2011 is in the bag and the bag is in the river, folks. It was a year that saw ticket prices continuing to increase and attendance continuing to decline at multiplexes all over this nation of ours. Overall, the year that was saw a decline of roughly 3% from the cumulative box office of 2010, the year in which Avatar rolled around in a money pile. The last weekend of 2011 saw no new major releases, leaving the heavy hitters from last week's holiday onslaught to stay strong over New Year's weekend. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol once again stood atop box office mountain, with fellow sequels Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked rounding out the top three. Additionally, War Horse built momentum and New Year's Eve got a bump for obvious reasons.
Steven Spielberg, almost inarguably the most famous director on the face of the planet, hasn't released a feature film since 2008's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but this holiday season has brought with it an embarrassment of Spielbergian riches. Right now in Stateside theaters, there are not one, but two movies directed by Spielberg. There's the sweeping World War I drama War Horse and the swashbuckling, globe-trotting adventure The Adventures of Tintin, the director's first foray into motion-capture and 3D filmmaking.
The Adventures of Tintin is the first big-budget film centered on the intrepid boy-reporter Tintin, a comic character created by Belgian artist Herge. The hero and his cohorts have been popular internationally since he first appeared in print more than half a century ago, in 1929. In order to create imagery appropriate for Herge's creations, Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson employed Weta Digital, the visual effects masters behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Avatar, who deliver a textured, lifelike adventure with all the charm of the cartoonist's designs.
By now, Jamie Beard is a veteran at Weta, having first worked for the company as an animator on The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and followed that up with I, Robot. He served as a visual effects artist on X-Men: The Last Stand and, more importantly, an animation lead on King Kong and The Lovely Bones, both directed by Jackson. For The Adventures of Tintin, Beard is the pre-visualization supervisor. While promoting one of the most technologically advanced movies ever made, Beard engaged in an exclusive interview with IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick, wherein he discussed his familiarity with Tintin, the role of pre-vis, working with blockbuster directors, and the hazards of putting a motion-capture suit on a dog.
With some notable exceptions, 2011 was not the most robust year at the American box office, and studio soothsayers are no doubt hunched over chicken livers, divining better fortunes for the impending year of 2012, packed as it is with much-anticipated blockbusters. For the penultimate weekend of this odd-numbered year, though, multiplexes across the nation were packed with new releases, all dropped willy-nilly throughout the week, creating a strange brew of eclectic releases. For the holiday weekend, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol emerged as the big winner, with fellow sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows in second place, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo getting all Swedish in third place, along with two Steven Spielberg joints down the line.
In a relatively short amount of time, British actor Jeremy Irvine’s career is already off to a very impressive beginning. He is currently filming director Mike Newell’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic Great Expectations starring Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter, and he also just finished work on the drama Now Is Good co-starring Dakota Fanning. But first, audiences will get to know him for his lead role in director Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the award winning stage play and novel War Horse, which opens in theaters on Christmas Day and is already earning dozens of accolades and early Oscar buzz.
The film, which is set in Devon right before World War I, tells the story of Albert (Irvine) and his beloved horse, Joey. When Joey is sold to cavalry and shipped to France, Albert swears to one day reunite with his trusted friend. The horse takes part in an extraordinary journey, fighting for both the British and the German armies, while Albert ends up joining the British Army in order to find Joey. In addition to Irvine, the movie stars Emily Watson (Red Dragon), Peter Mullan (Children of Men), Tom Hiddleston (Thor), David Thewlis (Anonymous), and Benedict Cumberbatch (Tinker Tailor Solder Spy).
I recently had a chance to meet Jeremy Irvine at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, and briefly spoke with him about his work on War Horse. He discussed the new film, shooting a “war scene” directed by Steven Spielberg, acting with a horse, the movie’s father/son theme, and the FINAL SCENE OF THE FILM!
Film producer Kathleen Kennedy may have co-founded Amblin Entertainment with her husband, Frank Marshall, and director Steven Spielberg, but she is also responsible for producing some of the most beloved films of the 20th Century. Together, Kennedy and Spielberg are the most successful producing team of all time and collectively their films have grossed over $5 billion in domestic box office receipts. In addition to working with Spielberg, she has also collaborated with legendary directors such as Clint Eastwood (The Bridges of Madison County), Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future), David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), and Martin Scorsese (Cape Fear).
Kennedy’s resume reads like a grocery like list of the greatest films of our generation including Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Gremlins, The Goonies, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Jurassic Park, The Sixth Sense, The Color Purple, Munich, and the Oscar-winning Schindler’s List. She is currently in the process of promoting two new films that she made with Spielberg, which open only days apart from each other. War Horse, based on the popular book and stage play of the same name, and The Adventures of Tintin, which is based on the fan-favorite series of comics by Belgian writer and artist Herge and opens in U.S. theaters everywhere on December 21st.
As last month came to a close, a very trusty rumor suggested that The Adventures of Tintin's Stateside release would include the first trailer for our next cinematic jaunt to JRR Tolkein's Middle Earth. That rumor came from no less a source than Elijah Wood, who reprises his The Lord of the Rings role as Frodo Baggins in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and it just made sense. We're a year out from the first prequel's theatrical date, and The Adventures of Tintin is produced by Peter Jackson, who is once again adapting Tolkein's material with the two-part take on The Hobbit. Now, Warner Bros. has helpfully confirmed that the new film by Steven Spielberg will indeed by preceded by our first look at The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
In the next few weeks, we'll be seeing two movies from Steven Spielberg, his first theatrical efforts since 2008, and with The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse on the way, it's only natural to ponder the man who has become synonymous with the very idea of a director. A new video essay has been making the rounds today, titled "The Spielberg Face," and it examines that signature look of awe, coupled with a dolly move in on a character's face, that appears in so much of Spielberg's work. It's basically when a character is thinking, "Ho-ly shiiiiiit" in response to something offscreen. You know the one, even if you don't know you know it, and this video provides an intellectual examination of its use and changing meaning throughout Spielberg's career.
A few weeks back, the internet soiled its collective pants at the sight of Daniel Day-Lewis casually eating lunch because he happened to be doing so whilst sporting a very familiar beard, the one he grew in order to play the sixteenth president of these United States in Lincoln. Well, if Day-Lewis in a turtleneck enjoying a meal got you going, then strap yourself in for the first real look at the actor in full costume, stovepipe hat included, strolling on the Richmond, Virgina set alongside director Steven Spielberg.
Also present: a young chap in the uniform of a Union soldier, keeping his cool in the presence of one of the best directors in the history of the medium and one of the best actors playing as important a historical figure as exists for Americans.
Synopsis: The intrepid young reporter with a nose for a globe-trotting story, discovers a centuries-old clue to a missing ship loaded with treasure, leading he and sidekick Captain Haddock on a search for the Unicorn and its secrets. It's a race against time, as the villainous Red Rackham is determined to beat our heroes to the treasure, and they've got to stop him.
The Adventures of Tintin is already playing on movie screens all over the world, in most cases for well over a month, but here in the States, it's still nearly two weeks out. In order to fill the time between now and the film's release, a crop of nine new stills from the film have appeared online, along with two pictures of Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson at work as the director and producer, respectively. Most of the images from the film focus on the titular intrepid reporter, played by Jamie Bell via motion capture, along with Andy Serkis as sidekick Captain Haddock. Included for good measure are also a few images featuring the nearly identical Inspectors Thompson and Thomson, played by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.