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Frankly My Dear...

    Frankly My Dear...

    Harlan Ellison sues to stop Timberlake’s new movie from coming out

    Posted: 16 Sep 2011 04:14 AM PDT

    One of the great science fiction writer Harlan Ellison’s best known short stories is “Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktock Man.” It dates from the mid-60s, when the writer was at the peak of his fame, his works adapted into episodes of the TV series of the day such as “Star Trek.”

    Now the famously combative (or “infamously ‘difficult’, depending on how you view it) Ellison has filed suit against New Regency, director Andrew Niccol and Co. claiming copyright infringement. Their script to the October Justin Timberlake sci-fi thriller “In Time” is ripped off from his story, Ellison says.

    “In Time” is about a future when time is a commodity, and it does sound similar (not knowing the full plot) to “Ticktock Man.” In Ellison’s future, “being late in not merely an inconvenience, it is a crime.”

    And as James Cameron can tell you, Ellison is a persistent litigator when he thinks his material has been swiped. He settled out of court and acknowledged, on screen (the studio did, anyway), Ellison’s inspiration for “The Terminator.”

    Box Office: Will ‘Lion King’ chew up over ‘Contagion’? Will ‘Drive’ get in the fast lane?

    Posted: 16 Sep 2011 03:36 AM PDT

    Harry Medved’s updates from have pointed to a decent opening weekend for a 17 year old kids’ cartoon from the glory days of Disney’s “classic” animation. So “The Lion King in 3D” is dominating pre-sales. What might that translate into in actual box office?

    The Box Office Guru says that will translate to only about $14 million. Variety low-balls that with $12 million. Ouch. Disney spent more than that converting this popular and familiar (thanks to earlier video releases) title to 3D. That’s good, but not great. And I think that’s low. It’s in 3D, on a lot of screens. And it’s a beloved film that still works. I think upper teens — say $18 million.

    If “Contagion” drops by 50% it will be in the $12 million range. I wonder if it will drop more.

    Audiences have not been showing up for good genre pics like “Drive” on a reliable basis. Will it do better than “Warrior,” based on the box office appeal of Ryan Gosling? Early predictions point to a $12 million weekend.

    Sarah Jessica Parker’s fans love her all dolled up, hanging out with rich hunks, and narrating. They love her in cities. But without the sex? “I Don’t Know How She Does It” is earning weak to weaker reviews, so she’ll be lucky to draw $10.

    The mixed to weak reviews on the exploitation thriller “Straw Dogs” won’t help or hurt it. The guru’s prediction of $7 million seems high, but considering what people are showing up for and what they’re skipping (“Fright Night,” “Warrior”), it might fill the needs of those who crave violence. “The Debt” has had a nice, solid run, thanks to star power and an appeal to an older demographic. None of that applies to “Straw Dogs,” as James Marsden and Kate Bosworth aren’t box office. But with hunk du jour Alexander Skarsgard (“True Blood”) on board, there may be lots of curiosity.

    My big question about the holdovers from last week and earlier weeks is not how long it will take “The Help” to clear $150 million, but whether anybody was smart enough to throw that Kevin Hart concert documentary, “Laugh at My Pain,” on more screens? It’s almost in the top ten, just playing on 97 or so screens. It kept making money all week after pulling in some $2 million last weekend. It’s not bad and I am guessing it hasn’t reached everybody it could.

    Movie Preview: We Bought a Zoo

    Posted: 15 Sep 2011 10:22 AM PDT

    Yeah, it’s Cameron Crowe’s new film. So naturally, I teared up a couple of times. And then Thomas Haden Church made me laugh. Because he always does.
    Matt Damon and Scarlett Johannson (who will be talking about the work again, by then), Elle Fanning and Peter Riegert are in it.
    And since it is Cameron Crowe (God bless Cameron Crowe), the music chosen — Tom Petty’s “Alice in Wonderland” riff “Don’t Come Around Here No More” — is PERFECT.
    Look for “We Bought a Zoo” this Christmas.

    Today’s Interview: Anna Kendrick

    Posted: 15 Sep 2011 06:45 AM PDT

    Yeah, she’s in “The Twilight Saga,” as was this week’s earlier interview, Taylor Lautner.

    Her break out performance came in “Up in the Air,” as the callow young corporate type who learns the humane way to lay people off.

    Anna Kendrick is also in “50/50,” playing a death and dying counselor in training. Joseph Gordon Levitt is the young guy who has cancer whom she learns on the job from.

    Got questions for Ms. Kendrick? Comment below.

    Lake Mary’s Shea Whigham gets shout out in NY Times ‘Great character actors’ piece

    Posted: 15 Sep 2011 05:24 AM PDT

    Any regular reader of this blog knows that I obsessed with character actors. One of the pleasures of this job is identifying the good ones and tracking down Eddie Marsan or Celia Weston, Judy Greer or Shea Whigham and having the honor of being the first reporter anywhere to interview them for a profile. You become a collector of your favorites — M. Emmett Walsh, John C. Reilly, Viola Davis, Tim Guinee, Winter Park’s Tom Nowicki (He’s in “Dolphin Tale,” next, and good, as always).

    It was all I could do to ask for Ryan Gosling for “Drive” when my REAL goal was and is to chat with the great Ron Perlman.

    The New York Times ran a piece today rounding up some of the best in the business today, heralding this as sort of a second golden age of character actors, the first being back in the old studio system days when an Alan Hale or Ward Bond or Jane Darwell would be under contract to fill in the film around the leading lady and leading man.

    And among those the writer singles 0ut — our own Shea Whigham, for his wicked scene-stealing turn in “The Lincoln Lawyer.” Shea is hitting his stride as a character player, maybe entering that rare air where Paul Giamatti, Steve Buscemi and their ilk live and work. Good for him.