata — “Is there any way of stopping this?” police commissioner Funes asks paranormal expert Albreck as the body count and unearthly beings proliferate at three common-or-garden Argentine suburban chalets in Demián Rugna’s “Aterrados” (Terrified). “No,” answers Albreck, a venerable bluestocking, just before a twig-lick arm snaps out of a crack in a chalet wall aiming for her head.

Shot in widescreen, “Terrified,” which sales agent Aura Films will screen at Ventana Sur, marks a move towards the mainstream for Rugna, being made with the aim of scaring the hell out of audiences, he explained. “People just want to be scared these days,” he said. Yet “Terrified” still bears the hallmarks of the Rugna style: an art film refusal to show human-beings conquering the supernatural; a smorgasbord of fantastic sub-genres — from chiller to shockfest to cop investigation and gothic baroque — and a darkly-knowing humor that pushes the movie, in a very Argentine style, »


- John Hopewell

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‘Coco’ Stuffing ‘Justice League’ at Thanksgiving Box Office

8 hours ago

Disney-Pixar’s “Coco” is heading for a clear victory over “Justice League” at the Thanksgiving holiday box office, estimates showed Thursday morning.

Coco” should finish above $70 million at 3,958 North American locations in its first five days while “Justice League” will wind up around $60 million at 4,051 sites. “Coco” is performing significantly above pre-release forecasts, which had been in the $55 million to $60 million range.

Wednesday’s figures showed “Coco” with a first-day total of $13.2 million, which included $2.3 million from Tuesday night previews. The animated musical received an A+ CinemaScore from moviegoers, indicating that the film could be lifted by strong word of mouth during the rest of the holidays.

On the same holiday weekend a year ago, Disney-Pixar’s “Moana” scored $15.5 million on its first day and went on to earn $82 million in five days. That was the second-highest opening for the period, trailing only Disney’s “Frozen” at $93 million in 2013.

Coco” is already a blockbuster in Mexico with $48.8 million »


- Dave McNary

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Playback: Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan on ‘Lady Bird’ and Coming of Age

9 hours ago

Welcome to “Playback,” a Variety podcast bringing you exclusive conversations with the talents behind many of today’s hottest films.

This week, on a special Thanksgiving episode, we have “Lady Bird” writer-director Greta Gerwig and star Saoirse Ronan. It’s an apt day for the conversation, which you’ll gather if you’ve seen the film. “Lady Bird” marks Gerwig’s solo directorial debut and is sitting pretty as one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year, if not the most. After all, 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with 150 reviews counted is hard to argue with.

Listen to this week’s episode of “Playback” below. New episodes air every Thursday.

Click here for more episodes of “Playback.”

For Gerwig, hammering out a script isn’t about knowing the core of it and where it’s going from the outset. She’s found it more rewarding to explore casually and let her characters guide her through the process »


- Kristopher Tapley

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Gal Gadot and Kumail Nanjiani Riff on Their Parents’ Expectations and Name Mispronunciations

9 hours ago

Gal Gadot (“Wonder Woman”) and Kumail Nanjiani (“The Big Sick”) sat down for a chat for Variety’s “Actors on Actors,” which airs Jan. 2 to Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. on PBS SoCal Koce.

Kumail Nanjiani: So how did you end up playing “Wonder Woman”? How did that happen?

Gal Gadot: It’s kind of one thing led to the other. I never planned on becoming an actress, and then I had this opportunity where this casting director flew to Israel; she was looking for a new Bond girl. I did the audition, didn’t get the part, but through this experience I was like, “This is so much more interesting than going to law school.”

Nanjiani: You were in law school?

Gadot: Yeah, I know. Thank goodness life interrupts and comes in the way. It was weird because I didn’t know they were auditioning me for “Wonder Woman.” I knew I »


- Variety Staff

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Singapore Festival Launches in Understated Style

9 hours ago

Shopping-mall glamour and a red carpet flanked by designer stores greeted Singapore’s film community and visiting celebrities for Thursday night’s opening of the 28th Singapore International Film Festival (Sgiff).

The celebrities who walked the red carpet through the high-end Marina Bay Sands mall mostly left the highest couture in the store windows. Many instead went for sedate touches of lace, minimal glitz, and daytime outfits.

The evening’s glamour moments went to Sgiff vice chair Soo Wei Shaw, who swept the red carpet in a floor-length black gown, and Indian actress, Waheeda Rehman (“The Song of Scorpions”), in a red and pink brocade sari and traditional jewelry.

Introducing the opening film, Vivian Qu’s “Angels Wear White,” Sgiff chairman Mike Wiluan told theater-goers gathered in the lower levels of the 2,000-plus seat theater that the festival was a “torchlight” for aspiring storytellers, himself included. After decades in the film industry as a producer, financier and facilitator »


- Janine Stein

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Idfa Film Review: ‘The Dead Nation’

10 hours ago

For anyone who’s ever riffled through a stack of old photos in a flea market and realized with absent melancholy that it’s likely many of the vividly smiling, posing subjects have since passed away, Romanian director Radu Jude’s hypnotic “The Dead Nation” is a gently uncanny, feature-length version of that experience. Not so much a film in the classical sense as an art project built at the crossroads of 20th-century history and personal testimony, this photo-montage traces the fate of Romania’s Jewish population through the turbulent years immediately prior to and during World War 2.

Using no visual pyrotechnics other than a scintillatingly well-chosen series of static, black-and-white images, unearthed recently as part of a trove belonging to ‘Foto Splendid’ (a Romanian photo studio set up in the 1930s by photographer Costica Acsinte), Jude lets the contrast between image and sound create its own tensions and provocations. On the soundtrack, »


- Jessica Kiang

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Roland Emmerich’s Centropolis, Flimmer Team Up on Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’ (Exclusive)

10 hours ago

Roland Emmerich’s Centropolis Entertainment is teaming up with Berlin-based Flimmer to co-produce a modern-day screen adaptation of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.”

The film follows 15-year-old Tim Walker, who is sent from London to the Austrian Alps to attend the renowned Mozart boarding school, where he discovers a centuries-old forgotten passageway into the fantastic world of Mozart’s most famous opera.

The creative team behind the project includes German writer-director Florian Sigl and Flimmer CEO Christopher Zwickler, who produced Dustin Loose’s “The Last Will,” which received the Student Academy Award in silver in 2015. Sigl and Zwickler are aiming to have the international family entertainment event ready for a Christmas 2018 release.

The duo is developing the project as a multi-part movie, according to Zwickler, who describes the story as a new adaptation of “The Magic Flute” framed by a modern-day narrative. Andrew Lowery is attached to write the screenplay.

“The contemporary »


- Ed Meza

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Jean Reno Boards Pablo Aragüés’ Fantasy Thriller ‘1,200 Souls’ (Exclusive)

12 hours ago

One of France’s best known actors, Jean Reno (“Leon: the Professional,” “Ronin,” “The Da Vinci Code”), is attached to star in “1.200 Almas” (“1,200 Souls),” a fantasy thriller from the Zaragoza-based producer-director tandem of Marta Cabrera and Pablo Aragüés whose “Novatos” proved a Netflix worldwide distribution pick-up.

L.A.-based Outsider Pictures Paul Hudson is handling world sales rights and executive produces along with Zaragoza VFX house Entropy Studio.

Despite Reno’s Spanish origins – his parents hail from Cadiz in Andalusia – “1.200” marks the first Spanish film for an actor who has sought to buck typecasting in a multitude of roles whose international titles take in “Nikita,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Godzilla” and “The Last Face.”

Reno, who won a European Film Academy’s European Achievement in World Cinema Awardin 2000, joins Swiss-Spaniard Ingrid García-Jonsson, who broke out with Jaime Rosales’ 2014 Cannes Un Certain Regard entry “Beautiful Youth,” scoring a Spanish Academy best new actress nomination, and [link=nm »


- John Hopewell

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Netflix, Deutsche Telekom Ink Global Partnership

12 hours ago

Deutsche Telekom has signed a global partnership with Netflix which will allow the German telco group to distribute exclusive content from Netflix to its subscribers.

Under the deal, Deutsche Telekom customers in Germany, Poland and the Netherlands have already gained access to Netflix content.

“We want to ensure the best content offering and TV experience for our customers and will work with Netflix to further expand our great partnership”, said Thomas Kicker, senior VP of group partnering at Deutsche Telekom.

Maria Ferreras, Netflix’s VP of business development Emea, said the partnership builds on “Netflix”‘s strong relationship with Deutsche Telekom.

“We are thrilled to open a new world of exclusive and critically-acclaimed entertainment for millions of Deutsche Telekom’s TV and Mobile customers in Europe,” said Ferreras.

Netflix content has been available in 4K to subscribers of EntertainTV, Deutsche Telekom’s streaming service, in Germany since October.

In Poland, meanwhile, Netflix »


- Elsa Keslassy

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‘Sweet Country,’ ‘Newton’ Share Top Honors at Asia Pacific Screen Awards

13 hours ago

Sweet Country,” a Western set in the Australian Outback, was named best film at the annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards on Thursday.

The film, which won the Golden Lion at the Venice festival earlier this year, is the second feature by cinematographer-turned-director Warwick Thornton. His first film, “Samson and Delilah,” won the Apsa best picture award in 2009, making Thornton the only two-time Apsa winner.

The Apsa awards were in their 11th iteration. They were presented Thursday evening at a ceremony in Brisbane, Australia.

The other big winner during the evening was India’s “Newton.” It earned a best acting prize for Rajkummar Rao, while Mayank Tewari and Amit V. Masurkar claimed the award for best screenplay.

Russia’s Andrey Zvyagintsev was named best director for “Loveless,” which had its premiere in Cannes. Zvyagintsev previously won the best film award with “Leviathan” in 2014.

The international awards were decided by a jury headed by film editor Jill Bilcock. She praised »


- Patrick Frater

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AMC Networks International Picks Up Canal Plus Show ‘Ouro’ for Spain, Portugal

13 hours ago

AMC Networks International Iberia has acquired “Ouro,” the adventure-thriller series created by Fabien Nury for French pay-tv channel Canal Plus.

Sold by Newen Distribution, “Ouro” was directed by Kim Chapiron (“Dogpound”) and Philippe Triboit (“Spiral”) and produced by Mascaret Films.

Set in the Guyanese forest, “Ouro” follows the journey of Vincent, a 20-year-old geology student from Paris who goes to French Guyana to do an internship at a gold mining company and drifts into the dangerous world of gold trafficking.

The series will start airing on AMC Spain in January, followed by a roll-out in Portugal a month later.

“We are thrilled to bring this fantastic adventure drama to our Portuguese and Spanish audience” said Pilar de las Casas, VP of Cinema and Documentary Channels at AMC Networks International Iberia.

“Ouro” was acquired last week by Sony Pictures Television Networks for Continental Europe.

Related stories'Walking Dead' Suffers Another Ratings Drop in Episode 5'Big Little Lies'' [link »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Idfa Forum: ‘Documentary Makers Want To Go Behind The News’

15 hours ago

Amsterdam — The world’s geopolitical landscape may be changing on a daily and depressing basis, but a visit to this year’s Forum suggests it’s not all doom and gloom in the world of documentary. “Sunken Eldorado”, from France, offers a tale of modern-day piracy in the hunt for the Spanish Armada’s missing gold; Italian co-production “Maestro Morricone” tells the story of Quentin Tarantino’s favorite composer; and, from Norway, comes “Krogufant”, a film that takes a look at the emotional lives and intelligence of the animals we’re more used to eating than meeting.

In all, 58 projects came from 23 countries, each exploring different themes and formats. “It’s so wonderful to travel with all these filmmakers and see the world through their eyes,” says Adriek van Nieuwenhuijzen, the festival’s head of industry. “The variety is huge this year, and it’s not only political topics dealing with society. Last year, what »


- Damon Wise

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‘The Other Side of Everything’ Leads Winners From a Politically Charged Idfa Lineup

15 hours ago

In a world presently riven with political conflict and polarized discord, you wouldn’t expect the world’s leading documentary festival to skimp on the tough issues, and so it proved at Idfa this year. The Amsterdam showcase’s 2017 lineup was a strong one, peppered with challenging perspectives and confrontations of past and living history, but “fun” was low on the agenda — rueful irony amid tragedy was, for the most part, as close as audiences could hope to get.

That was the tone maintained by the festival’s well-received selection of prizewinners, presented on Wednesday night, many of which tackled conflict and political turmoil with an empathetic but battle-wearied worldview. The top award in the festival’s feature-length competition, Serbian director Mila Turajlic’s “The Other Side of Everything,” had already premiered in low-key fashion at Toronto in September, but this thoughtful reflection on the still-unresolved legacy of civil war in Serbia found a more vocally receptive »


- Guy Lodge

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Ventana Sur: A Breakdown of This Year’s Blood Window Work in Progress Section

15 hours ago

Ventana Sur’s Blood Window has become one of Latin America’s most important launchpads for fantasy genre films. For the four days of the market, producers, distributors, sales agents and directors will come together for panels, debates, co-production meetings and pitching sessions.

This year’s works in progress selections have been divided into two groups. The first group is the Screenings and Work in Progress section, which was specially curated by José Luis Rebordinos, director of the San Sebastian Film Festival. The remaining works in progress are in the Video Room section.

Starting with the local fare, “Luciferina,” is the only Argentine work in progress at this year’s Blood Window. From director Gonzalo Calzada, the film is the story of Natalia, a teenage girl with a supernatural gift. After a family trauma, the origins of her ability must be faced, and a ritual executed to protect the girl from something which has been with her »


- Jamie Lang

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