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Regina Hall to Co-Star in ‘Shaft’ Sequel With Samuel L. Jackson (Exclusive)

2 hours ago

Regina Hall has joined the cast of New Line’s latest installment in the “Shaft” franchise opposite Samuel L. Jackson and Jessie T. Usher, sources tell Variety.

Hall will play a former love interest of John Shaft and the younger Shaft’s mother. Alexandra Shipp and the original Shaft, Richard Roundtree, are also on board.

Tim Story is directing from a script by Kenya Barris and Alex Barnow. Barris and John Davis are producing. Marc Fischer and Ira Napoliello are exec producing.

The movie follows Usher, a nerdy FBI agent who, after his friend dies under suspicious circumstances, launches his own investigation, reluctantly enlisting help from his estranged father — the legendary, stuck-in-the-’80s-but-still-cool John Shaft.

MGM’s 1971 blaxploitation film was based on Ernest Tidyman’s novel and directed by Gordon Parks. John Shaft was portrayed by Roundtree, who navigates mob neighborhoods in New York City to find a mobster’s missing daughter.

The film was »


- Justin Kroll

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Disney-Fox Deal Expected for Thursday (Report)

7 hours ago

A mega deal between Disney and Fox will be announced on Thursday, according to a new report on CNBC.

The $60 billion-plus pact will see Disney acquire key entertainment and sports assets from 21st Century Fox, including its film and TV studio. The CNBC report follows a Monday announcement that Comcast has opted out of its pursuit for Fox.

A spokesman for Fox declined comment. A Disney spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Shares of Disney were up 0.44% in early morning trading to just over $107, while shares of Fox rose .33% to $33.37.

Not all of Fox’s assets will go to Disney. The company will retain Fox News, the Fox broadcast network, and Fox Sports 1, which will be reconstituted into a new, independent company. According to CNBC, that would be worth roughly $10 a share. As part of the deal, Fox shareholders will get a stake in the new company, along with shares of Disney. »


- Brent Lang

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Ari Sandel Tapped to Direct ‘Goosebumps’ Sequel

4 hours ago

Ari Sandel has been brought on board to direct a sequel to “Goosebumps,” Variety has learned.

It is unclear, however, if this “Goosebumps” follow up will be the next one to hit theaters or if it will even get made at all. Sony, which is backing the movie, has two versions in development. One of these scripts features original star Jack Black, and one does not. There are scheduling concerns involving the actor. The pressure is mounting, and Sony had better make a decision soon about which film it wants to make if it has a chance of hitting its September 21, 2018 release date.

The studio has tapped Rob Lieber (“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”) to write one of these scripts. The first “Goosebumps,” was a modest hit, having grossed $150.2 million worldwide on a reported $58 million budget. Sony is looking to trim costs on this iteration.

Sandel’s credits include “The Duff, »


- Brent Lang

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‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Rockets Toward $425 Million Global Launch Weekend

3 hours ago

The Force is seriously powerful financially, with Disney-Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” tracking to deliver about $425 million worldwide in its opening weekend.

More than a dozen international markets will open Wednesday, led by France and Italy along with Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Israel, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Indonesia, Philippines, and Taiwan. On Thursday, key markets include Germany, the U.K., Australia, Korea, Russia, Brazil, and Mexico.

Previews begin at 6 p.m. Thursday in North America. On Friday, the domestic launch will take place at about 4,175 theaters in the U.S./Canada including nearly 410 Imax screens, 640 premium large format, 3,600 3D locations, and 212 D-Box locations. The total will be slightly higher than last year’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” which opened at 4,157 locations.

The largest Thursday night preview gross in North America is “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” with $57 million two years ago. “Rogue One” opened with $29 million in Thursday night previews.

Domestic tracking »


- Dave McNary

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Mike De Luca, John Legend Will Produce ‘Long Way Down’ for Universal (Exclusive)

5 hours ago

Universal has optioned the rights to “Long Way Down,” beating out several other studios for the chance to make a movie based on the best-selling novel.

As part of the package, Michael De Luca will produce alongside John Legend for their respective banners, Michael De Luca Productions and Get Lifted Film Co. The book was a hit with young adult readers and was written by Jason Reynolds. It has an unusual premise. The story takes place in sixty seconds, as a young man struggles to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother. Another dash of unorthodoxy: the book unspools in free verse and is set in an elevator. “Long Way Down” was a finalist for the National Book Award.

De Luca is an Oscar nominee, whose credits include the “Fifty Shades” trilogy, “The Social Network,” and “Moneyball.” Legend is best known for his work as a singer and songwriter »


- Brent Lang

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Film News Roundup: Live-Action ‘Detective Pikachu’ Gets 2019 Release

21 hours ago

In today’s film news roundup, “Detective Pikachu” gets a release date, T.C. Boyle’s “The Relive Box” is being turned into a movie, and Dimitri Thivaios is cast in “Rise of the Living Dead.”

Release Date

Legendary Entertainment’s live-action “Detective Pikachu” has been set for a May 10, 2019, release.

The film, based on the Pokémon franchise, will star Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith (“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”), and Kathryn Newton (“Big Little Lies”).  Rob Letterman will direct.

Universal Pictures will handle distribution outside Japan. Toho will distribute in Japan, as it has done in its partnership with Legendary on the blockbuster monster reboot “Godzilla.”

Project Unveiled

Condé Nast Entertainment is developing the feature film “The Relive Box,” based on T.C. Boyle’s short story in the New Yorker about a tech device that allows you to relive your past.

Daniel Arsham is making his feature directorial debut and Chai Hecht (“Unorthodox”) is writing the screenplay based on the »


- Dave McNary

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The Strangest, Swankiest and Most Expensive ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Merchandise

50 minutes ago

Star Wars” merchandise is some of the most popular and coveted among all fandoms, and as the release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” draws near, so do more goodies that fans can buy. But not all merch makes sense, and even Disney can steer an iconic brand like “Star Wars” to the Dark Side of branding.

Here are some of the most astonishing, exciting, and downright head-scratching “Star Wars” branded products you can spend your galactic credits on:

Dole

Fruit is fruit, and generally the most important criteria when stocking up on produce is ripeness and price. Dole and “Star Wars” have partnered for a “Unite for a Healthy Galaxy” sweepstakes that includes prizes and an app that allows customers to scan special packaging for access to exclusive content and recipes. Which means, “Star Wars” lettuce is now a real thing that exists. 

I was willing to store that C-3POs box in my garage »


- Matt Fernandez

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Howard Gottfried, ‘Network’ Producer, Dies at 94

1 hour ago

Howard Gottfried, who received an Oscar nomination as producer of the 1976 media satire “Network,” died of a stroke Friday in Los Angeles. He was 94.

Gottfried also partnered with “Network” writer Paddy Chayefsky on films including “Altered States” and “The Hospital.” He met Chayefsky as a regular in a New York card game, and the two started on their first project, “The Hospital.” Gottfried met the film’s lead, George C. Scott, when Gottfried served as his divorce attorney.

Chayefsky won the best screenplay Oscar for “Network,” which also won Oscars for Faye Dunaway, Peter Finch and Beatrice Straight. Finch’s character, irate news anchor Howard Beale, was named for Gottfried.

Raised in the Bronx, Gottfried started his career as a lawyer and became involved in off-Broadway theater. He then went to United Artists, where he oversaw TV series such as “Gilligan’s Island,” “The Patty Duke Show” and “The Fugitive.” Gottfried later moved »


- Pat Saperstein

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Jim Broadbent Joins Robert Downey Jr. in Universal’s ‘Voyage of Doctor Dolittle’ (Exclusive)

1 hour ago

Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent has been cast in Universal Pictures’ “The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle” starring Robert Downey Jr. in the title role.

Dunkirk” actor Harry Collett is also on board to co-star in the pic.

Stephen Gaghan, who most recently directed Matthew McConaughey’s “Gold,” will helm the film from his own screenplay. Tom Shepherd wrote an earlier draft.

The studio acquired the project following a heated bidding war with producers Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum through their Roth Kirschenbaum Films, alongside Susan Downey for Team Downey.

British author Hugh Lofting created the Doctor Dolittle character in his 1920s series of children’s books, in which a Victorian-era physician opts to treat animals instead of humans because he’s able to speak with them. It is currently unknown what role Broadbent will be playing in the film.

Lofting’s character was portrayed by Rex Harrison in the 1967 musical “Doctor Dolittle,” which won Oscars »


- Justin Kroll

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Five Key Questions About Saudi Arabia’s Decision to Reintroduce Movie Theaters

1 hour ago

Saudi Arabia’s removal of its 35-year-old ban on cinemas is prompting theater chains including AMC, Vue International, and Dubai-based Vox Cinemas to announce moves to enter the last untapped movie market in the Middle East. With a population of more than 30 million – the majority under 25 – and huge oil-driven wealth, the Saudi Arabian market seems a mouth-watering one, but questions about permissible content and other issues remain.

The Saudi government said Monday that it expected to open more than 300 sites with more than 2,000 screens by 2030, building an industry that would contribute more then 90 billion riyals ($24 billion) to the economy and create 30,000 jobs over that period. The first theaters could start showing films as early as March. The move is part of a drive led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to transform Saudi society, which has already paved the way for concerts, the country’s first local Comic Con (pictured) and the right of women to attend »


- Nick Vivarelli

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Michael Apted to Receive Directors Guild’s Honorary Life Member Award

1 hour ago

The Directors Guild of America has awarded Michael Apted its DGA honorary life member award in recognition of leadership, contribution to the guild and the profession of directing, and outstanding career achievement.

The award will be presented to Apted, who currently serves as DGA secretary-treasurer, at the 70th Annual DGA Awards Dinner on Feb. 3 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

“Michael is a game changer for our guild and our industry,” said DGA President Thomas Schlamme. “Whether having the foresight as a young man to conceptualize the revolutionary documentary series “7 Up” — still going on decades later — or guiding Hollywood through a digital revolution, he is a fearless, visionary leader, and we are all the beneficiaries.”

Schlamme noted that Apted has served as either president or co-chair for every major new media and Svod negotiation.

“Michael has skillfully navigated the DGA through times of great change, setting the path for our members and our industry to flourish. His search »


- Dave McNary

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‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying

2 hours ago

Not so long ago and not so far away, J.J. Abrams awakened the sleeping giant of the “Star Wars” franchise with “The Force Awakens,” which was almost universally praised by critics. As the opening for “The Last Jedi” approaches, critics’ reviews are officially in and the consensus is that the series’ newest offering could be one of the best.

“The Last Jedi” is sitting at a 93% fresh rating on the popular review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, and while most reviews laud its thrilling effects and emotional core, not everyone shared in the unbridled praise of the film. Variety‘s Peter Debruge wrote that  while entertaining, “The Last Jedi” is “the longest and least essential chapter in the series” and that due to its inconsequential plotlines, “audiences could presumably skip this film and show up for Episode IX without experiencing the slightest confusion as to what happened in the interim.” CNN’s Brian Lowry wrote that despite reintegrating »


- Matt Fernandez

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CAA Promotes Ten Trainees

2 hours ago

CAA has promoted ten trainees to agent or exec at the agency.

Austin Denesuk has been promoted to agent in CAA’s industry-leading television department. Denesuk is based in Los Angeles, where she serves in the TV lit group.

Bennett Beckner, Joseph Harris, Madison Lee, and Joe Mott were elevated to agents in CAA’s music department, which represents more than one-third of this year’s top 100 worldwide tours. Beckner and Lee are based in Nashville, while Harris and Mott are based in Los Angeles.

Callie Rivers and Maddy Roth have been named executives in the CAA Foundation, the agency’s philanthropic arm, and are based in the Los Angeles office.

Jacksonville-based Beth Enstrom has been promoted to executive in CAA golf, and Tee Stumb has been promoted to agent in CAA sports talent sales department. He will continue to be based in New York.

Erik Telford has been promoted to agent in the speakers group, and is »


- Justin Kroll

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‘Coco’s’ Special Lighting Illuminated by Inhouse Coding

2 hours ago

As the filmmakers behind Disney-Pixar’s hit “Coco” slowly walked through a Mexican village and the nearby cemetery during a Dia de los Muertos celebration while on a research trip for the movie, they were overcome by something that they saw. They knew if they were going to get the feeling and look of this tradition right, it had to be translated for the film.

“It was the most incredible thing I’d seen, there were candles everywhere and the light was amazing,” says Danielle Feinberg, director of photography, lighting, for “Coco.” “I thought, ‘I am so lucky that I get to help make that on screen,’ and also, ‘How on earth are we going to make that on screen?’”

At Pixar, the Dp position is split into two jobs to better help the animation production process. There’s a director of photography, camera, who comes into the process early to map out camera moves, and a director »


- Karen Idelson

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Scene Stealer: Beanie Feldstein Is the Best Friend We All Want In ‘Lady Bird’

2 hours ago

While Saoirse Ronan soars as the title character in “Lady Bird,” she would be nowhere without her best friend Julie, played by Beanie Feldstein. The 24-year-old actress is also currently enjoying her Broadway debut in “Hello, Dolly!” opposite Tony-winner Bette Midler. Those musical skills came in particularly handy, as Lady Bird and Julie both end up participating in their high school musical “Merrily We Roll Along.” Her comedy chops run in the family — older brother is Jonah Hill — but it’s the sweet bond that the two high schoolers share that offers some of the film’s most touching moments.

Feldstein: “My agents emailed me and said, ‘We read this script, we think it’s brilliant and the second we read Julie, we thought of you.’ Just the description of the character made my heart race, it said: ‘Sweet, chubby, gets the lead in her high school musical.’ And I was like, ‘What?’ Ten minutes »


- Jenelle Riley

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Guillermo del Toro Taps Scott Cooper for ‘Antlers’ and Sets New Project ‘Nightmare Alley’ (Exclusive)

3 hours ago

After Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” landed a leading seven nominations at the Golden Globes, Fox Searchlight has ramped up development on two projects with the filmmaker.

Sources tell Variety that Searchlight is in negotiations with “Hostiles” director Scott Cooper to direct the supernatural pic “Antlers,” which del Toro is producing. Del Toro has been a fan of Cooper’s for some time now, and the two were eager to work together.

Del Toro is also setting up a new directing gig, attaching himself to write and direct a remake of the 1947 Fox movie “Nightmare Alley.” Sources indicate that this will likely not be his next directing job, as he still has to pen the script, which he plans to co-write with Kim Morgan.

“I am delighted to continue the producing partnership that has been forged with Fox Searchlight during the making of ‘The Shape of Water,'” del Toro »


- Justin Kroll

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Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart’s ‘Jumanji’ Maintains ‘Soul’ of Robin Williams Original

4 hours ago

The always-smiling Dwayne Johnson said he felt a bit stressed at Monday night’s premiere for Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” at the Tcl Chinese Theatre.

“I wasn’t nervous when we started shooting last year, but I’m a little nervous now that we’re going to open in a week,” he admitted.

Sony opens the action-comedy sequel on Dec. 20. The red carpet featured comedy banter between the 6-foot-5 Johnson and his 5-foot-4 co-star, Kevin Hart.

“It’s basically me putting him on my back,” Hart quipped. “I’m the star. Actually, I wouldn’t work with anybody else.”

Johnson shot back, “And I would want to work with anyone else.”

Nick Jonas, who received a Golden Globe nomination earlier in the day for his song “Home” from the movie “Ferdinand,” said he was starstruck. In his first major movie role, he plays Jefferson “Seaplane” McDonough — the avatar of the mysterious teenager Alex Vreeke »


- Dave McNary

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Film Review: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’

4 hours ago

Spoiler Alert: The following review contains mild spoilers for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

Surely, all “Star Wars” fans hope each new installment will be the best ever. But in the case of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” that seemed like an actual possibility. Written and directed by Rian Johnson, a Sundance alum who established his serious-filmmaker bona fides with his 2005 indie debut, “Brick,” before graduating to young Christopher Nolan territory via the relatively big-budget sci-fi movie “Looper,” Episode VIII seemed to have everything going for it.

To the extent that “The Force Awakens” was essentially a heightened reboot of “A New Hope,” recycling many of the 1977 original’s thrills in fresh form with a mostly new cast, this latest chapter was positioned as the new trilogy’s “The Empire Strikes Back” — which is to say, a darker, more serious chapter (commonly regarded as the series’ best) that deepens the underlying mythology, shapes its emerging »


- Peter Debruge

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How the Palme d’Or Went Missing, Briefly: Star of Cannes Winner ‘The Square’ Explains

5 hours ago

The director of “The Square,” which won the top prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, lost the trophy, the Palme d’Or, briefly, the film’s lead actor Claes Bang told Variety in a video interview at the Dubai Film Festival. This week the Swedish film picked up a Golden Globe nomination and six European Film Awards, including best film and actor.

Bang, who plays art-gallery curator Christian in Ruben Ostlund’s art-world satire, said: “Ruben wanted to do a photo re-enactment of the whole week in Cannes — us arriving, all the expectation, the screening — and we were carrying cameras, lights … a lot of sh-t. So we pack everything up, and put it in the car, and drive around. And at one point we were like ‘Okay let’s move on. We need to do the next thing.’

“And we got everything in the car, and we were all in the car, and we were »


- Leo Barraclough

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‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Becomes Fandango’s Top 2017 Ticket Seller

5 hours ago

Disney-Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” has become Fandango’s top advance ticket-seller of the year, topping previous record-holder “Beauty and the Beast.”

“Even though the film doesn’t officially open till Friday, Fandango’s pre-release ticket sales for ‘Last Jedi’ have already eclipsed the total pre-release ticket sales of any other movie on Fandango this year,” the online ticketing service said on Tuesday.

Tracking indicates that “The Last Jedi” could earn as much as $200 million in its domestic debut, which would be the fourth-largest of all time after “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Jurassic World,” and “The Avengers.”

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 cast members include Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, and Benicio del Toro. The movie marks »


- Dave McNary

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