Tag Archive | "Albert Finney"

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SUMMER OF ’82: ANNIE

Posted on 18 June 2012 by William Gatevackes

Every now and then there comes a year when it seems that there are an inordinate number of really good films out in theaters. Is it the result of some sort of cultural zeitgeist or is it just mere coincidence? Who can say? But what can be known for sure is that the summer of 1982 was one of those magical movies times. On the 30th anniversary of that summer we will take a look back at some of the many movies that made that summer so memorable.

Annie wasn’t my first exposure to movie marketing tie-ins. After all, I was the kid who had every Star Wars action figure, vehicle, and play set that my parents could afford to buy me (not the Millennium Falcon, though. My parents couldn’t swing that. Every time I’m in a toy store and I see one for sale I want to buy it, thinking it would complete my childhood. But I digress…). But it the first film where I realized that Hollywood really wanted me to see it, and make as much money off me as possible in the process. I don’t know why I had this revelation with this film in particular. Maybe it was because the marketing tie-ins didn’t work on me (or for anyone else for that matter).

The film was loosely based on the at the time long-running (since 1977), Tony Award-winning musical of the same name  which was in turn loosely based on the long-running (since 1924) Little Orphan Annie comic strip. Directed by legendary director John Houston, the film told the story of a plucky orphan girl named Annie (Aileen Quinn) who lives at an orphanage run by the abusive and alcoholic Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett). Annie’s luck begins to change when she is in Miss Hannigan’s office when Grace Farrell (Ann Reinking) comes to call. Farrell works for Oliver Warbucks (Albert Finney), a billionaire with an image problem. Warbucks has sent Farrell to the orphanage so she can bring an orphan home for a week to soften Warbuck’s hard-boiled image (I guess during the Great Depression, you could rent orphans on a weekly basis).

However, when Annie meets Warbucks. the orphan wheedles her way into the rich man’s heart. Warbucks soon decides he wants to keep Annie on a permanent basis, but before he can, he tries one last ditch effort to find Annie’s true parents. Enter a couple, Rooster (Tim Curry) and Lily (Bernadette Peters), who claim to be Annie’s birth parents. However, after they abscond with the child and the reward Warbucks was offering, the billionaire finds out that they are not what they seem and Warbucks must race against time to save Annie from the pair’s nefarious plans.

If you are thinking that was a great cast for the time, you’d be right. But it could have been better. Imagine Jack Nicholson as Warbucks, Steve Martin as Rooster, Bette Midler as Hannigan and Drew Barrymore as Annie. All either auditioned or were the first pick for the above roles.

Columbia Pictures paid $9.5 million for the rights, and the total budget for the film was $50 million (including $1 million for a lush musical number that was shot, never used, and shot a different way for the film). So, there was great interest in trying to have the film earn its money back.  Hence, the powerful push towards marketing.

My first experience with the marketing for this movie came from world of comic books. I was just beginning the transition from casual comic book buyer to collector, and I was just learning about the art form and deciding what titles I wanted to collect.

Comic books based on the Annie film were all over newsstands at this time. First, appearing on spinner racks in May of 1982, was Marvel Super Special #23, which featured an adaptation of the film by Tom DeFalco and Win Mortimer. Next, Marvel broke up that adaptation into a two-issue miniseries that arrived in stores in July and August of 1982. The story was once again collected into one volume with an oversized treasury edition that arrived at newsstands on September of 1982.

The 11-year-old version of me thought this was overkill. I mean, who’d want one comic book about a cootie-filled girl movie, let alone three? After all, this was Marvel Comics we are talking about here. It was the home of the X-Men, the Hulk and Spider-Man. But deep down, I began to understand the logic of the comic book release schedule.

The adaptation released in May was to whet my appetite for the film. The comic issues released in July and August were there to attract people who, presumably, loved the film and couldn’t wait to see it adapted into another medium. And the treasury edition was there for anyone who missed any of the other volumes or, perhaps, to act as a supplemental gift for any Annie fan who might want something tangible to put in their Christmas stocking (as the VHS tape of the film wouldn’t be released until April of 1983).

In other words, the comics were there to promote the film, and also provide an additional source of income for it. What’s more, that source of income was meant to come from my pocket, even though I had not the slightest interest in the film, the comic books or any of the other tie-ins. This is a pretty heavy realization for a 11-year-old to be hit with.

Of course, the comics weren’t the only tie-in to go along with the movie. There was also the soundtrack album and novelization. There was the commemorative glass with the image of Annie on it you could have picked up at Swensen’s restaurant. There were stuffed dolls, plastic dolls and action figures. There were activity books and coloring books. Just about anything that they could have put Annie on, they put Annie on.

Of course, this was nothing new. Annie was far from the first film to go this heavy into marketing, and it surely wasn’t the last.  But I never noticed the connection before this film. I guess in my childhood naivete, I though Kenner was just doing kids a favor by putting out little plastic replicas of our favorite Star Wars‘ characters.

There is one difference between the toy and fast food restaurant tie-ins for Annie and other films–the marketing for other films seemed to work better. Annie only made $57 million at the box office, which was deemed a disappointment at the time. While the musical itself is popular enough that regional theaters still put it up today, a revival is in the works on Broadway for later this year, and it was adapted again for television in the 1990s, the first film adaptation resides in the realm of a cult status. Sure, people plan parties around it to this day,  and Will Smith is looking to remake it as a vehicle for his daughter Willow (God help us), it wasn’t a blockbuster the size of Star Wars, either in cultural influence or box office receipts.  But it sure did leave a lasting impression in my mind.

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Albert Finney Has Joined The BOND 23 Cast

Posted on 28 October 2011 by Rich Drees

If you think you know who all has been cast in the upcoming twenty-third installment of the James Bond franchise, director Sam Mendes has a surprise for you. It is being reported in the British tabloid press that acting legend Albert Finney will be playing a part in the upcoming, untitled film.

Supposedly, Mendes kept Finney’s participation a secret and unveiled it to cast members earlier this week when they sat down to perform the first read through of the screenplay.

According to the Daily Mail, Finney will be playing an official in the British government’s Foreign Office who oversees the British Intelligence Services. Basically he will be the boss of James Bond’s boss “M,” played by Dame Judi Dench. Interestingly, even though both Finney and Dench share much of th same acting background, they have never been in any production together before this. It should be great to see such two acting stalwarts going back and forth.

Now remember that this is the Daily Mail reporting this, so standard British tabloid disclaimers apply. But so far there has been no denial from the franchise producers Eon Productions, so I’m going to hesitantly state that this is probably on the up-and-up.

Bond 23 is set start filming sometime next week and will be released in November 2012.

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Allen And Finney Head Back To BOURNE Franchise

Posted on 27 July 2011 by Rich Drees

If you’ve been wondering how director Tony Gilroy was going to be linking his new film, The Bourne Legacy, to the previous Bourne trilogy films now that titular star Matt Damon has left the franchise, we’ve got your answer.

Joan Allen and Albert Finney are both in talks to reprise their Bourne Ultimatum characters and helping to bridge the gap between the earlier films and this new one. Allen played CIA Deputy Director Pamela Landy, who initially was assigned to help hunt down Damon’s amnesiac rogue assassin only to become his ally in taking down Treadstone, the rogue CIA operation he had been a part of. Finney will be reprising his role of Dr. Albert Hirsch, the one responsible for creating the fake personas that Bourne and others were implanted with for their illegal missions.

Given that Bourne Legacy’s star Jeremy Renner will be playing another agent who went through the Treadstone operation, I suspect that Finney’s role will be somewhat integral to the plot.

Also just signed to the cast is Oscar Isaac as a fellow agent who has gone through the program and is known only by the mysterious name of Number Three. Isaac had been in contention for Legacy’s lead role but lost to Renner.

Previously cast in the film are Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton. Gilroy is also penning the screenplay, having drafted all the previous Bourne films. Shooting begins later this fall for an expected August 2012 release.

Via Variety and Deadline.

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Burton’s BIG FISH Heading To Broadway

Posted on 09 June 2011 by William Gatevackes

There has been a trend in recent years of Hollywood films making the leap from the big screen to the Broadway stage. Right now, if you were in New York City and were looking for a film-inspired Broadway productions, you’d have a lot to choose from: Billy Elliot, Catch Me If You Can, The Lion King, Mary Poppins, Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, and Sister Act. That list might get a bit bigger as Tim Burton’s Big Fish appears to be headed to the Big White Way, helmed by a woman who has had a great deal of success bringing films to the musical stage.

The New York Times is reporting that Susan Stroman has been hired to direct the Broadway adaptation of the Daniel Wallace book which made into a film by Tim Burton. John August, the film’s screenwriter, is providing the book for the musical, with with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa.

Stroman is a multiple time Tony Award-winning choreographer and director who is most famous for making the Broadway musical adaptation of Mel Brooks’ The Producers a smash success ten years ago, a show for which she won a Tony for both directing and choreography. No word on whether she will act as choreographer  on Big Fish as well. She is nominated for a Tony this year for directing and choreography for her work on The Scottsdale Boys.

Big Fish is the story of a dying man who relates fantastic and unbelievable story from his life to his son while on his death bed. The film starred Albert Finney and Ewan McGregor.

The Broadway show is targeted to open in Spring of 2012.

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