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A Little Indie Film Was Actually This Year's Biggest Money Maker


beasts of a sourthern wild movie poster 2012

“Argo” is widely expected to capture the Academy Award for Best Picture on Sunday, but when it comes to profits, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is this Oscar season’s biggest winner.

The little indie that could was produced for a mere $1.5 million and pulled off a worldwide gross of $12.3 million. Though perfectly respectable for an avant-garde picture with no stars, that final tally is a far cry from blockbuster status. Indeed, it’s the lowest grossing film among all the nominees, but it still represents the biggest return on investment for its producers. The film made more than seven times its budget -- a better return even than “Life of Pi,” which is tops in terms of total box office among all the Best Picture nominees.

As for “Argo,” Ben Affleck and company may be the one’s hoisting that gold statue aloft when the final envelope is opened at Sunday night's show, but the movie itself is an also-ran when it comes to profitability. The Iranian hostage crisis thriller was produced for $44.5 million and netted $204.6 million worldwide, more than three times what it cost to film. That’s a sterling investment, one most movie producers would be thrilled to see, however, it’s less than “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Life of Pi” and “Les Misérables,” all of which saw bigger returns.

Also read: Will 7 of Oscar's 9 Best Picture Nominees Cross the $100M Mark Domestically?

Much has been written in the Hollywood trades this year about how commercially successful the current crop of Best Picture nominees are when compared to previous contests. Last year, one film, “The Help,” crossed $100 million at the domestic box office. This time, an astounding six films have already crossed that barrier and another one, “Zero Dark Thirty,” is poised to top $100 million in stateside ticket sales when it concludes its run.

But there are flaws with that rubric. After all, in an age of ballooning budgets, $100 million is not the magic number it was even five years ago. Many films that hit that figure at the domestic box office still have to rely on ancillary revenue from DVD and video-on-demand in order to claw their way back to profitability.

A sounder means of analysis is to compare the costs of this year’s crop of contenders with their grosses, with the caveat -- and it’s a big one -- that this does not take into account marketing expenditures. Moreover, a film's gross does not represent pure profit for its studio or producer, as exhibitors take a sizable chunk of a movie's ticket sales.

Nor does looking at box office allow for the financial windfall that “Argo” and others will receive on the home video front should they pick up a few golden guys on Sunday and get the opportunity to plaster “Oscar Winner!” on DVD and Blu-ray cases. Moreover, many of the nominated films, like "Lincoln," are still in theaters and still rolling out in foreign territories, meaning there are more opportunities to cash in on the awards buzz.

Still, even if “Beasts of the Southern Wild” fails to capture an Oscar in any of the four categories in which it is nominated, it’s still ranks as a big winner for its investors. After all, Academy Awards are nice, but this is still a business. Right?

Here's a look at the Best Picture nominees in order of their return on investment:

Ranking Best Picture Nominees by ROI

MovieProduction BudgetWorldwide GrossReturn on Investment
"Beasts of the Southern Wild" $1.5 million$12.5 million720%
"Silver Linings Playbook"$21 million$152.5 million626%
"Les Misérables"$61 million$379.2 million522%
"Life of Pi"$120 million$580 million383%
"Argo"$45 million$204.6 million360%
"Django Unchained"$87 million$366.1 million321%
"Lincoln"$65 million$235.6 million263%
"Zero Dark Thirty"$45 million$102 million127%
"Amour"$9.4 million$17.2 million83%

SEE ALSO: How to buy an Oscar >

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Here's Disney's Oscar-Winning Short 'Paperman'

Daniel Day-Lewis Is The First Man To Win Three Best Actor Awards


Lincoln Movie Daniel Day Lewis

As predicted, Daniel Day-Lewis takes home his third Best Actor Oscar for the lead in "Lincoln."

Day-Lewis' win makes him the first actor in the history of the Academy Awards to win three Best Actor awards. 

The actor was reported to stay in character the entire time while shooting the drama about the 16th American president.

Before "Lincoln," Day-Lewis won the Best Actor for 2008's "There Will Be Blood." and "My Left Foot" in 1989.

SEE ALSO: "Argo" wins Best Picture >

SEE ALSO: Jennifer Lawrence wins the Best Actress Oscar >

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Harvey Weinstein Called In A Few Favors From His Friends In The White House


Harvey WeinsteinHollywood producer Harvey Weinstein showed off his political connections at the 2013 Oscars — even if his "Silver Linings Playbook" did not win Best Picture.

Michelle Obama Oscars 2013

The producer, who engineered past victories for "Shakespeare In Love,""The Artist,""The King's Speech," and more, led an impressive campaign this year to generate buzz "Silver Linings Playbook," a low-budget romantic-comedy-drama.

For a final push, however, Weinstein reached out to former Obama for America 2012 campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, Vulture reported on Monday.

According to Vulture, Cutter was hired to promote the film "not just as a well-made movie, but a culturally relevant and especially politically significant film that was shaping the national conversation about mental health triggered in part by the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut."

In the weeks leading up to the Oscars, Cutter tweeted a link to the making of "Silver Linings Playbook" and a Salon article asking whether "Silver Linings Playbook" could steal the top spot from "Argo."

Weinstein also "sought the advice" of other major Democrats, a Weinstein Company spokeswoman told Vulture:

“When it was clear that Silver Linings Playbook's treatment of mental health issues was becoming a topic in the advocacy community and political circle, Harvey Weinstein sought the advice of a number of friends with experience in those areas, including former Senator Chris Dodd, Senators Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand, and Stephanie Cutter, who he knows from his work as a supporter of President Obama.”

Earlier last year, "Silver Linings Playbook" director David O. Russell and actor Bradley Cooper met with Vice President Joe Biden to discuss mental health care in light of the tragic Newtown shootings. 

Weinstein called in another favor on Oscar night when he got Michelle Obama to hand out the Best Picture Oscar. In fact Weinstein's daughter came up with this ideaaccording to The Hollywood Reporter.

Hollywood celebrities including Weinstein donated millions to Obama's re-election campaign. In August, the producer hosted a $35,800 per-person fundraiser in his Connecticut home which raised $2 million for the Obama campaign.

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DreamWorks Animation Laying Off 350 Employees



DreamWorks Animation will lay off approximately 350 employees, about 15 percent of its full-time staff, CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and CFO Lewis Coleman said Tuesday during the company’s fourth quarter earnings call.

The company posted a loss of $83 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2012 due to development costs and the poor performance of "Rise of the Guardians."

Those losses necessitated cutbacks at a company with about 2,200 employees, with most of the cuts hitting the production department.

Katzenberg previously recognized that DreamWorks Animation would be “adjusting [its] operating infrastructure costs,” but this was the first time he spoke publicly on the subject and the first time the company announced a number.

In explaining the move, he cited Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the brother of a certain high-powered Hollywood agent. 

"Rahm Emanuel had that really great expression, ‘you need to take full advantage of every crisis that you face,’" Katzenberg told analysts. "'Guardians' was the first movie of ours, after 17 in a row, that didn’t work. When that happens, it really makes you rethink everything."

"We've taken this as an opportunity to significantly right size the whole enterprise here," he added.

Katzenberg said the company faces a new challenge from “broad four quadrant movies” rather than just more traditional computer-generated family films.

“It makes the need for quality release dates critically important,” Katzenberg said, using that to justify the company delaying “My. Peabody and Sherman” from this November to next March.

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More Than 400 'Life of Pi' Visual Effects Artists Protested The Oscars


Bill Westenhofer oscars 2013

"Life of Pi" may have been a big Oscar winner Sunday night, but those responsible for bringing the CGI-filled film to life aren't celebrating.  

During one of the oddest moments of the awards, VFX supervisor Bill Westenhofer was played off the Oscar stage to the "Jaws" theme while accepting his award for "Life of Pi." 

The gesture came off overtly rude to critics and VFX artists considering Westenhofer was only 45 seconds into his speech.  

The average speech of the past decade has clocked in at closer to two minutes.  

The "Jaws" music began playing during his mention of Rhythm & Hues VFX studio.  

Rhythm & Hues is the studio responsible for bringing the CGI-filled "Life of Pi" to the big screen. It took 600 of its artists to animate Bengal tiger, Richard Parker, in the film.  

It's also known for its work on "Snow White And The Huntsman" and bringing a pig to life in "Babe." 

Earlier this month, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and laid off more than 200 employees without pay. 

It's not the first VFX company to have trouble in the past few months. 

Digital Domain Media Group (DDMG), the company responsible for helping to bring "Titanic" to life on the big screen, filed for bankruptcy back in September. They were soon bought for $37 million by Beijin's Galloping Horse and Mumbai-based Reliance Capital. 

Later in the press room, Westenhofer said he was trying to address a bigger issue on stage regarding the importance of VHX in films. 

"It’s ironic that when visual effects are dominating the box office, visual effects are struggling," said Westenhofer. "We’re artists, and if we don’t fix the business model we may lose something.” 

Earlier in the day, while the primary focus during the Oscars was on the red carpet, not far off, more than 400 VFX professionals protested the event. 

Called the "Piece of Pi" protest, plan, protestors held signs with slogans including "End The Subsidies War" and the one below: 

life of pi protest

VFX artist Todd Vaziri created two images showing how the film would look without its special effects. Here's one of them:


life of pi vfx

The image quickly caught on and began spreading around the Internet, and has inspired more artists to illustrate visuals conveying a similar message.

life of pi protest

Now the band of artists are calling for a possible world wide walk out of VFX professionals on March 14—known as "Life of Pi Day."  

Among the four awards for "Life of Pi" Oscar night, two of them were for Cinematography and Visual Effects.  

Worldwide, the film has grossed more than $583 million

Are you a VFX artist? We want to hear what you have to say. Send an email to kacuna@businessinsider.com

SEE ALSO: Harvey Weinstein called in a few favors from his friends in the White House >

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Before She Was Famous, A Teenage Anne Hathaway Made This Voicemail Ad

Producers On Jennifer Aniston's Movie Set Are Paying Locals $300 To Stay Away


Jennifer Aniston

Residents of Greenwich, Conn. shouldn't plan on cozying up to Jennifer Aniston despite her latest movie "Untitled Elmore Leonard Project" filming in the town.

“The production company has been paying all the neighbors $300, I guess as an inconvenience fee,” to stay away from set, local resident Leon Jaworoski revealed to Celebuzz.

“We had asked if we could take pictures for fun because they are shooting right in front of our homes, but they said absolutely not,” Jaworoski said. “At one point paparazzi were on our lawn, but the police chased them away and told them to wait in their cars or off the property.”

“It got pretty hectic here,” he added. “It took them several hours to set up a scene for only a few minutes of filming Jennifer on the street in the neighborhood.”

The film, an adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel "The Switch" also stars Isla Fisher, Tim Robbins, Mos Def and Will Forte.

Set for a 2014 release, the film is a comedy about two criminals who team up to kidnap the wife of a corrupt real estate developer -- but the plan clearly goes awry.

A set insider tells Celebuzz: 

“Producers were upset that some locals were shouting out Jennifer’s name and using flash photography to try and get pictures of her. They also found out that some paparazzi had paid a local resident to use their property to shoot Jennifer on the set. So when they moved to more rural location, they wanted to try and work with the local residents to make sure nothing like that happened again.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the production confirmed and explained the payment of locals:

“Inconvenience fees are a common practice in the industry. Ours were paid to residents surrounding a shoot location so we could park equipment and trucks in their driveways or place lighting instruments and machinery on their property.”

But locals aren't the only ones who think Aniston is being cold on-set.

A film insider tells RadarOnline, "Jen’s private trailer is miles away from the set, but she heads all the way back there each day to eat her lunch away from everyone else ... all the actors ride in normal production vans when they head to lunch, but Jen has her own luxury SUV."

“Her behavior is a clear indicator to everyone that she’s not approachable,” added the source.

Watch paparazzi video of the on-set shoot below:

SEE ALSO: More Than 400 'Life of Pi' Visual Effects Artists Protested The Oscars >

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There's A Legion Of Iron Men In A New 'Iron Man 3' Poster


There's a new poster out for "Iron Man 3" showing not one, but eight Iron Men all dressed in different suits.

Who's wearing the suits?

Well, there are seven Avengers in total including Robert Downey Jr.'s "Iron Man" and Nick Fury, but we doubt that's the case.

These Iron Men look like they mean business. For all we know, they're playing for the other team.

Either way, this looks awesome.

The final trailer for the film will debut next Tuesday while "Iron Man 3" hits theaters May 3.

Iron Man 3 poster

Now: See the latest trailer for the film >

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Soon Everyone Will Be Using UltraViolet To Watch Movies On-The-Go


The Dark Knight Rises DVD cover

If you've purchased a DVD in the past few months, you've probably noticed a small sticker in the lower right hand corner of the film box telling you to try out Ultraviolet (UV).  

Inside, you'll see a single sheet of purple and yellow paper with a confirmation code pointing you toward an UltraViolet site. 

Here's what it's all about.  

UltraViolet service allows you to take your film collection with you on the go. It's an authentication system that verifies film purchases and enables you to watch your movies across any mobile device from any location.  

We spoke with the mind behind UltraViolet, Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) president and chief digital strategy officer at Sony Pictures, Mitch Singer, to find out more about the creation of UV and why this is the next frontier for movie viewing. 

"The motion picture industry has basically decided, given the technological advances, that it doesn't make any sense in a digital world to force consumers to buy the same movie over and over again," Singer tells Business Insider.

"We know we're in a cloud environment, so, if we could create an environment where no matter where you are in the world, you just put in your credentials, the device or service you happen to be on looks in the cloud, sees what movies you have in your collection, populates the screen for you, and now you can watch any movie you want." 

dark knight trilogy UV.JPG

The service isn't new at all; Ultraviolet's been around since late 2011. However, it's been picking up steam in the past few months. 

As of Super Bowl weekend, the service has reached 10 million registered users. 

UV began rolling out in late 2011 with both Warner Bros. and Flixster, and Sony joined soon afterward. 

In October 2011, "Horrible Bosses" and "Hangover 2" were the first two films available to view across mobile devices through UltraViolet. 

Since then, UV branched out to incorporate every big movie studio except Disney. (Instead, the Mouse House has its own cloud-based service called Keychest.) 

Currently 8,700 titles are available to date, to view through the authentication service with the majority of those titles — about 3,500 — from Warner Bros.  

While the catalog mostlycontains movies, eventually the service will roll out a slew of television shows as well. Warner Bros. has started to offer a few hit TV shows including "Big Bang Theory." 

After a year and a half, UltraViolet has launched in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K, and will soon be launching in New Zealand, Australia, and Ireland. By the end of 2013, Singer says UV plans to launch in Germany and France. 

Where you watch the movies: 

While movie purchases are registered with the UltraViolet platform, you need an UltraViolet service to view the films.  

Sound confusing?  

Users can't watch their films directly on UltraViolet. UV itself just acts as a program to confirm you have rights to watch a particular film. Instead, you need to download an UltraViolet service to view your purchases. 

On a mobile device, such as a tablet or phone, this is as simple as downloading an app.  

"The motion picture industry has basically decided, given the technological advances, that it doesn't make any sense in a digital world to force consumers to buy the same movie over and over again,"— DECE president, Mitch Singe 

In the U.S., eight distributors are currently available to play digital collections:

Best Buy's CinemaNow, Wal-Mart's Vudu, Flixster, M-GO, Sony Pictures, Barnes & Noble's Nook, Paramount Movies, and Universal. A ninth, Cineplex, is available in Canada. 

This isn't as overwhelming as it sounds. Users simply pick which distributor they want to use from those available and run that on their tablet, computer, or mobile device. 

Why so many ways to watch? One reason is that every studio wants you to view all of your films on its individual player.  

Another reason is that you can't access all of the players on every type of device. Vudu is available on Xbox while Flixster will be there soon, but you'll use Barnes & Noble's program on its Nook e-reader. 

Singer says it's also to deliver choice. 

"Ultimately, I'm going to migrate to the service that provides me the best service," says Singer. "Competition, I believe, is a really good thing, and there [are] services who just may do a better job on search or services that do a better job at building recommendation services, or knows how to display the content in a way that's easy for me to understand." 

Here's a look at what your movie collection inside Flixster would look like:

flixster movie collection ultraviolet

In the past, this was a deterrent for UV. The process of signing up for multiple services was confusing and exhausting to some, but after we took a run at it, it's not that difficult to use at all. And the payoff, once you have a good majority of your film collection available as easily as your music on an mP3 player, is well worth it. 

According to Singer, most people with UltraViolet accounts use Vudu or Flixster, the first services to launch through UV. 

For the most part, there's no incentive to using any one service over the other, though Singer says there's potentially one future advantage of having a CinemaNow account. 

"If you have a Best Buy Rewards account, they know every single movie you've ever bought from Best Buy," says Singer. "And, they could, if they wanted to, say 'The moment you link your CinemaNow account with UltraViolet, we're able to go back and look at what you purchased in the past from us and just immediately convert those into UltraViolet.'" 

Singer says no distributor has launched such a model yet, but he expects we'll see one roll out this year. 

How to Buy a film on UltraViolet:

Right now, the ways you can get a UV film include: 

  • Using the UV code provided with a DVD.
  • Directly buying films online through one of UV's distributors.
  • You can also convert a DVD / Blu-ray title for $2 by bringing it to Wal-Mart. If you want an HD conversion, that will cost $4. 

In the end, this may prove more frustrating since the film or show needs to be one of UV's nearly 9,000 registered titles in order to work at the moment. And, if it's not a Warner Bros. title, you may be out of luck. 

Soon, this process will become a bit easier as consumers will be able to convert their own DVDs from the comfort of their homes. 

Much like converting VHS tapes to DVDs with converters and storing songs on mp3 players, CinemaNow, Vudu, and Flixster are testing out a service where users will be able to convert disc to digital without heading to stores.  

Right now, Singer says most people are being introduced to UV through Blu-Ray discs.   

Promotional campaigns are helping draw more users to UV as well. At the end of last December, Vudu offered ten free UV movies when signing up for an account and linking it to UltraViolet. 

vudu campaign ultraviolet

The other thing UltraViolet will do is help shape and change the way we watch and share films. 

When signing up for UltraViolet, a user can register up to five people on one account to share their movie collection.  

Users are then able to run up to three streaming sessions simultaneously through one UltraViolet account.  

In theory, one person could be viewing one film on their laptop, while another is viewing a separate film on a tablet, while a third watches on mobile all at the same time. 

Though UV will signal for a giant push of movie storage on the Cloud, Singer shares this will not be the end of DVDs altogether.  

"If we still have CDs, 13 years after MP3, then we're going to have DVDs and Blu-Ray for a long time," says Singer. "UltraViolet allows this natural transition to happen in a way that's very consumer friendly. It allows consumers who want to buy Blu-Ray, but [also] share with family and have access across all their multiple screens." 

SEE ALSO: Prepare to see even more films in high frame rates >

SEE ALSO: Roadmap To The Future

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Steven Spielberg Chosen To Head Cannes Film Festival Jury — Here's Today's Buzz


steven spielberg oscars

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Watch The Best Picture Nominees — Made For Vine


CollegeHumor has created six-second Vine videos to replicate all nine of this year's Oscar Best Picture nominees.

Don't have time to sit through all two-and-a-half hours of "Lincoln" or haven't had a chance to catch "Beasts of the Southern Wild" yet?

Take a look at CollegeHumor's re-creations below.

"Silver Linings Playbook"



"Beasts of the Southern Wild"

To watch the rest of the Vine videos of nominated films, check them out on CollegHumor here >

SEE ALSO: Five-year-olds act out the Oscar Best Picture nominees >

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If Only 9% Of Jobs In Hollywood Go To Women, What Is The Future Of Women In Film?


Jennifer Garner Anne Hathaway Jessica Biel

Seth MacFarlane took a lot of flak this week after his Oscar's hosting gig seemed to offend everyone from Jews and fans of Abraham Lincoln to the entire female gender.

But the "Family Guy" creator singing about female body parts during the most prestigious awards show of the year seemed to bring up a bigger issue in Hollywood, and specifically womens' role in the industry.

Here's where women currently stand in Hollywood:

According to the study "Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women on the Top 250 Films of 2012" by Martha Lauzen, "In 2012, women comprised 18 percent of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films."

If the figure doesn't seem low already, Lauzen reports "This represents no change from 2011 and an increase of one percentage point from 1998."

"A historical comparison of women’s employment on the top 250 films in 2012 and 1998 reveals that the percentages of women directors and editors have not changed,"Lauzen writes, "The percentages of women writers and producers have increased slightly. The percentages of women executive producers and cinematographers have declined."

Cathy Schulman Women in Film PresidentBusiness Insider caught up with Cathy Schulman, the president of industry group Women in Film and a producer who won a best picture Oscar for “Crash" in 2004.

"Women in front of the camera and behind the camera need to band together to create more opportunity," Schulman told us at Women in Film's pre-Oscar cocktail party in Los Angeles.

"When we're able to do that, we will see a lot more films that are directed at and created by women. I think that will change the culture and history that we're keeping because the storytelling you do as a country is what you will be remembered for."

Schulman tells us that not only is her organization "working to make sure the numbers are out there so people can look at their own organizations and question the bizarre, hideous statistics," but there are a number of programs being implemented, as well, from educational programs to mentors to grants.

Julia Roberts Emma Roberts Shirley MacLaine

Schulman explains that a recent study by WIF / Sundance Institute revealed that the biggest obstacle for women in the industry is not what people think it is.

"The study discovered that even though many people will say there aren't as many women working in film is because they can't juggle home and career, that actually turned out to not even be on the list of obstacles."

The main issue on the list?

Men don't want to give women money.

"Financial networks are usually controlled by men so it's hard for women to get through," says Schulman.

Peter Guber

But one movie mogul on board with WIF's mission is Peter Guber, the CEO of Mandalay Entertainment and a New York Times best-selling author.

Guber recently wrote an article "Why The Best 'Man' For A Job Is Often A 'Woman'" in which he discussed the success he has had with his female employees.

Here's how Guber's article starts:

In my experience, in the male-dominated entertainment world, women who I have hired, promoted or whose companies I’ve acquired including Stacey Snider, currently Co-Chairman and CEO of DreamWorks, Amy Pascal currently Co-Chairman of Sony Pictures, Barrie Loeks, Co-Chairman Loews Theatre circuit and Cathy Schulman, Oscar winning producer of Crash and currently President of Mandalay Pictures, leveraged their female competitive advantage along with their unique talent and experiences to propel my enterprise and its goals.

Clearly, Guber believes women should be more entrenched in the business.

But since Schulman assumed the role as WIF president, she says she has seen a shift in the industry's landscape.

We've broken the ceiling on only having to work on romantic comedies and children's movies, now we can be as rowdy as we want." 

Cathy Schulman Jacki Weaver Women in Film event 2013

As Jacki Weaver, "Silver Linings Playbook" Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee told us, we have to look forward to the day when it's exactly 50/50. 

"I think that's what we have to look forward to, as we have to look forward to a female president of the United States," says Weaver.

SEE ALSO: How Media Outlets Are Using New Video App Vine To Deliver The News >

SEE ALSO: Roadmap To The Future

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'Oz The Great And Powerful' Could Be Disney's Next 'John Carter' Flop


Oz the great and powerfulWhen "Oz the Great and Powerful" comes out next month, Disney hopes to rekindle the magic of its $1 billion film from two years ago, "Alice in Wonderland." 

After all, it's been heavily marketed to look like a carbon copy of Tim Burton's 2010 hit featuring Johnny Depp. 

Posters for the "Oz" resemble a near replica of "Wonderland," and that's no mistake. "Oz" used the same production designer and has the same producer as Burton's flick. 

In many ways, we can prepare to feel like we're going "through the looking glass" rather than stepping necessarily into Oz. 

And its easy to see why.  

john carterAfter its $200 million write off on "John Carter" last year, a film which cost a quarter of $1 billion to make, Disney has a lot at stake. 

It's taken a gamble on "Oz," a prequel to the 1939 classic featuring James Franco and Mila Kunis, with another high production budget estimated around $200 million and up to another $100 million in marketing costs 

If this film doesn't live up to the hype, it has anticipated blockbuster "Iron Man 3" come May to pick up the slack. However, there's also the long-troubled "Lone Ranger" come July, too. 

Despite its heavy push as the next "Wonderland," with incoming poor reviews and a director who hasn't seen a hit since "Spider-Man,""Oz" could end up being the studio's next "John Carter" misstep.  

There are a few signs that hint the film may come up short opening weekend: 

1. Director Sam Raimi's track record:

spider-man 2

Raimi's known for his horror films ("The Evil Dead" series, "The Grudge") and his original "Spider-Man" trilogy which has earned more than $2 billion worldwide. 

The last time Raimi was put in charge of a film with a large $200 million estimated budget, we received the underwhelming "Spider-Man 3" plagued by one too many super villains, emo-Peter Parker, and an odd jazz sequence. 

Other than his Spidey flicks, Raimi's track record as director on screen hasn't produced any other $100 million films (Raimi produced "The Grudge" which earned $187.3 million). His last horror flick, 2009's "Drag Me to Hell" earned $90.8 million worldwide.  

"Alice in Wonderland" has set the bar for "Oz." With the same projected budget, it earned an immense $116 million the same weekend in March 2010. 

"John Carter," which opened March 9 last year, earned $30.2 million opening weekend on a bloated $250 million budget. 

Raimi's opening weekends as director fluctuate immensely. Outside the "Spider-Man" franchise none are above $20 million.  

"Spider-Man 3": $151.1 million
 "Spider-Man": $114.8 million
 "Spider-Man 2": $88.2 million
 "Drag Me to Hell":  $15.8 million 
 "Darkman": $8 million

BoxOffice.com has seen a bump in anticipation for the film and predicts the film will open to a $65 million weekend, little more than half of "Wonderland."

2. Poor first reviews: 

A lack of reviews a week before the movie's projected opening March 8 may be signal of the Mouse House's trepidation about its costly film.  

The first reviews are just coming out today, and they're not good.

Variety say Rami's visuals impress, but falls miles short of the original, comparing it to the likes of George Lucas' "Star Wars" prequels.

The Hollywood Reporter calls the film an unimaginative prequel and lead Franco miscast.

That may be because ... 

james franco oz the great and powerful

3. Franco wasn't the first choice for the film:

Rather, he was director Raimi's third choice behind Robert Downey Jr. and Disney's blockbuster cash cow Johnny Depp ("Pirates of the Caribbean" series and "Alice in Wonderland") for the Great 'Wizard of Oz.'  

Unfortunately for Raimi, Depp had his prior commitment to Disney's "The Lone Ranger" out later this year.  

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Downey Jr. left the director unimpressed after seeing a plant he gave the actor dead upon a meeting. He'll also be in Disney's big money maker, "Iron Man 3." 

With five months to go before production began, Raimi acquired Franco, who he previously worked with on "Spider-Man" to lead his "Oz." 

kansas, wizard of oz, dorothy4. It won't be like the original: 

If you're expecting the film to reflect 1939's MGM hit, "The Wizard of Oz," don't. It's going to be very different. 

Warner Bros. currently owns the copyright to the film, so although Disney may want you to have the original hit in mind, it needs to be wary of what it includes. 

Upon visiting the set, blog SlashFilm said makeup artist Howard Berger came up with a specific shade of green named "Theostein" to please Disney's legal team.  The New York Times also noted Disney went to the lengths to make sure its Witch looked very different from Margaret Hamilton's. 

In addition, we won't see much of the Yellow Brick Road, the munchkins have been altered in costume, and the flying monkeys have been endowed with sharp fangs. 

Still, ABC cleverly inserted ruby slippers from the 1939 classic in its Oscar red carpet coverage, even though Dorothy's shoes won't be clicking anywhere in the upcoming prequel.

mila kunis oz the great and powerful5. How it could be a win for Disney: 


What could send "Oz" into "Alice in Wonderland" territory, is the film's twist ending.  

Early on, when trailers began rolling out for the film, Rachel Weisz' character, Evanora, quickly became pinned as the character to turn into the Wicked Witch of the West.  

After a one-sheet poster for the witch came out vaguely resembling Weisz with the green make-up, sites including Hitfix pit the actress as the Wicked Witch. 

However, earlier this month, Disney seemed to spoil its film with the reveal of Kunis's character Theodora in the anticipated role. The store's website is selling a Wicked Witch mug showing the actress in her transformation. 

If you want to see the image, click here. 

With an unexpected twist of turning the naive, peace-seeking Theodora into the iconic broom-wielding Wicked Witch, the film could generate a lot of word of mouth when it opens next weekend.

However, Variety points out that the films final transformation won't be a surprise at the end.

"Suffice to say that the transformation is poorly motivated at best, and the unlucky girl in question, sporting not only the requisite green skin but also an eyeful of cleavage, seems a better candidate for top honors at a West Hollywood Halloween bash than for the mantle of Margaret Hamilton."

"Oz the Great and Powerful" opens March 8.

SEE ALSO: The trailer for the movie >

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'Jack' Is A Giant Flop At Theaters — Here's Your Box-Office Roundup


jack the giant slayer

The first week of March is off to a slow start for the box office.  

"Jack the Giant Slayer" had little competition from this week's other new releases, "21 and Over" and "The Last Exorcism Part II." However, the film fell very short of expectations.  

Nearly $30 million for "Jack" doesn't sound like a terrible box-office opening until you realize the production budget cost nearly $200 million. 

So far, the film isn't faring much better overseas, only earning roughly $14 million. 

Both "21 and Over" and "The Last Exorcism II" were expected to earn more than double given last year's results on similar films "Project X" and "The Last Exorcism Part II." 

Last week's new films, "Snitch" and "Dark Skies" have faded at theaters, and "Silver Linings Playbook" remains the only Oscar-nominated film left in the top ten after awards season. 

Out of the top ten this week include Summit's twist on the regular zombie tale, "Warm Bodies," and Mara Rooney's "Side Effects." 

Meanwhile, Warner Bros.' attempt at the next "Twilight" series, "Beautiful Creatures," tumbled ten spots at theaters in its third week. The film adaptation of the book series has earned $32.3 million worldwide of its estimated $60 million budget. 

Here are this week's winners and losers in Hollywood: 

10. Keri Russell's "Dark Skies" barely manages to hold on in week two earning $3.6 million. The thriller only cost an estimated $3.5 million to produce and has already earned $13.5 million.  

9. "A Good Day to Die Hard" falls a fast four spots with $4.5 million after three weeks. Despite a lowly $59.6 million intake at home, the film is making nearly triple that overseas, bringing the film's worldwide total to $221.1 million. 

8. After Jennifer Lawrence's Best Actress win at the Oscars, "Silver Linings Playbook" still remains in the top ten earning $5.9 million. The film has earned $175.6 million worldwide since its release 16 weeks ago. "SLP" cost an estimated $21 million to make. 

7. Nicholas Sparks' latest film "Safe Haven" drops another three spots in week three earning $6.3 million. The film is currently tracking slightly ahead of Sparks' last two adaptations, "The Lucky One" and "The Last Song." 

6. As the only cartoon out, The Weinstein Company's "Escape from Planet Earth" brings in another $6.7 million. The film, which cost an estimated $40 million to produce, has earned a paltry $43 million in three weeks. 

5. The Rock's action thriller, "Snitch," falls three spots earning $7.7 million. In two weeks, the film has earned $24.4 million. 

4. "The Last Exorcism Part II" earned $8 million opening weekend. In 2010, Lionsgate put out "The Last Exorcism" on a small $1.8 million budget and received a huge $20.4 million upon its debut in theaters. The sequel's estimated budget was only set at $5 million.  

3. Despite a low budget estimated at $13 million, "21 and Over" only earns $9 million opening weekend. Last year's surprise hit "Project X" opened to $21 million the same weekend in March before descending quickly from the box office top ten. The first big weekend for "X" was most likely because it looked like another "SuperBad"—teens at an outrageous party. Having seen last year's "X," audiences most likely knew what was in store with this film.   

2. "Identity Thief" continues to ride out near the top earning $9.7 million. The poorly critiqued film has now grossed $108.4 million. 

1. With little competition, "Jack the Giant Slayer" wins the weekend with $28 million. The film will need to do well overseas if it wants to come anywhere close to its estimated $195 million budget.

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The 'Red Coat Girl' From 'Schindler's List' Describes How The Film Traumatized Her


schindler's list red coat girlPolish actress Oliwia Dabrowska played the girl with the red coat in Steven Spielberg's acclaimed film "Schindler's List."

She was the only color image in the black-and-white film that shows the horrors of the Holocaust. Dabrowska is shown once at the beginning of the film, and her red coat appears later among the bodies of Holocaust victims. 

Debrowska, now 24, watched the 1993 film when she was 11 and was "horrified," she told U.K.'s The Guardian

"It was too horrible. I could not understand much, but I was sure that I didn't want to watch ever again in my life."

She also said she "really regretted" not paying attention to the director's suggestion that she "grow up into the film," and not watch it until she was older.

However, Dabrowska said that when she watched the film again at age 18 she was proud to be involved. 

She acts in her spare time and is pursuing a college degree in publishing. 

The Daily Mail has published an uncredited picture of what she looks like today. 

SEE ALSO: The Ridiculous Amount Brendan Fraser Pays In Alimony >

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Mila Kunis Gives Incredible Interview To Novice Reporter


During a press junket while promoting her new movie "Oz the Great and Powerful," Mila Kunis encountered a reporter from BBC Radio 1 who was doing his first ever on-camera interview.

"Seriously, I'm petrified," reporter Chris Stark of the "Scott Mills Show" kicked off the interview by confessing.

Kunis took the bait and the two continued to have a long conversation about his nerves, sports, their favorite beers and even his friends.

But when publicists intervened to get the two back on track, Kunis goes on a minute-long rant answering every canned reporter question about the film, saying "Let me just give you answers that I know you're gonna ask."

Watch Kunis kill it below. She answers all movie questions in a single breath at the 4:50 mark:

SEE ALSO: Jamie Lee Curtis blasts Seth MacFarlane's "Boobs" song in new blog post >

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The Final 'Iron Man 3' Trailer Shows More Of Villain Mandarin


Things aren't looking so great for Iron Man in the final trailer for the film.  

Tony Stark is getting worried about protecting his girlfriend Pepper Potts, he can't sleep, and the Mandarin is out to ruin his life.  

"Iron Man 3" comes out May 3. 

Now, that you've watched the trailer, here are some bits you may have missed:

The Mandarin has a following: 

iron man 3 mandarin

A glimpse at Aldrich Killian's (Guy Pearce) lab. Mini-spoiler: It looks like Extremis testing is taking place.

iron man 3 extremis lab

Was Pepper Potts also among those experimented on?

iron man 3 pepper potts

Cue this scene from the first trailer last year:

pepper potts iron man 3

The mark around Tony Stark's eye:

iron man 3 tony stark eye

Here's a better look at Iron Man's legion of Iron Men from last week's poster. From the trailer, it looks like they're on his side. Look at the suits!

iron man 3 iron men

SEE ALSO: The legion of Iron Men in the film's latest poster >

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5 Reasons Why 'Jack The Giant Slayer' Failed At The Box Office (TWX)


jack the giant slayer

"Jack the Giant Slayer" was the latest high-budget film to bomb opening weekend.  

In what has been a six-week slump to the start of year, Warner Bros. fairytale-inspired film earned $27.2 million on a bloated $195 million budget. 

Jack's tumble from the box-office beanstalk shouldn't come as much of a surprise.  

The film not only changed its title months before opening, but also underwent changes in director and multiple delays ahead of its March release.

Here's five other factors that contributed to the downfall of "Jack the Giant Slayer":

1. Catered to the Wrong Audience:

Originally titled "Jack the Giant Killer," a nod to the 1962 movie of the same name, "Jack" was supposed to be a grittier version of the fairytale for older audiences.  

jack the giant slayer

However, the studio opted for a more family-friendly name after the film was pushed back last year (more on that in a minute). 

As a result, the film seems to have suffered from much of the same demographic issue as DreamWorks Animation's recent "Rise of the Guardians."  

Based off a children's nursery tale, the idea of seeing a reimagined "Jack and the Beanstalk" may have seemed too childish for older audiences. At the same time, the film may have come across too scary for young children with the word "slayer" or "killer" in the title.

2. Rewrites, delays, and change in directors:

bryan singerIn January 2009, D.J. Caruso ("Disturbia,""Eagle Eye") was named to helm the adaptation. 

A few months later in September, Bryan Singer ("X-Men: Days of Future Past") became attached to the film as director instead. When he signed on, there was a complete rewrite for the project 

While production was set to begin summer 2010, it became delayed until 2011 after Singer voiced concerns for the visual effects along with a budget crunch. 

The film's release date then moved around a couple of times.  

"Jack" was set to release last June after the successful "Snow White and the Huntsman" and before Disney's "Brave"; however, last January, Warner Bros. pushed the film back to March 22, 2013 to focus on reshoots. 

Instead, Tom Cruise's eventual flop, "Rock of Ages," took its place.  

Later in October, the film was moved up to the first week of March with the altered title "Jack and the Giant Slayer."

3. Too large of an investment:

$30 million isn't a bad opening weekend, until you consider that $200-million budget. "Jack" fell far short of other productions with similar budgets:




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"Alice in Wonderland"

$200 million

$116.1 million

13 million

"Spider-Man 2

 $200 million 

$88.2 million

1 million

"Tansformers: Dark of the Moon"               

$195 million $97.9 million389,000

"Terminator Salvation

$200 million $42.6 million1 million
 "Jack the Giant Slayer"$195 million   $27.2 million 1,590

The majority of these films were either sequels or well-known franchises with large A-list actors in the lead. (Granted, "Jack" had star power from Ewan McGregor which was underplayed in marketing.)

Rather, the film becomes the latest in a trend of movie studios taking gambles with large inflated budgets ("John Carter,""Oz the Great and Powerful").

snow white and the huntsman4. Too many fantasy titles: 

Jack's run at theaters came less than a month after Jeremy Renner's fairytale adaptation of "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" hit theaters.  

The film received negativereviews and opened to $19.7 million which may be a sign to studios that audiences aren't interested in nursery rhymes and Grimm fairy tales being adapted and altered for adults on the big screen.  

There's a reason why "Alice in Wonderland" and "Snow White and the Huntsmen" became huge sellers for Hollywood as opposed to these recent two flicks.  

1. Both fairytales aren't pulled from toddler tales. 
2. Despite darker takes, both "Alice" and "Snow White" have the luxury of popular and profitable Disney characters before them so its less of a risk at the box office. 

Of course, "Hansel & Gretel" picked up overseas, as "Jack" may do in the coming weeks, but neither will come close to the billion dollar hit of "Alice."

5. The box-office slump:

For the past month and a half, the box office has been down.  

Feb 1-3

$68.9 million

Feb 3-5 

$94.1 million

Feb. 8-10

$86.2 million

Feb 10-12     

$173 million

Feb. 15-17    

 $126.1 million    

Feb 17-19

$143.2 million

Feb. 22-24

$88.3 million

Feb 24-26

$114.2 million

Mar 1-3

$92.8 million

Mar 2-4

$152.4 million

Five of the past six weekends have totaled well under $100 million for the box-office top 12. Last weekend alone, the U.S. box office showed a 38 percent decline from the year before.  

With no "Hunger Games" or "Lorax" hit yet, no single film has seen a weekend gross close to the $70 million of the March Dr. Seuss hit last year.

The largest hit of 2013 so far has been poorly received "Identity Thief" with a $34.6 million opening weekend.

With "Oz" out this weekend, and estimated to debut between $65-$80 million (not "Alice in Wonderland" huge) Disney's hoping its $200 million film will breath some life into theaters. 

SEE ALSO: 'Jack' is a giant flop at theaters >

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Movie Studios Are Setting Themselves Up For Huge Losses


giant slayerWhen DreamWorks Animation released "Rise of the Guardians" last year, the studio took a gamble on a $145 million film about holiday mascots.

The film performed poorly opening weekend, grossing $23.8 million — short of its $60 million expectations — and the company's stock dropped five percent.

When fourth quarter earnings were reported at the end of last month, "Guardians" took an $87 million write-down, DreamWorks reported losses of $83 million, and 350 employees were laid off.

The result shows how much studios have riding on the success or failure of one film.

"They [DreamWorks Animation] spend as if every movie they produce is a new 'Shrek,' but it's unreasonable to spend as if you are making big, big tentpoles when you really aren't," Vasily Karasyov, an analyst for Susquehanna Financial Group, told TheWrap. "They need to cut production and releasing costs to make it less risky."

DreamWorks Animation's recent misstep brings other plus-sized studio budgets under scrutiny. 

Last year, Disney's $250 million "John Carter" bombed opening weekend, grossing $30.2 million. If it weren't for "The Avengers," which went on to become the highest-earning movie of the year with more than $1.5 billion worldwide, Disney would have been in trouble.

Movies didn't always cost this much to make.

James Cameron broke the mold with "Titanic," which cost $200 million to produce in 1997. It wouldn't be until 2003 that we'd see another big $200 million project with "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

Since then, there's been a rise in the number of films produced each year with multi-million-dollar budgets.

Granted, the majority of them are sequels, hoping to piggyback off the success of a previous installment, but more recently the films are new fodder inspired by games and fairy tales, which doesn't always result in big box-office magic: "Battleship,""Prince of Persia," and "Jack the Giant Slayer" are examples.

thor captain america avengers

In 2009 there were five films with budgets at or above $200 million ("2012,""Terminator Salvation,""Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,""Avatar," and "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince").

In 2010, six animated films cost upwards of $200 million ("Tangled,""Toy Story 3,""Alice in Wonderland,""Iron Man 2,""Robin Hood," and "Prince of Persia").

By 2012, eight films had budgets of $200 million or more.

Here's a look at some of the biggest film budgets of the past three years and the differences in how they fared opening weekend:movie studio gambles

As you can see, sometimes the risk pays off. "The Avengers" and "The Dark Knight Rises" grossed more than $2.5 billion combined.

So far this year, seven films are estimated to have larger-than-life budgets:

movie budgets

Only two in the above list are sequels — "The Hobbit" and "Iron Man 3". 

"Man of Steel" is expected to be another hit coming off of director Christopher Nolan's success with the "Batman" franchise. Disney is hoping "Oz the Great and Powerful" will ride the success of "Alice in Wonderland" in 2011.

However, "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" and "The Lone Ranger," were both delayed until this year. If they don't fare well in theaters, Paramount and Disney, respectively, could be facing similar situations to DreamWorks later this year.

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