Tag Archives: entertainment news

Starz Wins Bidding War for Distribution of Romantic Comedy “My Blind Brother”

Starz has picked up Sophie Goodhart’s romantic comedy, “My Blind Brother,” which premiered at South by Southwest Film Festival and also played at Tribeca Film FestivalVariety reports. The magazine says that the acquisition “will likely be the biggest sale out of this year’s South by Southwest” and is estimated to be in the low seven-figure range. The comedy was reportedly the subject of a bidding war among distributors like Netflix, The Orchard, Sony and Gravitas Ventures.

Variety reports that Starz, which landed North American and Latin American rights for the film, will give “My Blind Brother” a day-and-date release in 25 markets and VOD (via Starz Digital) later this year, followed by an exclusive TV debut in 2017.

Click here to read HelenHighly’s review of “My Blind Brother.”

Janis Joplin: Film, Birthday & “Pearl” Anniversary Month

Janis Joplin: Film, Birthday & Pearl Anniversary Month

This is the month of the talented and controversial singer-songwriter, Janis Joplin, who rose to fame in the late 1960s and was featured in a recent documentary film titled Little Girl Blue. There are three reasons to remember her this January:

  • Joplin’s birthday was January 19, 1943, so she would have turned 73 this coming Monday. Joplin died at the young age of 27, from a heroin overdose.
  • Also this month is the 45-year anniversary of the release of Pearl, Joplin’s second and final solo studio album, released posthumously by Columbia Records, in January 1971.
  • And, a new documentary film about Janis Joplin, Little Girl Blue, directed by Amy Berg, was officially released this past December but is in wide distribution this January. The film has been critically well-received and is being used by many to pay tribute to Joplin this month, in commemoration of her birthday and her most-famous album.

Click here to read The Film Box review of the Janis Joplin documentary, Little Girl Blue.

Janis Joplin film poster
Janis Joplin film poster

Joplin’s Southeast-Texas hometown of Port Arthur plans to commemorate her life this weekend, with two events scheduled in her honor. The first is a tribute concert where Amber Martin will perform some of the blues-rock legend’s greatest songs during a live show. Then, on Saturday, Avril Falgout, a Port Arthur native, will celebrate Joplin with the unveiling of a new sculpture in her home town. Click here for more info.

A few of the songs made famous by Joplin are Piece of My HeartBall ‘n’ ChainTo Love SomebodyCry BabyMercedes Benz, and her only number one hit, Me and Bobby McGee.

Rolling Stone ranked Joplin number 46 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time in 2004, and it ranked her number 28 on its 2008 list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Janis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. Joplin remains one of the top-selling musicians in the United States, with 15.5 million albums sold in the USA.

UPDATE: George Lucas Disney Apology for “White Slavers” Comment

George Lucas Backpeddles Big-Time: Sorry for “White Slavers” Comment re Star Wars

George Lucas apologized for the “very inappropriate analogy” he used in comparing Disney to “white slavers,”  a statement he made during a lengthy interview with CBS newsman Charlie Rose, when discussing the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens.

Click to see the original report from The Film Box.

In his lengthy interview with Charlie Rose, the Star Wars creator had expressed rather dramatic disapproval  of Disney’s handling of his space epic, despite the $4 billion cash and stock payoff he got in the 2012 sale to Disney. He not only suggested control of the franchise had gone to “white slavers” but added that he did not agree with the “retro” approach the entertainment conglomerate had taken with the film.

Click to see our article, with a link to the actual interview, including the “white slavers” comment.

“I have been working with Disney for 40 years and chose them as the custodians of Star Wars because of my great respect for the company and Bob Iger’s leadership,” Lucas said in his statement, issued Thursday afternoon by Disney. “Disney is doing an incredible job of taking care of and expanding the franchise. I rarely go out with statements to clarify my feelings but I feel it is important to make it clear that I am thrilled that Disney has the franchise and is moving it in such exciting directions in film, television and the parks.”

Ha. That’s a very different statement than he made on Charlie Rose — a complete 180 turn. It’s one thing to apologize for using the wrong word, and another to change your entire story. Lucas: Get a better PR company.
When she is not writing about film and art on her blog, HelenHighly.com, Helen Kaplow is busy being a culture vulture in her adopted home of New York City. 

George Lucas Says Disney Co. “White Slavers” to Charlie Rose

Star Wars: The Force Awakens George Lucas From His Satisfied Slumber

In an interview with Charlie Rose, broadcast on December 25th and released online this week, George Lucas criticized the latest installment of Star Wars, the series he created, saying he was unhappy with the direction the franchise has taken since he sold the rights to it, along with Lucasfilm, his company, to Disney for $4 billion.  He criticized the film industry in general for focusing on profit over storytelling.

But speaking about his creation in particular, he said “These are my kids, all the Star Wars films… I love them, I created them, I’m very intimately involved in them.” And he add (with a laugh), “And I sold them to the white slavers…”
Was he just kidding? Maybe, maybe not. 

Click here to watch Lucas the interview. 

The film that Disney made, Star Wars, The Force Awakens, has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide since its release on December 18th.  Fans delighted in seeing their old favorites — from characters to spaceships — make a comeback appearance. But Lucas explained that he worked very hard to make each of his Star Wars films different, and the new movie was “retro” and re-used old concepts and designs, and he thinks that’s a disservice to the integrity of the series and betrays his commitment to true storytelling.

UPDATE: Lucas back-peddled and apologized for his “white slavers” comment, and more. It’s a startling and hard-to-believe turn-around. Click here to read about it.

When she is not writing about film and art on her blog, HelenHighly.com, Helen Kaplow is busy being a culture vulture in her adopted home of New York City. 

Hateful Tweets About Hateful Eight 70-mm Roadshow Projection Problems

Hateful Tweets About Hateful Eight 70-mm Roadshow Projection Problems

It seems there were more than eight people being hateful at the opening weekend showings of Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight film and its much-advertised 70-mm roadshow experience. Despite a strong opening in terms of attendance, projection problems plagued several screenings over Christmas weekend. Some projections were out of focus, while others had no sound or experienced soundtrack synching issues, according to reactions on Twitter. Even screenings that were largely watchable still had minor noticeable glitches in the corners of the screen.

Erik Lomis, distribution chief for The Weinstein Company, asserted that the problems occurred at fewer than 1% of the weekend showings. However, the reaction on Twitter made it sound like a widespread issue, or as one user called it, an “epidemic.”

Although it’s understandable why audiences would be frustrated and disappointed, it should be noted that the projection issues were faults of exhibition (such as inexperienced projectionists) and not production problems. There was nothing wrong with the actual celluloid print of the film. Considering the positive reaction to the revival of the 70-mm format that audiences expressed in general, let the following reactions be a call for more capable projectionists and not proof that shooting on 70-mm is no longer a viable option.

Quotes from recent tweets:

“Intermission at a 70mm screening in San Jose. So far, three instances of frame going out of alignment. One full-out film break.”

“I’m officially apologizing to (removed) for thinking he was too “sky is falling” re: 70mm H8 screenings. It’s an epidemic at this point.”

“Best part of the broken 70MM projector/Hateful 8 print at King of Prussia? The snide theater manager “This is why we don’t do film.”

“Saw it in Toronto. it was out of focus for at least 20 minutes before they could fix it.”

“Not so bad that it ruined the movie, but bad enough to be an annoyance the entire runtime.”

“Saw it today, image was blurry and fuzzy the entire time. Seemed like they gave up trying to fix it after the intermission.”

“Heard about issues in Vancouver, BC too. Switched to digital without telling the customers until the end of the movie.”

For those of you not lucky enough (or unlucky, as the case may be) to see one of the limited-release “roadshow” screenings, you’ll be able to lay eyes on the movie one day sooner than expected.  Due to popular demand, the wide-release of Hateful Eight at more than 2000 theaters around the country, has been moved up. It will open digitally on December 30th,  a day in advance of its planned New Years Eve release.

Hateful Eight by Quentin Tarantino Opens With $1.9 Million on Christmas

Hateful Eight by Tarantino Opens Big in Two Ways

"The Hateful Eight" is a splashy thriller.
“The Hateful Eight” is a splashy thriller.

Quentin Tarantino made his new movie, The Hateful Eight as big and wide as possible, using his much-touted, vintage, 70mm camera lenses, which were famously used  for outdoor, epic movies. Hateful Eight’s opening shots are classically wide and sweeping. And so were the film’s opening numbers in theaters.

Christmas Day moviegoers showed Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” plenty of epic affection, as the limited-release 70mm roadshow launched with $1.9 million at 100 venues in 44 U.S. theaters.

The opening day lead into an impressive $5 million for the weekend — or around $50,000 per screen — for what is the largest 70mm release in the last 20 years.

The Weinstein Co. announced on Dec. 14 that it moved up The Hateful Eight’s wide release in the U.S. to New Year’s Day — a week earlier than previously planned — with the aim of taking advantage of strong buzz among fans and the industry. The Western carries a 76% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Hateful Eight stars Samuel Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Bruce Dern.

Read The Film Box’s review of The Hateful Eight, by Helen Highly and see why she Highly Recommends the movie.

Carol Movie Awards: Is Carol Best Film of the Year?

Is it a Sure Thing? Is Carol Best Film of the Year?

The film Carol has received dozens of industry and critics awards. The film was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Queer Palm and Mara tied for the Best Actress award with Emmanuelle Bercot. The American Film Institute selected Carol as one of the Top Ten Films of the year. The film garnered five Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Actress for Blanchett and Mara, Best Director for Haynes and Best Original Score for Carter Burwell. It received five Independent Spirit Award nominations, including Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay for Phyllis Nagy, Best Female Lead for Blanchett and Mara, and Best Cinematography for Edward Lachman. Blanchett and Mara received Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role and Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, respectively.

Carol has been included in many critics’ Top Ten Films of 2015 lists. The New York Times called it Best Film of the Year.  The New York Film Critics Circle awarded the film Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. The film won Best Music from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and was runner-up for Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Production Design. The Frankfurt Book Fair named Carol as the Best International Literary Adaptation. Film Comment magazine ranked Carol as the best film of 2015 based on its year-end poll of over 100 film critics.

But Film Box critic Helen Highly is not convinced. In her review of Carol, Helen Highly compares it to the movie Brooklyn and makes an argument that Carol has won its accolades for the wrong reasons, in a giant band-wagon effort at political correctness.


When she is not writing about film and art on her blog, HelenHighly.com, Helen Kaplow is busy being a culture vulture in her adopted home of New York City.