2 Guns, a buddy cop comedy-thriller featuring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, was the top weekend film in U.S. and Canadian theaters, collecting $27.4 million for Universal Pictures. (CMCSA). A tale of undercover lawmen trying to catch a drug kingpin, 2 Guns taps the bickering buddy movie formula successfully mined by Hollywood in films such as Lethal Weapon and marks the seventh No. 1 weekend opening this year for Universal, part of Comcast Corp. “The chemistry is obvious in the film,” Nikki Rocco, president of distribution for Universal Pictures, said in an interview. “Hopefully, it finds its own life in a marketplace that’s very crowded.”
Washington plays Drug Enforcement Administration agent Bobby Trench, while Wahlberg is cast as U.S. naval intelligence officer Marcus Stigman. The two reluctantly work undercover as members of a narcotics syndicate. When their attempt to infiltrate a Mexican drug cartel goes haywire, they are disavowed by their superiors and can only count on each other. “This is a business where being No. 1 is always wonderful,” Rocco said. “It’s nice to be on a roll.”
Returning film The Wolverine was second with $21.7 million and The Smurfs 2, a family feature combining animation with live action, opened with $18.2 million in receipts for Sony Corp. (6758) to place third.
It seems like it’s been a long time coming, but we finally have the first official look at André Benjamin (aka André 3000 from Outkast) as Jimi Hendrix in All is By My Side. Benjamin won’t be kissing the sky in this biopic. Instead, he’ll be covering songs by other artists like Muddy Waters and the Beatles. Experience Hendrix LLC announced that the estate wouldn’t license the rock star’s music “without its full participation.”
However, producer Sean McKittrick told Rolling Stone that the movie traces Hendrix’s life before the 1967 release of the late rock star’s debut album, “Are You Experienced.” “This is the story of Jimi being discovered as a backup musician and how he went to London and became Jimi Hendrix,” McKittrick explained. In any case, we’ll have to wait a few more months to see or hear how Benjamin’s performance goes over. The film will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, where writer/director John Ridley, who also penned the adapted screenplay for Steve McQueen’s historical drama 12 Years a Slave, will be flying high.
Spike Lee has turned to Kickstarter to raise $1.25 million in funds for his next film. The filmmaker said the project will focus on human beings who are addicted to blood. “Funny, sexy, and bloody (and it’s not “Blacula”),” he added. Lee appealed to potential supporters by touting the film as counter to the current high-priced tentpoles.
Idris Elba is poised to make a big splash at the movies this year. Not only is the sexy British actor headlining Guillermo del Toro‘s latest sci-fi epic Pacific Rim, he will be also playing Nelson Mandela in the biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. His performance as the legendary South African leader is already generating tremendous buzz. Elba himself has not been shy about touting his upcoming movie. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Elba called his version of Mandela “hands down the best.”
He went on to clarify, “Not in terms of performance…but my film’s about his entire life. Anyone wanting to understand who Mandela was should go and watch my film.” “Morgan Freeman is outstanding. Terrence Howard is an outstanding actor. But my film is about his life,” Elba added, referring to Freeman’s 1999 movie Invictus and Howard’s depiction of Mandela in Winnie – a 2012 film which never made it to theaters.
Now we’re getting our first glimpse of Elba as the iconic man. A promo poster for the movie has been released (pictured above). Elba may have some stiff competition from his fellow black actors come awards season with both Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale) and Forest Whitaker (The Butler) earning early praise for their starring roles in prestige pictures due out this fall. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is expected to be released on November 27, 2013.
Bill Duke’s thought-provoking film, “Dark Girls” is headed to Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network this June.
The documentary first emerged in 2011 at the Toronto International Film Festival and had great promise of becoming something bigger and better. But it never turned up as a national theater release and continued to tour across the country.
Duke announced in 2012 at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, that he was in the middle of developing two feature documentaries as follow ups to “Dark Girls.”
“Yellow Brick Road” will look at the ‘colorism’ issue from the perspective of light-skinned Black women. The other documentary, “What Is A Man?” will explore masculinity and manhood as it has transformed from the beginning of time to present day. Filming for the project has already begun and it turns out Duke has been interviewing people from all around the world.
Described as Australia’s answer to Harold and Kumar, as well as Cheech And Chong, and also Australia’s first indigenous comedy feature film, Stone Bros stars Aboriginal actors Luke Carroll and Leon Burchill, and is directed by Richard J Frankland.
The movie was released in Australian cinemas in September, 2009 and is now making its debut in the USA, viaiTunes, as I’ve been informed.
Previously profiled on this blog, the synopsis for the pot-fueled road-trip reads:
Sick of the city life and their dead end jobs, primo-stoner Charlie and his up-tight cousin Eddie decide it’s time to reconnect with their homegrown roots. Taking off in a beat-up Ford they spark it up on a spiritual journey across the Australian Outback to find and return a sacred stone, which Charlie lost in a blaze of confusion. To succeed they will have to survive a series of hilarious encounters with a demonically possessed dog, a depressed drag queen, a jilted ex-lover, a soul-searching cop, and a deadly spider that has come along for the ride. Only one thing is for certain, it’s going to be a blast!
While I can’t say that I’m looking forward to seeing it (I’m not really a fan of stoner comedies), I’ll check it out eventually. It’s not everyday that one gets to see an Aboriginal stoner comedy.
According to Variety.com, Universal Pictures segued a solid $61 million overseas debut for “Oblivion” last weekend into an estimated $38.2 million Stateside opening, a better-than-expected result that lifts the film’s worldwide total to $150.2 million. Internationally, “Oblivion” has earned so far $112 million.
The $120 million-budgeted Tom Cruise/Morgan Freeman science fiction flick launched a week ago overseas to lengthen its playtime before Disney begins rolling out “Iron Man 3″ on April 24. The Marvel tentpole bows May 3 domestically.
Warner Bros.’ second-frame holdover “42″ only dropped 34% for an estimated $18 million three-day gross. The film has reached $54 million and counting.
Film & Script Submissions Now Being Accepted for 13th Edition of the Hollywood Black Film Festival; New FILM DIASPORA Sidebar Added
The Hollywood Black Film Festival (HBFF) — recognized as one of the leading black film festivals in the world — is now accepting submissions for the 2013 festival, to be held October 2-6, 2013 in Hollywood, CA. Regular feature, short, student and documentary film submissions, Project Stargazer submissions, and scripts for the Storyteller Competition will be accepted through June 16. The late deadline is July 8.
HBFF welcomes narrative features, shorts, student and documentary films for its competitive program. Animation films and music videos submitted are accepted for the non-competitive program only. All films submitted must have been completed after September 1, 2012.
HBFF will introduce a new competitive sidebar this year, FILM DIASPORA, to showcase independent films and filmmakers from the African Diaspora. Feature, short and documentary films submitted to compete in FILM DIASPORA must have been produced by filmmakers residing outside the U.S. — in Africa, the Caribbean, Central or Latin America.
Deadline.com‘s Jen Yamato reports that Peeples writer/director Tina Gordon Chism recently sold her original script Inheritance to Sony Pictures. Inheritance is a thriller that follows a young female lawyer handling the case of a New Orleans coffee magnate whose passing sparks a deadly chain of events. This project reteams Chism with producer Stephanie Allain following the pair’s collaboration on Lionsgate’s Peeples for Tyler Perry Studios.
That film marks Chism’s directorial debut and hits theaters on May 10. Sony executive DeVon Franklin snapped up Inheritance for Sony; Alex Siskin is also producing with Todd Black and Jason Blumenthal for Escape Artists. The shoot is planned to take place on location in New Orleans. Chism got her start on The Cosby Show and made her screenwriting debut with Fox’s 2002 hit Drumline before scripting ATL for Warner Bros.
Whether or not Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers President and General Manager, ever said this about Jackie Robinson in response to those who thought he might be trouble for major league baseball because of being court-martialed for refusing to move to the back of an Army bus, doesn’t matter. What does is that Rickey’s (gamely played by Harrison Ford) matter-of-fact delivery of that line sums up not only the heart of the movie, but the heart of the double standard commonly applied to systemically oppressed people who refuse to comply with their own dehumanization.
Although based on actual events as Jackie Robinson integrated major league baseball, spirit is ultimately what the biopic “42” is about – fighting for unequivocal truths to come to light, and to stir the best within us all regardless of race, color or religion by leveling the playing field and by just straight up playing ball.
“Lincoln Heights” actor Chadwick Boseman, in his first major film role, does a commendable job bringing sports legend and civil rights icon Jackie Robinson to life. Boseman has an athletic grace and physicality that conveys the intelligence and scrappiness of Robinson’s game, but his performance shines most when he silently conveys Robinson’s struggle to hold himself in check when he is verbally and physically assaulted on and off the field. At one point in the film, Robinson’s baseball prowess is remarked on as “superhuman,” but after seeing all he endured off the field in “42,” his ability to stay calm and focussed in the midst of a sea change in American sports and culture was arguably his most compelling power.
Writer/director Brian Helgeland wisely starts the film with a black reporter chronicling Robinson’s achievements (later revealed to be Wendell Smith of the Pittsburgh Courier, a well-known black newspaper of that era; Smith was assigned to cover Robinson’s journey), setting the stage by introducing and narrating America’s still racially tense post-war years. By framing this film about a black hero through the eyes and words of a black reporter shows Helgeland, who wrote the acclaimed “L.A. Confidential” and “Mystic River,” understands how deeply this movie is about a watershed moment in African-American history as much as it is about one extraordinary man. It needs to be told as “our story,” so by making Smith (played with quiet strength by Andre Howard) a guide, witness, admirer, and beneficiary of Jackie Robinson’s accomplishments, the core audience of “42” is able to hold the same positions while watching the story unfold.