Click here to learn about the 3-D Film Archive, which has spent 20 years collecting and restoring obscure examples of the original 3-D film formats. The Archive has shorts and feature films dating from 1922-1955 and will be making them available shortly for exhibition.
It's hard to believe but it's been 35 years since Star Wars premiered in American cinemas. For some, the movie is simply a terrific, enduring entertainment. For more extreme types, it has been the basis of a lifestyle. For others, it may be overrated but even they will have to admit it has become a "Force" unto itself, generating a virtual industry of jobs and products. Click here to read more about the anniversary. Click here to read about the Star Wars legacy in Tunisia, where much of the film was shot.
James Doohan, the actor who played "Scotty" on the original Star Trek series passed away in 2005. Yesterday, he fulfilled his wish of having his ashes sent into space. The rocket that made the deliver also released the ashes of other prominent individuals including legendary astronaut Gordon Cooper. For more click here
Oscar winning director William Friedkin is suing both Paramount and Universal in order to clarify who owns the rights to his 1977 film Sorcerer, a remake of the French classic The Wages of Fear. The film was an enormous flop at the time and derailed the momentum Friedkin had from directing The French Connection and The Exorcist. Although Friedkin made some interesting films in the ensuing years, the blockbusters have evaded him. Sorcerer had been released on DVD but somehow in recent years the theatrical distribution rights have become murky. Friedkin told me several years ago that he was eager to bring the film to Blu-ray, but those plans have now apparently been thwarted due to the legal questions. Friedkin also wants to be able to screen the film theatrically, but the studios are preventing him from doing so. His lawsuit is meant to force the studios to clarify the rights issue and questions how they can deny owning those rights, yet insist that they can prevent him from showing the film. The movie has largely been re-evaluated by critics and audiences in recent years. For my money, it's one of the best films of the 1970s and boasts remarkable performances, great direction and a moody, haunting score by Tangerine Dream. Click here for more and to view the kick-ass original trailer. Click here for updated Variety report.
Polanski in the 60s with his wife Sharon Tate (photographed by David Bailey), the most famous victim of the Manson gang murders.
Lack of ego has never been a problem for Roman Polanski. The Oscar winning director has been in exile in Europe after fleeing America in 1977 on charges he molested a young girl. The case has been debated for the ensuing decades with many filmmakers and intellectuals arguing that enough time has passed and he should be allowed to visit the United States again. Polanski has always maintained that he was deceived by a dishonest judge who went back on a legal agreement after Polanski served time in a facility designed to treat his desires to be with underage girls. However, there is no denying that Polanski did indeed engage in very inappropriate behavior. Now the famed director will draw parallels to the famous Dreyfus case that took place in France in 1894. The landmark legal battle involved an innocent French military officer who was convicted of treason despite the fact that the government knew who the real culprit was. Anti semitism played a major role in the case. Famed novelist Emile Zola's defense of Dreyfus resulted in the verdict being overturned. Polanski is up front about saying he believes the case bears similarities to his own situation, though this seems a stretch: there was no guilty third party and Polanski was never framed. For more click here
Tom Cruise is planning to develop and star in a remake of the 1960 Western classic The Magnificent Seven. Information is sketchy because the project is only in the embryonic stages. There have been various attempts to remake the film in the past, but none have borne fruit. The original film was a surprise hit and was itself a remake of Kurosawa's classic Seven Samurai. Although the film is remembered as an all-star vehicle today, at the time only Yul Brynner and Eli Wallach were considered big names. The film helped promote the young up-and-comers in the cast to major stardom including Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn and Robert Vaughn. Horst Bucholz became a star in Europe and the guy whose name nobody can remember, Brad Dexter, went on to become a successful movie producer. The film, directed by John Sturges, is also remembered for its classic theme song by Elmer Bernstein. The movie spawned several sequels, only one of which starred an original cast member (Brynner) and none are remembered as being very good. In the 1990s, however, the movie did inspire a TV series that has built a loyal following. Click here for more and to watch the original trailer.
Director Ridley Scott has released some new details about the plans for a sequel to his 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner. He intends to have the story center on a female protagonist and he is in talks with the original film's screenwriter, Hampton Francher, to create the script for the movie. The much-anticipated film will not feature Harrison Ford, who has made it known that his collaboration with Scott the first time around proved to be one of the least enjoyable experiences of his professional career. Despite the film's initial weak performance at the boxoffice, it has been re-evaluated by both critics and the public and is now considered to be a great movie. Scott has overseen seemingly countless "director's cuts" of the original version of the movie, which was muddled by studio edits done before Scott had enough clout to prevent them. For more click here
Struggling MGM is betting on the past in order to reverse its fortunes. The studio has a remake of the 1976 film Carrie going into production. Brian De Palma directed the original adaptation of Stephen King's best-seller about a bullied high school girl who uses psychic powers to get revenge on her tormentors. Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie earned Oscar nominations for their performances as Carrie and her crazed mother and young John Travolta had an early big screen role in the film. The new version has a female director, Kimberly Peirce. The story line was an early plea against bullying, something that will probably resonate even more today. For more click here
Will the 35mm projector go the way of uniformed movie theater ushers and 25 cent popcorn?
In a major article for LA Weekly, writer Gendy Alimurung takes a sobering look at the future of cinema and it isn't pretty, at least if you're a purist who values 35mm film. The mad rush to go to all digital projection is being driven by the major studios because it saves them a fortune in terms of producing prints and shipping them to theaters. With digital, those costs are reduced to a trickle as the "print" is basically a lightweight unit that plugs into a projection system. Picture perfect quality is also an upside- unless you're a film director like Christopher Nolan, who shot his forthcoming Batman epic The Dark Knight Rises on traditional 35mm film. Nolan is among those filmmakers who think that the alleged purity of digital pales in comparison to 35mm. These die hard adherents to traditional film also point out some of the other downsides of digital: the data costs more to store and is very vulnerable to destruction. (An accidental touch of a "delete" button almost erased the master copy of Toy Story 2 for all eternity.) Additionally, theaters are less-than-happy about digital, especially smaller, independent establishments. It can cost up to $150,000 for a theater to convert to digital. Studios are helping to subsidize the cost, but only for a while. After that, procrastinators will have to front the entire expense themselves. The digital revolution will mean the end of many boutique, art house cinemas. They simply won't have product to play. Studios will no longer be investing in restoration of movies in 35mm format. Once the existing prints are deemed too worn out, a movie will no longer be available in 35mm. Additionally, it's clear that studios will not be investing in transferring mid-range and "B" movies to the digital format, meaning a lot of quirky films might not be available in any format once studios get out of renting 35mm prints. (Paramount has only one 35mm print of Breakfast at Tiffanys available for rental, as the studio is pushing its new digital, restored version.) To read the article click here
The 1939 classic Gone With the Wind remains the most popular movie of all time in terms of the number of admission tickets sold.
The Hunger Games is the latest Hollywood blockbuster, pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars in a relatively short period. Impressive under any circumstances. However, critic Richard Roeper points out the film still has a ways to go to top the 1960s Disney hit Swiss Family Robinson. What? How can that be? The Hunger Games has grossed far more than the Disney flick, you say. However, the real test of how popular a film is relates to the number of admission tickets sold. Because today's ticket prices are astronomically higher than they were decades ago, the fact remains that the number of people who paid to see those classics of yesteryear far exceeds many of the so-called blockbusters of today. Using that theory, Roeper says, Gone With the Wind still ranks as the most popular movie of all time. For more click here
Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis as the Ghostbusters.
Bill Murray's former cast mates and director Ivan Reitman are eagerly hoping that a new Ghostbusters flick will become reality. The sticking point is notoriously finicky Bill Murray, who is deemed crucial to the project. Murray is being maddeningly obtuse about whether he'll do the movie or not, alternately disparaging the concept, then saying it's a possibility he will star in it. His friend and co-star Dan Aykroyd says that Murray is living a serene life, only working when he wants to and enjoying raising his kids. Whether the the former Saturday Night Live teammates will be reunited on screen remains to be seen. Given Murray's ever-changing mood, the film may not stand a ghost of a chance. Click here for more
It's hardly a revelation that Madonna used the image of her idol Marilyn Monroe to help publicize her career, especially in the 1980s and 1990s. We can all remember specific publicity photos, magazine covers and music video in which the legendary actress was channeled by the up-and-coming entertainment industry icon. However, the full extent of Madonna's Marilyn "tributes" borders on an obsession- and she has been accused of blatantly ripping off every aspect of Monroe's career, from specific poses to scenes from her films. The web site www.antimadonna.darkhost.com lays out the full extent of the evidence in mind-boggling detail.
Clint Eastwood is prepping a new screen version of the oft-filmed A Star is Born. Beyonce is set to star, possibly opposite Tom Cruise. Curiously, this version draws on a more contemporary inspiration for the storyline. Screenwriter Will Fetters says he was motivated by the tragic real life story of rocker Kurt Kobain. Click here to read
Noted Hollywood historian and movie photo collector Marc Wanamaker has donated his collection of 70,000 rare stills to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Wanamaker began collecting the photos in 1971 as part of a research project. Over the years, he managed to unearth a treasure trove of rare images pertaining to early American films, though some of the photos extend to relatively recent past. In some cases, these represent the only known photos from largely forgotten films. The collection will be available to film historians and researchers. For more click here