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New “Redux Cut” Of Leone’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA To Premier At Cannes

Posted on 18 April 2012 by Rich Drees

Director Sergio Leone is best known for his westerns and unfortunately that means that most people disregard his epic gangster tale Once Upon A Time In America. Of course, the fact that his original 269-minute cut of the film has never been seen. Under pressure from distributors, Leone trimmed 40 minutes out for the film’s 1984 premier at the Cannes Film Festival. The film’s US distributor slashed the film down to a paltry 139 minutes version which was panned by critics though a home video release of the 229-minute cut has helped restore the film’s reputation somewhat.

Now, 28 years after it was originally supposed to screen, a restored 269-minute version of Once Upon A Time In America will unspool at Cannes. News of the restoration had been circulating for over a year now, and as a fan of the film it is nice to hear that a premier has finally been announced.

Leone’s film follows three friends from a Jewish ghetto rise to become powerful figures in New York City’s organized crime world. While the bastardized 139-minute version went without Academy Awards recognition, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards voted it a Best Picture runner-up in their annual poll, while both BAFTA and the Golden Globes nominated Leone’s direction.

Although there is no word yet as to what future there is in store for this new restored version, I suspect that it will see a few more festival screenings and perhaps a limited theatrical release before making its way to home video.

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Previously Unknown CLOCKWORK ORANGE Script Discovered

Posted on 12 May 2011 by Rich Drees

Researchers combing through the volumes of papers of novelist Anthony Burgess have discovered a screenplay he had written adapting his most famous novel, A Clockwork Orange. The 1962 novel was turned into a movie by the legendary director Stanley Kubrick, but it appears as if the newly discovered script is from an early part of the development of that project.

Burgess and Kubrick had collaborated on the film project, though Kubrick is the one who received screen credit for the screenplay about a teenage gang leader in a lawless society.

According to Dr Andrew Biswell, the author’s biographer and the director of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Burgess’ screenplay is noteworthy as it is -

- very different from the novel… It’s actually quite a bit more violent than the novel. There’s a scene early on where Alex opens his bedroom cupboard and it’s full of drugs, hypodermic needles and a child’s skull.

Apparently Kubrick rejected Burgess’ script and proceeded to pen one of his own. The irony here is that the final film was loudly criticized for its violent content at the time of its release, leading Kubrick to withdraw the film after just a few weeks.

The Burgess Foundation is hoping to publish the screenplay at some point.

Other scripts discovered in the archives include a previously unknown draft for Kubrick’s long in-development Napoleon bio-pic and a portion of a stage show about Harry Houdini that Burgess was developing with Orson Welles.

Via BBC.

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Eisner Laments Loss Of CREATURE

Posted on 28 June 2010 by Rich Drees

Last year, commercial director Carl Rinsch became the latest in a long line of directors stretching back to the ’80s to attempt a remake of Universal Studio’s classic Creature From The Black Lagoon. He replaced Breck Eisner on the project, who walked away from the project after spending nearly four years trying to get it in front of cameras.

Eisner recently talked to Shock Till You Drop and spoke candidly on the factors that killed his version – “It suffered from the realities of development hell and a writers strike.”

Understandably disappointed after putting so much work in to the project, Eisner was enthusiastic about what his version of the film could have been. “It would have been risky and amazing,” he stated. “The design of the Creature by Mark ‘Crash’ McCreery was awesome. True to the original, yet obviously updated for today’s technology. The journey on the Rita, the boat design, it was ready to go.”

Eisner got as far as scouting South American jungles for location shooting. “Scouting Peru, Brazil, Columbia. We went into the jungle of mirrors. It was an amazing experience. I didn’t come out of it empty-handed but I didn’t come out with a movie, which is what I would have wanted.”

And though the project now has a new director, Eisner is skeptical of The Creature From The Black Lagoon‘s chances of ever reaching cinemas. That isn’t a slam against Rinsch, though. Eisnerplaces the blame on two things – The amount of money spent on development over the years and the poor critical and box office reception for another Universal Studios monster remake, The Wolfman, earlier this year.

Between [the Wolfman failing] and spending a lot of money in development, it’s money against the movie. When a movie is that close to happening, it takes a long time for people to forget about spending that money and to be re-engaged in it. I’d love for somebody to make that movie. It won’t be me.

As a first time feature director, Rinsch has a difficult task ahead of him in finally getting Creature to the screen. Rinsch is also hard at work for Warner Brothers on their similarly long-in-development redo of Logan’s Run. He’s ambitious, I’ll give him that. Let’s see if that ambition can actually get either of these two projects on the screen.

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BLUES BROTHERS Wins Vatican Approval

Posted on 18 June 2010 by Rich Drees

As The Blues Brothers celebrated the 30th anniversary of its release this week, it received a rather unexpected accolade when the Vatican’s official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano named the film as a “Catholic classic,” recommending it for viewing by Catholics everywhere.

Being raised Catholic myself, I have a built-in hesitancy when it comes to questioning what the Vatican states, but I have to wonder how the John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd-starring film wound up on a list of films good for Catholics with the likes of Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life, Zeffirelli’s Jesus Of Nazareth, DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, Flemming’s Joan Of Arc and Gibson’s The Passion Of The Christ. I guess if you’re raising money to help keep an orphanage open you can cause millions of dollars in property damages, numerous multiple vehicle car accidents and break dozens of laws as long as you can claim you’re on a “mission from God.”

Via Hollywood Reporter.

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CONFIRMED! GHOSTBUSTERS III Script Is In, Reitman Will Direct.

Posted on 14 January 2010 by William Gatevackes

Fans of the Ghostbusters franchise, either rejoice or curse the fates, depending on what your opinion on a second sequel is. The first draft of the script for the proposed sequel is in, the writers are working on the second draft, and Ivan Reitman has announced that he will direct.

This all comes from Reitman himself, who was interviewed by MTV’s Josh Horowitz at the National Board of Review’s Award Ceremony last night.

Whether this will be a reunion of the original cast, a passing of the guard, a mixture of both, or any of the myriad of other rumors floating around is still a mystery. But Reitman stated that he plans to start shooting this year, making a 2011 release very likely.

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AFRICAN QUEEN Finally Coming To DVD

Posted on 12 January 2010 by Rich Drees

In the over ten years that DVD has been with us, one title has continued to not make the transition to the digital format, much to the consternation of film fans- The African Queen. But now, the romantic adventure story starring Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart is finally making its way to DVD and Blu-Ray on March 23rd.

As if to make up for the incredibly long wait for John Huston’s classic film, Paramount is kicking out with a 4K HD transfer from the film’s original three-strip Technicolor negatives, restored in a process similar to the one Warner Brothers used for their Wizard Of Oz and Gone With The Wind restorations. The studio’s press release further elaborates-

To ensure that the restored picture matched the filmmakers’ original vision, Paramount arranged a screening of an MPAA archive print for the film’s original cinematographer, Academy Award winner Jack Cardiff*, whose comments were recorded live during the screening.  That same archival print was later screened alongside the newly restored version so that the restoration team could ensure that all of Cardiff’s notes had been addressed.

The DVD and Blu-Ray versions will both be available in a standard, single disc edition or a limited edition box set. Both editions will contain the new documentary Embracing Chaos: Making The African Queen, while the box set will include an “audio disc recording of the original Lux Radio Theater broadcast of The African Queen, a reproduction of Katharine Hepburn’s out-of-print memoir The Making of The African Queen or How I Went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind, a Senitype film frame reproduction and postcard reproductions” of images from the film.

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Latest PLANET OF THE APES Reboot Dead

Posted on 11 January 2010 by Rich Drees

Back in November 2008, we told you about a plan at 20th Century Fox to reboot their Planet Of The Apes franchise that sounded very intriguing. Titled Caesar, writer /director Scott Frank was working on the project for Fox, which would have relaunched the series starting from the original series’ fourth film, Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes. The idea was originally brought to the studio by writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver under the title Genesis: Apes.

Unfortunately, CHUD is now reporting that Frank is now off the film and it looks like the project is dead.

Back when we first reported on the project, I felt that the concept was a bit edgy for Fox executives’ tastes. In this proposed story, a scientist meddling with chimpanzee DNA accidentally creates a chimpanzee with human livels of intelligence. Once he discovers that the chimp can talk, he takes him home to be raised by his wife, who is unable to bare children of her own. Several years later, his adoptive mother is attacked and in the act of protecting her, accidentally kills her assailant. He is then taken to labs where, although he is as sentient as a human, he is tortured and experimented on. Although initially rejected by the other apes at the laboratory, he eventually inspires them to revolt and overthrow human society. Where the original Conquest had a two decade gap separating its 1971 audience from the film’s fascist government of the future year 1991, this version was set in the present and it may have presented some themes that might be a little hard to take without the fictional setting.

It’s not surprising that the film is dead at Fox. Even though risk aversion seems to be the watchword for all the studios, Fox practices it as a religion. While relaunching a classic series is typically seen as a safe move, such a radical reinterpretation of the Planet Of The Apes concept probably outweighed the easy sell of a new Apes film in the minds of the studio brass at Fox.

Will the studio continue to look for a way to bring a new Planet Of The Apes film to the big screen. My guess is very probably. Unfortunately, it will probably not be as interesting as this version promised to be.

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Another Director For BLACK LAGOON Remake

Posted on 16 December 2009 by Rich Drees

CreatureFromTheBlackLagoon1You have to give Universal credit for tenacity. They want their Creature From The Black Lagoon remake and they’re going to get no matter how many creative types they have to go through. Commercial director Carl Rinsch is the latest to be brought through the project’s revolving door. Rinsch replaces Breck Eisner who left the project last year. Rinsch is also signed with Universal for 47 Ronin, a film based on a Japanese legend which has been filmed many times in Japan, including a version starring Toshiro Mifune. The script for the project made last year‘s Black List of hot, unproduced screenplays.

Attempts by Universal to revive the Gill Man date all the way back to 1982, when John Landis was looking to have the original film’s director helm a remake with a script by Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale. The plan to shoot the film in 3D was scuttled as Universal was already shooting the third Jaws movie in the format. In the mid 90s, Universal approached Peter Jackson, who declined in favor of doing a King Kong remake. Gary Ross, whose father Arthur A. Ross was one of the writers on the original film, and Guillermo Del Toro were also tied to the project at various times.

Throughout its long development process, numerous scripts have been written for this new take on Creature. But according to the LA Times, Rinsch will be starting over from scratch with a new screenplay.

Eisner, in the meantime, hasn’t strayed far from monster movie remake territory. He has recently finished shooting a remake of George Romero’s The Crazies which is due next February and is attached to a remake of John Carpenter’s The Brood.

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Broken Lizard Film Update

Posted on 10 December 2009 by Rich Drees

BrokenLizardGroupShotEarlier today, I sat down and chatted with Broken Lizard’s Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme about the comedy troupe’s latest film, The Slammin’ Salmon, hitting theaters tomorrow. I’ll have the majority of the discussion for you then, but in the meantime, I thought I’d share what was discussed about some of the other projects they have in the pipeline, including their newest project, Rogue Scholars.

Rogue Scholars- “The new one we’re writing [for Universal] is called Rogue Scholars, where we play college professors. We’re the authority figures and our nemesis are the students, who attack us. We get into a little tit-for-tat with them. You could say that it is Super Troopers on a college campus.” – Lemme

“Or a reverse Animal House.”- Heffernan

Nutcracker- “We just gave [Slammin’ Salmon co-star Michael Clark Duncan] a script that we wrote for a big menacing linebacker at the end of his career, called Nutcracker. We were doing some interviews in New York last week for our live show and Michael was telling us he used to be a dancer. I don’t mean at strip clubs. But he used to take ballet. We were like ‘We have a script called Nutcracker’ and he didn’t believe us. We didn’t believe him that he did ballet. But we gave him the script and he loved it. So we’re going to figure out what to do with that.”- Lemme

Freeloaders- A group of friends who live for free in a rock star’s house suddenly find themselves scrambling when the singer decides to sell the home.

“That’s a movie we’ve produced. It’s done and they’re submitting it to film festivals now. Adam Duritz, the lead singer from Counting Crows, is a fan of our films and he had some guys that he worked on a script with, somewhat autobiographical, and they wanted to make a movie in the same way that we made Super Troopers. They used our infrastructure and our crew. We helped with the script and have little cameos.”- Heffernan

The Babymaker- Heffernan would star in this story of a man who finds that he has become infertile and must retrieve the last remaining vial of sperm he donated in his younger, more viral days so he and his wife can have a baby.

“That was a project at Warner Brothers. I think its still there, possibly we could make it. It got eclipsed by a few things like Rogue Scholars.”- Heffernan.

“That would be Broken Lizard creative producing.”- Lemme

“And [Broken Lizard cast mate] Jay [Chandrasekhar] would direct.”- Heffernan

Pot Quest- As promised at the end of Beer Fest.

“While it well not be a direct sequel to Beer Fest, it will be a Broken Lizard, high concept –“ – Lemme

“- pot adventure”- Heffernan

The Greek Road- Heffernan and Lemme as Greek philosophers Plato and Socrates on a road trip being interfered with by the Gods, portrayed by the other three members of the group.

“We’ve come so close so many times to getting it greenlit. When we got our deal at Warner Brothers they said we’ll greenlight any movie you want. We said ‘Here it is! We’ve been dying to make this movie.’ We were talking about shooting it in Bulgaria, shooting it in India. We just couldn’t get there and we had [the less costly] Beer Fest so that was an easy decision [for the executives].- Lemme

“Sword and sandal epics are making a come back. Because of 300 there are other ways to shoot it now from when we were trying to get it made.”- Heffernan

Super Troopers 2- “Over the course of the last few years, whenever we get some free time we go back and work on a script. So we’ve been writing the script over the course of a couple of years. We just want to get it right. We’re about four drafts in now.”- Heffernan

“Next week we’re sitting down to start work on the new draft.”- Lemme

On the film being a prequel to the original-

“That was something that happened in one interview where we joked about it and were like ‘oh that would be pretty cool. The 70s and we could play our dads and drive our hot rods…’ But actually, with that one we’re going to pick up right where the story left off.”- Lemme

“I think people want to see what happens next. Pure sequel. There was a push to do a sequel very quickly after the first movie came out, but we wanted to make some other movies to do some other things. It’s a blast when we sit down to write it. When you write a script from scratch, you have to make up the characters and the way they talk. But when you revisit somebody, you’ve already established that so it’s a very simple writing process. ‘Mac would say that… Farva would say that… That’s hysterical.’”- Heffernan

“I’m 50 pages in to the new draft and just nice seeing those guys and how O’Hagan is reprimanding everybody and the obnoxious things Farva is saying. It’s going to be fun, but we want to be careful with that.”- Lemme

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First Batch Of EVIL DEAD Midnight Screening Dates

Posted on 01 December 2009 by Rich Drees

EvilDeadRereleasePosterIn October, we told you that Sam Raimi’s classic horror film Evil Dead was returning to theaters for a limited run of midnight screenings. Now we’ve got the first set of dates for the revival. If you don’t see a location near you don’t worry, Grindhouse Releasing is promising more dates to come.

January 8-9:
Uptown Theatre, Minneapolis

January 15-16:
Esquire Theatre, Denver

January 29-30:
Sunshine Cinema, New York

February 5-6:
Egyptian Theatre, Seattle

February 19-20:
River Oaks Theatre, Houston

February 26-27:
Inwood, Dallas

March 5: Nuart Theatre,
Los Angeles

May 22
Hudson Horrorshow
Poughkipsie, NY

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