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Jake Lamotta, Real-Life ‘Raging Bull’ Boxer, Dies at 95

1 hour ago

Jake Lamotta, the boxing champion whose memoir inspired Martin Scorsese’s 1980 film “Raging Bull,” is dead. He was 95.

Lamotta’s daughter, Christi, confirmed the news in a Facebook post. “Rest in peace pop,” she captioned a photo of her late father. Lamotta’s wife told TMZ the late boxer “died in a nursing home due to complications from pneumonia.”

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Lamotta was born in the Bronx in the early ’20s to Italian immigrant parents. He became a professional boxer at 19, and fought most of his career as a middleweight. His career was highlighted by a rivalry with Sugar Ray Robinson, which led to a six-fight series, of which Lamotta won only one. He did, however, win the world middleweight title in 1949, defeating Marcel Cerdan. Over the course of his career as a boxer, Lamotta earned the nickname “The Raging Bull” for his rough and aggressive fighting style.

After »


- Seth Kelley

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Denmark Selects ‘You Disappear’ as Foreign-Language Oscar Entry

2 hours ago

Rolling off its international premiere at Toronto Film Festival, Peter Schønau Fog’s drama “You Disappear” has been chosen to represent Denmark in the Foreign Language Oscar category.

Based on Christian Jungersen’s bestselling novel and penned by Fog, “You Disappear” centers on a woman who is married to a successful headmaster suffering from a brain tumor. The film is a “story about the challenges we face as neuroscience forces us to rethink what we are as human beings,” said TrustNordisk.

“You Disappear” was selected over Henrik Ruben Genz’ “Word of God” and Fenar Ahmad’s “Darkland.”

“You Disappear” was well received at Toronto. Several reviews pointed out the strong performances of Trine Dyrholm and Nikolaj Lie Kaas as the two lead actors. Mikkel Boe Følsgaard and the late Michael Nyqvist complete the cast.

The film, which marks Fog’s follow up to “The Art of Crying,” was produced by Louise Vesth at Zentropa, with »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Film Review: ‘The Lego Ninjago Movie’

2 hours ago

Before delving into the merits of “The Lego Ninjago Movie,” it’s worth pausing to reflect on just how remarkable it is that the third film in a cinematic franchise based on plastic children’s construction toys comes with high expectations attached. Before Lego launched its own film empire, other toy companies like Hasbro had established assembly lines of often profitable, invariably awful branded theatrical entertainments, and there was no reason to expect anything different from Lego. Yet 2014’s “The Lego Movie” and last spring’s “The Lego Batman Movie” surprised just about everyone by being smart, sophisticated, cognizant of their own synergistic origins, and most importantly, actual movies. That the Lego Cinematic Universe (Lcu) became a recognizable acronym isn’t surprising; that it came to signify quality is almost miraculous.

Superficially, “Ninjago” is very much in line with its predecessors. Based on Lego’s ninja-themed original property – already a Cartoon Network TV show – the film is »


- Andrew Barker

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How the Russo Brothers Plan to Embrace Disruption in the Movie Business

2 hours ago

Joe and Anthony Russo want to capitalize on the disruption in the movie business.

The brothers behind the “Avengers” films, who recently entered into a sprawling co-financing and distribution deal with Fox for their fledgling production company, say they’re already developing projects that will, in Joe Russo’s words, span “little movies, big movies, hard R, edgy films, arty films and big giant tentpole movies.” These pictures could be released by the studio’s various divisions, with smaller films getting fielded by Fox Searchlight and larger ones coming out under the 20th Century Fox banner.

“The business is changing faster than it’s ever changed,” says Joe Russo. “Films used to be an event that required work and effort to get to a theater to see. Now really good content is available immediately to us on many devices. At the same time, the audience’s appetite for storytelling is evolving, and »


- Brent Lang

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Alicia Vikander Is Lara Croft in First Trailer for ‘Tomb Raider’ (Watch)

2 hours ago

Alicia Vikander is Lara Croft in the new trailer for “Tomb Raider.”

“Your father’s gone. You can pick up where he left off,” Croft is told in the first official trailer. “I see so much of him in you.”

Following a shipwreck, Croft ends up in enemy territory. “You shouldn’t have come here,” Walton Goggins’ character tells her. “But I’m glad that you did.”

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Tomb Raider’: First Look at Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft

As the rest of the action-packed trailer plays out, Croft’s mission is made clear: “Close the tomb once and for all. The fate of humanity is now in your hands,” a voiceover says.

Roar Uthaug directed the movie based on a script by Geneva Robertson-Dworet. Daniel Wu and Dominic West also star. The film is adapted from a popular video game. Angelina Jolie played the character in two films — one released in 2001 called “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” and »


- Seth Kelley

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Fox, Locksmith Animation Ink Multi-Year Production, Development Deal (Exclusive)

3 hours ago

20th Century Fox and Locksmith Animation have entered into a long-term co-production and development deal, Variety has learned.

It comes as Fox is ramping up the number of family films it makes. Stacey Snider, who took over as the sole head of the studio a year ago, wants Fox to release an animated picture annually. The studio had been distributing pictures from DreamWorks Animation, but that deal is ending after Comcast bought the company. Fox owns Blue Sky, the makers of the “Ice Age” films. Locksmith will create a new film every 18 months, which will augment Blue Sky’s slate.

“We don’t want to miss a season when it comes to animated films,” said Snider.

The animation studio will enter the pact with three projects that are far along in their development — one has been greenlit. Locksmith’s first film with Fox will hit theaters in the autumn of 2020. Founder Sarah Smith won’t announce the »


- Brent Lang

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Fox’s Stacey Snider Gets Candid About Netflix, Diversity and the Future of Wolverine

3 hours ago

It’s easy to find Stacey Snider on any given Sunday. The chairman and CEO of 20th Century Fox closes out her weekend with a trek to the AMC theater at Century City’s Westfield mall to catch the latest big-screen releases.

“I get the same seat, G13, where I can put my feet over the railing,” says Snider. “I love movies.”

Yet, Snider has no illusions about the health of the movie business. Ticket sales are plummeting, weighed down by a glut of uninspired sequels, as Netflix, Amazon and other streaming platforms are rapidly ascending. The battle for audience attention has never been more intense and competitive.

“It’s not business as usual at the studios,” Snider says. “We are in a unique time.”

Since taking over as the sole head of Fox’s film studio following Jim Giano­pulos’ ouster in the summer of 2016, Snider has devoted herself to focusing on the kinds of films »


- Brent Lang

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BFI Launches Huge Database Spanning a Century of British Film

5 hours ago

Judi Dench is the most prolific working female actor in British film today. Michael Caine is the most prolific male actor. Queen Victoria, James Bond, and Sherlock Holmes are, in that order, the characters who have appeared most in British film, while war is the subject covered most.

Such are some of the facts now discoverable in the British Film Institute’s new Filmography database, a huge digital repository covering more than 100 years of film in the U.K., with details of more than 10,000 movies and 250,000 cast and crew.

Filmography is designed to be used by fans and industry professionals alike, and is segmented into 130 genres. Drama is the most popular category on Filmography, with 3,710 films. Comedy and romance are other key groupings. While more films have been made about war than any other subject, there are more films about Europe than Britain, the database shows, even as the U.K. »


- Stewart Clarke

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Sony Buys Into Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s Stolen Picture Production Company

8 hours ago

Sony Pictures Television has taken a stake in Stolen Picture, the recently minted film and TV production company set up by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Sony has taken a minority stake and will distribute Stolen Picture’s TV projects.

Miles Ketley has been named CEO of the company. He joins from Jane Tranter’s “His Dark Materials” production company Bad Wolf, where he was COO.

Pegg and Frost launched Stolen Picture last year, having worked together on TV series “Spaced” and movies “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.” In a joint statement, the pair said: “We’re inordinately excited to be partnering with Sony and hope to create a diverse range of television and film in line with our own sensibilities. More than that, we hope to receive free Walkmans and a lifetime’s supply of cassettes.”

Stolen has already set its first movie, horror comedy “Slaughterhouse Rulez,” which »


- Stewart Clarke

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Busan: European Industry, Talent Delegations Head for Korean Festival

9 hours ago

Europe’s film makers and businesses will make their presence felt at next month’s Busan International Film Festival. Some 34 film sales firms will take up position in Busan’s Asian Film Market, and 15 actors and directors are expected to make presentations.

Both delegations are part of the Europe! Goes Busan initiative which is backed by the European Union’s Creative Europe – Media Program, and organized by European Film promotion. It is the 20th time in the festival’s 22-year history that the European delegations have traveled to South Korea’s second city, and suggests continuing confidence in the effectiveness of Busan, despite the festival’s past three years of turmoil.

Belgium’s Olivier Meys will be joined by his producer Valerie Bournonville for the presentation of his feature film debut “Bitter Flowers,” about an aspiring Chinese woman who is hoping for a better life in Paris. Switzerland’s Dominik Locher and his producer Rajko Jazbec who »


- Patrick Frater

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Toronto Film Review: ‘Journey’s End’

10 hours ago

Few stage staples from 90 years ago would easily translate to the screen today, yet R.C. Sherriff’s once near-ubiquitous “Journey’s End” proves potent as ever in this sturdy new adaptation from director Saul Dibb and writer-producer Simon Reade. While there’s little staginess about the endeavor, the preserved tight focus on a handful of British soldiers “waiting to be killed” in a trench near Wwi’s finish provides all the character and emotional involvement that was lacking in the more action-oriented recent “Dunkirk.” The latter’s success — plus next year’s centennial of the Great War’s close — could further boost a strong drama likely to benefit from solid reviews.

A captain wounded at Passchendaele himself, Sherriff drew on three years’ service experience to write his greatest triumph (which he subsequently turned into a novel, also a source here). Premiering in 1928 with 21-year-old Laurence Olivier in a breakthrough role — one he foolishly declined to repeat in »


- Dennis Harvey

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‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

11 hours ago

In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Twentieth Century Fox claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.”

Ads placed for the action comedy had an estimated media value of $7 million through Sunday for 1,533 national ad airings across 32 networks. (Spend figures are based on estimates generated from Sept. 11-17. Estimates may be updated after the chart is posted as new information becomes available.) Twentieth Century Fox continued to target a sports-loving audience with significant budget allocated to NFL Football and College Football, as well as episodes of “South Park” and “Family Guy.”

Just behind “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” in second place: Warner Bros. Animations’ “The Lego Ninjago Movie,” which saw 1,306 national ad airings across 48 networks, with an estimated media value of $5.95 million.

TV ad placements for Twentieth Century Fox’s “The Mountain Between Us” (Emv: »


- iSpot.tv

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Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Awards $20 Million in Environmental Grants

14 hours ago

Leonardo DiCaprio announced Tuesday that his foundation will give $20 million in grants to more than 100 environmentally focused organizations.

The new grants, ranging from wildlife and habit conservation and combating climate change to the defense of indigenous rights, increase the organization’s total direct financial impact to over $80 million since 1998.

“These facts have been presented to the world time-and-time again for decades. Quite simply, we are knowingly doing this to ourselves, to our planet and to our future, and the cost of our inaction is becoming clearer,” DiCaprio said during a Yale Climate Conference hosted by John Kerry. “Yet with all of this evidence – the independent scientific warnings, and the mounting economic price tag – there is still an astounding level of willful ignorance and inaction from the people who should be doing the most to protect us, and every other living thing on this planet.”

DiCaprio encouraged everyone to vote in midterm elections for political candidates who believe »


- Rebecca Rubin

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Beau Willimon Elected WGA East President

16 hours ago

Beau Willimon, the playwright and showrunner who launched Netflix’s “House of Cards,” has been elected to a two-year term as president of the Writers Guild of America East, following an unopposed campaign to succeed Michael Winship.

The results were announced Tuesday evening in New York. Incumbent vice president Jeremy Pikser and secretary-treasurer Bob Schneider were also re-elected after running unopposed.

Winners of the six open Freelance seats are incumbents Bonnie Datt, Susan Kim, and Courtney Simon along with Amy Sohn, Tracey Scott Wilson, and David Simon. Andrea Ciannavei, the runner-up for the six open Freelance Council seats, was elected to a one-year term on the council to fill the vacancy created by  Willimon’s election as president.

Incumbent Phil Pilato was re-elected for an open Staff seat along with Kim Kelly and Hamilton Nolan.

Willimon and five other incumbents won re-election to two-year terms for council seats last year. He »


- Dave McNary

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Sierra/Affinity Signs First-Look Deal With Smb Films

16 hours ago

Sierra/Affinity has entered into a first-look agreement with production company Smb Films.

Founded and run by Scott Bernstein since 2014, the agreement calls for Sierra/Affinity to be Smb’s first stop as it develops and produces feature films for a global audience.

“As both a seasoned executive and producer, Scott has a strong track record of identifying material that resonates worldwide and distilling it into a feature film product that appeals to audiences both domestically and abroad,” said Sierra/Affinity’s Nick Meyer in announcing the news with Marc Schaberg. “Combining Scott’s talents with Sierra’s strength as a producer, financier, and sales entity presents a potent content generating combination.”

Smb Films has produced several successful films including the commercially and critically acclaimed music biopic “Straight Outta Compton,” as well as “Ride Along 2” starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube. It’s currently producing “The Turning” at Amblin with Floria Sigismondi attached to direct.

“The »


- Justin Kroll

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Director of Unreleased Mel Gibson Movie Sues Producer for Defamation

17 hours ago

The legal fight over “The Professor and the Madman,” the unreleased Mel Gibson film about a dictionary, is heating up, with the director filing a defamation suit against the production company.

Director Farhad Safinia, who wrote the script for Gibson’s “Apocalypto,” filed a suit in Los Angeles federal court on Tuesday accusing Voltage Pictures of defamation and copyright infringement.

Gibson sued Voltage in July, alleging that the company had breached the agreement giving Gibson approval of the final cut of the film. Gibson also alleged that Voltage had not budgeted adequate production days in Oxford, England, which he argued was essential to telling the story of the composition of the Oxford English Dictionary.

The L.A. Times followed up with a story about the dispute, in which Voltage issued a statement saying that “Mr. Gibson and the film’s director consistently failed to live up to their professional and contractual responsibilities to Voltage.”

Safinia »


- Gene Maddaus

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Amblin Partners’ Michael Wright Steps Down as CEO

17 hours ago

Michael Wright is stepping down as chief executive officer of Amblin Partners and becoming executive producer of two of the company’s forthcoming films, the company said Tuesday.

Steven Spielberg, chairman of the company, will step into the CEO role after Wright’s exit. Wright oversaw films like “The Girl on the Train” and “A Dog's Purpose” while at Amblin.

“I have always enjoyed working with Michael and the unique creative collaboration we’ve shared going back to his days at Turner Broadcasting,” Spielberg said in a statement. “I am very pleased to continue our relationship and that he is joining our upcoming projects, ‘The Talisman’ and ‘The Wand,’ as an executive producer. I also want to express my gratitude to Michael for helping us launch our company and creating a strong foundation to build on in the future.”

Jeff Small will remain president and co-chief executive. Holly Bario, president of production, »


- Ricardo Lopez

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Dozens Dead, Buildings Collapse After Mexico City Earthquake

18 hours ago

Widespread destruction has been reported in Mexico City after an earthquake registering 7.1 magnitude struck the country just after 1 p.m. local time. The country was still reeling from a stronger 8.2 tremor south of the capital on Sept. 7.

At least 61 people have been killed, with rescue efforts just getting under way.

“I have never felt anything that intense,” said Variety‘s Mexico City correspondent James Young. Multiple buildings have collapsed in the densely populated city, Young reported. The city is in a full state of emergency.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the earthquake’s epicenter was near the Puebla state town of Raboso, some 76 miles southeast of Mexico City where buildings have collapsed, gas lines have ruptured, power outages are widespread and the city’s chaotic traffic is even worse than normal.

The venerable Churubusco Studios, where hundreds of films have been shot, has suffered some damage: “Some walls of the studio have collapsed and some »

- Anna Marie de la Fuente

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Israel’s ‘Foxtrot’ Sweeps Ophir Awards to Become Country’s Oscar Entry

19 hours ago

Samuel Maoz’s “Foxtrot” swept the Ophir Awards — Israel’s version of the Academy Awards — on Tuesday night, taking home eight statues including best picture of the year. The film will now represent Israel in the race for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

Earlier this month, “Foxtrot” earned the Silver Lion grand jury prize at the Venice Film Festival, and had been widely tipped to win at home long before the ceremony opened. The film also picked up trophies for best director, best actor, cinematography, editing, music, artistic design and soundtrack.

Israel’s Ophir Awards, held in the port city of Ashdod just before the country takes a communal pause to celebrate the Jewish New Year, is the annual holy of holies for the Israeli film industry, and its most anticipated gathering.

But most noticeable about Tuesday night’s audience was who was not present: Miri Regev, the nation’s firebrand culture minister, was »


- Debra Kamin

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International Newswire: San Sebastian Bids to Become Sales Mecca

21 hours ago

In today’s International Newswire, fall festivals like San Sebastian bid to become movie rights biz bazaars; Disney’s Patagonik and Adrián Suar score another box-office victory in Argentina with soccer comedy ‘My Love or My Passion’; and Modern Times Group conspires with Pinewood TV and Eccho Rights on global arms trade thriller ‘Conspiracy of Silence.’

Adding a frisson for copy editors, reputed Spanish screenwriter Jorge Guerricaechevarría and Brazilian cinematographer André Szankowski have joined the main competition jury of Spain’s San Sebastián Film Festival, headed by John Malkovich. The festival kicks off on Friday with Wim Wenders’ “Submergence,” starring James McAvoy and Alicia Vikander.

The highest-profile movie event in the Spanish-speaking world has already 1,611 industry participants, up 3% on 2016’s final figure and 64% on 2010.

Trading at Toronto looked slow on not only the U.S. domestic market but also on all but the biggest international titles with many sales agents leaving the Canadian festival still in desperate »


- John Hopewell and Leo Barraclough

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