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SUNDAY PODCAST: My guest this week is Mexican director #AlonsoRuizpalacios, who's new art-heist movie @museothefilm…

USA Today Archives -

USA Today Archives -

Mariana Dussan


2014/01/09 at 10:37am

The New Can Its Redesign Guarantee Its Future?

The New York Times has finally launched its newly redesigned website, but will it be enough to guarantee the company a future? Read More

Mack Chico


2012/08/12 at 12:00am

Russell Crowe: First look as ‘Noah’

Russell Crowe: First look as 'Noah'

USA Today has unveiled the first photo of Russell Crowe as the title character in Darren Aronofsky‘s big-budget biblical epic “Noah,” which is currently in production in Iceland. Check out the photo below.

The story follows the biblical tale of a man (Crowe) who is given the mission to build a giant vessel that can house two of every animal from the earth to save them from a giant flood that will wipe all life for a new beginning.

Aronofsky has been tweeting updates about his upcoming film, including several last month. “I dreamt about this since I was 13. And now it’s a reality. Genesis 6:14,” he said on July 11.

“Noah” won’t be your average Biblical epic though. Aronofsky plans to feature wingless angel demons and giants–based on his tweets, a creature named Og. Og was the King of Bahan, a race of giants, and part of the Rephaim in the Bible.

“According to Jewish folklore, Noah built a special compartment in the Ark for him and/or he rode out the flood by sitting on the top. Either way, we’ll see how Og will make an appearance, but it’s another interesting note to a movie that is playing as much with myth and legend as it is with the elements of the standard story we know,” writes Kevin Jagernauth.

The film is being made in Iceland, amidst inclement weather. Crowe has taken to his Twitter to talk about the cold and the wind during filming.

The new movie co-sars Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, Douglas Booth, Emma Watson and Logan Lerman. It’s set to hit theaters on March 28th, 2014.

Mack Chico


2009/05/31 at 12:00am

"UP" from Pixar is #1 at the box office!

"UP" from Pixar is #1 at the box office!
Pixar Studios, the last film house in Hollywood that draws an audience on its name alone, scored its 10th straight No. 1 film as Up soared above the competition this weekend.

The animated comedy about a widower and young boy who travel in a flying house raked in $68.2 million, according to studio estimates from Nielsen EDI.


The debut slightly exceeded the expectations of analysts — who expect a lot from the studio behind Finding Nemo, WALL·E and Toy Story.

And the film delivered on virtually every count, scoring an A-plus from CinemaScore and a recommendation from 98% of the nation’s films critics, according to

“Pixar rarely has big stars in its movies,” says Gitesh Pandya of “Ed Asner (the star voice of Up) is not known for opening big. Pixar relies on their reputation for quality. And they’re 10 for 10.”

Chuck Viane, distribution chief for Disney, which distributes Pixar’s films, says that while families drove Up‘s business, nearly a third of the audience was adults without children.

“I think Pixar has a way of turning stories into ‘gotta see’ movies for adults,” Viane says. “They get an unusually even blend of ages.”

Up marked the third-largest Pixar debut, behind The Incredibles‘ $70.5 million and Finding Nemo‘s $70.3 million.

The studio has created anticipation for its films with patience. Up is only the 10th film in the studio’s 14-year history.

“They take their time,” Viane says. “They’ll tweak a story over and over until they’re satisfied. The highest compliment you can pay to them is they’re in no rush and get the job done right.”

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian was second with $25.5 million for a 10-day total of $105.3 million.

Despite stellar reviews, Sam Raimi’s return to schlock horror with Drag Me to Hell managed only third place and $16.8 million. Most analysts projected the horror film, which earned thumbs-up from 94% of reviewers, to collect at least $20 million.

Terminator Salvation ($16.1 million) was fourth, followed by Star Trek ($12.8 million).

Ticket sales dipped 24% from last weekend and 1% from the same weekend last year. Final numbers are out today.

1. “Up”, 68,2 millon

2. “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”, 25,5

3. “Drag Me to Hell”, 16,6

4. “Terminator Salvation”, 16,1

5. “Star Trek”, 12,8

6. “Angels & Demons”, 11,2

7. “Dance Flick”, 4,9

8. “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, 3,9

9. “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past”, 1,9

10. “Obsessed”, 665,000

Mack Chico


2008/10/28 at 12:00am

Early Sneak Peak at ‘Angels & Demons’!

Early Sneak Peak at 'Angels & Demons'!
Angels & Demons, the follow-up film to The Da Vinci Code, has many of the elements of the 2006 movie: star, director, a little controversy.What it doesn’t share with its predecessor, filmmakers would like you to know, is Tom Hanks’ hairstyle.

“It’s totally different” from Hanks’ slicked-back coif of the original, insists producer Brian Grazer. “It’s better. Everything is more contemporary. “

The adaptation of Dan Brown’s novel continues the sleuthing adventures of Robert Langdon (Hanks), a Harvard expert in religious symbols who discovers a conspiracy to destroy the Vatican.

Da Vinci collected $758 million worldwide, but even Grazer says the movie moved a little slowly. Angels, by contrast, sprints from crypts, catacombs and cathedrals.

In adapting the hugely successful Da Vinci novel, “I think we may have been too reverential toward it,” Grazer says. “We got all the facts of the book right, but the movie was a little long and stagey.”

In Angels, opening May 15, “Langdon doesn’t stop and give a speech,” Grazer says. “When he speaks, he’s in motion.”

Digging deeper: Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks, left), Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer), Chartrand (Thure Lindhart) and Carlo Ventrasca (Ewan McGregor) examine clues in Angels. Grazer describes their earlier film, The Da Vinci Code, as

Set in and around the Vatican, Brown’s Angels includes the murders of cardinals, who are mutilated with mysterious symbols. Church officials banned the crew from shooting in key locales, sometimes revoking permits that had been approved, Grazer says.

“Weirdly, even though there was so much controversy on The Da Vinci Code, we were able to shoot everywhere,” Grazer says. “We were in London, France, so it was harder to catch us.”

Because Angels is largely set at the Vatican, “we were pretty much in exile from the religious epicenter of the world,” he says.

Faith under fire: Ewan McGregor plays Carlo Ventresca, the faithful servant to the church during the papal conclave in Vatican City. Grazer says the movie examines the conflict between science and God, particularly when faith is tested by violence.

Da Vinci Code was rebuked by the church and others for its depiction of history. The fact that Angels didn’t spark as much debate makes its allure less assured.

Paul Dergarabedian of box office tracking firm Media By Numbers says Angels will need to impress critics if it hopes to find success.

Da Vinci Code didn’t get great reviews, but had controversy to help the box office,” he says. “Better reviews could make up that difference for Angels.”

That doesn’t mean Angels won’t generate any controversy. The film centers on an act of terrorism at the Vatican and examines the tension between science and faith.

“We’re living in a world that’s much more unstable,” Grazer says. “Therefore, our energy is focused on belief. This looks at what would happen when you have an act of terrorism designed to undermine that belief.”

Intelligently designed: Filmmakers had hoped to shoot Angels at the Vatican and inside Roman churches. But Brown's Angels, which includes the murder of two cardinals, was quickly shut down by the church.

Despite the contemporary topics, Grazer says the movie has no political undertones. “Both parties, through different means, don’t want terrorism to exist in the world,” he says.

As for any evolution-vs.-intelligent design parallels, “I’ll leave that to others.”

But he’s happy to talk about Hanks’ head — and body.

“I’m telling you, he’s got a scene where he’s swimming in Speedos, and he looks fantastic,” Grazer says. “He’s going to add 10 years to his career with that scene alone, just watch.”

Religious expert and scientist: Tom Hanks stars with Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer in Angels & Demons, due May 15.


Mack Chico


2008/10/06 at 12:00am

Beverly Hills Chihuahua is tops at the box-office

Beverly Hills Chihuahua is tops at the box-office

“Beverly Hills Chihuahua” was barking up the right tree with movie-goers, who put the Disney comedy at No. 1 for the weekend with a $29 million debut, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Featuring a talking Chihuahua with Drew Barrymore’s voice, the family flick about a pampered pooch lost in Mexico led a surge of new movies that boosted Hollywood business, which generally has slumped the last two months.

The top-12 movies hauled in $95.4 million, up 42 percent from the same weekend a year ago, when “The Game Plan” was No. 1 with $16.6 million.

The previous weekend’s No. 1 movie, the DreamWorks-Paramount thriller “Eagle Eye,” slipped to second-place with $17.7 million, raising its total to $54.6 million.

The PG-rated “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” took advantage of a long drought for movies aimed at families, who found the idea of a chatty Chihuahua irresistible.

Hollywood’s other new wide releases had fair to poor premieres.

Sony’s “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” starring Michael Cera and Kat Dennings as teens who fall for each other on a wild New York City night, had a sturdy No. 3 debut of $12 million.

The Warner Bros. Western “Appaloosa,” which had played two weeks in a handful of theaters, expanded solidly to come in at No. 5 with $5 million. “Appaloosa” was directed by Ed Harris, who stars with Viggo Mortensen and Renee Zellweger.

Vivendi Entertainment’s “An American Carol,” a satire of Hollywood’s liberal politics from director David Zucker (“Airplane!”), debuted at No. 9 with $3.8 million. The movie stars Kevin Farley as a Michael Moore-type filmmaker aiming to abolish the Fourth of July holiday.

Universal’s “Flash of Genius,” starring Greg Kinnear as the engineer who invented intermittent windshield wipers then spent decades suing automakers over the innovation, opened weakly with $2.3 million, finishing at No. 11.

Two other movies, the comedy “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” and the apocalyptic “Blindness,” both bombed.

Miramax’s “Blindness,” featuring Julianne Moore, Danny Glover and Mark Ruffalo in a nightmare tale about a plague of sightlessness, took in just $2 million, averaging an anemic $1,185 in 1,690 theaters.

“How to Lose Friends and Alienate People,” released by MGM and starring Kirsten Dunst and Simon Pegg in a celebrity satire set at a slick magazine, did $1.4 million in 1,750 theaters for a feeble $801 average.

By comparison, “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” averaged $9,020 in 3,215 theaters; “Nick and Norah” pulled in $4,957 in 2,421 locations; “Appaloosa” did $4,799 in 1,045 cinemas; “An American Carol” took in $2,325 in 1,639 sites; and “Flash of Genius” did $2,120 in 1,098 theaters.

In narrower release, Bill Maher’s documentary “Religulous” opened well, placing No. 10 with $3.5 million in 502 theaters, averaging $6,972. The Lionsgate release follows Maher as he travels the world to mock one of his favorite topics, organized religion.

Anne Hathaway’s “Rachel Getting Married” had a strong start in limited release, taking in $302,934 in nine theaters for a whopping $33,659 average. The Sony Pictures Classics drama stars Hathaway as an addict who leaves rehab to come home for her sister’s wedding and forces her family to relive the anguish of past tragedy.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” $29 million.

2. “Eagle Eye,” $17.7 million.

3. “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” $12 million.

4. “Nights in Rodanthe,” $7.4 million.

5. “Appaloosa,” $5 million.

6. “Lakeview Terrace,” $4.5 million.

7. “Burn After Reading,” $4.08 million.

8. “Fireproof,” $4.07 million.

9. “An American Carol,” $3.8 million.

10. Religulous, $3.5 million.

Mack Chico


2008/09/22 at 12:00am

Sex and the City: The Movie will have a part 2

Sex and the City: The Movie will have a part 2

Where to celebrate the launch of the Sex and the City: The Movie DVD?

Why, the same place where, in the film, Carrie Bradshaw gets stood up at the altar. Thursday night, the film’s stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall and Cynthia Nixon reconvened at the New York Public Library, which was lit up in pink and decorated with a custom-made interlocking-C white Chanel couch.

A radiant and friendly Parker, in Alexander McQueen, said she was ecstatic that her film was one of the year’s blockbusters. “I was surprised and thrilled and gratified and shocked,” said Parker. “I think we felt very honored that people connected to the story.”

Said Cattrall: “This has been an amazing year. It’s poignant that the year after we started shooting, the DVD is coming out. It just seems to get better.”

And now, word is, there’s a sequel in the works.

“I guess there’s been a lot of talk except that Michael Patrick and I haven’t spoken,” said Parker, referring to the film’s writer and director Michael Patrick King. “We’re going to have a conversation sooner rather than later. If Michael feels there’s a story worthy of an audience leaving their home and plunking down a significant amount of money for a ticket, then I assume we’ll move forward. We feel very indebted to this audience and it would be a disservice to them to make a movie because we can.”

If a second installment of Sex comes to fruition, Parker wants it to “be thoughtful and something that has some meaning — (we want) to tell a good story and produce it well.”

Cattrall too hopes it happens. “The deal is they’re making the deal and Michael Patrick King is writing the script. I don’t envy him that task. I’m very excited because Samantha is single and that’s real fun to play,” she said.

Mack Chico


2008/09/04 at 12:00am

Toronto Film Festival just not the same

Toronto Film Festival just not the same
Bad news for Oscar prognosticators: The Toronto International Film Festival, starting Thursday, isn’t quite its bellwether self this year.

Factors such as rising travel costs, delays caused by the writers’ strike and weakened art-house divisions have kept the most likely best-picture candidates out of the lineup.

Unlike in the past, when 1999’s American Beauty proved a trip up north could lead to Oscar glory, late fall’s choicest academy bait, such as Frost/Nixon and Australia, won’t be there. Even high-profile titles opening in October — Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies, Oliver Stone’s W — are missing.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be celebrity gridlock at the 33rd edition of North America’s premier film gathering, which features 312 movies from 64 countries through Sept. 13.

Among the hundreds of stars expected: Keira Knightley, Matt Damon, Anne Hathaway, Benicio Del Toro, Charlize Theron, Adrien Brody, Dakota Fanning, Michael Caine, Queen Latifah and Viggo Mortensen. Even the tabloid world’s most famous former couple, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, will be there — on separate days.

If there is a major upside to the 2008 schedule, it is that the doom and gloom cast by last year’s dour war-themed dramas (In the Valley of Elah, Rendition) and vigilante gut-wrenchers (The Brave One, Reservation Road) have been replaced by what the festival’s co-director Piers Handling declares as “the return of the American comedy.”

Call it the Juno effect. “There are a few films about the Iraq war,” such as Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker and The Lucky Ones with Rachel McAdams, he says. “But there are at least five really good, solid comedies. Kevin Smith’s Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist. Ghost Town, Religulous. The Coen brothers with Burn After Reading.”

Even British filmmaker Mike Leigh, whose last outing was the 2004 abortion weeper Vera Drake, has an effort that lives up to its title: Happy-Go-Lucky.

And a possible crowd-pleaser has emerged, if the reactions at Telluride can be trusted: Slumdog Millionaire, the story of a teen orphan in India who wins the jackpot on a Hindi version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting), it was recently picked up by Fox Searchlight in a deal with Warner Bros.

Fair warning, though. There is a Paris Hilton documentary, as if we didn’t know enough about the celebutante, helpfully titled Paris, Not France. But, as Handling notes, “It’s really short.”

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