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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Movies

'Ocean's 8': How the Female-Fronted Film Stole the Box-Office Crown. The movie's opening is a reminder that fanboys aren't the only moviegoers that matter during summer. A month ago, few in Hollywood would have predicted that the female-fronted Ocean's 8 would have no trouble stealing this weekend's box-office crown from Solo: A Star Wars Story, or that Book Club, another femme-centric summer film, would amass nearly $57 million to date against a $10 million budget. The heist turned out to be an easy job for Ocean's 8, which opened to a better-than-expected $41.5 million over the weekend as Solo continued to lose altitude, grossing $15.2 million in its third frame. That compares to the nearly $50 million earned by fellow standalone film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in its third weekend at the end of 2016. Ocean's 8, a mid-size movie that cost Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow $70 million to produce before marketing, is a reminder that fanboys aren't the only demo that studios should obssess over when plotting tentpole-laden, summer slates. It's also an early victory for the slew of gender-swapping remakes and reboots currently in the works across Hollywood, helping to exorcise the ghost of Sony's female-led Ghostbusters remake, which ultimately lost money two summers ago after costing a hefty $144 million to produce. Not only did Ocean's 8 land one of the top openings of the year to date -- it all but ties for No. 6 with Steven Spielberg's fanboy-centric Ready Player One, which cost more than twice as much to produce, or $144 million -- but it got off to a bigger launch than any of the three Ocean's films directed by Steven Soderbergh that were released between 2001 and 2007, not adjusted for inflation. "The target audience, females, are just so underserved," says Jeff Goldstein. Ocean's 8 stars Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter as a gang of savvy thieves who plot a diamond heist at the Met Gala, with Anne Hathaway as an unwitting part of the plan. Generally speaking, males make up 60 percent or more of those buying tickets to see a tentpole such as Ready Player One, which was released in April, Solo or this summer's Avengers: Infinity War on opening weekend. By contrast, in the case of Ocean's 8, nearly 70 percent of tickets buyers were female. Ocean's 8 also is a reminder of the buying power of aging boomers. The movie skewed notably older, with almost 70 percent of the audience 25 and up, including 14 percent who were 45 and older and 12 percent 55 and older. By way of comparison, only eight percent of Infinity War's opening-weekend audience was 45 and older, including just three percent over the age of 55. That's not to say that the young crowd entirely stayed away: 20 percent were between the ages of 18 and 25. Box-office observers credit the age range and diversity of the cast for the resulting age range and diversity of the audience. According to Warners, caucasians made up 56 percent of ticket buyers, followed by Hispanics (17 percent), Asians/other (14 percent) and African-Americans (13 percent). In the case of Paramount's Book Club, released in the latter half of May, the audience was even older and more female. The movie told an original story about a group of older woman who read Fifty Shades of Grey as they work out their own relationships. Starring Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenbrugen, the film has enjoyed a stellar hold after debuting to $13.6 million. On its opening weekend, nearly 80 percent of the audience was female, including 50 percent over the age of 50. "Audiences do not live by blockbusters alone in the summer, and this has been particularly evident this year," says analyst Paul Dergarabedian of comScore. "This seems to be a summer programmed by grownups for grownups, and that is paying big dividends to Hollywood. And while the blockbuster remains the engine that drives the summer season, it is the smaller-scale content that can provide a strong foundation on which to build a solid overall box office." Adds Eric Handler of MKM Partners, "Not everything has to be a big, $200 million epic." (Hollywood Reporter)

Meet the Magician Who Taught Sandra Bullock Her 'Ocean's 8' Cons. Portugal-born Helder Guimaraes, who counts J.J. Abrams and Neil Patrick Harris among his Hollywood fans, also taught Cate Blanchett some sleight-of-hand moves. To ensure that the many fake-outs in Ocean's 8 ring true, writer/director Gary Ross enlisted a master of deception: Helder Guimaraes. The Portugal-born magician -- whose dazzling sleight of hand has won him scores of accolades and Hollywood admirers including Neil Patrick Harris (who directed his 2012 show, Nothing to Hide), J.J. Abrams, Rob Reiner and even Stephen Sondheim -- was brought on as a script consultant. Guimaraes, 35, considers himself "a very honest person," but his line of work -- which boils down to "making people believe one thing while you're doing a different thing" -- offers unique insights into the minds of career crooks. He later was brought back to the project to work directly with the stars, tutoring Sandra Bullock (she plays ringleader Debbie Ocean, sister of George Clooney's Danny Ocean) in the "psychology and principles of pickpocketing." After some hands-on instruction, Bullock's first mark was director Ross. "She caught on very quickly," says Guimaraes, adding that Bullock really got into the con woman mindset. "We spent a good hour throwing cards into a bin, while talking about the language hustlers use. She got really good at it. She was a natural." For that matter, so was Cate Blanchett, who plays Lou Miller, Ocean's friend, who helps hatch a plan to swipe a $150 million necklace at New York's Met Gala. Blanchett even managed to con the con man. "She asked me to show her my best move," recalls Guimaraes, who obliged with a card trick. As Blanchett commented on the intricacies of his finger work, he "realized she was talking to me in character and not as Cate Blanchett. I kept the flow of the conversation going as if we were two con artists sharing insights and secrets." When a crewmember announced "Places," Blanchett floated over to her mark, a look of pleased mischief in her eyes. Guimaraes' next live show, Invisible Tango, is set to debut at Los Angeles' Geffen Playhouse in 2019 and will be directed by Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom producer Frank Marshall, a longtime fan. (Hollywood Reporter)

Kevin Spacey film set for July release after sexual misconduct claims. Supporters of the Time's Up movement will not be happy to learn that the time is up for Kevin Spacey to be stuck in the doghouse. "Billionaire Boys Club" -- starring Spacey and Ansel Elgort -- is finally set for release on July 19, 2?1/2 years after filming wrapped. And Spacey is featured in the trailer. Just as the producers were about to make a deal to distribute the movie last October, Spacey was accused of sexual assault by "Rent" actor Anthony Rapp. Then other men came forward. The movie -- based on the true story of a Los Angeles Ponzi-scheming ring in the 1980s -- also features Emma Roberts, Suki Waterhouse, Billie Lourd and, as Andy Warhol, Cary Elwes. Spacey was cut from the film "All the Money in the World" after his scandal, and fired from "House of Cards." Richard DuPont -- who plays a drug dealer in "Boys Club," as does twin brother Robert -- said it is time for Spacey to reappear on the big screen. "People have such short memories," DuPont told me. "And Spacey is almost unrecognizable in a beard and glasses." (PageSix)

Paul Hogan to Star As Himself in 'The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee'. The film comes as interest in the 'Crocodile Dundee' franchise was re-ignited by a recent Tourism Australia campaign that played during the Super Bowl. Australian actor and comedian Paul Hogan, best known as the creator and star of Crocodile Dundee, is set to star in The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee. The movie comes following the success of the recent Tourism Australia campaign, Dundee The Son of A Legend Returns Home, which launched in the U.S. during the Super Bowl and reignited interest in Hogan's most famous role. In Mr. Dundee, Hogan plays a semi-fictional version of himself who is set to receive a knighthood for his services to comedy, But, despite his best efforts, in the run-up to Hogan receiving the award he sees his name and reputation destroyed. Released in 1986, Crocodile Dundee, remains the top-grossing Australian film ever, both locally and internationally and made Hogan a global star. Hogan went on to make two sequels, 1988's Crocodile Dundee II and Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles in 2001. The new comedy will be set in Los Angeles and starts production in July, with shooting taking place in Australia, Los Angeles and Vancouver. While the supporting cast is yet to be confirmed Hogan said, "to watch this space as I've been honored to have many of my friends and colleagues, whose work I adore, agree to join us for this hilarious new adventure". Mr. Dundee is to be directed by Dean Murphy (Charlie & Boots, Strange Bedfellows) who is also producing alongside Nigel Odell. Executive producers are Kathy Morgan from LA-based KMI who is handling international sales, Christopher Figg and Robert Whitehouse from London's Piccadilly Pictures, Sherman Ng from Singapore's Salt Media and Andrew Mackie & Richard Payten from Transmission Films. Fulcrum Media Finance and several equity partners complete the financing. (Hollywood Reporter)

Robert Pattinson is learning the hard way that not every woman needs rescuing. The actor stars in Damsel alongside Mia Wasikowska -- a western written and directed by David Zellner and Nathan Zellner that throws into question the craziest things people do for love. Pattinson plays Samuel Alabaster, a pioneer who journeys across the country to be with Wasikowska's Penelope. But things don't go according to plan when he gets there, and Penelope welcomes him with the sight of a shotgun pointed straight at him. In the exclusive clip, the two face off after Pattinson says he bought her a miniature horse because it's her favorite animal, but she has something else to say about it. David and Nathan said Pattinson and Wasikowska jumped into the unconventional characters immediately. "With Rob and Mia, we liked that they'd never done roles like this before and that they were excited about the challenges of the characters and unconventional structure of the film," the directors tell PEOPLE. "They quickly dialed into the tone we were going for, the balance of humor and pathos, and it made our job easy." Damsel hits theaters June 22. (People)

CineEurope: Warner Bros. Debuts Long-Awaited 'Aquaman' Trailer. Bradley Cooper also made an appearance on stage in Barcelona to preview 'A Star is Born.' Attendees at CineEurope have been given the world's first taste of the long-awaited Aquaman trailer. Warner Bros. unveiled the first showing of James Wan's watery superhero tentpole starring Jason Momoa and Amber Heard in its presentation, which closed the first day of the trade show on Monday. It's expected to be launched officially in the coming days. Other upcoming DC titles given previews were Shazam and Wonder Woman 2, which is now in production. Another major title on show was Bradley Cooper's directorial debut A Star is Born, with the actor-turned-filmmaker making an unexpected appearance on stage to preview the latest adaptation of the romantic music drama. Cooper thanked Warner Bros. for giving him his first real chance as an actor in The Hangover, before introducing the first eight minutes of his new film, in which he plays a country music star alongside Lady Gaga. Andy Serkis added further star power to Warner Bros. presentation, introducing several scenes from his dark Jungle Book adaptation, Mowgli, due out in October and featuring a raft of major names playing jungle creatures, including Christian Bale, Benedict Cumberbatch and Cate Blanchett. Following a hugely successful 2017 for its horror department thanks to It and Annabelle Creation, also WB unveiled the trailer for The Nun, the latest spin-off from The Conjuring franchise. Starring Taissa Farmiga and Demian Bichir, the film is due to launch September 7. Other previews included romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, the Jason Stathan-starring giant shark thriller The Meg and animated adventure Smallfoot. Warner Bros. closed its show with a message from Eddie Redmayne introducing footage from Harry Potter spin-off sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, starring Jude Law as young Albus Dumbeldore. (Hollywood Reporter)

'Anna's War' Producers Drop Russian Release After Awards Snub. The producers of Alexei Ferdorchenko's WW2 drama pulled the film from release after it failed to win any of the main prizes at Russia's Kinotavr festival. In a controversial move, the producers of Alexei Ferdorchenko's Voina Anny (Anna's War) have refused to release the film in Russia after it was snubbed by the jury of Russia's Kinotavr film festival. A WW2 story seen through the eyes of a Jewish child in hiding, Anna's War premiered at the Rotterdam festival in January. It screened in competition in Kinotavr, Russia's leading national festival, but failed to pick up any of the main awards, which were handed out on the weekend. The Kinotavr jury gave Anna's War a single prize, a special mention for the film's child star, Marta Kozlova. Outraged, Andrei Savelyev, one of the film's producers, announced he would not allow Anna's War to screen in Russia. Speaking to local industry journal ProfiCinema, Savelyev said the Kinotavr snub could have a "disastrous" effect on the film's box office. "By taking part in Kinotavr, (we) expected to get recognition of the importance of the film and the effort put into in by the entire crew," Savelyev is quotes as saying. Without award recognition, releasing the movie in Russia would be too much of a financial risk, he added. Anna's War was made without any state support, with financing coming solely from private investors and via a crowdfunding campaign. (Hollywood Reporter)

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