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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Done to death?

Cinemimi [Sunday, April 01, 2012]
Daniel Craig in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Daniel Craig in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

English-language remakes of foreign films seem to be bombing at the box office.

WHEN producer Scott Rudin optioned the English-language rights on Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books in early 2010, he'd be forgiven for anticipating a slam-dunk hit. He had a global bestseller and two lead characters likely to attract A-list actors. The only snag was that the material had already yielded film versions in the original Swedish. But these had yet to open in the key English-speaking markets, which would surely be more excited about a version starring Daniel Craig (pictured) and directed by David Fincher. Right?

Fast-forward two years, and the film's main backer, MGM, disclosed to its investors that box office for Fincher's film was ''below our expectations and we booked a modest loss''. The result follows a damp squib return for Let Me In, the US version of Tomas Alfredson's Let the Right One In. (The remake starred young Australian actor Kodi Smit-McPhee.) Worldwide cinema gross on the $20 million remake is $22 million - almost certainly a loss-making venture for its backers, after costs. The original Let the Right One In, by contrast, with an $11 million cinema gross and a $4 million production budget, looks highly profitable.

The question remains: why are these English-language remakes considered necessary in the first place? The boom in Scandinavian crime fiction has primed audiences to embrace big-screen versions of global bestsellers - and they'd already proved their ability to read, so subtitles shouldn't be a problem.
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This week, blackly comic Norwegian crime thriller Headhunters, adapted from a novel by popular local author Jo Nesbo, opens on 80 British screens. It opened in Australia last month. With support from multiplexes and key independent cinemas and a 100 per cent Fresh critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the planets look aligned for another Scandi genre hit. Inevitably, an English-language version is in the works, due for release in 2014, courtesy of Twilight producers Summit, with Mark Wahlberg reportedly eyeing the lead role.

Producer Kris Thykier, whose 2011 release The Debt was based on an Israeli film that barely played beyond its borders, agrees that his film benefited from the original's negligible profile. ''The Debt was a brilliant small film which cost around $800,000, that - not only because of its scale, but also because of its language - was very unlikely to get a broad audience,'' he says.

Following the success of the television series Homeland, also based on an Israeli property (Hatufim, aka Prisoners of War), the lesson would seem to be: take care over where you go looking for properties to remake; and the Middle East might be a good place to start.

Or maybe Iceland. While Contraband, the remake of little-seen smuggling thriller Reykjavik-Rotterdam, isn't exactly setting the box office on fire, it is producer Working Title's biggest ever US opener, and North American box office alone is a nifty $68 million.

As savvy producers such as Thykier know, the danger with remakes is that the foreign original will suddenly achieve unexpected global penetration. ''With Dragon Tattoo,'' he says, ''the timing of the original films' release was perfect in terms of the momentum around the books; you saw a success beyond anyone's wildest dreams. Personally I would say that Fincher made a better film, but clearly it does suffer from the fact that people had seen the first one quite recently before.''

In fairness to Fincher, the global gross of his film stands at a not-too-shabby $232 million, overcoming the challenges of restrictive certificates and a Christmas-holiday release date that didn't chime well with the grisly content. Had the film not been budgeted at an extravagant $90 million, this could have been a profitable endeavour. MGM remains interested in co-financing sequels with Sony, ''assuming we can achieve better economics''.

Let Me In was more responsibly budgeted, but faced a different challenge: the two lead characters are children, so it's just not possible to cast it with major stars. No lesson had been learnt from the remaking of Argentinian hit Nine Queens as Criminal, with John C. Reilly and Diego Luna - a Hollywood-indie cast likely to appeal to the same audience that saw the original, and hardly anyone else.

Headhunters producer Marianne Gray, from Sweden's Yellow Bird Films (makers of the Dragon Tattoo movies), is right when she says: ''Everything is getting more global, and audiences are more and more accepting of subtitles.'' But the increasing penetration of genre films into the traditional foreign-language space is also about something else. The films are succeeding because of their foreignness, not in spite of it.

Italy's Gomorrah and Brazil's City of God offered genre fans flavours that were unique and authentic. Even Fincher set his Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in Sweden, eschewing the usual remake tactic of transplanting the action to the US. It felt authentic, as long as you overlook the fact the characters are speaking English.

'The Dirty Picture' in Tamil - Telugu with Anushka?

Cinemimi [Saturday, March 31, 2012]
'The Dirty Picture' by Milan Luthria threw light on the life of Silk, played to perfection by Vidya Balan, an item girl who goes to her career's peak and falls down right to the bottom and ends her life eventually. The film was the topic of discussion even before its release and was subject to several controversies.

Apart from the main protagonist played by Vidya in the original, there are three other pivotal roles that were essayed by Naseeruddin Shah, Tusshar Kapoor and Emraan Hashmi.

Anushka is known for playing strong women centric roles and her list of films stands testimony to this. She was acclaimed for her performance in 'Arundhathi' and 'Vaanam'. However the actress who is one hot property in Telugu - Tamil film industries has her hands full with several projects and we have to wait to see if she'll give a nod.

It will be interesting to watch a remake of 'The Dirty Picture' that threw light on the life of a sex siren from the south in our south industries.

Dhanush: Who is he?

Cinemimi [Saturday, March 31, 2012]
Dhanush is an Indian film actor, occasional playback singer and lyricist, working in the Tamil film industry. Dhanush has been in the spotlight in the wake of the mass success of his song Why This Kolaveri Di from the movie 3 .

The movie 3 is directed by his wife, Aishwarya Rajinikanth with Shruti Haasan paired opposite Dhanush.

The film 3 released on March 30, 2012, worldwide, with subtitles as well as dubbed languages such as Hindi and Telugu. The film will release 400 prints in Tamil and 600 prints for the Hindi version.

Dhanush was born to film director Kasthuri Raja as Venkatesh Prabhu Kasthuri Raja. He finished higher education at St. John's Matriculation Higher Secondary School Alwarthirunagar and entered acting, after being pressured by his brother, director Selvaraghavan.

He was married in 2004 to actor Rajinikanth's daughter Aishwarya. They have two sons, named Yatra and Linga.

Dhanush's filmography includes critically acclaimed films like Kadhal Kondein, Pudhupettai, Mayakkam Enna and commercially successful films like Thiruda Thirudi, Thiruvilayadal Arambam, Polladhavan, Yaaradi Nee Mohini and Padikathavan.

Dhanush's biggest film, in terms of budget, till date is the 2006-released Pudhupettai.

He won the National Film Award for Best Actor for his performance in Aadukalam. He is the son of Kasthuri Raja and the brother of Selvaraghavan, both directors in Tamil cinema.

He has signed a fantasy period film Mareesan to be directed by Chimbu Deven, as well as his first Hindi film titled Raanjhnaa that would be directed by Aanand L Rai paired opposite Sonam Kapoor.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Actress faints on the set

Cinemimi [Wednesday, March 28, 2012]
It was 12 in the midnight when the Vetri Selvan crew was shooting at Kethi railway station in Ooty. Radhika Apte was present on the set. “Due to intense cold the actress fainted and fell like a wood on the floor”, says the crew. She was hurried to a local hospital. She recuperated within a couple of hours and returned for the shoot immediately. Commenting on the incident, Radhika Apte said, “It was so cold. I never knew I was fainting. Good thing that I could get back for the shoot immediately after the treatment. I can never forget this incident.” Last week the film’s hero Ajmal met with an accident during the shoot, when he was travelling in an auto with Radhika Apte. The auto rammed on a median and fell stumbling down on the road, injuring Ajmal. The film, being directed by Rudhran, features Ajmal, Radhika Apte, singer Mano, Ganja Karuppu and Sheriff. Mani Sharma has scored the music and Ramesh Kumar handles the camera

'Naan Ee' audio live on IG! Suriya to unveil music

 Cinemimi [Wednesday, March 28, 2012]
IndiaGlitz is airing the audio launch event of 'Naan Ee' for film patrons all over the world! The music will be unveiled by your favourite matinee idol Suriya Sivakumar! The event will also see top notch celebrities including Karthi, Selvaraghavan and Bala. We know you can't ask for more! But wait, there is more to it. There are few more surprises in store for IG winners at the event that's sure to make it a memorable experience for you. The event will be aired LIVE in IndiaGlitz and you can watch these top notch celebrities and the film's cast and crew from wherever you are. Log on to IG on Sunday (April 1). The audio of 'Naan Ee's Telugu version 'Eega', is also being aired LIVE on IndiaGlitz. 'Naan Ee' is a bilingual in Tamil - Telugu that's a socio fantasy comedy film and showcases the hero avenging his death by reincarnating as a fly. Samantha plays the lead lady.

3 impresses the government, gets lucky

Cinemimi[Wednesday, March 28, 2012]
3, after getting a U certificate from the censor board, was screened to a special body consisting of 24 people from both the government and the film industry. Today the special body has announced that the film would be waived of all the taxes. The film, directed by Aishwarya Dhanush, stars Dhanush, Shruthi Haasan, Prabhu, Rohini, Badava Gopi and Siva Karthikeyan. Anirudh has scored the music and cinematography is by Velraj. Looks like 3’s expectation meter has reached its peak.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Nayantara in a Tamil movie

Cinemimi[Saturday, March 24, 2012] 
Boopathy Pandian, who made movies like Thiruvilayadal Arambham and Malaikottai among others, is all set to direct Nayantara. The actress, who reportedly had a jinxed affair with Prabhudeva, is on a signing spree. She has signed a couple of films in Telugu besides a Tamil film with Ajith. Meanwhile, Boopathy Pandian will be directing popular Tollywood actor Gopichand, who acted as villain in Jayam and hero in many Telugu movies. Playing the female lead in Nayanthara. Sources say the movie would be a laugh-riot like Boss Engira Baskaran. Sakthi Saravanan cranks the camera. The movie is being produced by Jaybalaji Real Media Technologies. The production house had made films like Uthamaputhiran, Osthi and is currently busy with Ishtam and Samaraan.

India's first comedy 3D film?

Cinemimi[Saturday, March 24, 2012]
 'Ace Raja Rani Jackie & Joker' went on floors yesterday and if sources are to be believed this movie joins the 3D bandwagon! A bilingual in Tamil - Telugu the film is touted to be India's first ever stereoscopic comedy 3D flick! AK Entertainments, a leading production house in Andhra Pradesh enters Tamil cinema with this flick that stars Shaam, Vaibhav, Allari Naresh, Raju Sundaram, Sneha Ullal, Neelam and Kamna Jethmalani in the lead roles. Anil Sunkara is wielding the megaphone. Music is reportedly by Bappi Lahiri. The film was recently launched and the puja was graced by Governor Rosiah and Simbu aka STR who was the Chief Guest. Also present were director Venkat Prabhu, Srikanth, Mahat and several others. It will be canned in and around Chennai, Hyderabad, Goa and Bangkok.

Khushbu: The dream girl

Cinemimi [Saturday, March 24, 2012] 
How many hearts she stole back in the day, when she was Queen Bee of Tamil cinema... But now she is so much more than just a pretty face... Interestingly Khushbu was No:1 for more years than any other actress...“Times have changed. Cinema has changed. As a business it has grown. The number of movies being made in a year has doubled since my time. So there is a need for a fresh face in every third movie. And with so many actresses around, it’s hard for one girl to be on top all the time. But actresses today are so smart. Given that the time they have is less, they are working in more languages at the same time, which was not the case in my time. Sharing talent within in the industry is a good thing,” She said in a exclusive interview to Galatta Cinema From dream girl she is now producer and she dares to speak her mind. “In the past 25 years that I have been in cinema, I have seen a marked change. While we have taken giant leaps in terms of technology, I see a regression in the kind of scripts being made into films. When one maker tastes success with a certain formula, everyone falls in line. There are very few who are true creators with new ideas,” she added.

Titanic was called a Bollywood movie?

Cinemimi [Saturday, March 24, 2012] 
Jon Landau, the Hollywood producer of Oscar-winning films Titanic and Avatar, was in Mumbai this week to give Bollywood a taste of his nwe offering, Titanic 3D, 15 years after the blockbuster first sailed across internationals seas and screens. The acclaimed producer, who at the time of its worldwide release, faced some criticism about the Titanic being like a Bollywood film, spoke to about the re-release in 3D and other subjects concerning cinema. Landau, also laughed off the charge about Titanic being like a Bollywood production by saying, "I definitely see that point. I have been exposed to some action and comedy Indian films, but music, romance, thematic structures where people overcome odds, rising from a class structure to find love in another class structure- these are universal themes."

What made you convert Titanic into 3 D?
To bring audience, who are today hooked to computer, mobile and television screens, back to theatres with the commitment of an incredible experience with 3D. It is important for the new generation of movie goers to get acquainted with films like Titanic which created a stir 15 years ago. And for those, who saw it 15 years ago, the 3D version makes it a whole new experience.

How was the experience of re-making the film in 3 D?
While other filmmakers take six weeks to convert a film in 3D, we took 60 weeks. What further sets it apart is the fact that it cost a whopping 18 million dollars to make it an entirely new product for the audience. James Cameron kept eye on every shot.

How do you see the changing face of cinema worldwide and in India?
To have to overcome the constraints in terms of visual medium gives me immense pleasure. We had conquered the sound department long ago by switching from mono to two and finally six-tracks album. But, as far as the visual medium is concerned, we began with white screen techno colour in the 1950s, but it is due to the latest digital technology coming into the picture that we have now worked wonders on the visual front too. As long as we make a story rich in content, and the exhibitors take care of the quality in terms of good sound, seatings, we will certainly improvise at every step. Look at the potential growth that exists in India. Here, the entertainment industry is remarkable; you have so many communities which were untouched 15 years ago but, today, they are hungry for good cinema and we can cater to them with films like Titanic 3D. The number of theatres has gone up year after year, as have the admissions and India now ranks among the top 12 international territories. Titanic 3D is releasing in four Indian languages with 250 prints in 3D and 50 in 2D, and that's great that a film is watched the way the local population can enjoy it.

If you had to convert another film into 3D, which one would that be?
It would be the birth of my children (laughs). On a more serious note, regardless of the selection, the presence of the filmmaker is essential to convert his film into 3D. Like, Steven Spielberg or Peter Jackson will do justice to their films if they are assigned the third dimension. After Avatar, the industry went into a pitfall where the choice to make movies in 3D directly went into the studios' kitty rather than to filmmakers. During the conversion process, technology plays a key role, but without interference by the filmmakers one can't take the film to other level. As far as the genre is concerned, 3D works best in dramatic scenes.

What promotional strategy do you have for Titanic 3D?
Titanic 3D will be promoted like any other new release. We are planning a worldwide premiere in Royal Albert Hall, London. British singer-songwriter James Blunt will perform with an orchestra and we are looking at making the event really big.

An unusual suspect

Cinemimi [Saturday, March 24, 2012] 
 ‘Casablanca’ could have been a bomb — but luck turned the film into a legend

For all the accolades heaped on “Casablanca” over the past 70 years, Steven Spielberg maintains that its place in cinema history was all a fluke. “ ‘Casablanca’ is a film that could have missed in many ways, but it didn’t,” the director says in a documentary that accompanies a spectacular new Blu-ray edition of the movie, due out Tuesday. One of the most quoted and beloved American movies of all time, “Casablanca’’ was one of hundreds of films turned out by the Hollywood studio system during World War II. But this troubled production became what film historian Andrew Sarris termed “the happiest of happy accidents” and a timeless classic because of a serendipitous chain of circumstances. Nobody except Humphrey Bogart was seriously considered for Rick, the cynical cafe owner who proclaims, “I stick my neck out for nobody.’’ But luminous Ingrid Bergman wasn’t Warner Brothers’ first, or even second, choice for Ilsa, the woman who leaves him in Paris and turns up years later in, of all the gin joints, his cafe with her formerly missing hero husband in tow. Loan-out fees for Hedy Lamarr and Michele Morgan were deemed budget-busters by Warners, which got the under-employed Bergman for a bargain price from producer David O. Selznick. The film’s sharply cynical dialogue continues to resonate with contemporary audiences after decades — and its jaundiced attitude toward the Nazi-collaborating French government was possible because “Casablanca” was shot just five months after America’s entry into World War II. Fortunately, the film began production before the US Office of War Information began more carefully scrutinizing scripts for their political messages, and the moral ambiguity of “Casablanca’’ likely would be been deemed harmful to morale in an era when blatant cheerleading for the war effort was encouraged. The film’s celebrated love theme — “As Time Goes By’’ — very nearly didn’t survive the final cut. Written for a 1930 Broadway flop, the song was taken from an unproduced play that served as the basis for the “Casablanca’’ script. Tasked with composing the score after filming wrapped, Max Steiner proposed writing a replacement. But Bergman had already cut her hair short for “To Have and Have Not,’’ making it impossible to reshoot her famous ‘Play it, Sam’’ scene with a new song. The seven writers who toiled at various points on “Casablanca’’ were still deciding if Ilsa ended up with Rick or her resistance-fighter husband, Victor Lazlo (Paul Henreid), while the film was in production. An exasperated Bergman was counseled by director Michael Curtiz to “play it both ways.’’ The actress’ real-life uneasiness over the direction of her role augmented her classic performance as a woman torn between two lovers. Hollywood censors frowned on depictions of adultery unless a heavy price was paid. Ilsa’s Paris fling with Rick got a pass because she thought Victor was dead. But no such excuse was available when she turns up in Rick’s apartment and, after threatening him with a gun fails to work, tries to seduce him into turning over the letters of transit. The Production Code Authority expressed concern, but Curtiz employed an artful dissolve. The image of Bogie smoking a post-coital cigarette suggested the deed had been done without offending the more literal censors. One “Casablanca” writer, Casey Robinson, declined to have his name on what turned out be an Oscar-winning script, partly because he thought it was full of unbelievable twists. Why would the Nazis honor letters of transit signed by Free French leader Charles DeGaulle? Curtiz, a Hungarian who spoke fractured English, assured his bosses: “Don’t worry what’s logical. I make it move so fast, nobody notices.’’ “Casablanca’’ was a box-office smash and won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1943 (it was released in Los Angeles in January of that year after premiering in New York two months earlier) but was largely forgotten within a decade. Then Bogart died of lung cancer in 1957 — and shortly thereafter, the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Mass., revived the film, and a cult following developed. The film has long been a TV staple, its place as a cultural touchstone affirmed by Woody Allen’s play and movie “Play It Again, Sam,’’ which pays appropriate tribute to a chance masterpiece by misquoting a line from the movie.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Utah theater chain turns 'The Hunger Games' into an event

 Cinemimi[Saturday, March 24, 2012] 
Patrons seeing 'The Hunger Games' at a Megaplex Theatre in Utah can get made up like Katniss or duel like a tribute. The chain's success has the attention of Hollywood studios.
The Megaplex Theatre chain, which includes the Megaplex 17 (shown here) at Jordan Commons in Sandy, Utah, has a multi-pronged strategy for turning big-ticket movies such as "The Hunger Games" into an event. (Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times) 

"The Hunger Games" is big enough of a draw this weekend that movie theaters don't have to do much to sell tickets — in the opening hours, hundreds of thousands of fans dropped nearly $20 million for admission.

But those who showed up at the Megaplex Theatre in Sandy, Utah, for the first screenings were able to participate in their own (nonlethal) version of the cinematic teen death match, donning sumo wrestling suits, picking up laser guns and jousting with inflatable swords. Before battling strangers and friends, patrons could visit Cinna's Salon and have their eyes decorated with glitter — just like the film's heroine, Katniss, gets dolled up by a stylist named Cinna before she's thrown into the arena. The winner took home a backpack and lunch box donated to the theater by the studio, Lionsgate.

All the extras weren't cheap; the premiere party cost patrons $34, on top of an $8.75 ticket. But these kind of aggressive marketing activities have helped to propel the small, six-theater Megaplex chain in and around Salt Lake City into the ranks of the nation's top-grossing outlets for teen movies in recent years — and caught the attention of Hollywood studios.

It's not just the parties at Megaplex, owned by the Larry H. Miller Group, that boost its opening-weekend grosses; the chain has a multi-pronged strategy that includes renting out auditoriums to corporations and playing one big-name movie on the majority of its screens.

As a result, four of the top six grossing theaters for midnight screenings nationwide were Megaplex outlets, Lionsgate said Friday.

In November, when the fourth "Twilight" film was released, one of the cinema's branches in South Jordan, Utah, brought in more money on opening weekend than any U.S. theater outside of one in New York City, where ticket prices are far higher. The location in Sandy came in fourth in the nation for both the debut of the vampire flick and the final installment of the "Harry Potter" franchise last summer.

At Megaplex early Friday, "The Hunger Games" was playing on all of the chain's 92 screens. The movie remained in all of those auditoriums for 3 a.m. showings as well, then was pared back to about five screens per location for the remainder of the weekend.

It wasn't just teens showing up for the PG-13 film. Many of those who came were adults who work for companies like JetBlue, Ameriprise and 1-800 Contacts, all of which, Megaplex says, are eager to buy out entire auditoriums for team-building outings. Heading into the weekend, Megaplex had sold out 96 screenings, guaranteeing more than $100,000 worth of sales.

Celeste Casey, a 30-year-old marketing distributor for the greeting card company Send Out Cards, rented out a 530-seat theater at midnight to help boost her client network.

"It was insane. The local news station came in and filmed the audience with everybody screaming and cheering," Casey said Friday morning. "When we got out of our movie, there was a wall of people, and we could hardly move. People were dressed up like characters with rhinestones on their face and hair dye. I can't imagine the money and time they put into these costumes. There were vendors selling 'Hunger Games' themed-cakes and blankets and socks. It was so exciting."

Because of the circuit's track record, Megaplex has developed a working relationship with a number of movie studios. When Summit Entertainment (which recently merged with Lionsgate) released "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1" last fall, it sent a handful of the movie's lesser-known stars, including Ashley Greene and Peter Facinelli, to attend a mini-premiere at one of the Megaplex locations.

"Because of what they've done in the past, you pay attention when they need more prints shipped to them or when they say, 'Boy, can you get some of the actors here for personal appearances?'" said Richie Fay, Summit's president of domestic distribution. "We have to encourage people going to the movies across the country — it can't just be focused on the coasts."

Julene Jolley, 55, is the Megaplex director of events, and she and her team are responsible for devising tie-ins for every major movie release. She brought in a rock climbing wall and a bull riding machine for a "Harry Potter" film, set up an elaborate replica of the wedding scene in the most recent "Twilight" film and tracked down a Justin Bieber look-alike for the premiere of the pop star's documentary.

"What we are trying to do is expand the moviegoing experience," she said.

Megaplex Theatres was founded in 1999 by Miller, a local car dealer who also owned the Utah Jazz basketball team at the time. He had no experience in Hollywood but was eager to learn, recalled Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.' vice president of distribution.

"One day I got a call from this guy who said, 'You don't know me, but I'm successful in my own world. I've never owned a movie theater, but I love movies,'" Goldstein said. "He wanted to know about the nuts and bolts of the business, and soaked in everything I told him like a sponge."

Miller, a member of the Mormon Church, invested in a 2001 Mormon-themed production called "Brigham City" that didn't crack the $1-million mark at the box office. Three years later, he put more than $7 million into another Mormon-themed production, "The Work and the Glory," which grossed $3.3 million. Though the film did well enough to spawn two sequels, Miller told the Salt Lake City Tribune in 2006 that the overall lack of success "extinguished" his interest in film production.

The businessman also weathered some controversy after he pulled the acclaimed 2005 drama "Brokeback Mountain" from Megaplex theaters because it centered on a gay relationship. Gay rights groups protested the move, and Jay Leno even made a joke at Miller's expense on "The Tonight Show." Miller later apologized, calling the ban a "knee-jerk reaction." He died in 2009.

Also key to the success of a film at Megaplex is avoiding an R rating. In 1986, then-Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President Ezra Taft Benson delivered a speech to the "youth of the noble birthright" in which he explicitly cautioned: "Don't see R-rated movies or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive or pornographic."

"That hasn't been enforced since, but many Mormons still have the 1986 speech in their mind," said Dean Duncan, a professor in the department of theater and media arts at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

It also does not hurt when themes of the films fall in line with Mormon teachings. The "Twilight" series, for example, argues for chastity before marriage, and the author of the books, Stephenie Meyer, is Mormon. The "Harry Potter" novels that inspired the movies have been commented on favorably by religious scholar Jeffrey Roy Holland, a Mormon senior apostle and former BYU president. The church declined to comment for this article.

But James Marsh, a media industry analyst with Piper Jaffray & Co., says that in an era when movie attendance continues to decline and theater owners turn to broadcast operas and other fare in addition to films, there may be lessons in the Megaplex story.

"Theaters have a finite amount of content coming to them, so Megaplex is making the best of what they're getting from the studios. There are fewer blockbuster films, so how can they make the ones they get a bigger event?" Marsh said.

"Other theater chains are working on improving concessions or doing film distribution deals to get more content. Megaplex is embracing the film and looking for that hard-core fanboy to come in and immerse themselves in the movie. I don't hear the big guys doing that."

Genelia gets award after crime accusation

Cinemimi[Saturday, March 24, 2012] 
Genelia was recently in the news for her alleged involvement in a 250 crores scam. An FIR was filed against her and five others by the Saifabad police. Having to deal with this trouble shortly after her high - profile marriage to Ritiesh Deshmukh, Genelia was feeling low. All that has changed now as the actress has received her second Nandi State award for her performance in Katha. It is a prestigious award in Andhra Pradesh and Genelia is thrilled to bits. She thanked her fans in Andhra Pradesh and also the team who was responsible for the success of Katha. Her friends and family have rallied to her side during this stormy phase and sources say that things are looking up for her.

Parthiepan & Sneha for a cause

Cinemimi[Saturday, March 24, 2012]
 When his counterparts backed fan clubs, R Parthiepan rejected the very idea of his admirers and instead, he asked them to start humanitarian forums, under the name of 'Manidha Neyam Mandram'. This was almost two decades ago. The seeds he sowed then are bearing fruits now, as various activities are regularly conducted by Manidha Neyam Mandram. On Sunday (March 25), it will conduct a blood donation camp at Lakshmi Hall, 100 Feet Road, Ashok Nagar. Besides Parthiepan, popular film personalities such as Sneha and Suhasini Maniratnam will take part in the event and speak about the positive effects of blood donation, which plays a crucial role in saving hundreds of lives daily. A team of doctors from a government hospital will be present at the camp to collect blood from the donors. Circles close to Parthiepan say he has decided to keep his 'Mandram' active in the years to come by holding many such activities.

Academy award winner on 3

Cinemimi [Saturday, March 24, 2012] 
Resul Pookutty winner of the academy award for his sound engineering in Slumdog Millionaire has also done the sound editing and mixing for 3. Working in tandem with Dhanush and Anirudh, the great man said that he enjoyed the experience immensely and they were all just boys with toys and had fun together. About the sound of 3 he said, "It's fun, lovely, nostalgic, at times as if thick oil is poured into your ears!". Dhanush was equally complimentary and said that it was an honor to work with the academy award winner and that he was a great man and a superb human being. He added that what Resul has done for the sound of 3 is truly special.

Love marriage: Trisha's mom gives a nod

Cinemimi [Saturday, March 24, 2012]Uma Krishnan is more than a mother for Trisha. She is a good friend, philosopher and guide for the actress. The bond they share is so close that there are no secrets between the two to hide from each other. Well, coming to the news, Uma has given a nod to Trisha to marry a man of her choice. "Love marriages will be apt in today's era. I have asked Trisha to pick a right partner who is understanding and caring," Uma said in an interview to a Tamil magazine. She was further quoted as saying: "If Trisha makes a choice, it will be right. She is so smart and intelligent and it is tough to cheat her. I will surely support if she falls in love with someone and wants to marry him." Uma was also quick to deny that Trisha's groom had already been selected. "When we do it, we will announce it to everyone. Trisha is currently busy with projects like Dammu in Telugu and Samaran in Tamil," signs off Uma.

Nic Arts announces their next!

Cinermimi [Saturday, March 24, 2012] Nic Arts production house launched their upcoming film “Deal” yesterday, in the city. The film will be directed by R Siva Gnanam, an assistant of 18 vayasu payale’s director, Selvam. The film will have Jhonny and Radhika Apte doing the lead roles. The music will be composed by Thaman. Ganesh Chandra, an assistant of camera man Sakthi, will take the place behind the lens. Anthony will be editing the film.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Will Superstar grace Billa 2 audio launch?

Cinemimi [Wednesday, March 21, 2012]
The long and most awaited movie of the season, Billa 2 will be holding their audio release by mid April. The gossip is that Superstar Rajnikanth will grace the event with his presence. The Superstar had earlier attended the audio and movie launch of Thala’s Billa and Asal. Right now the Superstar is in London for the shoot of Kochadaiyaan. The rumour is that Billa 2 audio launch will happen once he returns. Billa 2 features Ajith, Parvathy Omanakuttan, Bruna Abdullah and Vidyut Jamwal. Unnai pol oruvan fame Chakri Toleti has directed the film and Yuvan Shankar Raja has scored the music.

Aravindhan to set foot in K’town

Cinemimi [Wednesday, March 21, 2012]
Aravindhan is keeping his fingers crossed! The young, Canada-based filmmaker is making his debut in a Tamil flick titled Kadhal Pisase, which is soon to hit the marquee. He has not only directed the film, but also acted as the lead protagonist. Says Aravindhan, who has done a stint in Toronto Film School, “I am passionate about Tamil cinema and a regular at the first-day-first-show of any Tamil movie that gets released in Canada. I was listening to a few scripts to launch myself as a filmmaker in Tamil movies. Thangavel, an assistant to K.S. Ravikumar, narrated an action script and I grabbed it immediately. It’s a gangster subject which was meant for a big hero. But, all the actors here were busy and finally, I took a call to plunge into acting. I hope I have pulled it off.” He has Mithuna and Anitha Reddy for company. Santhanam has a parallel role to the hero. “Santhanam’s comedy is the highlight of the movie”, says Aravindhan. The music, in Brindhan’s composition, has been received well.

The progress of Paradesi

Cinemimi[Wednesday, March 21, 2012] 
Bala has titled his new film Paradesi and we hear a lot of exciting things about the film. The film’s first schedule was completed at the director’s fav location at Theni. The visuals for the two songs were the highlight of the shoot. GV Prakash is scoring the music for the film and Na Muthukumar has penned the lyrics. Another highlight is that GV has done the composing after the visuals were ready and it has come out extremely good.

Simbu to croon for Siddharth?

Cinemimi [Wednesday, March 21, 2012] 
 It's no longer news that Siddharth - Shruti Haasan - Hansika Motwani starrer Telugu flick 'Oh My Friend' is getting dubbed in Tamil and is releasing as 'Sridhar'. The latest is that Siddharth has put his foot down and refused to dub for the movie! The actor wrote on his microblogging page, "Guys there's no way I'm going back to a dubbing theatre to dub a new language version of any of my older films. No way! Not now. Not ever". The makers are now left with no option other than finding a new voice for their hero. There's a track, 'Sri Chaitanya...' in this film that's crooned by the lead, Siddharth and Shruti Haasan. Multi-faceted Silambarasan aka STR has been reportedly approached to sing this song in the Tamil version! The actor is yet to give his nod for the number that's composed by late Anil R. Other songs are composed by Rahulraj. We'll get back to you shortly with more on this front.

Sneha's search for her husband

Cinemimi [Wednesday, March 21, 2012]
You don’t get it, do you? There are reports from the sources that the actress might be doing the role of Vidya Balan in the Tamil remake of the recent Bollywood hit Kahaani. Though the news hasn’t been confirmed yet, the buzz around the industry is that she will be shooting for the film after her marriage on May 11 with Prasanna.

Kahaani is a Bollywood thriller directed by Sujoy Ghosh that features Vidya Balan as a pregnant NRI woman who is in search of her missing husband in the city of Kolkata.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Karnan rules

Crafted with care "Karnan" featuring Sivaji Ganesan
CINEMA “Karnan,” the classic featuring Sivaji Ganesan and a slew of other stars, releases in some theatres in the city today in its restored format

As N. T. Rama Rao in the role of Lord Krishna walks on the battlefield that has turned bloody with bodies of soldiers lying all around, I wonder how director B. R. Panthulu could have filmed the mammoth scene more than 40 years ago when graphics and gimmickry were unheard of! “Exactly,” says Mrs. YGP, dean and director, PSBB group of schools, who was among the audience that watched “Karnan” recently. “Panthulu's son, Ravishankar, told me that it took four days for the shot that appears for just about two minutes in the film,” she adds.

In the Mahabharata, the character of Karnan has several interesting facets. You can gauge the extensive reference that has gone into the production. “I remember dad poring over huge volumes for months on end for the project,” Ravishankar had told me when I met him recently. “It is an authentic depiction of the Mahabharata,” says Mrs. YGP.

Sakthi Krishnaswamy's dialogue is another enhancing factor! “Today we wax eloquent about Tamil culture, language and values. But the ‘Karnan' team highlighted these commendably decades ago,” she says.

Ganga's artwork is an exercise in aesthetic splendour — be it the palaces or the outdoor locations, his contribution is considerable. Particularly, the scene at dawn near the river where Karnan meets his mother Kunthi Devi is excellent for its muted lighting and the Sanchi Stupa-like structure that forms a silhouette in the background. V. Ramamurthy's cinematography and Ganga's art meld beautifully here!

Every scene of “Karnan” has been crafted with care. And for his part, now, S. Chandrakumar has done his best in the DTS department.

“It's like watching a new film. To me it is in the league of ‘Ben-Hur.' Remarkable job,” Mrs. YGP extols.

Perfect body language

If the technical crew is brilliant, so is the cast that has Sivaji Ganesan at the helm. “Every muscle in his body performs. His eyes convey much more than words can. This is what I term as perfect body language,” she says. By today's standards songs could have been fewer and a couple of scenes could have been underplayed, you could say, but the riveting performance of Ganesan throughout makes such comments too frivolous to mention. What a performer! When will come another such? Notable actors such as Muthuraman, M. V. Rajamma, Sandhya (mother of the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu), Savithri Ganesan, Devika, Asokan, Jayanthi, Kalpana and Javert Seetharaman play significant roles.

The illustrious composing duo of Viswanathan and Ramamurthy has worked magic with music. “The ‘Ullathil Nalla Ullam' song gives the essence of the Bhagavad Gita in three verses,” Mrs. YGP says. They are by Kannadasan, that lyricist nonpareil!

A classic that was almost gone has been restored to the maximum extent, thanks to the perseverance of Shanthi Chokkalingam. Yet minor hiccoughs seem inevitable.

Besides other theatres, Karnan releases this Friday at Sathyam, Serene and Escape.

Swaroop Reddy, director, Sathyam Cinemas, feels “Karnan” isn't a mere business proposition. “The Tamil culture of the past has to be projected. Also such efforts would help the producers and distributors involved. Money is secondary. We are releasing it, not on a rental, but on a sharing basis. It means we could win or lose, but we feel it's worthwhile,” says Muni Kanniah, VP, Movie Scheduling and Distributor Relations.

“And for my part, I plan to bring my students from Classes IX to XII to the theatres so they can understand the values the epic imparts and watch the versatility of that great actor on the big screen. ‘Karnan' is a film for people of all age groups. Hope they throng the cinemas to watch it,” Mrs. YGP smiles.

The words propel me to my past, when Ms. Jesudas, who taught us Tamil in school, walked into the classroom with the announcement: “The school plans to take you all to watch ‘Karnan' this week.” We were thrilled.

To me, Karnan is synonymous with Ganesan, and my memories remain evergreen…

Living the role

“Panthulu means magnificence,” laughs octogenarian V. S. Raghavan. Just a couple of scenes, but, for the veteran it was enough to make an impact. Humiliated at Duriyodhanan’s court, Vidhuran vows not to fight for the king in the war, breaks his bow that has the power to annihilate the opponent, and walks out in a fit of rage. “I got so involved in the character that even after the shot was over I kept walking. Only when N.T. Rama Rao stopped me and asked, ‘What is this,’ did I realise it,” laughs Raghavan. “And later when Sivaji Ganesan complimented me for my performance, it was like winning an award for Karnan,” he recalls.


Shanmugasundaram who played Salliya Chakravarthy, a charioteer as skilled as Lord Krishna, was just 19 at the time. “A terrific experience! I think my fit physique gave Panthulu the idea that I could pull it off,” he smiles. His superciliousness in the battle sequence proves Shanmugasundaram’s potential. “It was shot in Jaipur. After work for the day was over, the horses, about 400 of them, were being led away in rows of four. I was still in the garb of a royal soldier and wanting to cross over to the other side I began moving between the rows. But the horse before me sensed my presence and gave me a solid kick on my jaw with his hind leg that I couldn’t close my mouth for a while. Every time I think of ‘Karnan,’ the horse and its kick come to my mind,” he laughs.

Moved to tears

The actor may be the father of two teenaged sons now, but he is still known as Master Sridhar. He was the orphaned child who seeks justice in Karnan’s court. “I’ve been extremely blessed to act with such a storehouse of talent. As I delivered my dialogue, Sivaji Ganesan was so moved that tears rolled down his cheeks. He called out ‘Cut’ and the scene had to be re-shot. Drawing me towards him after the shoot, he gave me Rs.1000 as a reward and gave me a hug. It was a memorable moment for me,” says Master Sridhar.

‘My films are script driven’

He may not have hit the bull’s-eye with his debut flick Samurai with Vikram, but he made heads turn with his subsequent blockbuster Kaadhal and revolutionized contemporary Tamil cinema.
His strength is getting the right cast together, consisting mainly of newcomers!

He is none other than Balaji Shakthivel, who is all set to rock the film scene with yet another realistic movie Vazhakku Enn 18/9, produced by Lingusamy and UTV. “Lingusamy was to produce Kaadhal with Dhanush in the lead and he even sent me to Malaysia to narrate the script to him.

But it didn’t work out due to various reasons and director Shankar stepped in and made the movie,” revealed Balaji, at the audio launch of his movie in the city. In Vazhakku…, Balaji is launching four new faces in lead roles — Sri, Mithun, Urmila and Manisha. He speaks to DC in an exclusive.

With the kind of global accreditation Kaadhal got, you could have easily made films with big stars. But you chose to do something smaller like Kaloori, and now, Vazhakku…

“True! Even Vikram was ready to give me dates despite Samurai’s lackluster show. But all said and done, I work for my inner satisfaction. I am not after money and I have enough for my survival. My films are script and character driven, rather than grandeur and actors,” replies a brutally honest Balaji.
Everyone is saying that this will be a very important film in Tamil cinema. Comment!

“Like how Kaadhal’s climax gave a jolt, this film also has a riveting end based on a shocking real-life incident that happened in Bihar. I have also tried out something new in the screenplay and narration.

Also, I wanted a different sound for the background score and hence introduced Prasanna, who composed for the Oscar-winning documentary Smile Pinky. Yet another big aspect is that the entire film has been shot in a still camera by Vijay Milton.”

Hollywood’s Craziest Director Tony Kaye, Seeks Redemption, With ‘Detachment’

Director Tony Kaye burned every bridge in moviedom with his 'insane' behavior. But now, with his new drama, Detachment, earning great reviews and conquering film festivals, he tells Chris Lee it was all an act. With the help of Kabbalah, Kaye’s determined to get back into Hollywood’s good graces.
ony Kaye after winning the revelation prize and the international critic's prize for 'Detachment' during the American Film Festival in Deauville, France, in September, Damien Meyer, AFP / Getty Images

The most shocking aspect of British director Tony Kaye’s acclaimed new drama, Detachment, which goes into limited release in New York on Friday, may be its absence of a totally bonkers backstory.

After all, the man responsible for bringing the movie to the screen is renowned in Hollywood for his world-class freakouts, grandstanding meltdowns, and studio headbanging. Kaye’s infamy has endured for nearly a decade and a half, even if he’s quick to tell you that he’s no longer the cuckoo-clock-crazy music-video eccentric who proclaimed himself the “greatest English director since Hitchcock” even before screening a single frame of his jarring movie debut, American History X, in 1998. “My craziness and ridiculousness and stupidity and idiotic nature was largely an act,” Kaye recently told The Daily Beast.
Detachment explores the ruinous state of the American educational system, and features Adrien Brody as a substitute teacher who steps into a broken system to shake his students out of their deep senses of hopelessness, apathy, and rage. Although the character is deeply repressed himself, he somehow manages to also inspire his fellow faculty members to rise above career burnout—and even help out a teenage hooker along the way.

The ensemble drama (which also features strong turns from Marcia Gay Harden, Mad Men star Christina Hendricks, Bryan Cranston, James Caan, and Lucy Liu) cleaned up on the festival circuit last year, gathering critics’ and audience awards at such festivals as Deauville, Tokyo, and the São Paulo International Film Festival. And when it premiered at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival last April, Detachment was met with a number of ecstatic reviews. “I think Detachment has largely gone like a dream,” the director said. “Two or three more [movies] like that and I’ll be back in business. I want to be in the good graces of [studio] executives.”

Appreciation and humility, however, were hardly the character traits Kaye was recognized for in the late 1990s. After making a big splash as an award-winning TV-commercial director, the would-be auteur landed his breakthrough gig directing American History X—which stars Edward Norton as a neo-Nazi ex-con attempting to break his ties to a white-supremacist gang—for New Line Cinema.

But the director publicly clashed with Norton (calling him a “narcissistic dilettante”). And when the now-defunct studio chose to exercise its contractual right to revoke final cut of the movie from Kaye, he went berserk, retaliating through a series of outlandish, hype-generating stunts that have become legendary in Hollywood—a streak of bad behavior that stands in a class of its own even among the supersized ego trips and tantrums for which the movie industry is known.

In 1998, the director spent $100,000 of his own money on a series of 35 trade-paper ads denouncing American History X’s producer and bad-mouthing Norton via quotations from such historical luminaries as John Lennon and Albert Einstein. “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing,” read one ad’s text, quoting Abraham Lincoln.

“What I have learned is … if you want to make insane movies, you’ve got to be the sanest person in the room—otherwise no one’s going to trust you with it.”

Then, when Kaye was called in to negotiate with New Line top brass about final edits, he brought spiritual backup with him into the executive suite in the form of a rabbi, a Catholic priest, and a Tibetan monk who mingled uneasily with the studio suits while he filmed the whole ordeal.

And yet Kaye remained so incensed at the producers’ decision to tack on 40 minutes of additional footage to his cut of American History X, he lobbied to have his name removed from its credits, soon discovering that a ruling by the Directors Guild of America prevented his use of a pseudonym. So Kaye demanded the movie be credited to “Humpty Dumpty” and filed a $200 million lawsuit against New Line and the DGA for allegedly rigging the arbitration and violating his freedom of speech.

New Line’s cut of American History X eventually was released to generally strong reviews, and Norton received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his searing performance in the film, now generally regarded as a cult classic.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Podaa Podi nearing completion

Silambarasan’s long pending ‘Podaa Podi’ that went on floors in 2009 is nearing its completion. The team could be leaving to Macau for a ten-day schedule that features a song shoot and with it the shooting of this dance musical could be wrapped.

The dance musical is helmed with Vignesh Shivan who recently came up with an evidence for the film’s delay. ‘Podaa Podi is a movie that sees Simbu and Varalakshmi in three phases of life. Thus this film after all takes more time to wrap than usual flicks. The film is entirely being shot in London and we require to shoot it only during a selected season because the script demands it’, says Vignesh.

The helmer also vouches that ‘Podaa Podi’ will rise STR to superstardom. The film marks the debut of Varalakshmi Sarathkumar in Tamil cinema and has Shobana in a pivotal role. Music is by Dharan and a teaser from the film, ‘Love panlama venama…’ is already popular.

Post this STR has gangster flick ‘Vettai Mannan’ and a project with director Vetrimaaran with the exception of his international music album Love Anthem For World Peace of course.

In conversation with Amy Jackson

The gorgeous Brit and rising southern star Amy Jackson talks about her debut in Bollywood, with her movie Ekk Dewanaa Tha.

How was the experience of working in your first Bollywood movie? How different was it from Tamil cinema?
There wasn't a huge difference. Both the directors I have worked with-Gautham Menon (Ekk Deewana Tha) and AL Vijay (Madrasapattinam)-are from the south, and so was the whole crew. I suppose the only difference was that Ekk Deewana Tha was more dialogue-based than Madrasapattinam, and it was also completely in Hindi compared to an English/Tamil format. And the climate! Chennai is insanely hot compared to Mumbai.

How difficult was it working in a Hindi movie, considering you don't speak the language?
There was a lot of preparation, like any movie I suppose. My character, Jessie, is a Christian Malayali girl, so to get into her skin was a challenge. Her body language, mannerisms, and general persona were completely different to mine. Also, I would spend hours before the next scene to get my Hindi lines perfect.

Would you say Ekk Deewana Tha has been a perfect Bollywood launchpad for you?

It is a superb launch into Bollywood. I'm so grateful because there are tonnes of girls who would love to have this opportunity. It is a gift to be able to work with Gautham Menon, an award-winning director, on a movie which has an amazing storyline, with music from Oscar-winner AR Rahman, alongside Prateik, one of the most talented young actors in Bollywood.

What was working with Prateik like?
Prateik is an awesome co-star. I was completely comfortable because he's very relaxed, which makes the atmosphere so much better. We'd go through scenes together; if there were some Hindi words that I'd find difficult, he'd be more than willing to help.

From Miss Teen World 2008 to a Tamil movie star, did you anticipate that you would take such varied paths?
I had no intentions of acting, especially here in India. I think I'll come to terms with it after a year or so-it's still a whirlwind.

Who is your favourite Indian actress?
I have two. My all-time favourite is Aishwarya Rai. Even before I entered Bollywood, I was a huge fan of hers. She is beautiful, talented, and a great dancer. I also watched Jab We Met a few weeks ago and Kareena Kapoor was amazing.

Cinema's future 'avatar'

Digital cinema has become the buzzword after the success of “Avatar.” Though only 35 per cent of screens have adapted to this platform in the country, the technology will soon transform the way we watch movies.

“Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” was released in 126 Scrabble digital theatres across India, on 145 2K Scrabble and 138 3D screens by Scrabble Entertainment Ltd., which offers “the first and only 2K DCI- compliant cinema for Hollywood content screened in India,” according to CEO Ranjit Thakur. “We've long been in partnership with Warner Bros,” he says. “Scrabble's upcoming projects are ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' and ‘Wrath of the Titans (3D)'.”

Digital cinema (DC) is our post-“Avatar” passion. Multiplexes fell for digital platforms and bingo! exhibitors wanted 1s-and-0s sent on a disk or through computer data-storing machines. Projectors would convert the data into picture and sound. “Film stock is on its way to extinction,” says Ranjit. “Kodak shut shop because there is no more use of films. Twentieth Century Fox says post-2012 no film print will be circulated in Hong Kong and Macau.” He predicts, by 2015, Hindi films will stop releasing print. “Now only 35 per cent (12000-13000 screens in India) are adapted to digital platforms. There'll be a complete change in the way we view movies.”

A change in which Vivek Rangachari, Associate Producer, DAR Motion Pictures, sees major benefits. “One big advantage of digital-enabled cinemas is the ease and flexibility of programming,” he says. “If a new release is not doing well, the cinema owner has multiple options to replace the movie at a low cost.” (If a movie sells out, the theatre could decide to show it on additional screens). Theatres could also show live sporting and other digital programmes. Maintenance is low, ability to back-up content high. Clincher: the quality of a digital print stays with use, a physical print deteriorates.

More economical

Low print-cost allows 2-tier and 3-tier cinemas to play films in the first week of release, Vivek says. If the cinema is UFO-enabled, theatres can download movies through satellite-enabled VSAT, reducing the logistical time and cost of getting movies to the theatre. “Digital prints are encoded/encrypted. Such prints have watermarks and computer logs to trace piracy sources. Analog prints get pirated during transfer to theatres. UFO-relay makes piracy negligible.” Digital cinema service providers such as UFO provide the equipment (projectors, servers, etc.) at subsidised or zero cost, allowing cinema owners with small capital to set up digital theatres.

For cinematographers and directors, DC is a windfall. “Using digital cameras and workflow makes shooting, editing and post-production work simpler, smoother, controllable and easier to troubleshoot,” says Vivek. “Arri Alexa, Red MX and Red Epic cameras put the quality of digital output on a par with traditional film cameras.” Digital camera setups are lighter and hence, more flexible for complex shots. It's possible to have multi-camera setups using cheaper digital cameras like Canon 5D. Directors keep shooting, film-stock-cost no bar!

“I was the first person to use digital technology for visual effects,” said Venky, visual-effects director. “I used it in ‘Apoorva Sahodarargal'. The cameraman did the masking.” Up to ‘Gentleman' it was manual animation; the graphics were done with squeezed images, later de-squeezed by projectors. “I digitised the images in the ‘Muquabla' song. ‘Kaadalan' won a national award for post-production.” He insists younger directors go digital. Music and editing are already digital. The mindset should change.”

With digital video, filmmakers no longer convert film footage to digital (J2K) for post-production and then back to film for theatrical release. They shoot digital footage, play it back and start editing. Digital movies on DVD-ROM are sent through broadband cable or transmitted via satellite. “Cinemas with 2K format play our movies in Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi simultaneously,” says Ranjit.

Not everyone is so la-di-da about going digital. “Digital movie-making is a misnomer,” said cinematographer Sunny Joseph (“Piravi”), who uses both film and digital cameras. “The scenes/ acting are the same; only the voltage is interpreted and stored in binary format.” The electrical signals created from the images are not enough to give full info about the reality they capture, he feels. The mystery of what will come out is lost when you check and shoot. The pixels are synthetic.”

There is also the chance of actors/directors/cameramen/continuity person becoming complacent, he argued. You don't give your best shot when you know it can be easily re-shot or edited. Performance suffers. Post-production expenditure is more, time is wasted. Individual pixels may break, degrading the image quality of every single movie shown on that projector.

But as technology improves, digital video will find more converts. “It's the end of the line for analog movies,” says Venky. “‘Slumdog Millionaire', digitally shot, won the Oscar for photography.” He concedes lack of discipline in shooting, but “that's fine, it will settle down,” he says.


* This year, 35-40 3D English movies may release in India.

* Exhibitors will adopt DCI platforms and screen more Hollywood content.

* A single-screen exhibitor in Orissa ran “Ghost Ride” helped by Scrabble's technology.

* Digital screens will maximise revenues with flexible advertisement models.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Now, Udhayanidhi's wife in Kollywood

Udhayanidhi in wifeCinemimi[Wednesday, March 14, 2012]
That Kiruthiga, wife of producer Udhayanidhi Stalin, is a short film maker and editor of a lifestyle magazine is no more news. The latest about her is that she would soon make her directorial debut in Kollywood!

Her maiden film, which is a rom-com, will be produced by none other than Udhayanidhi under their home banner Red Giant Movies. Kiruthiga is currently holding discussions with her assistants at the office of Red Giant.

"A popular actor and actress will be roped in as lead players. Talks are currently on and Kiruthiga will be backed by a strong technical team. Udhay is hopeful that his wife would emerge a successful director," sources say.

Meanwhile, Udhayanidhi is gearing up for the release of his maiden heroic venture 'Oru Kal Oru Kannadi', directed by Rajesh M. The film will be released next month all over Tamil Nadu. Interestingly, this one too is a rom-com.
Hansika, Santhanam & Udhayanidhi at OK OK Audio and Trailer Launch

The leader of the pack

Cinemimi [Wednesday, March 14, 2012]
YOU’VE SEEN the TV show Entourage , right? The one based on Mark Wahlberg’s wild hangers-on during his early Hollywood years? Well, Mark Wahlberg’s real-life entourage, a couple of guys wandering back to Dublin’s Merrion Hotel from a Claddagh ring souvenir shopping trip, are disappointingly unlike their fictional television equivalents.

Wahlberg, too, lately arrived in Dublin from Dubai, is more sedate than one might have supposed. Jetlagged and anxious to get home from a whistle-stop tour for new movie Contraband – “I just really, really want to get back to my family,” he says later – the actor and producer couldn’t be less rambunctious.

“You know what?” says the 40-year-old. “I never go anywhere unless I have to for work or I have to because my wife wants to take a vacation. I’d like to come back here and get a better look around but she always wants to go someplace warm.”

An earnest fellow who rarely breaks eye contact, Wahlberg has proved one of cinema’s most enduring dark horses. Nobody imagined, back in 1991, that the dropout from older brother Donnie’s New Kids on the Block, was going anywhere with rival hip-hop combo Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Then he scored a number-one single and a string of hits. His award-winning breakthrough performance as porn star Dirk Diggler in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 film Boogie Nights , in turn, was thought to be a fluke.

Marky Mark was fine for underwear commercials, modelling for Annie Leibovitz and workout videos ( The Marky Mark Workout: Form, Focus, Fitness , anyone?). But acting? Wahlberg, it transpired, was a very fine actor, capable of stealing films such as The Departed from right under the noses of better-known co-stars Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon. He’s a charismatic lead. In common with golden era Bruce Willis there’s an intensely boyish vulnerability to Wahlberg’s potty-mouthed action men in The Perfect Storm, Four Brothers, The Fighter and Contraband.

The colourful profanities are often his own. He’s very creative with swearing. “Yes. Unfortunately. Very good at it.” He smiles sheepishly but he’s genuinely apologetic. A once-troubled teen hailing from Dorchester, a Boston borough with one of that city’s highest murder rates, as a minor Wahlberg served 45 days of a reduced sentence for attempted murder. He was arrested, by his count, on more than 20 other occasions before a parish priest talked him around.

“Growing up in Dorchester there was an Irish bar and a Catholic Church and next to that there was another Irish bar and another Irish church,” he recalls. “And the whole neighbourhood was like that. St Greg’s. St Mark’s. St Ambrose’s. St Margaret’s. St Mary’s. All on the same street. Some of them have closed down now but that was all I knew. I was always going to end up drifting into one of those places.”

Today, on his rider, there’s a box of sports water and directions to the nearest local church: Wahlberg attends Mass daily and even on tour he requires additional time for prayer. “This is just a job,” he says. “That and my family are my life.”

The last of nine children born into an outsized Boston Irish Catholic clan, it’s easy to picture Wahlberg as the tough, gabby little tyke at the bottom of the dog pile. “The runt of the litter,” he says. “And the others let me know it every day. That’s for sure.”

He retains a strong affection for how and where he grew up and has headed up a charity youth foundation there since 2001. “But it’s nice to be able to go back, too,” he says. “If you can’t maintain an integrity and respect for where you come from then what’s the point?”

Contraband is a quintessentially Wahlbergian actioner, a shoot-em-up underscored with family values and a low body count that the makers of The A-Team might envy. A remake of the 2008 Icelandic thriller Reykjavík-Rotterdam , the new film casts Wahlberg as a retired smuggler who gets back in the game for a final Panamanian score when drug-running hoodlums kidnap his family.

“That’s certainly something that appealed to me about it,” says Wahlberg. “I fell in love with the original film. I loved the cool heist and that the character was smart and tough and fundamentally decent.”

This is Wahlberg’s fourth picture as star and producer, following on from We Own the Night and The Fighter . You’ll also find his name on the executive producer roll-call for Entourage, In Treatment, How to Make it in America and Boardwalk Empire.

“Producing is not only a way to take hold of my career but also to understand the business I’m in. I love producing. Whether I’m in it or not. But I particularly love producing the movies I’m in because I can retain creative control.”

So there’s a Wahlberg career master plan? “Oh yeah. The choices I make are very calculated,” he says. “They have to be. You got to choose carefully. Every once in a while luck factors in. But you can only be lucky so many times. It’s extremely difficult to make a good movie. You got to have great material. You have to have a great director and a great cast. But even then you have to get lucky with the execution.”

He works hard, too. As we meet he’s between the 10 meals a day he’s consuming for his role as a bodybuilder in bombast merchant Michael Bay’s long-cherished black comedy, Pain & Gain. He trained for four years for his award-winning turn as “Irish” Micky Ward in David O Russell’s tremendous sports movie, The Fighter . The film almost didn’t happen.

“It was great that The Fighter was a contender for awards and it did pretty well considering what it cost and the competition out there but I was just thrilled to get it made,” says Wahlberg. “All along I thought it could be special but the financing and logistics just kept falling apart. And when that keeps happening you start to second guess your initial instincts about the story. For me getting it done and released was the biggest thing because it was so damn hard to do.”

A capable comic, Wahlberg will appear in this summer’s hotly anticipated Ted , the debut feature from Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane. He has also appeared in Date Night alongside Steve Carell and Tina Fey and partnered Will Ferrell in The Other Guys . “I’ve always wanted to do comedy,” says Wahlberg. “But all the comedians I ever met were dark and weird. I couldn’t imagine being in a creative situation with any of those people. But Will’s comedy comes from a very nice, straightforward place: he just enjoys making people laugh. Even before he told me what the idea was I said I was in. And Seth is a really smart, really mellow and very charming guy.”

Was he familiar with the McFarlane oeuvre before? “Not at all. I knew about Family Guy but I hadn’t seen it. My agent sent me a copy of an episode with the script. And I figured ‘Oh, it’s a cartoon’ so I sat down with my daughter and son and watched it, three of us f***ing dying laughing when my wife walked into the room. She was pretty pissed.”

At home Wahlberg’s own brood – supermodel wife Rhea Durham and children Ella (9), Michael (6), Brendan (3) and Grace (2) – are not remotely impressed by what he does for a living: “They haven’t seen any of my movies and they don’t care,” he says. “I went to a daddy-daughter dance at school and she pointed at a seat and she said ‘sit there and don’t embarrass me’. That was my evening.”

Wahlberg, tongue firmly in cheek, describes his acting as “undercover method . . . If I’m playing a p***k I have a tendency to stay nice with the cast and crew. But I have my guys that travel with me. And I stay in character and beat the shit of them.” Ah yes. The entourage. What is the current population of the Wahlberg posse? “I usually have about three guys with me. When I shot Ted I had eight guys. But that was shot in Boston so there weren’t any travel restrictions to work around.

“When I’m travelling I have different guys because some of the others can’t leave the country for legal reasons. Some of my other friends can’t get in the country.” He shrugs. “They’re all guys I grew up with. What can you do?”

'Deiva Thirumagal' in Osaka Film Festival

Cinemimi [Wednesday, March 14, 2012]
Accolades and critical acclaim poured in from all over for 'Deiva Thirumagal', a Chiyaan Vikram starrer. Now, the film will be taking part in the prestigious Osaka Film Festival in Japan. It will be christened 'God's Own Child' and will be featured with English subtitles.

Chiyaan Vikram and AL Vijay will be leaving to Osaka today, March 14. The film will be showcased in the competition section along with nine other films from all over the world.

Featuring Vikram as an adult with the mental maturity of a six-year old, the film also has Baby Sara, Anushka Shetty, Amala Paul and Santhanam in supporting roles with music by GV Prakash. DT saw a good run in the Telugu BO as well as 'Naana'. It was marketed vigorously and innovatively by UTV Motion Pictures that helped the film reach audience from all centers.

Chiyaan Vikram, AL Vijay and Anushka Shetty will be coming together shortly through 'Thaandavam', a high voltage slick action entertainer that also features Amy Jackson

Will Hollywood ever speak Hispanic audiences' language?

Cinemimi [Wednesday, March 14, 2012]
Hispanic-Americans are among the US's keenest film-goers, but Hollywood offers them little more than stereotypes
• What global box-office stories would you like to see in After Hollywood? Let us know in the comments below
Casa-de-Mi-PadreLost in translation ... Will Ferrell in Casa de Mi Padre. Photograph: John Estes/Lionsgate/AP

It's not obvious what language Will Ferrell's new film, Casa de Mi Padre, is speaking. Everyone's favourite cross-eyed man-child had last-minute cramming sessions in order to be able to drawl the Spanish-language dialogue for the comedy – a sendup of cheesy rural-Mexico telenovelas. But just as Ferrell admits he still can't really hold a conversation in Spanish, Casa looks like it could have communication issues, too. Is it a deft in-joke for the US's movie-mad Hispanic audience? Or does Ferrell's presence just crank up the irony factor for the urban-hipster crowd to indulge yet another cultural fetish?

Movie executives would, if they had to choose, plump for the former. As well as the largest ethnic minority, Hispanic-Americans are perhaps the US's keenest, most youthful and fast-growing film demographic. Forty-three million Hispanics bought 351m tickets in 2010 (out of a total 1.34bn) – up from 37m buying 300m the year before. People of that ethnicity in the key 18-34 group are 44% more likely to see a film on its opening weekend than non-Hispanics. No wonder that's beginning to get some serious attention: Casa de Mi Padre is being distributed by Pantelion Films, a partnership between Lionsgate and Mexican media giant Televisa that is hoping to make around 10 films a year, in both English and Spanish, for Latino audiences.

In the last few years, Hollywood has struggled to push its Hispanic-flavoured projects on from the volcanic-tempered Mexican bandits of old, or gangbanging cholos in socks up to their kneecaps. When the highlights of the last decade are 2004's Adam Sandler vehicle Spanglish, the cumbersome Nacho Libre, and the nuanced study of the Mexican national character that is the oeuvre of Robert Rodriguez, it's safe to say that there's work to do.

There's been no shortage of dynamic cinema to fill the arthouse bracket from Latin American countries themselves, but mainstream Hollywood work is still stuttering the lingo. The Fast and the Furious series has bragged about its "Latin sensibility", but that's not exactly going to bag it Unesco special status. At least there are some prominent Latin stars now, interestingly mostly female: Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek, Michelle Rodriguez, Eva Mendes, Jessica Alba and the voluptuous Luis Guzmán.

Part of the problem is that the Latino market is difficult to pin down. The US's South and Central American immigrants come from over 20 countries, with different subcultures, tastes and dialects. The second, third and fourth generations don't necessarily have the same attitude to the mother countries (which is why Casa de Mi Padre risks splitting its audience) – or even agree on where the mother country is. One generalisation that might stand is that they don't like being patronised: even stereotypes of a more contemporary kind don't go over well. Fox's 2003 comedy Chasing Papi, about a three-timing lothario businessman, is one often-cited pothole in Hollywood's early Latino efforts. This seems to be in contrast with the African-American market where extremely broad comedy, like the Wayans brothers' offerings, Eddie Murphy's adventures in prosthetics and Tyler Perry's Madea films, is often the order of the day.

Tone will be all-important if Casa de Mi Padre isn't going to condescend to Latino viewers (though the presence of Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna in the cast is reassuring). Pantelion could do with a big hit: its first film, From Prada to Nada – an attempt to do a Hispanic Clueless by transposing Jane Austen to east LA – limped to $3m at the US box-office. Screen Daily called it out as "a rare mainstream film made or and by Latinos, which is perhaps why it's all the more disappointing that it's so threadbare".

But, with its tale of two sisters forced to relocate to sketchy Boyle Heights, it fingers what could be the blueprint for these movies: mirroring the aspirations and increasing affluence of US Hispanics, picking at the terrain between the raw Latin American culture and the gateway of assimilation. It stands there a bit tentatively, uncertain of exactly how close to get to facile stereotypes. Casa de Mi Padre, meanwhile, can only proceed under a veil of irony. Early reviews, like the Hollywood Reporter's verdict that it lacks "falldown outrageousness", suggest that the results are a bit bland. Not an issue you would have thought the Latino film would have to face.

You could question the need to target Hispanics with their own movies at all, though. Perhaps these ethnically driven slates are heavy-handed, and the best way for Latino-orientated films to appear is when the right script arises. Given that those audiences are booming regardless, there's no problem here. In fact, when I think of Jack Black's lucha-libre monk and Ferrell's ranchero, it looks like everyone else wants to be Mexican, too, these days.

• Casa de Mi Padre is out in the US on Friday; later this year in the UK.

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