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Del Toro in talks to direct The Hobbit! by Matt
January 28, 2008, 2:43 pm
Filed under: Entertainment News

Well, it’s been a tough week for the entertainment industry, particularly with the heavy blow of losing young actor Heath Ledger. But here’s some absolutely fantastic news to cheer you up, courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes:

After the past few weeks’ spate of bad news (and weather), have we got some silver lining for you: our preciousss is in motion to return to the big screen. Now that Peter Jackson has kissed and made up with the studios, New Line and MGM are in talks with Guillermo del Toro to direct two, simultaneously shot installments of The Hobbit!

A quick recap for those just joining us: Jackson was originally interested in adapting The Hobbit, but a very loud, very public squabble over profits between Jackson and New Line Studios for the Lord of the Rings trilogy put the kibosh on that project. The two parties reconciled their differences last December and Jackson, busy with The Lovely Bones and Tintin, joined The Hobbit as executive producer with creative control.

And now del Toro is in talks to direct the back-to-back Hobbit movies, each budgeted at $150 million (substantially higher than any of the Lord of the Rings movies). Filming will begin in 2009, with release dates currently set for 2010 and 2011. Currently, del Toro is putting the final touches on Hellboy II: The Golden Army. He was previously announced to begin work on 3993, a dramatic horror movie written by The Orphanage scribe Sergio G. Sanchez, and it’s unknown how The Hobbit will affect that movie’s production.

Huzzah! This is the best news I’ve heard in a long, long while. Del Toro is one of my favorite working directors. He’s fantastic for this.

Also, just a quick note to Here’s Looking at Film readers: I am now posting again at my old blog, Rocket Number 09. However, you will still find me posting reviews and entertainment news here at Here’s Looking at Film. But if you enjoy my writing here, I recommend checking out my other blog. Thanks readers!


Pencils down: writers’ strike a grim reality by Matt
November 6, 2007, 7:03 pm
Filed under: Entertainment Commentary, Entertainment News

Everyone better hunker down for some reruns, because the looming Hollywood writers’ strike—the first of its kind in over 20 years—is officially underway. Last-ditch negotiations between Hollywood’s 12,000-strong writers union and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) proved unsuccessful and picketing commenced Nov. 5.

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has been threatening to strike for months now, citing new methods of distribution as their primary concern for the livelihoods of Hollywood’s writers. Recently, television episodes and even movies have become available online for use with portable media devices. Writers don’t see a cent of this money and, frankly, they’re pissed.

But this animosity isn’t recent. In fact, the trouble dates back to a dark, primitive time before iPods or Lost. As DVD became America’s format of choice for movies, writers were stiffed with a measly $0.04 a pop for sales. Frankly, this strike has been a long time coming.

So what does this mean for us? Well, try watching Leno, Letterman or, hell, even Colbert sometime this week. The affects of the strike should be fairly evident. Film productions have come to screeching halts. In the coming weeks, television programming will opt for reruns. The industry will literally lose millions.

And this isn’t going to blow over in a few days. The 1988 writers’ strike dragged on an unbearable 22 weeks, with a reported $500 million in losses. Nick Counter, chief negotiator for the AMPTP, says he expects a long standoff. “We’re hunkered down for a long one,” he said. “From our standpoint, we made every good faith effort to negotiate a deal and they went on strike. At some point, conversations will take place. But not now.”

Entertainment critics are weighing in on all sides. Some are accusing the WGA of taking advantage of new technology for higher wages. Others are staunchly supporting them in their efforts to “fight the Man.” Most people are just pissed off about missing Heroes.

Here’s the thing, though. It’s not a matter of supporting the underdog or rooting for the little guy. It’s the principle of the thing. If you’re a writer, you should get paid for your work, no matter how it’s distributed.

Digital media is fresh, yeah. But the AMPTP claims that streaming and downloadable video is “still too new to structure a model for compensation.” Distribution of art and entertainment, no matter how new the method, should warrant compensation for the artist responsible.

All we can do now is sit, wait and enjoy our Letterman reruns.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Resurrection by Matt
November 1, 2007, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Entertainment News

Hey folks! Matt here with some fantastic news. Fans of legendary cult favorite TV show MST3k should read on with reckless abandon.

If you’ve never seen an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, then fix that. Now. Seriously, go to YouTube or Google Video right now and watch an episode. I’m not joking. I can totally wait.

OK. Are we good? Awesome. It’s funny, right? Hilarious? Genius? BRILLIANT? All these things and more, I know. MST3k is simply the greatest television show of all time. But I’m not here to promote MST3k (although … that’s kinda what I just did, but, whatever). I’m here to tell you that it’s back. In several forms.

RiffTrax has been around for a number of months now. Headed by MST alumni Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy, these downloadable film commentaries are simply hysterical. They make terrible movies almost bearable. Also in the works from Mike, Kevin and Bill: The Film Crew. And now, the original cast of the show (Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, J. Elvis Weinstein, Frank Conniff and Mary Jo Pehl) has announced Cinematic Titanic!

From what I can glean from Joel’s announcement, Cinematic Titanic will be a series of DVDs with commentaries from Joel, Trace and Weinstein with special guests Frank and Mary. I am psyched. After years of MST3k withdrawals … well, I’m a happy camper. Rejoice MSTies!

Citizen Kane Oscar to be auctioned off by Matt
October 17, 2007, 4:55 pm
Filed under: Entertainment News

Big news from Rotten Tomatoes:

If you’ve got some space on your mantel and a million dollars lying around, one of Sotheby’s upcoming auctions might be of interest to you.

The Hollywood Reporter shares the news that the auction house will be facilitating the sale of Orson Welles’ 1941 Best Screenplay Oscar for Citizen Kane in December. The award has had a colorful history, as summarized by the Reporter:

The golden statuette, believed to have been once lost by Welles himself, resurfaced in 1994, and after an extended legal battle was returned to his estate. In 2003, it was acquired by the Dax Foundation, a Los Angeles-based charity. The proceeds will help fund the organization’s worldwide efforts.

Bruce Davis, executive director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is quoted as saying “We’re never happy to see Academy Awards go on sale,” but says the Academy has no plans to block the sale. Sotheby’s estimates Welles’ award will fetch between $800,000 and $1.2 million. If you don’t have that kind of cash, but are going to be in New York in early December, you can still get a look at the Oscar; Sotheby’s will have it on display from December 7-10.

My opinion? The thing shouldn’t be auctioned off at all. It’s now destined to collect dust on some rich white guy’s mantel. In the words of my idol, Indiana Jones, “It belongs in a museum!”

Seattle Cinerama announces 70MM film series by Matt
October 11, 2007, 8:09 pm
Filed under: Entertainment News

I would say that, of the many thousands of films that have been released since Auguste and Louis Lumière pointed a camera at that train, Lawrence of Arabia and 2001: A Space Odyssey would be the two to see in a theater before you die. And not just any theater, mind you — I’m talking a great, big, beautiful cinema, with a 90 foot screen and an old-fashioned balcony hanging overhead.

I was lucky enough to experience Lawrence on such a screen at the Seattle Cinerama, possibly the greatest cinema still operating on the West Coast. Such an experience should not be missed by anyone, cinephile or otherwise. It’s fantastic to see such an epic piece projected in its full 70MM glory on a screen two full stories high.

Luckily for everyone that missed out on Lawrence a few months back, the Cinerama is hosting a 70MM film series, showcasing six epic films on one mammoth screen. Check out their website for details.

I’m psyched. Lawrence and 2001 at my favorite theater. Ghostbusters certainly doesn’t hurt either. Titanic, though? Really?